FlamesNation Mailbag: Talking prospects, captains and trade returns

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
The annual Young Stars Classic tournament is nearly complete and that means main camp is just around the corner. As we bide our time before the full Calgary Flames group is battling for roster spots, let’s dive into the mailbag!
Adam Ruzicka’s 24 years old and boasts an NHL-sized frame at 6’4″ and 220 pounds. He’s progressed quite nicely since the Flames drafted him in 2017 and on paper he seems like somebody that could grow into a big role for the Flames.
The challenge is this: Ruzicka was criticized for consistency in major junior, and that reputation has persisted. Since arriving in the OHL way back in 2016, he’s shown that he’s very talented and a strong enough player to be in the NHL. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but lacked consistency at the NHL level. That’s probably what kept him on the sidelines for a big chunk of the 2022-23 season.
The NHL is an everyday league. If he can be good everyday, he can easily be a strong NHL contributor. If not, he may be sitting on the sidelines as players with more consistency get those types of opportunities.
My guess is the Flames do some sort of leadership announcement either immediately before or after the roster announcement at the tail end of training camp.
If it’s up to me?
If Mikael Backlund re-signs: Backlund is captain, with some mix of Rasmus Andersson, Elias Lindholm, MacKenzie Weegar, Jonathan Huberdeau and Chris Tanev as alternates.
If it doesn’t seem like Backlund’s coming back: Andersson is captain, with some mix of Backlund, Lindholm, Weegar, Huberdeau and Tanev as alternates.
Through two games, I’ve really been impressed with Lucas Ciona, Adam Klapka, Matt Coronato, Ilya Nikolaev and Yan Kuznetsov. I’d like to see a bit more from Jaden Lipinski and Parker Bell, in the sense that I think they’ve played well, but I’m curious if they’re capable of a bit more than they’ve shown so far.
And the two AHL-signed goaltenders, Matt Radomsky and Connor Murphy, have been quite solid playing behind a fairly clunky, young defensive group full of junior players on try-outs.
My guess is the Flames are probably hoping for a first-round pick, a good prospect and perhaps a roster player for Noah Hanifin. If you look at recent history, Kris Russell landed the Flames a conditional second-round pick, a depth defender (Jyrki Jokipakka) and a depth prospect (Brett Pollock). All due respect to Russell, but Hanifin’s a more complete player and so the price tag should be higher.
It’s definitely possible! If Matt Coronato and Jakob Pelletier make the team, they’ll probably be tried out in all sorts of different places. Coronato being a right-shot forward with a penchant for scoring goals will earn him tons of opportunities, particularly on the power play and in offensive-oriented situations at five-on-five. The details of Pelletier’s game may land him on Mikael Backlund’s wing, as Pelletier’s been the type of 200-foot stalwart at previous levels of hockey that can do a ton to help his team.
If you have to choose one to bank on getting top six minutes, Coronato probably has the inside track due to his offensive skill-set.

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