Hockey is back here in the Central Valley of California, with less than a week until the only home preseason game for the Stockton Heat. I want to thank the writers here at FlamesNation for allowing me to continue providing updates from the farm. In my second season, I will be trying to dive deeper into individual players and their progress towards their goal of reaching the NHL.
As a reminder, my articles are written from a fan’s standpoint. I have never played the game but have been following it since the late ’80s. This is our fourth season watching the Heat and third as full season ticket holders. Even though our seats are eight rows behind the goalie, we wander around the arena sometimes to get different views of the game. Lastly, 99% of the pictures I post in my articles are Mrs. Finest iPhone originals.
As we gear up for a new season, here’s a look at the summer moves made by the Flames organization regarding the Heat. The big change happened behind the bench. Cail MacLean was promoted to head coach, replacing Ryan Huska, who made the jump to assistant coach with the Flames. Filling Cail’s defensive role with the Heat is Joe Cirella.
Some of the notable players from last year’s roster that have moved on include the following: Brett Findlay (Italy), Darrin Nowich (Sweden), Rod Pelley (Denmark), Colin Smith (Germany), Oleg Yevenko (KHL), Austin Carroll (ECHL Salt Lake City), Emile Poirier (AHL Invite Manitoba), Hunter Shinkaruk (Montreal/Laval), and Tyler Wotherspoon (St. Louis/San Antonio).
Camp opens Monday, Sept. 24 with eight NHL or AHL contracted players who will be on the ice, as reported on the Heat website:
- Three forwards: Yasin Ehliz, Zach Fischer, Mike McMurtry
- Three defensemen: Josh Healey, Andrew O’Brien, Michael Paliotta
- Two Goalies: Mason McDonald, Nick Schneider
Also in camp are defensemen Willie Raskob, who is on an AHL/ECHL contract, and four invited blueliners (Jordan Klimek, Nate Widman, Cliff Watson, and Kayle Doetzel). Watson and Doetzel spent time with the Heat last year. Along with them are seven invited forwards (Justin Auger, Jordan Ernst, Scott Sabourin, Jack Nevins, Darren Dziurzynski, Jared VanWormer, and Ryan Kujawinski)
So now it is time to play the speculation game and see who will be on the Heat’s opening night roster. Without knowing for sure who will be here, trying to form lines is impossible. I will report lines from the preseason game, but know they will be different come opening night after the final cuts have been made in Calgary.
Using CapFriendly for the rosters, below are the lists of roster and non-roster players for the Flames. I have put some asterisks by players that may be on the move for both teams.
|Gaudreau, Johnny||Tkachuk, Matthew|
|Monahan, Sean||Hathaway, Garnet|
|Neal, James||Giordano, Mark|
|Backlund, Mikael||Hanifin, Noah|
|Lindholm, Elias||Brodie, TJ|
|Frolík, Michael||Hamonic, Travis|
|Ryan, Derek||Stone, Michael|
|Bennett, Sam||Kulak, Brett**|
|Jankowski, Mark||Prout, Dalton**|
|Czarnik, Austin||Smith, Mike|
|Lazar, Curtis**||Gillies, Jon**|
Looking over the roster, I believe some of these names will be heading south for the winter. Jon Gillies will likely start the season leading the Heat out of the tunnel. I could easily see Curtis Lazar as top line center here in Stockton just to give him ice time and build his confidence. Dalton Prout is a good choice for the seventh defenseman in Calgary, but if Rasmus Andersson continues his steady play, it could be Prout or Brett Kulak enjoying popcorn in Calgary while the other starts in California.
NON-ROSTER FLAMES ROSTER
|Foo, Spencer||Rychel, Kerby|
|Välimäki, Juuso||Pollock, Brett|
|Healey, Josh||Lomberg, Ryan|
|McDonald, Mason||Mangiapane, Andrew**|
|Rittich, David**||Robinson, Buddy|
|Dubé, Dillon**||Quine, Alan|
|Gawdin, Glenn||Klimchuk, Morgan|
|Parsons, Tyler||Högström, Marcus|
|Andersson, Rasmus**||Schneider, Nick|
|Phillips, Matthew||Graovac, Tyler|
|Kylington, Oliver||Peluso, Anthony|
David Rittich will be in Calgary. Mason McDonald and Nick Schneider will be sent to Kansas City. Dillon Dube, Rasmus Andersson, and Andrew Mangiapane all have a legitimate shot of making the club out of camp. Juuso Valimaki needs a year in the “A”. Spencer Foo is getting closer, but should start the year on the top line for the Heat.
Based on the preseason and rookie games, this team should have their sights set on a deep Calder Cup playoff run. With the big club in China, Cail McLean was afforded extra time to get familiar with all of the new players. The tempo the team is expected to play will be completely new and exciting. This team, along with some of the changes made at the arena (promotions, new food, more interaction with players, a better fan experience) has Mrs. Finest, me, and the Stockton faithful excited for the upcoming season.
October cannot come soon enough. Time to drop the puck and get “Fired Up” for Stockton Heat hockey. Go Heat Go!!!