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Breaking down the Calgary Flames’ initial 2023-24 training camp groupings

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Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
The Calgary Flames unveiled their training camp roster on Wednesday, and the on-ice portion of things get going on Thursday. 64 players have been divided up into three on-ice groupings, at least to start, and eventually we’ll see some mixing and matching – especially as groups get smaller and smaller.
But for now, here’s how things will begin for the 2023-24 Flames.

Team Vernon

  • Forwards (13): Jonathan Huberdeau, Dryden Hunt, Yegor Sharangovich, Kevin Rooney, Jakob Pelletier, Elias Lindholm, Matt Coronato, Samuel Honzek, Connor Zary, Walker Duehr, Emilio Pettersen, Cole Schwindt and Parker Bell
  • Defencemen (8): Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov, Colton Poolman, MacKenzie Weegar, Noah Hanifin, Nick DeSimone, Jarrod Gourley and Ilya Solovyov
  • Goaltenders (2): Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar
If you’re a first-rounder, you’re in this group! The Flames’ 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023 first-rounders are all accounted for here, along with three NHL locks among forwards, four NHL locks on the blueline, and both incumbent NHL goaltenders.
In this group, we’ll be looking for which forwards slot together – who plays alongside Huberdeau and Lindholm? – and which players get looks at centre. Zary played at centre a bunch last season for the Wranglers, while Harvard used Coronato up the middle in their first half, and Honzek will get reps there in the WHL this season. The defensive combinations seem fairly intuitive – Andersson/Hanifin, Weegar/Zadorov, DeSimone/Solovyov and Poolman/Gourley – but Ryan Huska might get creative.

Team Iginla

  • Forwards (13): Mikael Backlund, Clark Bishop, Lucas Ciona, Blake Coleman, Dillon Dube, Ben Jones, Nazem Kadri, Adam Klapka, Andrew Mangiapane, Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka, William Stromgren and Brett Sutter
  • Defencemen (8): Chris Tanev, Brady Lyle, Yan Kuznetsov, Dennis Gilbert, Oliver Kylington, Etienne Morin, Jordan Oesterle and Jonathan Aspirot
  • Goaltenders (2): Dustin Wolf and Oscar Dansk
This group arguably has fewer “stars” than Team Vernon, but there are all kinds of fun things you could do mixing and matching its players together.
Do they group Mangiapane-Backlund-Coleman together and then fill in the gaps around them? Or do they spread them out and see how some kids look like alongside them? (Admit it, you kind of want to see Klapka,  Backlund and Ciona playing together.) On the blueline, it feels like the smart play is to put Tanev and Kylington together to get the Swede accustomed to the NHL game for a bit. But part of us wants to see Kylington and Morin paired together just to watch them show off their skating prowess.
Update: Per club, Oliver Kylington won’t be participating to start camp.

Team McDonald

  • Forwards (9): Mark Duarte, Alex Gallant, Rory Kerins, Jaden Lipinski, Mitch McLain, Ilya Nikolaev, Oliver Peer, Nathan Pilling and Oliver Tulk
  • Defencemen (6): Tyson Galloway, Mikael Diotte, Donovan McCoy, Charles Cote, Jeremie Poirier and Quinn Mantei
  • Goaltenders (3): Jari Kykkanen, Connor Murphy and Matt Radomsky
The players on NHL deals in this group are Kerins, Nikolaev and Poirier. The thought is probably (a) to ease Poirier into practices after his off-season surgery and (b) to see who stands out among the group in terms of skill and pep. Most of these guys are probably destined for a short camp, as nine of these guys are probably headed back to junior by the time pre-season games get rolling.
But there always seems to be somebody from the third group who surprises and sticks around for a bit.
Which group interests you the most? Which combinations of players do you want to see tried out together? Let us know in the comments!

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