In anticipation of their second game of a back-to-back, the Flames have made a number of notable roster moves, the biggest of which is activating Mikael Backlund from the injured reserve.
In addition to activating Backlund, the team has also made a number of moves involving players going to and from the AHL: Kerby Rychel has been brought up to the Flames, while Andrew Mangiapane and Jon Gillies will return to Stockton.
.@CortexBusiness Transaction Alert: The #Flames have recalled Kerby Rychel from the @AHL, reassigned Andrew Mangiapane and Jon Gillies to Stockton and removed Mikael Backlund from the IR. https://t.co/UBCBmwtMKS
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 16, 2018
The implication seems to be that Backlund is good to go, as should be Mike Smith. Gillies was recalled in case the Flames needed him on their three-game road trip, but if Smith is available, then there’s no need for the club to carry three goalies.
Smith left the ice after two periods of hockey against the Flyers on Wednesday, and was said to be day-to-day in his injury and/or illness. He did not dress against the Wild, but will be either on the bench or in the net for the Flames against the Blues.
Backlund has been unavailable for a bit longer: on Dec. 6, he sustained a hit to the head from the Wild’s Matt Dumba in the dying moments of what ended up being a 2-0 win. He was placed on the injured reserve Dec. 7, and was eligible to be activated as early as this past Friday. His loss has been the biggest for the Flames, as he’s the team’s second line and shutdown centre and overall fifth best forward. His addition to the lineup also pushes Mark Jankowski and Derek Ryan down, making the forward group that much deeper once again. The Flames went 3-1-0 in his absence.
Rychel, 24, was acquired by the Flames for Hunter Shinkaruk. He’s been off to a great start in his tenure as a member of the organization, scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 25 games for the Heat. He’s the Heat’s leading scorer at the time of his recall.
Mangiapane, 22, meanwhile, got off to a good start when recalled at the start of the month, but despite a number of scoring chances, he has yet to get his first NHL point. His game appears to have faded some as time has gone on, so his demotion after seven games makes some sense: though he’s no doubt improved from his first recall stint from a year ago, some more time in the AHL may yet be needed. He has seven goals and 14 points in 13 games for the Heat.