Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries, mystery signings and disappointment: a garbage bag day wrap-up

The Calgary Flames gathered at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday for exit meetings and final chats with the assembled media. We’ve dug through all the interviews to provide a quick and dirty rundown of the day’s discussions.

Who’s going to the World Hockey Championship?

The only player who’s definitely going is Michael Frolik, who will represent the Czech Republic. Johnny Gaudreau and Noah Hanifin are reportedly mulling their options.

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Definitely not going are Travis Hamonic (being a dad), Mikael Backlund (having a baby), Matthew Tkachuk (doesn’t have a contract for next season yet) and David Rittich (injury). Probably not going are Elias Lindholm (injury), Sean Monahan (injury), Mark Giordano (being a dad) and Juuso Valimaki (injury).

Who’s hurt?

The Flames don’t have a laundry list of injuries like they did a year ago, but they have a few guys who are nursing some injuries.

  • Sean Monahan had a “crack in his thumb.”
  • Elias Lindholm had a “slight ACL sprain” from Game 5 against Colorado.
  • David Rittich was working through a minor knee injury that according to Brad Treliving wasn’t bad enough to keep him from playing, but was a “nuisance.”
  • Juuso Valimaki has “a little nagging thing” that will be checked out.

Rittich’s injury was interesting, in the sense that he admitted in his chat with the media that he was hurt on Dec. 31 and if you look at his underlying numbers, his save percentage dropped like a stone in the second half – he rocked a .935 save percentage prior to his injury and a .910 afterwards.

Another defensive signing coming

Treliving’s group has been busy with signings this spring, inking deals with Luke Philp, Artyom Zagidulin, Adam Ruzicka, Martin Pospisil and Dmitry Zavgorodniy (and AHL deals with Rob Hamilton and Corey Schueneman). But in his media availability, Flames head coach Bill Peters let it slip that they had another blueline signing on the way.

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We’ll see if it materializes, but Yelesin is 23 and plays on the same team as Flames pick Rushan Rafikov (and former Flames great Jakub Nakladal). At the very least, the Flames are familiar with the player.

Lots of disappointment

A common theme in everyone’s chats with the media was the feeling that the Flames let a great opportunity slip away. They were the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season, but really struggled with Colorado’s speed and trying to take back momentum (in games and in the series).

Two quotes basically summed things up:

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If you’d like to listen to the player interviews yourself, our pals at Sportsnet 960 The Fan have oodles of audio from garbage bag day. As always, we’ll continue to break down the Flames’ season and offseason throughout the next few months.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    So Valimaki is hurt again, again. The kid had significant time on the DL as a junior and missed a huge chunk of his rookie season in the NHL with hurtz. I know Backlund was the same during his first few years in the NHL. Flames might not want to dispatch their defensive depth too quickly until Valimaki can show that he can answer the bell night after night after night. Godspeed to the lad for a quick recovery.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Just checked Yelesin. Just what the club needs another smallish type player–under 6′ and under 200 lbs. My hope is that he is depth for Stockton. Boy do they ever need it.

    Hope Tre learned something from the Avs series about large, punishing defencemen, such as Cole and that giant Russian bear, that he can successfully apply to the Flames.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      So, what makes Yelesin so special? First and foremost, he’s a physical, right-handed defenseman coming off of a career-best 10-point season. Now, 10 points in 55 regular season games may not jump off the page — and zero points in 10 postseason games for Lokomotiv definitely doesn’t jump off the page — but there’s more to Yelesin than goals and assists. He’s a punishing player in his own zone who doesn’t shy away from taking the body.

      Yelesin registered 188 hits this year. He led both his team and the KHL in hits by a significant margin. The second-highest hit total in the league belonged to teammate Nikita Cherepanov who finished the year with 128 hits. If that frequency of body contact on an international ice surface wasn’t eye-catching enough for NHL scouts and general managers, Yelesin also clocked a 102 mph slap shot at the KHL All-Star game on Jan. 19, 2019.

      This is what I found. I think we could use some of that.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        I hardly think a guy under 6′ and less than 200 pounds is what Frolik had in mind when he said the club needed to get bigger and meaner.

        Remember the playoffs when the Flames were lead in hits by Fleury? Team lost 4 straight but Fleury hit everybody in sight. In fact, when the cup was awarded, Fleury was still in the top 5 for hits even though he only played 4 games!

        Doesn’t Stone possess the hardest shot on the Flames?

        Tell us about Boris’ skating? Can he keep up with Mack? If not, how is he going to hit him?

        This signing looks like an early start to stock the Stockton roster.

        • Albertabeef

          Hanafin was better than Hamonic as far as the stats are concerned. At least Hanafin has lots of room to grow. Hamonic is pretty much all he will be at his age. I also consider moving Gio to the wing when not on the PP. I think he still has hockey to give but I wonder if he would be more effective playing forward. Oddly enough Hanafin and Brodie made a pretty good pair. both had over 10 minutes of PK time and never allowed a PP goal against. Gio and Hamonic surrendered a 5, one for every 5 minutes of PK time vs the Avs. One of Gio or Hamonic should have been switched out for a rookie. Not switching guys out because of special teams was just a bad coaching decision. Mind you the flames only scored one measly goal while Hamonic was on the ice in the playoffs.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        You gotta have a mix of defencemen in terms of size and style of play. Give me 6 Brett Burns on defence and I’ll give you a team that is worse than the Oilers.

        Avs have big bad Cole and that big red bear–both are big men who play like big men. Johnson is a big man too who played like one against Cal.

        Flames don’t really have any big, punishing defencemen. Hamonic does his part as does Gio but neither could be defined as big and tough in the classic sense.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Johnny, Mony and Chucky looked absolutely terrified when they crossed the Avs blueline and played like it. Nobody on the Flames’ defence struck the fear of Providence in any of the Avs. Lesson to be learned here.

          • snotss

            well the need for a bigger rougher team was discussed at great length on this site and now we know that the need is even greater after the “collapse”..bt must see the urgency now and act on it……….they were soft during the reg. season and even softer(if that is possible) in the playoffs

    • Beer League Coach

      Pound for pound, two of the toughest Flames were Theo Fleury and Dougie Gilmour. Size alone is not the most important part. I think it was Brian Sutter who once said “It isn’t the size of the bull that counts. It’s how well he is hung”. Nuff said. Give the Russian a chance to show what he can do. He just might surprise a few people.

  • Luter 1

    Who would have thought a plumber like Cole would outplay our total defence including Gio? Was watching the Stars game last night and that big mother of a defenceman was pasting people, then Austin Watson (exactly the kind of guys we need) pastes a Dallas guy who gives up the puck and presto 10 seconds later Watson’s putting the puck in his net while the Stars player is picking himself off the ice. Really only one guy this series that did this kind of dirty work and that was Bennett, Mang and and Lindholm tried but are not built for that kindd of game, the rest of the wimps barely threw a check. We need a serious toughness and tenacity overhaul and that doesn’t happen without shipping some guys out. And Hanifin and Hamonic are not near as good as FN people think, they were atrocious most nights.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Need to add another solid gritty veteran 2nd line winger. I’m thinking TJ Brodie to NJ for RW Kyle Palmieri + and a 2nd round pick. NJ needs defense, especially after winning the lottery again. These two players are the same age, same cap hit… a true hockey trade. NJ has the cap space to re-sign Brodie after next year… Flames do not. Palmieri is signed for one extra year than TJ, giving the Flames a bit of cap certainty.

    Gives Flames draft picks in most rounds next year to re-stock farm. NJ willing to give up the (high) 2nd round pick as Brodie can be sold as a ‘top pairing’ puck-moving, skating d-man (who can play both sides), which are more expensive than wingers. Ras moves to top pairing with Gio. Vali/Kyl get into lineup. If Stone is not bought out he could be 7th d.

  • Gus Fring

    You guys do remember that in the summer Tre did try to sign Reaves and Maroon so he did try to bring in some size for this team! So I assume he sees a bigger urgency now to add size to this rooster.

  • Getpucksdeep

    Hall is a great player anyone would want. He’s also a Calgary kid. That said he gets injured…a lot. I doubt they’d throw in Hirscher but if you were crazy enough to trade Gaudreau a Hall caliber return is a fair idea. As they say even Gretztky got traded.

  • Albertabeef

    I was considering Neal, Jankowski and Hamonic(add a first) for Hall. Sign Eberle as a UFA 2x3mil(exp draft safe). Maybe try to snag Pavelski at a cheapish 1 or 2 year term for leadership. We are trying to get better not stay the same.

  • Albertabeef

    So hear me out. We trade Hamonic and give Brodie a one year extension. That or we extend both one year trade Gio. Having Brodie and Hamonic as UFAs come expansion draft gives us less bodies to protect. If you want to prepare for the expansion draft safely. You would still have to protect Andersson, Valimaki, and one of Hanafin or Kylington. Thankfully we have two full seasons to see what we have to make those decisions.