Calgary has re-assigned Paul Byron and Lance Bourma to the Abbotsford Heat today. Roman Horak, Derek Smith and Jordan Henry are therefore one step closer to making the big club.
The Flames are still at 28 players thanks to the persistence of the three guys mentioned and the pugilists. They eventually have to get things down to 23, so there are more cuts to come. The delay may be to assess who is healthy enough to go once game one rolls around, with Bourque, Jackman, Morrison, Iginla and Carson still up in the air with various ailments.
Horak is easily the most interesting story in camp. I can’t think of anyone who expected him to come in and vie for a spot, but he’s been poised and nearly error free, which is extremely rare for a 20-year old rookie. If Morrison isn’t ready to go right away, I fully expect Horak to suit up in the 3/4 center position. It will likely be a short-lived audition, but it’s encouraging to see a young forward make such a strong push.
I’m less encouraged, however, by the team’s insistence on keeping around the knuckle-chuckers. Desbiens is probably the best of the lot in terms of actual hockey ability, but he still looks a few steps behind your average 4th liner to me. PL3 is serving out his suspension, but if memory serves that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be sent down to the AHL. Ivanans can’t be dealt with until he’s fully healthy and I’m guesing the club is waiting for him (and Jackman) to come back at 100% before they make any decisions fighter-wise. I personally wish they weren’t bothering with the role at all, frankly, especially since the Flames have a lot of better players already fighting over a few precious spots in the bottom 6. Oh well.
Five more players need to be cut by October 8th. The candidates are: Henry, Smith, Carson, P3L, Ivanans, Desbiens, Horak, with wildcards Kostopolous and Stajan. Horak and (maybe) Desbiens are the only guys who don’t have to pass through waivers to be re-assigned. I doubt at this point that Kostopolous or Stajan are in real trouble, but I guess we’ll see.
UPDATE – Apparently Desbiens is subject to waivers, which is where he finds himself today.