9

Travis Hamonic could return ‘late next week’: Peters

The Flames have been mostly healthy to start the season, but for one glaring exception: Travis Hamonic, who suffered a facial fracture after fighting Erik Gudbranson in the Flames’ season opener on Oct. 3.

According to Bill Peters, though, Hamonic could be back rather soon.

That would likely peg his return for early November, should the best case scenario come to pass. The Flames play the Avalanche Nov. 1 and the Blackhawks Nov. 3 at home. They have five more games between then and now.

A fair bit has changed since Hamonic went down with an injury, however. In that time, the Flames called up Rasmus Andersson, sat him as a healthy scratch, dressed him on an all-rookie pairing with Juuso Valimaki, bumped him up to play second pairing with Noah Hanifin, and even had him play on the top pairing with Mark Giordano for much of Sunday’s game against the Rangers. While Giordano and TJ Brodie are expected to reunite, it still sends a clear message: Andersson has been playing well.

The problem? With Hamonic’s return, the Flames will have to demote a defenceman. Neither Andersson nor Valimaki require waivers to be sent down, but also, neither is worthy of demotion. Assuming Valimaki continues to dress, he’ll play his 10th NHL game Thursday against the Penguins, which will officially burn the first year of his ELC; sending him down after that, unless his play declines enough to warrant it, would be bizarre. Valimaki and Andersson have also averaged 15:00 and 15:26 a game, respectively; they’re getting solid minutes and not looking out of place.

Dalton Prout, the Flames’ most frequent healthy scratch on defence, would be the candidate to demote then, and would likely give Stockton some much-needed help on the blueline.

The question, then, would turn to who would take Prout’s place as healthy scratch? If Valimaki and Andersson are in the NHL, they should be playing. Giordano obviously isn’t going anywhere, and apparently the goal is still to keep playing Brodie with him. There’s absolutely no reason to scratch Hanifin, and a returning Hamonic would need to get his minutes in (not to mention he’d probably help what’s been a struggling defensive group).

Signs point towards Michael Stone being the unlucky one to draw out, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a regular thing (sometimes rookies have bad games and get benched, you know?). It would be somewhat unprecedented for the Flames to park such a high cap hit in the press box; on the other hand, there are worse ways to go about building a defensive group than to have Stone as your seventh guy.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    The smart money would be on these pairs, assuming you sit Stone:
    Gio-Brodie
    Hanifin-Andersson
    Valimaki-Hamonic

    You want the guy who has played the least games to start slow. Valimaki can cover his speed. Hamonic can cover the toughness. Hanifin-Ras has been one of the most consistent pairs since they were stuck together. Once Ras starts taking slappers, his points will start to show up.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I can’t wait for the day we get some consistent offense from our D. We’re literally only tapping in to a portion of our teams potential

  • Smithwick

    It seems with BP not many people are a lock and nearly anyone could sit a game or two as needed. If Harmonic was healthy tomo, Brodie would be a good candidate to sit a game or two. Next week maybe someone else needs to watch the game from a distant angle, munching popcorn.

  • Greg

    Wouldn’t be a terrible thing to have Stone as an extra D and be able to rotate him in every few games to keep everyone fresh.

    Also, “unprecedented to have that high of a cap hit in the press box”? There’s been times the flames have had 2 or 3 of those in the press box for weeks at a time! They seem to have a need to have several big ticket salaries in their 4th line/3rd pair/extra body spots.

  • 左翼二

    I don’t know if Stone can switch sides, but if he can he’d make a good relief D. Demote Prout, park Stone but get him into games every now and again to give any one of the other 6 guys a night off.