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Photo Credit: Mrs. Finest

An ace up the Flames’ sleeve

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.

With my new friend Kerby Rychel

#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.

Oh Captain my Captain

#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.

  • withachance

    Great insights! Honestly makes me feel comfortable if Tre doesnt acquire a 4th liner. All the top choices seems like can play a heavier, defensive oriented game if the points dont come.

    Good fits for callups during the playoffs

  • Skylardog

    Fantastic Stuff!

    Where would you put Gawdin now. He started slow, but seems to be finding his way over the last few weeks. This could have more to do with who he is playing with, not an improvement in his game.

  • Demetric

    Question: once playoffs start, waivers do not matter nor does the roster limit. So could not all these guys be brought up once playoffs start and Stockton’s season ends?

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      There’s a weird rule that in the playoffs you can only have three players on your roster that were called up using regular recall after TDL (there’s a loophole that allows for 4 but that hopefully won’t happen for the Flames). As I understand Black Aces it essentially means that all of Stockton could be with Calgary but they still aren’t on the 23 man roster. If we called all of these guys up, only 3 could be on the main squad at any time.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    I’m with the top two you have selected. I think it might depend on the opponent as to who I would take first, but my instincts tell me it is Rychel because of his ability to finish checks. I’d like to see if he could be a Ferland 2.0.

  • Skylardog

    It is interesting. I started my day way earlier than Mrs Sky here in the sun. To avoid waking her, I pulled out my computer with the idea of listing players we need for a playoff run, those that are expendable, and those that we need more info on, making them somewhat untouchable.

    Quine topped my list. He has shown he could play here if needed.
    Rychel proved to be too slow in my opinion for the NHL level.
    Lazar was ranked second on my list. He has the speed, physicality, and experience to find a role should we need a player in the playoffs.

    I would not trade Quine or Lazar at the TDL as they could fill in during the playoffs.

    Dube and Phillips would be untouchables, but having said that, if you could pry a top DMan or young top 6 forward we could resign or that has the right cap hit and term, you let them go.

    I would hesitate to let Gawdin go. Just a feeling. A scoring bottom 6 forward?

    All others are on the table.

    Parsons is the only goalie that is untradeable. He, and Schneider, if we had a goalie injury disaster befall us, need to be around. Gillies is done.

    • Jourflamesfan

      Dube doesn’t impress me much. However, time is on his hands. I thought he would break out this season and be that rookie that surprised us all but that honor goes to Anderson, Kylington & Valimaki.
      Quine is an interesting player.
      Rychel, I agree too slow.
      Lazar would be ok in an emergency but I prefer someone who can actually score.

      • Skylardog

        Dube falls into the “need more info on” category. We have a sense of what he is, but with only 7-8 minutes a night, a true picture has not appeared. It is difficult for a player of his calibre, playing top minutes and both special teams, to suddenly be cut to minimal icetime. That alone is an adjustment.

        Lazar is our AHL all-star, plays 200 feet, hits and is fast. He kills penalties. That is the definition of playoff hockey. He is better than Mangi and Czar by a long shot, as a playoff guy.

        To score on the top 2 lines, none of the 3 have had any impact. In the last 2 years, Mangi has just 1 point in 23 games, Czar 4 in 29, and Lazar 11 in 65. That translates into 0.28, 0.90, and 1.09 points/60 at 5v5. Lazar got crap linemates in Stajan and Brouwer, Czar gets Tkachuk and Backs plus Neal. Mangi this season has had some opportunity, Janko, Neal, etc, but simply cannot out up points.

        Lazar is ahead of Neal (0.77 P/60) at 5v5 (as is Czar). Ryan, 0.65, also falls well below Lazar.

        Sorry, your lack of scoring vision of Lazar is not incorrect, but off base compared to many on the roster.

        Did I mention that he hits?

    • everton fc

      Lazar will be a good playoff performer here, under Peters system. I agree. Quine has already proven is worth, in spot-roles.

      If many here see Rychel as being too slow for the next level, I’ll default in agreement on him. Lomberg can certainly skate at this level, and is decent on the PK. Everyone likes Dube, but he, like Mangiapane, can’t seem to score here. But Dube’s speed and game would be good for the playoffs, need be.

      I actually think Lazar scores goals, in Peters system. He’d give us more depth, than Czarnik, who shoudl have been sent down to Stockton.

      • Honkydonk

        Give Dube one more year and he will be a good player. I always saw Dube as a very similar player potential wise to Backlund. Scored in junior don’t forget, was captain for Canada during world juniors. Dube just needs a year to get feet under him and don’t forget he had a few really bad luck injuries

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          Same track record as Lazar which is what concerns me. I agree that Lazar could flourish under BPs system. Rychel still has promise but needs to be more of a pest like Hath. I think he is a better scorer than Lazar and Dube.

    • Off the wall

      How is it you that you are waking so early on holidays Skylar?

      You know the drinks are included, right? I’d be sleeping in myself. Haha

      I like your thoughts, except I wouldn’t touch anyone on the smurf line. (Per Wee line)

      I think Phillips , Gawdin and Dube will be important to our team in two years.

      Great analysis SF, thanks for doing this!

      • Skylardog

        Really not up too early, 9 am here when I moved. That’s 7 back home

        Hitting the drinks hard, but not all inclusive where I am. Happy hour is 2 for one, at the pools and beach. Order a bucket as it ends, drink until 5.

  • deantheraven

    Brilliant reporting, SF. Just the kind of detailed info we need about our prospects pool. Your recommendations are spot on, imho.I can see the value of adding Rychel, Lazar and maybe Graovac based on their results and Grit Factor. A lot of folks round here seem to care more about corsi than corner work. When April comes, the war begins.
    Hope BT & BP are on the same page.
    Also, love the selfies! Lookin’ good!
    Thanks, SF!

  • sRo

    The statements about the player being as good as Czarnik are pointless. Czarnik is the worst player on the Flames, by far. I certainly hope these guys are as good as him.

  • freethe flames

    I had to work this morning so I did not get to post this earlier: this is just a little more information on this forward group:
    Name Handed NHL Games Played NHL Playoff Games
    Lazar r 245 7
    Foo r 4
    Robinson r 7
    Peluso r 148
    Phillips r 0
    Gawdin r 0
    Dube l 23
    Mangiapane l 23
    Rychel l 43
    Quine l 93 10
    Graovic l 62
    Lomberg l 11
    Well it once was in a chart. I have said for a while now that I don’t think the Flames need to add any bottom 6 forwards; this group would have that covered. My concern is the top 6 forwards. Thanks SF for the work that went into this.

    • Skylardog

      Bottom 6 are a dime a dozen, strangely enough, you listed 12 guys. Only a half dozen could be in the bottom 6 though, another strange coincidence.

      We have enough depth.

  • Garry T

    Thanks for the excellent report. As said by others, we have great support at forward
    For our “ black aces “. Three questions. If it is dubious that Stockton may not make the playoffs, 1. Which of Parsons and Sneider is the better goalie at the moment?
    2. Has Parsons recovered from his anxiety attacks, or do they look long term. 3. Beyond Valimaki, are there any possibilities on D that could come up and play?

    A positive observation for Stockton is that Calgary looks to have drafted three big centres all goal scorers with the necessary speed and talent. They also have wingers coming for Stockton. I would think that Treliving would like to add a top 6 forward without giving up picks. I am hoping he moves Czarnik even though he likes him , for a 2 or 2 picks in the form of a pair of 3s. We are Ok for D up in Calgary. Per my point 3, could you rate our D in Stockton? I am sure Treliving will address defensive needs from the waiver wire and free agency. You need scoring forwards and I am hoping Leeson is available when we draft. With the number of Europeans, USHL, and College players expected to be taken throughout the draft, there are a lot of good D available and some very good forwards and D that may slip to our 3 pick and our 2 fours.from the CHL leagues. Keep the faith. This year was fix the big club. Next season it will be less Flames and more Stockton.