Thursday, September 17, 2015

Training Camp Gets Going: Breaking Down the 2015-16 Flames Training Camp Roster

Calgary Flames training camp began today with fitness testing at WinSport. They will hit the ice in three groups starting Friday.

The official camp roster including the 31 that attended rookie camp consisted of 69 players. However, that number was immediately reduced after five players (two forwards, three defencemen) from rookie camp were released earlier in the day.

With three players injured, that leaves 61 healthy players that are divided into three groups for the on-ice portion of training camp that begins Friday at WinSport. You can see the camp roster here. The breakdown is:
  • 35 forwards (plus 1 injured)
  • 19 defencemen (plus 2 injured)
  • 7 goalies

As a tribute to the Flames history, the three groups are named Nieuwendyk, McDonald and McCrimmon and the intention is to balance each group equally in terms of calibre to provide maximum competition.

Do not and I repeat, do not look at the make-up of each group and try to conjure up defence pairings or line combinations within groups that will carry through into the regular season. This would be extremely over thinking it. Save that type of forecasting for deeper into training camp once some of the bodies clear out and the number of groups are reduced.

Format for Days 1-3

Each day from Friday through Sunday, all three groups have a practice and two of the groups will also play in a scrimmage. All of this activity will take place at WinSport. Here are the scrimmage match-ups:
  • Friday, Sept. 18, 10 am - Nieuwendyk vs. McDonald
  • Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 am - McCrimmon vs. Nieuwendyk
  • Sunday, Sept. 20, 10 am - McCrimmon vs. McDonald

On Monday, Sept. 21, the format changes as does the venue as that night is the first night of the NHL preseason with two split squads taking on the Edmonton Oilers. One team will play at the Saddledome (7 pm start) and the other group will head up the highway to Rexall Place (7 pm start). The non-game players will practice at the Dome.

Here is a deeper look at how the training camp roster breaks down.

1. Flames Draft Picks in Attendance - By Year

They are 26 Flames draft picks in attendance. That includes at least one player from every draft going back to 2007.

2007 (1)
  • Mikael Backlund (1st)
2008 (2)
  • Lance Bouma (3rd)
  • TJ Brodie (4th)
2009 (1)
  • Joni Ortio (6th)
2010 (2)
  • Bill Arnold (4th)
  • Micheal Ferland (5th)
2011 (3)
  • Markus Granlund (2nd)
  • Tyler Wotherspoon (2nd)
  • Johnny Gaudreau (4th)
2012 (4)
  • Patrick Sieloff (2nd)
  • Jon Gillies (3rd)
  • Brett Kulak (4th)
  • Ryan Culkin (5th)
2013 (4)
  • Sean Monahan (1st)
  • Emile Poirier (1st)
  • Morgan Klimchuk (1st)
  • Keegan Kanzig (3rd)
2014 (4)
  • Sam Bennett (1st)
  • Mason McDonald (2nd)
  • Hunter Smith (2nd)
  • Austin Carroll (7th)
2015 (5)
  • Rasmus Andersson (2nd)
  • Oliver Kylington (2nd)
  • Pavel Karnaukhov (5th)
  • Andrew Mangiapane (6th)
  • Riley Bruce (7th)

2. Flames Draft Picks in Attendance - By GM

Players in camp that have been drafted and developed by the Flames are attached to three different general managers.
  • Darryl Sutter (2003 to 2010) - 6
  • Jay Feaster (2011 to 2013) - 11
  • Brad Treliving (2014 to now) - 9

3. Flames Draft Picks Not in Attendance, But Still in the System

  • Rushan Rafikov, Russia (2013, 7th)
  • Adam Ollas-Mattsson, Sweden (2014, 6th)

  • Mark Jankowski, Providence College, 4th year (2012, 1st)
  • Matt DeBlouw, Michigan State, 4th year (2012, 7th)
  • Tim Harrison, Brown University*, 3rd year (2013, 6th)
  • John Gilmour, Providence College, 4th year (2013, 7th)
  • Brandon Hickey, Boston University, 2nd year (2014, 3rd)
* Played his first two years at Colgate

4. Rookie Camp Holdovers

There were nine players at Flames rookie camp this past week on an amateur try-out (ATO). Of that group, four have been kept around and had their ATO extended to include main training camp:
  • RW Tyson Baillie, 19 - Played last year for Kelowna (WHL) (More on Baillie)
  • C Taylor Burke, 21 - Played last year for Moncton (QMJHL)
  • LW Mason Marchment, 20 - Played last year for Erie (OHL) (More on Marchment)
  • G Nick Schneider, 18 - Played last year for Medicine Hat (WHL)

Players from rookie camp not continuing on and assigned to their junior teams today were D Jason Bell, D Jason Fram, LW Julien Proulx and RW Tomas Soustal. Former Flames draft pick D Eric Roy was released.

5. NHL Vets Attending Camp on a PTO

The Flames are bringing three veteran players to camp on a professional try-out (PTO). All of them are left-shooting defencemen.

D Douglas Murray, 35, last played in NHL with Montreal in 2013-14
- In 518 career NHL games (with SJ, Pit, Mtl), is 7-57-64

D Aaron Johnson, 32, last played in NHL with Boston in 2012-13
- In 291 career NHL games (with Clb, NYI, Chi, Cgy, Edm, Bos), is 17-45-62

D Ryan Wilson, 28, last played in NHL with Colorado in 2014-15
(From earlier, read my A Dozen Things that Intrigue about Ryan Wilson)
- In 230 career NHL games (with Col), is 7-60-67

At the end of camp or sometime prior, the Flames need to make a decision on each of these players and either release them or sign them to a contract.

Wilson would be your best bet, for sure, to make Calgary's roster.

Johnson is a decent bet to be that Corey Potter-like player, who gets a two-way deal and goes to the AHL to help mentor a young Stockton blue-line and be an experienced call-up option if there is a barrage of injuries.

Murray's presence was part of the arrangement agreed to when he arrived in town late last season on a PTO and frankly, it's hard to envision this one turning out any different. I'd suggest he's the player most likely to be cut loose.

6. Flames Injured and Not Scrimmaging

Injured to start main camp and not expected to play in the scrimmages are:
  • D Ladislav Smid (neck)
  • D Ryan Culkin (shoulder)
  • LW Paul Byron (wrist)

Smid is coming off neck surgery last spring. Culkin hurt his shoulder last weekend in Penticton and is out 6-8 weeks. Byron is coming off off-season wrist surgery.

7. Players on AHL-only Deals

These players will be at Calgary's camp until Stockton opens up its training camp and at that point, all of these players -- signed either to one-way AHL deals or two-way AHL/ECHL deals -- will report to California.
  • G Kent Simpson (AHL)
  • D Dustin Stevenson (AHL)
  • C Mitchell Heard (AHL)
  • LW Ryan Lomberg (AHL)
  • RW Louick Marcotte (AHL-ECHL)
  • RW Blair Riley (AHL)

Marcotte and Lomberg were both at rookie camp and of the two, Lomberg really impressed. Stockton coach Ryan Huska was talking about Lomberg once again after Wednesday's game.

With no ability to make Calgary, these players are out to make a good impression on the Flames in hopes of potentially getting an NHL deal next summer. An example of this from last year's camp is Garnet Hathaway, who came in after settling for an AHL deal and had a strong camp. He then followed it up with a good year in Adirondack and this summer signed a NHL deal with the club.

8. Hoping to Break Through

Through the summer, I've been maintaining this roster page, which looks at the Flames current roster and includes salaries and the overall team salary as well as proximity to the salary cap. Now this won't be Calgary's roster to open the season as it consists of 28 players and you can only have 23. As I note, some players could end up on the IR but still, you have too many on this list so some of these players will end up in the minors, or put on waivers and claimed, or traded.

In addition to those 28, here are 13 others on NHL deals that could factor into the mix as well. If these players do not make the Flames, they will be assigned to Stockton:
  • G Jon Gillies
  • D Jakub Nakladal
  • D Brett Kulak
  • D Kenney Morrison
  • D Patrick Sieloff
  • C Bill Arnold
  • C Turner Elson
  • C Derek Grant
  • LW Bryce Van Brabant
  • LW Kenny Agostino
  • RW Austin Carroll
  • RW Emile Poirier
  • RW Garnet Hathaway

9. Hoping to Turn Pro

These four players enter camp on the bubble. They are age-eligible to turn pro and be assigned to the AHL but Flames management is who decides that and they may choose to assign them to major junior instead.
  • D Oliver Kylington (Brandon, WHL)
  • D Keegan Kanzig (Calgary, WHL)
  • RW Hunter Smith (Oshawa, OHL)
  • LW Morgan Klimchuk (Brandon, WHL)

The unique situation on this list is Kylington as he played in Sweden last year. His rights were picked up by the Wheat Kings in July's CHL Import Draft. I have no idea which way the Flames will go when it comes to the fork in the road with this player but having seen him live a couple of times now, Stockton may be best so the organization's coaching staff there can work closely with him as he does have a long way to go with some aspects of his game. We'll see. Earlier in the summer, I weighed the pros and cons of both options in this piece.

10. Make It or Return to the CHL

These recent draft picks are not old enough yet to play in the AHL per the NHL-CHL transfer agreement. Thus, they must either stay in the NHL with the Flames, or be assigned back to junior.

While Sean Monahan is someone that fit this description two years ago and he did make the Flames, it's a bit different this year. While Andersson was really impressive in Penticton, there is little doubt that all five of these players will be eventually returned to major junior.
  • G Mason McDonald (Charlottetown, QMJHL)
  • D Rasmus Andersson (Barrie, OHL)
  • D Riley Bruce (North Bay, OHL)
  • C Pavel Karnaukhov (Calgary, WHL)
  • LW Andrew Mangiapane (Barrie, WHL)

The one option Calgary does have is they can keep a player for up to nine NHL regular season games and still return him to junior. Given how strong Andersson looked in rookie camp and with the fact he has signed his entry-level contract, he has a remote chance of getting in a few games although I'd call it a longshot.

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