Considering three Calgary Flames training camp dark horses

Photo credit:Jenn Pierce/Calgary Wranglers
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
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The Calgary Flames will begin their main section of training camp in just three short weeks. While it certainly seems – on paper – that there are obvious front-runners for the few positions vacated by off-season turnover, there are a few players that could surprise in camp and push for jobs.
Here’s a quick look at three dark horses to consider when camp begins.

Dryden Hunt

Hunt is a 27-year-old right shot forward who can play either wing. He joined the Flames in a trade with Toronto prior to the 2023 trade deadline that saw Radim Zohorna go to the other way. Hunt’s a reliable, versatile minor-leaguer, but he’s also a player in his late 20s that’s played over 200 NHL games in stops with Florida, Arizona, NY Rangers, Colorado and Toronto.
If the Flames need a 13th forward, or even a fourth line option that doesn’t necessarily need to play every game and carries a very palatable cap hit ($775,000), with a strong camp Hunt could find himself in the big club mix in early October.

Ben Jones

Originally a selection of the Vegas Golden Knights, Jones is a 24-year-old centre. He landed with the Wranglers last season after the Flames signed him as a free agent and he quietly had a really strong season in 2022-23 for the farm team. In four seasons as a pro, he’s continually progressed in terms of responsibilities and offensive productivity.
Right now, the NHL centre depth is Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri and Mikael Backlund… and then some question marks. Dillon Dube has played centre on and off as a pro. Matt Coronato learned centre at Harvard last year but is primarily a winger. Adam Ruzicka played centre and wing, but was also a scratch for much of last season. Jones spent 71 games as the de facto 5th centre on the depth chart last season and was quite good. Maybe he finds a way to start the year on the NHL roster.

Ilya Solovyov

The 23-year-old Solovyov’s a fun drafting and development story.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Draft (in his third year of eligibility), Solovyov was selected out of the Ontario Hockey League but migrated back to Belarus to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. As a 20-year-old with Dinamo Minsk, he played in 41 of the club’s 60 games – only four blueliners dressed more often – and he represented Belarus at the World Championships.
He signed with the Flames in 2021 and has played two seasons in their farm system. He really took a big step in 2022-23, finding a great rhythm as a shutdown defender alongside veteran Nick DeSimone. Solovyov probably doesn’t project as a high-end offensive producer, but his game is composed, physical, and often quiet in the ways that coaches like their depth guys to be quiet. Of the players in the team’s system, he’s probably the closest to grabbing hold of an NHL opportunity as a sixth or seventh defender.
Which Flames prospects do you see making a push at training camp for an NHL gig? Let us know in the comments!

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