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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki ‘not close’ to returning: Treliving

While the Calgary Flames had a big win on Monday, they were missing a pair of defensemen. Flames general manager jumped on Sportsnet 960 The Fan with Pat Steinberg and Will Nault in the afternoon and provided some injury updates.

Injury updates

Treliving had a succinct summary for both Michael Stone and Juuso Valimaki’s statuses: “Not close.”

Stone is dealing with a blood clot. Things are progressing, but it’ll take some time. He’s skating and working out, but they have to let things run their course medically. The club may have a better sense closer to end of January what the timeline is for his return.

Valimaki is dealing with a significant high ankle sprain. He’s going to need more time. He’s progressing through his rehab, but like Stone it’s looking like they’ll have a better sense of his timeline near the end of January.

“They’ve been out awhile and they certainly will be out awhile yet,” said Treliving.

It’s also worth noting that, though Valimaki has only played 22 games this season, he’s been on the roster for 40 games, which will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent a year earlier than he would have otherwise.

Other thoughts from the GM

But the radio hit wasn’t all injury updates. Treliving had a few other thoughts on the first 39 games of the Flames’ season.

The spot we’re in, I like that we’re not maxed out. So I still think, when you really break down our team collectively and individually, there’s more to give. There’s certainly been some real good individual performances and for the most part – really getting through that first part, that initial part of the season – we’ve been a fairly consistent team, which is something I think you need to be to be a good team. But we’re not maxed out.

Treliving added that he likes that the team’s game is “sustainable.”

In speaking about the team’s internal growth – and the need to get contributions from the players that aren’t their stars – he mentioned Mark Jankowski several times. He noted that as Jankowski develops, it’ll help the team become deeper up the middle. He emphasized that Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway have become really good penalty killers.

Treliving thought that Valimaki would need to be in AHL until Christmas to be ready to play in the NHL originally, but he earned a spot in camp. He credited the young defenders and assistant coach Ryan Huska for how well the young defensemen have worked. He praised Mark Giordano’s influence on the youngsters and pointed out that the Rasmus Andersson recall last season was because “we wanted him around Mark Giordano.”

He praised David Rittich for his performance this season. He had nice things to say not only about his on-ice work, but also his mental approach to the game while playing a tough position and after having a challenging initial NHL experience last season.

Treliving pointed out that teams that have success tend to have internal growth (and do their big moves in the summer), in reference to a question about being in a position to adding a rental player. They’re obviously always looking for ways to improve their team, but it appears that their focus this season might be working with the players they have in Calgary and Stockton.

  • Skylardog

    Tre hits the nail on the head when he says that we are not maxed out. This teams has and should be lethal as we move to the back end of the season and what is almost certainly a playoff run.

    Think about it. Neal, Janko, and Sammy are capable of way more goals. Dube should be able to increase his scoring as well, and we have Quine sitting in the minors with a good showing when he was here. On defense, Andersson appears ready to explode, and there are goals available but yet untapped from Kylington. Have to think Hanifin is capable of a few more as well. Despite guys not performing, we are sitting near the top in GF this season. There is a lot left in the tank.

    This is the year, I can feel it, I can sense it. We need to stay healthy. That means some of the guys I listed above stepping up to reduce the icetime and reliance on the Big 5 (Mony’s line, Tkachuk and Gio). Managing icetime should be a priority for Peters in the second half. We can’t have JG, Mony, and Lind playing 25 minutes in a game like they did against Vancouver. That leads to fatigue, which leads to injury. More ice for the 3rd D-pair too please.

    • freethe flames

      Part of this will depend on BP being able to help guys find chemistry. The other thing is they have to experiment with the 2nd PP unit; what they put out on the ice now is frankly terrible.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        Unless Rittich gets injured. Remember what the future looked like last night for that second they were talking about Rittich having “tweaked” something?

        This team is excellent, but goaltending can still sink us in the playoffs.

    • fumanchu1968

      Love the enthusiasm. We’re going to make some noise in the playoffs this year but I think baring a miracle on ice a la 2004 we need a couple more years of learning how to win more consistently and rounding out the PP and PK. A couple of years learning how to win in the playoffs is probably part of the formula as well. BSD looks like a legit #1, but we need two of them to win the Cup. Just sayin’ GFG!

  • RKD

    I wonder what will happen when Valimaki is healthy? I guess Kylington is the 1st guy to go down. Better to keep them out until they are 100% because both those injuries are tough to come back from. Stone has to go on blood thinners first see how he responds etc.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Valimaki might have been passed on the depth chart by Kylington, so JV would be the odd man out. If not, the club should keep Oliver and play him as a forward on the 4th line. His skating is already world class and he doesn’t seem jittery about handling the puck in the NHL. Indeed, his stickhandling is one of his strong suits. He could be quite a playmaker as a forward. That being said, his being a forward would only be for the balance of this season. He would return to the blueline next season as one of the regulars, replacing the traded TJ.

    • Baalzamon

      Valimaki would probably benefit more from playing in the minors than Kylington. Especially coming off an injury, but Kylington has been playing pro hockey since he was 16, and NA pro since he was 18. Valimaki is (was) playing pro hockey for the first time in his life this year.

      25mins/night for Stockton would be really good for him.

  • Skylardog

    On Stone

    He really was the chip that we had available to offer to get a deadline rental forward to make a big run. No one else is expendable if they are to keep the key pieces here intact. He also would clear cap space if traded, which some other players do not offer if they were traded. A move without cap space being cleared is a no-go.

    He was a tough trade given his contract price, and more importantly his term. He was signed too long to be an easy trade. But the window was opening at the deadline. The term was becoming less and less an issue.

    But these blood clots are nasty. I speak from experience. I have had one for the last 3.5 years, and it simply will not go away. It rarely effects my life, but it has meant stepping back from activities that could lead to a head injury, which could be fatal. I love downhill skiing. I have been just once in the last 4 years. I took it extremely easy, not how I like to ski.

    But even once the clot is gone, the problem is not over. For me, this being my second fight with clots, it means a lifetime of blood thinners. The reason they came back is because I was taken off them after the first incident. You are prone to them and susceptible. The cause is often not known, which is the case with my current battle with them.

    For Stone, it has the potential of being career ending. You simply cannot be on blood thinners and play hockey at any level. Sadly, his trade value has also gone up in smoke as well.

    But that is the least important part of all this. His health is all that really matters. And a rubber puck on the ice is not at all important. To a speedy recovery Michael. Cheers!

    • KKisTHEproblem

      Sorry to hear you’re dealing it all that Skylar. I wish you the best on your long recovery, hoping at least you can end the 3.5 year piece.

      Agree re Stone and what’s important. The only thing I’d add, trying not to sound crass, is that if the problem is long term, at least he goes to LTIR and the cap space frees up. But if I recall, its not the greatest benefit in that he would be on the roster opening day, then moves to LTIR so the cap space can only be used after opening day, I think. In any event, don’t wish that on anyone, hope he recovers.

    • canadian1967

      Ive had a Clot in my Lung 3 times now and one more that stayed in my Leg.
      Skylar, my first was from getting speared in the Leg and the rest from having a dormant recessive Protein C deficiency that surfaced after the first Clot.
      Amazing when you live through something 4 times and perfectly healthy people don’t survive the first.
      Good Luck Skylar and Michael.

      • Skylardog

        I’m good Canadian, and very fortunate. The first one in 2011 was scary. This one is in my leg and now barely bothers me except for the occasional ache. They have been unable to pinpoint a specific gene but say it is likely a clotting factor they are yet unaware of. I have made constant but very slow progress for the past 3 years in getting it gone. As long as it is progressing, they do not want to mess with it.

      • deantheraven

        Mine was under my shoulder. Blood thinners and no heavy physical activity for over a year until my body rerouted the blood flow. Don’t know where Stone’s is, but when I heard about my first reaction was as Skylar’s. Season-ending? Most likely. Career-ending? I hope not but…

        • Skylardog

          It’s in his arm.

          That sounds scary deantheraven. Not good when blood flow has to change paths. The body is amazing however, when you realize it is capable of doing that.

          • Off the wall

            Wow, thanks for sharing your own stories about this gentleman.

            My older brother passed away from a blood clot. 39 years young. It still concerns me that while somewhat treatable, it can happen so quickly. My brother didn’t have a chance.

            I wish all of you dealing with this my own personal thoughts and concerns for your well being.

    • oilcanboyd

      And Peters and the new coaches arrived at the right time. Not being afraid of deploying youth so that they can develop their pro-hockey skills at the NHL level and in doing so developing their confidence to stay in the league. Opposite of GG who couldn’t trust youth.

    • MDG1600

      Not sure I agree – all the organizational depth is now playing in Calgary. Stockton at 1/1/2019 are not a very good hockey team and have few realistic prospects. We need another good draft this spring to re-stock the cupboards.

  • buts

    The thought of Dube,Jankowski, Neal improving as well as guys playing up to Tkachuks level is scary. We are the 3rd highest scoring team in the league and yes we haven’t maxed out. Lindholms addition has been unbelievable to JG and SM levels of play.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Wouldn’t surprise me if Stone is out for the rest of the year. As Skylar pointed out, blood clots are unpredictable baskets that are life altering. I am sure Stone and the Flames want to see him fully recovered before putting him back on the ice. With the depth on defence, there is no need to hurry him back.

    If Stone Is lost for the season, do the Flames need to pick up a grizzled stay-at-home defender for the playoffs? Sure they have the bodies with Andersson, Kylington and Valimaki, but none is a cagey old vet who thinks defence first, second and third. As a 7th defender, a timely sub if one of the kids starts to wilt under the playoff heat or as a reliable replacement in the event of an injury, Peters needs to have such a guy for a long playoff run. I doubt that guy will be Stone.

  • 420

    Blood clots are scary and dont wish them on anyone. I have dealt with them myself and a scary road. Though, this has been a blessing for the the Flames. Stones’ game does not fit in with the Flames fast, high octane style. He is too slow and terrible with the puck. I would rather see y that are rolling right now and when Valimakki is ready, I’d wait and send him to the AHL. Kylington is playing much better.

  • freethe flames

    So BT suggests that he probably is not going rental shopping this year if things remain the same, I’m happy to hear that. The number of guys who are true rentals this year are either going to be expensive b/c of bidding wars or are not much better than what we have.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    It is really hard to see what we have with Rittich. He has demonstrated the ability to steal games. He made some great saves last night but the Burns goal was too far out for my liking and the Thorton goal should have been saved.

    I have noticed the team giving up too many HDSC in the last few games. The one thing we know about Rittich is he is great at keeping the Flames in games until they get on track. He is a battler and that is more than we have had in a long time.

    • Skylardog

      Burns shot was a super quick release and as hard as they get. Labelled for the corner just a foot off the ice. He has been burning goalies on these for several years. Rittich will say he should have had it, but it was one of those you wish he got, but by no means a weak goal. None of them were “Smith-like” where you go damn it Smitty…

  • KG-Flames

    The one thing we really need is a big body who can score on the bottom 6. Someone who plays two way game but actually hits and can skate a la Adam Lowry, or Tom Wilson. Obviously not those two but someone other than bennett to fight, hit and score in one package for when we face NSH, ANH, DAL, WPG. Neal should be all of that but apparently we didn’t know he can’t skate when we signed him.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Like… how about Ferland as a rental. Organizational familiarity, checks all the boxes you mentioned. For a 3rd + b prospect I would do it. I would also do it to clear some cap for next year (Frolik). Frolik gives Carolina a strong defensive presence with cost certainty for next year. Yes the concussion issues are a worry, but he is currently healthy again. We know Ferly can be a playoff difference maker. I would prefer to keep Frolik and have crazy forward depth going into playoffs

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Johnny-Monny-Lindy
        Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
        Ferland-Bennett-Neal
        Dube-Janko-Ryan

        Hathaway and Czarnik as extras (or send Dube down if he isn’t getting significantly minutes).

        That third line could be terrifying come play-off time. Yes I realize I have Bennett at centre again… very curious to see what those three could do together, if it doesn’t work, move Bennett back to the wing again.

      • HOCKEY83

        The only time ferly is ever good is on the un-earned gifted top lines he’s played on with Calgary and Carolina. The moment he drops off of those lines he’s nothing. There’s certainly no room for him back here in Calgary

  • Korcan

    I agree, I don’t like rentals as they rarely end up being the elixir they promise to be. After watching last night’s game, however, I do think Calgary could benefit from one more skilled yet physical forward who can play with some edge.

    My personal choice would be Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia. Put him on the right side with Tkachuk and Backlund could be something special. Then keep Benny with Janks and Neal — if those three start producing the way they can (and it is beginning to look like they are all on the verge of breaking out), that is a scary top three lines. Then Frolik Ryan and Hathaway could give Calgary one of the top 4th lines out there.

    I’m not sure what the cost would be though. My guess is it would be something like Mangiapane, plus a pick. I’m not sure Tre will want to go that route, especially if he sees Calgary still being a year away from really being a contender. Rentals are voodoo.

      • Luter 1

        No kidding, take that in a heartbeat. Get us out of this contract debacle and improve dramatically. Neal’s off the foot goal does nothing to change my mind this guy just can’t skate. Don’t believe me check your PVR, he usually disappears off your TV screen he is so far behind the play.

  • Albertabeef

    We have won 13 games by three goals or more and he haven’t hit the halfway mark. We had the same amount the entire last season lol. For the record we have not seen the Flames on the winning side of 20 or more blowouts in a season since 1990-91. We had 20 blowout losses last year though and only 2 so far this year.

  • Garry T

    Looked at the Carolina / Flames trade again and think it was a great deal for both parties.
    I have heard Carolina, being budget conscious are a little worried about Ferland’s concussion issues..
    If I were Treiliving, I would be calling Carolina again and saying that if under any circumstances they
    wanted to move Ferland, that the Flames would be interested. He is the missing piece
    for a strong Stanley Cup run. If Ferland is not going to be available, then I still think the
    Flames need to find a top six winger sooner rather than later because at the trade deadline,
    these guys get much more expensive.

    • freethe flames

      So if we are going to talk about the Flames adding a top 6 winger what is the cost? Let’s look at the squad and it’s assets: currently they have 22/23 players on the NHL squad and 2 NHLer’s and 1 AHLer on IR. They have 45/50 contacts filled and enough cap space for a rental. The “5” are not going anywhere, Rittich is not going anywhere, the babies on D are not going anywhere and I doubt seriously that Baccks, Bennett,TJ, Hamonic and Janko are going anywhere; that leaves 8 guys they might move and some are not really trade able. I doubt anyone gives you the value needed for Neal. On the farm everyone is available except I would say Parsons and Phillips. We have limited draft picks to use and I would not use the 1st rounder for a rental. So identify who you think would be a good fit and put together a package that will get it done.