Calgary Flames main training camp got underway Thursday with 62 of the 66 players -- 38 forwards, 21 defencemen and 9 goalies -- listed on the camp roster reporting for fitness testing at the Canadian Sport Institute at Winsport.
Then, starting on Friday, fans can follow the yellow brick road to the Saddledome where the players will hit the ice in three groups daily with each team named after past Flames greats Lanny McDonald, Jim Peplinski and Brad McCrimmon. Ice times for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm and all sessions are open to the public.
Groupings and who skates when is listed here on the Flames website.
My scribblings for The Canadian Press today as #Flames training camp kicked off with fitness testing at WinSport. https://t.co/2wKFdkjxsB— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) September 23, 2016
To help you out and enlighten you to who's who in the zoo, here is a thorough primer to every player that is in town, trying to crack Calgary's season-opening 23-man opening roster.
To make it easier to digest, I've broken the 66 players into 10 groupings.
1. Excused for World Cup (4)
Participating in the World Cup of Hockey:
- 3 - D Jyrki Jokipakka. (Finland)
- 11 - C Mikael Backlund (Sweden)
- 13 - LW Johnny Gaudreau (North America)
- 67 - RW Michael Frolik (Czech)
Mikeal Backlund's status is up in the air after he got rocked on Tuesday by a heavy open-ice body check by Finnish defenceman Sami Lepisto. Brad Treliving did confirm Thursday morning he does have a concussion.
"The good news? Right now, part of our medical team is in Toronto so they’re seeing him on a regular basis," said the Flames GM. "Reports back are he’s doing well. Like these injuries, he’s under the protocol. It’s a day-to-day situation we’ll monitor. Mikael will be staying there for the next couple days and we’ll come up with a plan after that.”
With their tournament now over, Michael Frolik and Jyrki Jokipakka are expected back in Calgary on the weekend. They will join the team on the ice shortly after.
Player to Watch
Obviously, all eyes will be on Johnny Gaudreau. Of course, the issue is all eyes will not be able to be on Gaudreau until he signs a new deal. The restricted free agent needs a new contract and until he gets one, he won't be spotted at the Dome.
"No update,” said Treliving, repeating the same response he’s been giving all summer. “We’ll continue to bang away at it. You hope for the best. We hope it’s going to get done and going to get done soon. Time will tell.”
2. Wounded (3)
Identified separately on the camp roster as "not skating" to begin camp are:
- 15 - D Ladislav Smid (neck)
- 23 - C Sean Monahan (back)
- 74 - RW Daniel Pribyl (knee)
Sean Monahan and Daniel Pribyl are both recovering from injuries. Monahan strained his back in August, forcing him to withdraw from the World Cup. Pribyl is coming off major knee surgery in the spring.
"He’s progressing, he’s doing well. We just want to be cautious with this," Treliving said about Monahan's condition. "So, he’s going to take the first couple days and continue with some individual work. We’ll get through the first little bit here — at least the first three preseason games. We’re looking at him (coming back) in the last three or four preseason games to prepare for the season."
He also gave an update on Pribyl.
"Danny’s been doing really good," said the GM. "His is just the calendar. I think he’s five months, post-op. He’s been skating on his own. He’ll go through his medical today. The guys are really encouraged where he’s at."
Player to Watch
Clarity has finally come on for Ladislav Smid as Treliving acknowledged the 30-year-old would not suit up this season. Smid has had two neck surgeries in the past and his season ended last year when he was hurt in that same area again. He is not retiring yet and he will spend the year on LTIR.
“Everybody knows Laddy’s been through a lot with his neck. We’ve talked pretty regularly over the course of the summer. He will not be playing this year," said Treliving. "He’s had a long history — physically, he’s not able to go. He’s been out here the last couple weeks with the guys, staying active. We’re going to look at Laddy doing some projects for us in the front office and maybe having some scouting assignments for him and integrating him. He won’t be participating on the ice.”
Smid spoke about his situation.
"It’s obviously hard,” said Smid. “But it’s not a decision we made overnight. We talked the whole summer. It wasn’t just me deciding it, it was doctors. I heard so many different opinions so we kind of made the decision together.”
- 8 - D Nicklas Grossman, 31, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs (13-73-86 in 589 gm with Dal, Phi, Ari)
- 20 - LW Chris Higgins, 33, 6-foot-1, 205 lbs (165-168-333 in 711 gm with Mtl, NYR, Cgy, Fla, Van)
- 21 - LW Lauri Korpikoski, 30, 6-foot-1, 193 lbs (78-103-181 in 540 gm with NYR, Ari, Edm)
- 42 - C Luke Adam, 26, 6-foot-2, 206 lbs (15-11-26 in 90 gm with Buf, Clb)
- 48 - D Colby Robak, 26, 6-foot-3, 194 lbs (0-4-4 in 47 gm with Fla, Ana)
- 55 - D Mikhail Grigoriev, 25, 5-foot-9, 179 bs (KHL)
- 92 - D Aaron Hyman, 18, 6-foot-5, 225 lbs (1-2-3 in 38 gm with Calgary, WHL)
- 94 - LW Brayden Burke, 19, 5-foot-11, 175 lbs (27-82-109 in 72 gm with Lethbridge, WHL)
- 95 - C Mikkel Aagaard, 20, 5-foot-11, 180 lbs (24-29-53 in 64 gm with Niagara/Sudbury, OHL)
- 96 - C Dennis Kravchenko, 22, 5-foot-9, 180 lbs (11-15-26 in 30 gm with U-Mass Amherst, NCAA)
Aagaard captained Denmark's World Junior Championships team in 2015 and he got himself noticed in Penticton with some speed, some skill and he doesn't shy away from getting his nose dirty. Depth at centre in the minors is lacking so that could be his in.
- 38 - RW Matt Frattin
- 46 - RW Matt Bailey
- 56 - LW Ryan Lomberg
- 57 - C Mike Angelidis
- 65 - LW Jamie Devane
- 76 - D Roman Dyukov
- 54 - D Rasmus Andersson
- 60 - LW Brett Pollock
- 72 - G Mason McDonald
- 73 - D Keegan Kanzig
- 77 - C Mark Jankowski
- 80 - D Stepan Falkovsky
- 88 - LW Andrew Mangiapane
- 25 - C Freddie Hamilton
- 28 - RW Emile Poirier
- 32 - G Jon Gillies
- 45 - LW Morgan Klimchuk
- 49 - LW Hunter Shinkaruk
- 53 - D Kenney Morrison
- 58 - D Oliver Kylington
- 61 - D Brett Kulak
- 62 - RW Austin Carroll
- 63 - D Ryan Culkin
- 64 - RW Garnet Hathaway
- 71 - RW Hunter Smith
It was revealed late in the day on Thursday by CapFriendly that veteran of the group Freddie Hamilton had agreed to a two-year, one-way deal with an AAV of $612,500. While it may have seemed alarming at first that a 24-year-old journeyman with 33 NHL games would get a one-way, this does not mean he will be in Calgary. What it does mean for a team up against the cap is like the salary agreed to by Tyler Wotherspoon, his odds are better because he'll be cheap.
Hamilton's NHL AAV is over $100,000 less than what his NHL salary would have been had he accepted the Flames qualifying offer of $721,875. For the player, the advantage is he gets two years of term instead of one and is guaranteed that amount even if he is in the minors (similar to Joni Ortio's cheap one-way deal last year). As a good, reliable veteran minor leaguer, Hamilton could have commanded a big jump in his AHL salary anyway -- although certainly not to $600,000-plus, but some compromising going on from both sides. Also, remember that his salary does not count towards the cap if he is in the AHL.
- 5 - D Mark Giordano
- 6 - D Dennis Wideman
- 7 - D TJ Brodie
- 17 - LW Lance Bouma
- 18 - C Matt Stajan
- 26 - D Tyler Wotherspoon
- 27 - D Dougie Hamilton
- 29 - D Deryk Engelland
- 52 - LW Brandon Bollig
- 79 - LW Micheal Ferland
- 93 - C Sam Bennett
- 1 - G Brian Elliott
- 10 - RW Linden Vey
- 31 - G Chad Johnson
- 36 - RW Troy Brouwer
- 39 - RW Alex Chiasson
- 40 - G David Rittich
- 19 - LW Matthew Tkachuk
- 47 - LW Matthew Phillips
- 60 - LW Dillon Dube
- 70 - G Nick Schneider
- 75 - RW Eetu Tuulola
- 82 - G Tyler Parsons
- 98 - D Riley Bruce
Player to Watch
From this group it will be all eyes on 2016 first rounder Matthew Tkachuk, who took Penticton by storm playing the type of get-under-your-skin game that will make him a hated man pretty much everywhere except for in Calgary, where he will be loved.
He plays with edge, intensity, but he's also highly skilled and his skating continues to improve. In my latest podcast, recorded while in Penticton, Flames TV host Ryan Leslie and I discussed Tkachuk at length so give that a listen for more intel and anecdotes on the son of longtime NHLer Keith Tkachuk. Could he make the Flames like Sean Monahan did three years ago? It's not expected but it wasn't expected with Monahan either. Once he gets in the line-up and he will get a lot of preseason action, I expect he'll make it hard on Calgary to take him back out of the line-up.
- FF80F Podcast: Episode 6 - Ryan Leslie Guests in a Wrap-up From Penticton - Bringing great insight as usual, the host of Flames TV and I weighed in on a bunch of Flames prospects including Matthew Tkachuk, who we had an extended talk about. (September 21, 2016)
- Penticton 2016: Flames 4, Canucks 3 - Six Post-Game Impressions with Quotes - A great finish to the Young Stars as Ryan Lomberg had a game of a lifetime that had everyone talking about this young player. Hot-tempered Dillon Dube stood out also. (September 18, 2016)
- Penticton 2016: Oilers 4, Flames 3 - Six Post-Game Impressions with Quotes - Matthew Tkachuk (a Costco-sized container of piss and vinegar) was surly again. We got a first glance at 6-foot-7 Stepan Folkovsky, who Ryan Huska described as "interesting". (September 17, 2016)
- Penticton 2016: Looking to Make a Statement, Morrison Off to Impactful Start - After a year that Kenney Morrison called an "eye-opener", he opened up the rookie tournament with a performance his coach said he'd never seen before. It's a good sign. (September 17, 2016)
- Penticton 2016: Flames 4, Jets 1 - Six Post-Game Impressions with Quotes - It was quite the entertaining game as the Young Stars Classic got underway with Matthew Tkachuk making quite a statement. How Ryan Huska described his play was bang-on too. (September 16, 2016)