Who are the front-runners to replace Jakob Pelletier in the Calgary Flames lineup?
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames and their fan base found out some tough news on Wednesday when it was revealed that Jakob Pelletier is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. It’s safe to say that ‘indefinitely’ likely means Pelletier will be out for multiple months.
But with injury comes opportunity. I think the Flames have four players who could potentially replace Pelletier’s spot in the lineup. Let’s take a look at who those players are.
Hunt has had a great training camp and preseason for the Flames. In three games, he’s scored two goals and made an impact on both ends of the ice. Every time I watch Hunt I am impressed with his physicality, tenacity and skating. He always seems to be in the mix. He also has some NHL experience playing in 202 games with the Panthers, Coyotes, Rangers, Avalanche and Maple Leafs. He seems like a great fit to play left wing on the Flames fourth line.
Klapka has been a bit of a revelation for the Flames since joining the organization in the 2022 offseason. The 6’8 left shot winger is a unicorn player because of his size, ability to skate, and soft hands. He had a solid first season with the Wranglers scoring 13 goals in 60 games in a bottom six role. He also had a great playoff scoring four goals in nine games including the series winner against the Abbotsford Canucks.
The Flames lack size and physicality in their forward group with the departures of Milan Lucic and the Ritchie brothers. Klapka can help replace that element. He’s not a natural fighter and someone who will intimidate. But he is willing to drop the gloves and stand up for his teammates which has to be enticing for Ryan Huska to add to the fourth line.
Zary has proved over the last twelve months that he has the skill and talent to play in the NHL. He showed that last night when he ripped an Auston Matthews style drag and shoot shot that ended up in the back of the net.
Zary can play NHL minutes. But the question we have to ask ourselves is what role do we want to see him in? As of today, he’s not playing in the top nine of the Flames lineup. He’ll likely be on the fourth line as a winger or center. At this point of his development, is it best for Zary to play on a fourth line in the NHL? Or is he better suited to be the first line center and play on the first power play unit in the AHL?
I would like to see the Flames not rush Zary and continue to develop him in the AHL. However, he is still an option for this role.
Jones would be a safe pick to make the team in a fourth line role. Jones is a smart, reliable, two-way center who could provide a little offence when needed. He played well for the Calgary Wranglers last season putting up 54 points in 71 games. The ceiling is low, but the floor is high for Jones. He won’t be a major impact player, but he is someone who is solid and that you can rely on.
My two cents
Based off everything we’ve seen so far in training camp and the preseason, I have Dryden Hunt as the favourite to make the roster out of training camp. He has made an impact in every game he has played in. He brings some solid speed and tenacity to the fourth line. And he’s even scored a couple goals. He’ll have to keep this play up but he’s put himself in a great situation to make the team.
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