The Calgary Flames hit the ice on Saturday for their weekend component of camp. (This year’s camp is so short, it only spans a single weekend.) But with the drop of the puck on the 2020-21 season just a few days away, the Flames shuffled their practice groups and got down to business.

New lines!

After an off day on Friday, here’s how the two groups looked as they skated on Saturday morning.
Group A:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
Gaudreau – Monahan – Simon
Mangiapane – Backlund – Leivo
Lucic – Ryan – Nordstrom
(Extra: Rinaldo)
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Valimaki – Nesterov
Mackey – Stone
Group B:
  • Forwards: Froese, Gawdin, Pettersen, Philp, Ritchie, Robinson, Ruzicka & Zavgorodniy
  • Defensemen: Kylington, Lerby, Petrovic, Poolman & Yelesin
  • Goalies: Domingue, Sparks & Zagidulin
Group A had distinct lines and a roster jam-packed with NHL bodies. We also got some new lines in Sam Bennett’s absence – he skated before the main group and may rejoin practice on Sunday. We have to admit: that top nine group looks pretty strong, particularly with the mindset of having three potential offensive lines and a bunch of wingers that can forecheck and drive play.
Group B had no distinct lines, but featured the on-ice camp debuts of Oliver Kylington and Brett Ritchie (wearing #24). Their arrivals spelled the end of the road for Eetu Tuulola (who was sent down to the AHL after practice) and Justin Kirkland (who was sent down before practice).

The World Junior kids are here!

In addition to seeing Kylington and Ritchie at camp for the first time, Calgary’s three World Junior medal winners – Team USA’s Dustin Wolf and Team Canada’s Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary – made a brief media appearance to catch up over Zoom.
Pelletier indicated that the plan is for the trio to hit the ice on Sunday and participate in Monday night’s scrimmage. Flames head coach Geoff Ward didn’t confirm the plan, but Saturday afternoon’s roster moves – opening three spots by cutting Sparks, Philp and Poolman – is a pretty big hint that it may be happening. It seems probable that they’ll join Group B, but who knows how the scrimmage groups will look on Monday.
Pelletier also confirmed that the current QMJHL plan is for that league to restart on Jan. 22, but he noted that he’s more focused right now on making the Flames roster.
Fun fact: Zary shared that between Team Canada’s camp and the World Juniors, he and Pelletier effectively went from the hotel and the rink (and nowhere else) for over 50 days.

Where we go from here

The team will practice again in two groups on Sunday, probably the current NHL/non-NHL split. They skate again on Monday, likely with some shuffles to create two more even groupings before Monday night’s scrimmage. (That’ll be on Sportsnet 960 The Fan at 7 p.m. MT, but also streamed on the Flames website.)
Monday will also be the NHL’s big waiver dump, as teams will send waiver eligible players destined for the AHL or taxi squads through the waiver wire. For the Flames, expect to see the likes of Domingue, Petrovic, Robinson and Rinaldo to be on the waiver wire. (They have some options if they want to sign Brett Ritchie and/or Michael Stone and send them to Stockton or the taxi squad, but the easiest might be just to do it by Monday.)
The roster deadline, where the Flames have to name their opening roster and taxi squad, is 3 p.m. MT on Tuesday. The Flames begin their season on Thursday night in Winnipeg.