Who’s the next Calgary Flames player to make their NHL debut?
Photo credit:Angela Burger/Calgary Wranglers
By Ryan Pike20 days ago
In the press conference where his hiring was announced, newly-minted Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy pledged to give youth a chance within the organization. So far, Conroy has followed up on that pledge, as three players have made their NHL debuts with the Flames so far this season.
So… who’s next?
In 2022-23, the Flames had four players make their NHL debuts over an 82-game season. And two of those players, Dustin Wolf and Matt Coronato, made their debuts in the final game of the season. (The other two debutantes were Nick DeSimone and Jakob Pelletier.)
Through 11 games of 2023-24, a trio of players have gotten their first NHL appearances in: Ilya Solovyov, Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil. (Two of those three players scored goals in their first games, to boot.) Now, obviously this is an unsustainable clip. The Flames simply don’t have enough players in their system to maintain this pace – the equivalent of 22 debuts in 82 games – over a full schedule.
But the Flames presently have 12 players under contract within their system who have yet to play an NHL game. We have three players that we think could be next up to debut.
The “obvious” choice: Adam Klapka
Did you like Martin Pospisil on Saturday in Seattle? He’s big! He can move well! He crashes and bangs and plays like a big player, and he brings what FlamesNation founding editor Kent Wilson calls “functional toughness” to the Flames lineup.
Well, Klapka is a right-shot, Czech, slightly younger version of Pospisil. Klapka’s game is still a bit uneven in spots – he’s effective defensively but probably not the ideal shutdown option – but he’s been really effective for the Wranglers since the middle of last season. If the Flames need another forward on short notice, it might end up being Klapka.
The less obvious choice: Brady Lyle
Okay, Flames fans are likely familiar with Solovyov now, and Jeremie Poirier was probably the most likely offensive defender option to be called up before his injury. But if the Flames need a puck-mover, especially one that can help on the power play, why not Lyle?
A free agent signing this past summer, Lyle’s an effective enough 200-foot blueliner, but his game shines on the power play when he has time and space to maneuver and move the puck around.
Dark horse: Samuel Honzek
Let’s just say the Flames don’t need anybody for awhile. And let’s just say the Vancouver Giants miss the Western Hockey League playoffs, or get knocked out quickly. In that case, perhaps Honzek is the next to debut. He’s under contract and is eligible to be re-assigned to the NHL once the Giants’ playing season has concluded.
The Giants’ last regular season game is March 23. The Flames’ regular season lasts until April 18. If the Giants miss the playoffs or lose out early, there’s definitely enough time to get Honzek to Calgary and acclimate him enough to get him into NHL games (if desired).
Who do you think will be the next player to make his NHL debut with the Flames? Let us know in the comments!
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