Friends, the Calgary Flames begin the rookie portion of training camp this coming weekend. Yes, we’re mere days away from camp, and mere days away from the return of the once-annual Penticton Young Stars Classic tournament!
As we wait for the puck to drop on the pre-pre-season, let’s dive into the mailbag!
Honestly, this really depends on training camp, as a few under-achieving players in other organizations could play their way onto (or off of) the trade block with a good or bad camp. The key thing is that the Flames would probably be hoping to get back a forward – they have oodles of defenders right now at the AHL level – but the other team would probably be trying to swing a “cap-in, cap-out” deal. Juuso Valimaki has a cap hit of $1.55 million at the NHL level and $425,000 at the AHL level, so if there’s a swap to be made, both sides would probably like to be sharing in the (cap) risk of either player dropping down to the AHL level.
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Stay tuned on this one, it’ll likely swing in one direction or the other based on how Valimaki’s camp unfolds.
Matthew Phillips may be entering his last season with the Flames organization. Unless he plays as a full-time NHLer, he’ll become a Group 6 unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It’s a bit of a shame, as he’s sort of been the victim of some bad luck in regards to the club’s roster construction: the Flames already had a few established smaller skilled forwards throughout their group by the time he began to push for NHL duty – and the Flames began to make a push towards contention – and so the appetite to push a small rookie forward into the lineup wasn’t particular large given the team’s roster composition and competitive circumstances. It feels like Phillips will merely play out his deal in the AHL and then go try to catch on somewhere else next summer.
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It’s a bit unfair to compare Phillips to Adam Ruzicka and Jakob Pelletier, since they’re sort of apples and oranges in terms of skillset and playing style. Phillips is a superb pace-driving offensive forward and he’s no slouch defensively, either. But Ruzicka has the size that helps him transition to the NHL, while Pelletier has the hockey sense, competitiveness and international experience.
Kevin Rooney is a low-event, two-way forward who can play centre or the wing. He’s considered by scouts to be a smart, low-risk type of player. He doesn’t make many mistakes, but he doesn’t do anything particularly exciting. He’ll play on the fourth line and kill penalties; he’s probably closer to a depth guy than a third line guy, if that makes sense. He gives the team some flexibility at the bottom of the rotation, but he’s probably not a danger to steal special teams time away from players higher in the forward group. (He’s not going to score a ton of shorthanded goals, is what I’m getting at.)
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