4 Calgary Flames prospects who should make their NHL debuts this season
Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
Training camp is just about complete, with main rosters for the 32 National Hockey League clubs due on Monday at 3 p.m. MT. A bunch of players will get to experience their NHL debuts at some point his coming season.
Here are four Calgary Flames prospects we expect to see make their debuts sometime in the next 82 games.
(23; signed as a free agent; $832,500 cap hit)
One of two players on the Flames’ camp roster as of Saturday night with zero NHL games played, we’re figuring that Klapka is one of the last players cut in camp. But we figure he’ll be back.
Why will Klapka make his NHL debut this season? He’s got size and a surprising amount of skill and mobility for a guy his size. Moreover, he’s a right shot forward that plays with a big of grit and pugnacity – he can hit and fight and crash and bang – and he’s the type of player that not only can make room for the club’s skilled forwards, but also keep up with them in terms of pace of play. If a winger goes down, Klapka is an obvious choice.
(23; 2020 seventh-round pick; $828,333 cap hit)
Another player we anticipate being one of the final cut, Solovyov has really enhanced his stock since January. He has a no-frills style of game, and the only time he got himself into trouble during pre-season was when he played the puck too much and tried to get into the rush.
But more than anybody in the Flames’ system, Solovyov plays a meat-and-potatoes, pure shutdown game. He’s the type of player that coaches love because he’s smart, savvy, and seems to understand his game’s limitations. If a defender goes down and they need a defence-first guy, Solovyov is an easy choice.
(24; free agent signing; $775,000 cap hit)
Okay, we can hear you snarking: “Who?” But Lyle was quietly a really savvy pick-up in free agency. Lyle joins the Flames after spending time in the Bruins and Blues farm systems. He’s a puck-moving right shot blueliner. He’s arguably the exact opposite of Solovyov; rather than being a pure shutdown guy, he’s pure offence to the point where he may end up as a power play specialist at the AHL level.
If a defender goes down and the NHL team needs a guy who can move the puck from the back end – especially one they can maybe pair with a more composed two-way defender – Lyle could be the guy.
(22; 2020 first-round pick; $863,333 cap hit)
Here’s what head coach Ryan Huska said about Zary after the Flames’ pre-season game against Edmonton, which saw Zary bounce around the lineup a bit (between wing and centre) after the injury to Samuel Honzek dropped the team to 11 forwards.
“I think when you look at certain players and their skill-set, where do they best fit? Like, is Connor a fourth-line centre? To me, probably not. He’s more suited to being in a different role. In order to make the NHL on a full-time basis you might have to do that. So that means changing your game and being a harder guy in certain situations. Having the ability to play wing and in the middle gives us a lot of flexibility and it’s nice to see him actually being able to do that.”
If you need a physical depth forward, primarily on the wing, you probably call Klapka up first. But if you need somebody with a bit more mobility, pace and offensive upside – and the flexibility of somebody that can play multiple positions and roles – Zary could be a strong choice.
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