We had the rookie game yesterday and the first preseason game is on Saturday. It’s not the most exciting stuff, but it’s something!
Would appreciate a brief comment on attached line-up. Of particular interest: Tkachuk-Jankowski-Bennett. Jankowski and Bennett are the only Flames, recently, to score 4 goals in a single game. They are waiting to explode. All they need is a detonator: Tkachuk.
a. Mangiapane-Ryan-Czarnik (mobile option)
b. Lazar-Ryan-Hathaway (heavy option)
*Brodie to be traded by Christmas, Valimaki up.
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For the forward lines, that is definitely something that Flames could run with this season. You have a pretty astute first line, a shutdown second line, a young, offensively-minded third line, and a few options on the fourth line. All around, pretty good.
Specific to that third line, you have wonder if Matthew Tkachuk could fix the other two players’ problems. Remember that Tkachuk-Bennett was the presumed option in Tkachuk’s rookie year and that pairing fell apart after about 10 games. I think a lot of people want that line because of the offensive potential, but it’s a pretty long bet to say that Tkachuk will fix all of the problems, offensively and defensively. The 2017-18 third line was chaos at both ends, so adding a better and more stable winger in Tkachuk seems like a good idea, but you also have to hope Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski take steps themselves.
The defence is a little bit more unconventional. I believe in Rasmus Andersson, but I don’t think he’ll be first pairing by this year (although I hope to be proven wrong). My faith that Brodano repeats their success isn’t strong, so I don’t doubt that parts will move around as the season goes on, but if Brodie is on the third pairing by Christmas, it’s a massive disaster. They would’ve traded their #1 RHD for slightly below market price in favour of a replacement that couldn’t last half the season. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
How short or long is the leash for Bennett? At what point do they call time of death on him?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) September 8, 2018
I think the team is going to be a bit more flexible with him this season. The Flames have been hoping that he finds that fourth overall potential the last two years to no avail, so they’ve finally built a roster that doesn’t rely on him breaking out.
That seems to indicate to me they’re probably at peace with the idea that he’s not the point-per-game guy many expected him to be. That’s fine. A regular 30-point guy in your bottom six isn’t the worst problem to have. I think the team will hope to see if he develops some sort of consistency to his game. The thing that likely keeps them wary about Bennett is that he’s a wildcard on most nights. He’ll either be dynamite or lost. If he can find some middle ground and reliably contribute, the team probably brings him back. If not, maybe they move on. It really depends on how players in the AHL perform.
Which rookies do you see making the team out of camp? Even if it means them only getting their nine games or sticking around
— Russo (@arusso_9) September 8, 2018
The easy answer is Andersson. He’s travelling to China, has a real NHL number now (#4), and seems to already be much better than Michael Stone. Andrew Mangiapane is also an easy choice, as the Bryout opened up a spot for him, though Spencer Foo could also make a case.
I could definitely see Juuso Valimaki at least getting the nine games. There’s a lot of hype behind him and if he can come into camp and perform, it’s a win for everyone. However, his contract can still slide another year so keeping him in the AHL is very likely.
Is it far-fetched to believe that the Flames will play their first regular season game with a 3-headed monster in goal?
— Society & Life (@yourkind_human0) September 8, 2018
No, the three-headed monster is not going to happen, mostly because Jon Gillies is waiver-exempt. If there’s no clear distinction between Gillies and David Rittich, the Flames can safely stash Gillies in the AHL and reassess the situation as the season goes on.
However, Rittich is not waiver-exempt, but if he fails to win the job I think they will be able to sneak him by the waiver wire. It’s hard to imagine any team would be interested in guaranteeing a roster spot to a 26-year-old goalie with 23 games of NHL experience and so-so stats. Every team except Nashville (and their waiver-exempt goalie is Juuse Saros) has at least two waiver-eligible goalies already so they’d have to create space for Rittich should he not make the Flames. It’s unlikely Rittich is an upgrade on many of those goalies, so he will likely sneak on by.
Who is available goaltending insurance on the market if smith gets injured and riitich/gillies falter?
— Harshita Chhabra (@harshitaDBB) September 8, 2018
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot out there worth trading for, but the biggest name is definitely James Reimer. The Florida Panthers have three waiver-eligible goalies, and Reimer carries a decent cap hit, so he could be easy to pry out of Florida. The only caveat is that he has one extra year on his contract. Other than that, there’s not a lot out there that teams will likely trade away.
With the talk of Peluso making the team who gets waived? Lazar or Hathaway?
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) September 9, 2018
I don’t think Anthony Peluso is making the team. I hesitate because I spent most of last preseason saying that Tanner Glass would not make the team, but I’m going to go double or nothing and say that Peluso is not going to make the team. Glass had a lot less depth to battle against last year than Peluso has to battle against this year. He would have to unseat Austin Czarnik (unlikely) and Foo (more likely, but still unlikely) in that order to claim a spot on the Flames’ RW.
I think there’s a lot of undue hype because he’s on the China roster, but I don’t think it’s an audition as much as it is insurance. I think we can all agree that if you’re going to bring someone halfway around the world to sit in the press box, it’s much better to bring the 29-year-old vet than a prospect.
Does anybody get waived after training camp? i.e. does anyone lose their roster spot?
— Zach Thomas (@thelivingzach) September 8, 2018
To answer this question and part two of the question above, the answer is likely one of Garnet Hathaway or Curtis Lazar.
The Flames replaced them in the offseason with Czarnik and Michael Frolik (demotion via acquisition of Elias Lindholm and James Neal), or at the very least put them on notice. It’s going to be up to the preseason to figure out whether one of those two actually got laid off, or if they get to stick around another day.
As for which one gets waived, I’d imagine Lazar goes first. He’s still young enough that you can at least try and see if getting him AHL time might actually get him going on the right track. Hathaway is a known asset at the AHL level and at 26, he’s likely not going to improve. He’s a fine enough 13th forward, so no harm keeping him in the press box.
How do you project Tkachuk doing this season? Does he finally end up on a scoring line as opposed to 3M?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) September 8, 2018
I would set Tkachuk’s floor at 60 points. With improved depth, some actual powerplay time, and some good luck, he certainly looks to take a major step forward.
As for scoring lines, I’m excited to see what Bill Peters has planned for him, because he’s going to land in a favourable situation no matter how the top six is organized. Tkachuk’s certainly going to see first line RW time with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, which could be a line that is worth more than the sum of its parts. He could also stick with Mikael Backlund, but have Elias Lindholm on the right wing.
Is it wrong to want Neal on a line with Chucky and Backs so we could have an MNM line?
— Jason Roycroft (@jrroycroft) September 8, 2018
Besides the wonderful pun, it would be a very good line. Tkachuk (42 penalties drawn, +18 differential) and James Neal (30 drawn, +19 differential) can both agitate opponents and give the Flames a man advantage, which would make the MNM line one of the toughest to play against in the league. Neal is also a career clinical shooter who could provide a boost to a line that had its struggles shooting last year. Both Neal and Tkachuk can swap wings too, so there’s a lot of flexibility for Peters to work with.
not really a question but its gonna suck when @TKACHUKycheese_ gets 70 points this year and will deserve $7m
— Josh Gearey (@JoshGearey) September 8, 2018
Even if Tkachuk hits 70 points, the Flames are definitely going to keep him under the Mark Giordano cap. If they managed to hold Johnny Gaudreau at $6.75M AAV after he put up 0.89 PPG during his first contract, they can certainly keep Tkachuk under that. If Tkachuk hits 70 points in 82 games, that would put him at 0.74 PPG production for his entry-level deal. That would put him under Gaudreau’s cap hit.
Not to say that they can keep him under $6M though. Sean Monahan signed for $6.375M AAV after 0.67 PPG production on his entry-level deal and also jumped straight out of the CHL like Tkachuk, so that’s probably the floor for his extension. Of course, there are other factors involved that could keep Tkachuk’s AAV down, such as position (Monahan is the #1 C, Tkachuk is the #2 LW) and two-way play (Tkachuk is one of the league’s best in this department), but right now you can likely put his next contract somewhere between Monahan and Gaudreau/Giordano’s. Locking up a player like Tkachuk for somewhere between those prices is wonderful, regardless.
What does the fourth line look like? Does Dube start as a flame?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) September 8, 2018
After that extremely meaningful rookie game, let’s say Andrew Mangiapane-Dillon Dube-Spencer Foo. They looked so good yesterday afternoon, that we’re going to say they’re ready (it will really be Mangiapane-Jankowski-Czarnik).
How is Gawdin looking? I am looking forward to see him play with Pollock and Phillips the PPG line.
— @thegatorswamp (@thegatorswamp2) September 9, 2018
This tweet actually came before yesterday’s rookie game, so congrats to Mr. Gator here for having an astute hockey prospects mind. The Pollock-Gawdin-Phillips line was one of the Flames’ most effective behind the Mangiapane-Dube-Foo line, combining for three goals in the win.
Specific to Glenn Gawdin, he looked fine. He had a weird junior career (went from alright to the league’s best player in the span of one season) so it’s always been tough to make heads and tails of what he could be at the pro level, but if he continues his growth, Gawdin could be closer than imagined. His play yesterday was his classic calm and smart play, so that’s a good sign heading into 2018-19, although it’s just one rookie game.
For the PPG line, they should be fun for the Stockton Heat. Pollock had a pretty good breakout season at 21 despite spending the year before meddling in the ECHL. Phillips has also been a WHL standout, so he could easily gel with the rest of the line.
Is the rivalry with the Oilers going to heat up in 2018-19 like back in the day? https://t.co/TvYMeAQscT
— Ian Berg (@ianberg) September 9, 2018
I don’t know if it will, only because we’ve been promised an extremely meaningful Battle of Alberta for so long and it’s never really materialized. There were two fights in the rookie game yesterday, so maybe the future of the rivalry is bright. Hockey definitely needs to bring back hot mics though.