Photo Credit: Mrs. Finest

Time for the Stockton Heat 2018-19 preview

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.


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
Ehliz, Yasin

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!!!

  • Speed Kills

    Thank you SF…
    I know I’ll be looking forward to your Heat Reports throughout the year and through the Heats Calder Cup playoff run. Lots to be excited about this year.

  • deantheraven

    Nice one, SF. It’s hard enough to see how the Flames line up shakes out but cool to Hope you’re right about all your movement predictions- except Lazr. I’m hoping he’s the 13/14 fwd this year.
    Can’t wait here either!

      • everton fc

        I think Peluso’s probably more likely destined for Stockton, than Lazar. When will Peluso play again, this pre-season??

        I simply can’t see Mangiapane staying in Calgary, to sit. Nor Dube, to be honest. If either make the team, Hathaway and Foo might be the best 13/14 forwards. Does Foo really need to be in the AHL- he’s

        • everton fc

          I was trying to type – “Does Foo really need more time in the AHL?” But I think he may… Ditto Mangiapane and Dube. No need to rush, no room on the current roster… Dube is the closest…

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    For the first time in a long time the Flames organization has some depth that our AHL team will be more than just a place to stick old used up vets……couldn’t be happier about that

    Love these reports from Stockton SF, and it’s on the bucket list to see a game there in the near future

  • stuhfan

    “I want to thank the writers here at FlamesNation for allowing me to continue providing updates from the farm.”

    They should be thanking you! Always look forward to reading your updates.

    I agree Valimaki needs time in the AHL to adjust to the pro game, he hasn’t looked very comfortable so far in the preseason.

  • buts

    SF your comments are always positive and I enjoy your honest views of the players strengths and weakness’s. I’ve been away on vacation….Now can someone from flames nation ban that first guy who commented as well as those that say personal insulting comments about others. I read a few comments from the last few days and it should be about the team and what you think is needed not about what others say. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin what has been a good blog.

  • Jobu

    Based on the quality of some of the pickups like Quine and Robinson as well as the on-the-cusp NHLers like Mangiapane Lazar Dube Valimaki Gillies and Andersson, Jobu thinks the Heat will be a stellar squad this year. Championship or bust!

  • freethe flames

    This should be the best team the Flames organization has sent to the AHL in years. Some NHL ready of near ready guys, some prospects with higher ceilings, some solid tweeners with some NHL games and some solid AHLers. Hopefully this will help to improve attendance in Stockton. SF have a great season.

  • HAL MacInnis

    I wonder what the plan is for Parsons. He needs to be a backup for Stockton, I think. Either way, the Heat are poised for a more successful season. Nice assessment of the current state.

    And thanks, Finest. Great article. It’s cool to see photos from the trenches. I hope to see more pics in future articles. Mrs. Finest might be needing a media pass, if she keeps this up. 😉

  • Cheeky

    Cheers for being our eyes and ears from the farm SF. Glad this team looks great on paper, time to bring back the winning ways and culture along with the obvious development. Go Heat!…

  • Off the wall

    I finally got a chance to read it SF.
    I love the clock with the Stockton Heat rink. Pretty neat!
    Did you make that?

    It’s nice to have you back here. We appreciate all your hard work, both you and Mrs Finest!