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Looking at the Calgary Flames reserve list by age group

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
In his very first press conference as newly-minted general manager of the Calgary Flames, Craig Conroy discussed at some length the importance of integrating young players into the team’s lineup. Sure, it’s big from a salary cap management perspective, but it’s also important in terms of continuity and succession planning.
With that in mind, let’s look at the Flames’ reserve list by year of birth to get a sense of what trouble spots (if any) exist. (And apologies in advance if you start to feel old when you look at birth years.)
YearPlayer(s)
1987Trevor Lewis [pending UFA]
1988Milan Lucic [pending UFA]
1989Chris Tanev
Mikael Backlund
1990Nazem Kadri
Jacob Markstrom
Michael Stone [pending UFA]
1991Blake Coleman
1992Tyler Toffoli
1993Jonathan Huberdeau
Kevin Rooney
1994Elias Lindholm
MacKenzie Weegar
Nick DeSimone
Troy Stecher [pending UFA]
Oscar Dansk [pending UFA]
1995Nikita Zadorov
Colton Poolman [pending UFA]
Dryden Hunt [pending UFA]
Nick Ritchie [pending UFA]
1996Rasmus Andersson
Andrew Mangiapane
Dennis Gilbert
Clark Bishop [pending UFA]
1997Noah Hanifin
Oliver Kylington
Walker Duehr
Dan Vladar
Kristians Rubins [pending UFA]
Nicolas Meloche [pending UFA]
1998Dillon Dube
Matthew Phillips [pending UFA]
1999Adam Ruzicka
Ben Jones [pending RFA]
Martin Pospisil [pending RFA]
2000Adam Klapka
Ilya Solovyov
Emilio Pettersen [pending RFA]
Demetrious Koumontzis [unsigned]
2001Dustin Wolf
Jakob Pelletier
Connor Zary
Cole Schwindt
Ilya Nikolaev
Josh Nodler [unsigned]
Jake Boltmann [unsigned]
Daniil Chechelev [unsigned]
2002Matt Coronato
Jeremie Poirier
Yan Kuznetsov
Rory Kerins
Arsenii Sergeev [unsigned]
2003Lucas Ciona
William Stromgren
Parker Bell [unsigned]
2004Topi Ronni [unsigned]
Cade Littler [unsigned]
With the five guys the Flames didn’t sign on June 1, they’re losing one 2001 player (Lucas Feuk), one from 2002 (Cole Jordan) and three from 2003 (Cam Whynot, Jack Beck and Cole Huckins).
First, let’s look at the bright spots. The 2001 age group looks really promising: Wolf and Pelletier could be NHL regulars in 2023-24, while Zary had a very good AHL season and Schwindt had a pretty effective playoffs (after an uneven regular season). The 2002 group has some really good promise, too, between Coronato, Sergeev and Poirier.
A little bit up the age groups, that three-year period between 1996 and 1998 features basically every player you could say is a “young, established NHLer” in the system: Andersson, Mangiapane, Kylington, Hanifin, Duehr, Vladar and Dube.
The challenge for the Flames right now is all the money, term and prominence in the organization is skewed into the early 1990s (and 1989) cluster. Who wear letters for the Flames? Backlund, Tanev, Lindholm and Huberdeau. Who have the biggest contracts, in terms of cap and dollar? Huberdeau, Weegar and Kadri. Who are the guys leaned on to score in key moments? Or hold a lead in key moments? It’s all that 1989-1993 cluster.
Right now, the Flames feel like a team that leans on their older players. And that’s neither good nor bad, it’s merely a reality of how the team was constructed under Brad Treliving. But they have a few youngsters knocking on the door for potentially prominent roles. The challenge – for this off-season and the next few – will be figuring out if some of these young players can transition from being prominent prospects and into being key building blocks.
If the Flames want to become a younger, faster, more dynamic team, then some of their young faces need to grab hold of spots and show that they can be relied upon to be difference-makers for the hockey club.

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