Flames set 31-man playoff roster

For the 30th time in their 47th seasons in the National Hockey League, the Calgary Flames franchise will be playing past the end of the regular season. The club has set their 31-man roster for the Phase 4 playoffs, beginning with the qualifying round against the Winnipeg Jets on Aug. 1.

The roster

Goaltenders [4]:

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  • #32 Jon Gillies
  • #33 David Rittich
  • #39 Cam Talbot
  • #50 Artyom Zagidulin

Defensemen [10]:

  • #4 Rasmus Andersson
  • #5 Mark Giordano [captain]
  • #7 TJ Brodie
  • #8 Juuso Valimaki
  • #20 Derek Forbort
  • #26 Michael Stone
  • #45 Alexander Yelesin
  • #55 Noah Hanifin
  • #56 Erik Gustafsson
  • #58 Oliver Kylington

Forwards [17]:

  • #10 Derek Ryan
  • #11 Mikael Backlund [alternate captain]
  • #13 Johnny Gaudreau
  • #16 Tobias Rieder
  • #17 Milan Lucic
  • #19 Matthew Tkachuk [alternate captain]
  • #23 Sean Monahan [alternate captain]
  • #27 Austin Czarnik
  • #28 Elias Lindholm
  • #29 Dillon Dube
  • #36 Zac Rinaldo
  • #38 Byron Froese
  • #53 Buddy Robinson
  • #77 Mark Jankowski
  • #88 Andrew Mangiapane
  • #89 Alan Quine
  • #93 Sam Bennett

For the curious, that’s eight right shots (five forwards, three defenders) and 19 left shots (12 forwards, seven defenders). From a nationality standpoint, the roster has 13 Canadians, eight Americans, five Swedes, two Russians, a Czech, a German and a Finn. This is the first time in probably close to a decade that they’ll have multiple Russians on their active roster.

A note: Juuso Valimaki will be exempt from the 2021 Expansion Draft unless he plays in a playoff game.

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The cuts

Four players won’t be going to Edmonton for Phase 4: Defenseman Connor Mackey and forwards Adam Ruzicka, Glenn Gawdin and Matthew Phillips.

Mackey’s an easy decision. He signed with the Flames after the trade deadline and isn’t eligible to play in the post-season under league rules. Flames interim coach Geoff Ward had a lot of positive things to say about his time with Mackey:

We were really, really impressed with him. He fit right in. He’s got really good feet. He’s got a really good head. He knows what’s going on on the ice. Checks his backside all the time. He knows exactly what the situation is. Going back for pucks, checks his shoulders. Knows where he wants to make his play before he gets there. He’s able to make that play quickly. Doesn’t over-handle the puck. He’s got it on his stick, as soon as he sees what he wants he moves it up. Is able to join and do some things offensively, he sees guys off the net well. There’s a lot about his game we liked. Really liked his gaps. Liked how hard he was on the puck down low. He wasn’t afraid of pushing back on guys. A lot of the things that we saw of him gave us the indication we’ve got ourselves a really, really good player here. We’re looking forward to seeing what he comes like in the fall. He’s a guy that based on what he showed this camp he’s going to push in the fall, there’s absolutely no question.

Ruzicka was the victim of the numbers game. He impressed in camp, but the function of his participation (as the youngest and least experienced player involved) was to soak up the wisdom of his teammates and use the experience to grow his game between now and the next training camp. Here’s Ward on Ruzicka’s camp and what they hope he takes away from the experience:

It was an opportunity for us to work with him more than we ever have as a staff right now. We found him to be very, very coachable. We like what he did in terms of continuing to develop his defensive play as a young player. He’s got tremendous, a really good brain. He’s got offensive skills. We felt like he fit in the scrimmages really, really well, so for him getting prepared for next camp, he knows exactly now the way that we play, what’s expected in terms of him as a player when he shows up here, he knows at what pace we expect the game to occur at. So all those things are going to make him better.

Neither Gawdin or Phillips participated in either of the last two scrimmages, nor the practices in-between. While Ward wasn’t asked to comment on their statuses – and let’s be honest, there’s nothing he could’ve said really – their unclear availabilities and lack of practice and scrimmage reps compared to the other forwards in camp probably contributed to the decision to leave them outside the bubble.

Projected lines/depth chart

Based on scrimmages and line rushes:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tkachuk
Lucic – Ryan – Dube
Bennett – Jankowski – Rieder
Rinaldo – Quine – Czarnik
Froese – Robinson

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Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Forbort – Gustafsson
Kylington – Stone
Valimaki – Yelesin