The Calgary Flames have a single ‘true’ PTO in camp: blueliner Jonathan Aspirot
Photo credit:Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
When new Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy spoke to the media for the first time in his new gig, he spoke at length about leaving roster spots open for youngsters. But it’s one thing to say it, it’s another to stick with it.
So you could understand a certain amount of fan relief when the 64 player training camp roster was announced on Wednesday morning and it featured just a single new face on a pro try-out (PTO): AHL blueliner Jonathan Aspirot.
The 24-year-old Aspirot is a product of Quebec, and he’s a 6′, 205 pound left shot defenceman. (He’s also played the wing from time to time, but he’s primarily a defender.)
He came up through the QMJHL, playing three seasons with the Moncton Wildcats between 2016 and 2019, spending two seasons as alternate captain and one as team captain. He played two of those seasons with current Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier.
Aspirot wasn’t drafted out of junior, but he joined the AHL’s Belleville Senators on an AHL contract for the 2019-20 season. He impressed enough to earn an entry-level contract. He spent three more seasons with the Baby Sens, playing two of those with current Wranglers forward Clark Bishop, but injuries derailed Aspirot’s progression a bit. His offensive output peaked with 0.481 points per game in 2020-21, but in the other three seasons he was a bit quieter, producing at just over a point every three games. He didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Senators after last season.
The Flames have 14 defencemen under NHL contracts, plus Jarrod Gourley on an AHL contract. They have plenty of blueliners. But you can kind of understand Aspirot’s presence as an insurance policy:
- Perhaps there’s a trade of an established defender, which would open up a spot on the NHL roster and open up a spot on the Wranglers. (We’re not saying it would definitely be Noah Hanifin, but that would make sense…)
- If there isn’t a trade, the Flames could be trying to sneak one (or both) of Jordan Oesterle or Dennis Gilbert through the waiver wire. If somebody gets claimed, again, that would create a need for some reliable veterans to provide depth for the Wranglers blueline.
- And if nothing else, Aspirot is still pretty young and has played 161 AHL games so far. Before injuries slowed his progress, he was thought to have NHL upside. Maybe he can surprise in camp, or maybe just amp up competition.
There’s no danger of Aspirot blocking an up-and-coming prospect from having a big role. He is an extremely low-risk PTO.
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