Free The Flame reached out to me and asked if I could rank the forwards group in Stockton to see who would fit the term “Black Ace” for the Flames playoff run. Unless the Heat go on a 10-game winning streak, Stockton will miss the Calder Cup playoffs for the third time in four years.
Next to each player below there is an E (waiver exempt) or N (non-waiver exempt). Thanks to CapFriendly, I was able to obtain these players’ waiver status to verify if someone is called up, they are able to be reassigned to Stockton without the need to go through waivers and risk getting claimed by another club. Here is the waiver clause as stated:
- When a player is reassigned from the NHL to the AHL, they must pass through waivers (unless exempt). Waivers allow any of the other teams to claim the rights of the player.
- Exemptions to the rule above: A player does not need to pass through waivers if the player has not been on the NHL active roster for a cumulative 30 days since last clearing waivers, and has not played in 10 or more NHL games.
Below is my top 10 ranking with a little personal insight from the farm. This list is not indicative of their play in Stockton; it is strictly a ranking on who would fit best in Calgary.
#1 – Alan Quine (N): Since his return from Calgary, Quine has moved from center to wing and has been on fire. He has 15 points, including a hat trick, in the nine games in 2019. The soon-to-be 26 year-old leads the Heat with 35 points (13-21) while playing in only 26 games. He is the only current Stockton player who is better than a point-a-game at 1.35 points per game. He has played in 93 NHL games for both the New York Islanders and the Flames, collecting 26 points (9-17), including four (3-1) with Calgary. He would fit nicely on the third line wing with Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski or as a fourth line scoring threat.
#2 – Kerby Rychel (N): Rychel is that scrappy player who plays a good 200’ game. He is tied for second on the team lead in points while pacing the team with 17 goals on 101 shots. The 24-year-old likes to cruise the blue paint looking for rebounds or tips. He doesn’t get pushed off the puck easily and finishes his checks in the corner. In 43 NHL games with Columbus, Montreal, and Calgary, he has 14 points (3-11). I bet Montreal wishes they had him back, as Calgary fleeced them with the trade for Hunter Shinkarak. He was given two games in Calgary and could use a few more to prove his worth.
#3 – Curtis Lazar (N): He was sent down to Stockton to “work on his game”. He has done exactly that, playing top line minutes and on both ends of special teams. In 40 games with the Heat, Lazar is having the best statistical year of his career. In 245 NHL games, he has 51 points (15-36). This year, in 40 games, he has 31 points (13-18). Named to the AHL All-Star team, he is fourth on the team in scoring, three points off the team lead. He should be wearing the “C” on his jersey, but Cail MacLean has refused to name a captain, instead opting for rotation alternate captains only. He might even be better than Austin Czarnik.
#4 – Dillon Dube (E): This is strictly based on his time already spent in Calgary. While he has only suited up 15 times for the Heat this year, he is just under a point-a-game guy. Starting out the year playing RW, MacLean has recently played him at center as well. He has been playing on the third line (the Pee-Wee line) with Matthew Phillips and Glenn Gawdin along with first unit power play time and some occasional PK time. Personally I would leave him in Stockton for the remainder of the year so he can get as much ice time as possible. Playing 18 to 20 minutes a night building confidence is better than seven minutes and stapled to the bench in the third period. If Andrew Mangiapane is reassigned to Stockton beyond the NHL All-Star Break, Quine and Rychel should be recalled before Dube.
#5 – Buddy Robinson (N): Since the end of November, Robinson has been on fire. He has 18 points in the last 19 games, including a recently-snapped 10-game point streak. His 21 assists are the second most on the team. He has started to use his 6’6 frame a little more by heading to the front of the net on power plays and when in the zone. He had a goal and an assist in seven NHL games with Ottawa. He is a bottom six player at best on the Flames.
#6 – Tyler Graovac (N): Graovac has been a steady performer for the Heat all season. Tied for second on the Heat in points, he has good vision and a deceptive shot. Close to a point-a-game guy, he could bring some valuable minutes as a fourth line center. He has good faceoff numbers and plays both special teams. He has Mikael Backland defensive qualities to his game. His 62-game NHL resume, all but five with the Minnesota Wild, consists of nine points (7-2). He spent five games with the Capitals. Like Lazar, Graovac is possibly better than Czarnik, but not as good as Lazar. He does have some size though.
#7 – Spencer Foo (E): It hurts me to rank Foo this low, as I think he has talent, but others have outshined him. He has 10 goals so far this year, but I really don’t remember any of them, which is odd since he is just ahead of Rychel in total shots. He is quickly becoming Morgan Klimchuk: forgettable. He is the type of player who you don’t remember on the ice and look down at the stat sheet to see he had a secondary assist somewhere. I don’t expect him to get a call up, as the six players ahead of him on this list have more to offer.
#8 – Ryan Lomberg (E): Lomberg brings a feisty edge with him. While he is a fourth line energy guy who will drop the mitts with just about anyone in Calgary, his game is Stockton is a little more defined. He is a third line winger who plays top PK minutes and likes to agitate opponents. He has only been in one fight to my memory this year in Stockton. He is the less talented Garnet Hathaway.
#9- Matthew Phillips (E): This ranking does not have anything to do with his ability or season: it has to do strictly on experience. Everyone above him on this list has played in the NHL, so it is highly doubtful he would get called up, even for a game or two. He needs a full year or two in the AHL before he gets a taste of NHL hockey. Just for the record, he is sixth on the team in scoring and tied for fifth in goals. He has played on every line this year, including a few games on the top line. He has spent most of his time with Gawdin as his center and either Dube or Lomberg as his winger. If this was based on performance, I would have him #5.
#10 – Anthony Peluso (N): Calgary would call him up just for his face punching qualities. He currently second on the Heat in penalty minutes while contributing seven points (2-5). He has compiled 220 penalty minutes in 148 NHL games, most of them with Winnipeg, along with 14 points (4-10).
Others on the team but not reviewed: Gawdin (rookie that needs AHL ice time), Brett Pollock (needs to become a regular in Stockton), Mike McMurtry (AHL contract), and Scott Sabourin (PTO Contract).
The floor in now open for discussion.