Assessing the Calgary Flames’ Training Camp Roster

The day has finally arrived in Calgary! The 2019-20 season “unofficially” begins today as players report to training camp for fitness testing. After an off-season that was much longer than Flames fans had hoped, things are finally heating up on the ice – no pun intended.

There is still some time before players hit the ice and we begin to analyse what we expect to see come October 3rd. However, the release of the official 2019 training camp roster has plenty to feast on until that time comes. The most intriguing part of the announcement is that the team only chose to invite 55 players: seven goaltenders, 16 defensemen, and 32 forwards. This number is substantially lower than the 69 players seen at the 2018 training camp; albeit that was due to the O.R.G. China Games. Still, the fact the team chose not to invite a handful of players leads one to believe that the Flames mean business and know who they want on their opening night roster.

Both groups, Team Murzyn and Team Otto, will participate in full activities during the first week. Looking at the lineups it is clear where the attention will be focused:

The Rosters

Team MurzynTeam Otto
Goaltenders:
32 – Jon Gillies
33 – David Rittich
39 – Cam Talbot
Goaltenders:
40 – Dustin Wolf
50 – Artyom Zagidulin
70 – Nick Schneider
82 – Tyler Parsons
Defencemen:
4 – Rasmus Andersson
5 – Mark Giordano
7 – T.J. Brodie
24 – Travis Hamonic
26 – Michael Stone
47 – Andrew MacDonald *
55 – Noah Hanifin
58 – Oliver Kylington
Defencemen:
6 – Brandon Davidson
37 – Rinat Valiev
43 – Andrew Nielsen
45 – Alexander Yelesin
54 – Corey Schueneman (AHL)
57 – Robert Hamilton (AHL)
62 – Eric Gryba *
94 – Zac Leslie (AHL)
Forwards:
10 – Derek Ryan
11 – Mikael Backlund
13 – Johnny Gaudreau
17 – Milan Lucic
21 – Devante Smith-Pelly *
22 – Tobias Rieder *
23 – Sean Monahan
27 – Austin Czarnik
28 – Elias Lindholm
29 – Dillon Dube
36 – Zac Rinaldo *
67 – Michael Frolik
77 – Mark Jankowski
89 – Alan Quine
93 – Sam Bennett
Forwards
38 – Byron Froese
41 – Matthew Phillips
42 – Glenn Gawdin
44 – Alexandre Grenier *
48 – Luke Philp
49 – Jakob Pelletier
51 – Jeremy McKenna (AHL)
52 – Justin Kirkland
53 – Buddy Robinson
63 – Adam Ruzicka
65 – Milos Roman
70 – Ryan Lomberg
75 – Eetu Tuulola
76 – Martin Pospisil
78 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
86 – Mason Morelli (AHL)
90 – Alex Gallant (AHL)

(*) – Notes a player on a PTO

(AHL) – Notes a player on an AHL only deal

Team Murzyn

Stating the obvious before diving in, both Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane are not listed on the rosters for the start of training camp. With both players still negotiating their RFA deals, their names are not listed as they remain without an NHL contract. Their exclusion here is no cause for immediate concern, but the minute they sign they should join their teammates on the ice.

Moving on, the rest of Team Murzyn is what was to be expected: the majority of NHL regulars in addition to a few recently signed PTOs.

Goaltending

Rittich and Talbot will be vying for the the starting position, with Gillies providing additional competition. Remember that when Gillies signed his contract last summer, the provision was that the second year of his deal would become a one-way contract. There is no doubt a motivated Gillies will be pushing both goaltenders until the very end.

Defence

In terms of the defense, there should also be no big surprised. Giordano, Brodie, Andersson, Hanifin, and Hamonic will most likely be mainstays on the back-end. The recently signed Stone along with Kylington and MacDonald, currently on a PTO, will be fighting for the last two spots. Despite the vitriol towards Stone, his guaranteed and low cap-hit contract likely places him in that 7th position.

Forwards

The forwards of this team provide the most intrigue. We obviously see the lineup regulars appear: Ryan, Backlund, Gaudreau, Lucic, Monahan, Lindholm, Frolik, Jankowski, and Bennett. Those nine players are almost guaranteed bets to find themselves on the ice for opening night, but then things get interesting.

Adding in Tkachuk and Mangiapane, who are almost certainly going be on the NHL roster, to those nine players there suddenly are only three spots left on the team (when assuming two goalies and seven defencemen already mentioned). Based on who is left, there are six players on Team Murzyn fighting for those spots: Smith-Pelly, Rieder, Czarnik, Dube, Rinaldo, and Quine. Dube and Czarnik seem to have spots to lose on the team, to a prospect or one of the players on a PTO. Smith-Pelly seems to be generating the most buzz among Flames circles so far, so it will be interesting to see what happens with him. Things are of course likely to change, but based on what we have seen so far, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on a team-friendly deal to start the season.

Don’t forget that the team could still opt to sign the PTOs to two-way deals if they remain unsigned after training camp. The AHL depth has taken a hit in recent years with recent promotions and traded draft pick, so seeing them adding some players to the team in Stockton would not be a surprise. That isn’t to say that these PTOS are their only options, but it is worthwhile remembering during camp.

Team Otto

Although the main action will be focused on Team Murzyn, Team Otto also has a few interesting names to keep an eye on throughout camp. These players may not be NHL bound immediately, but a solid performance could quickly change the team’s mind.

GOALTENDING

Four goalies, all with their own interesting storyline entering camp. Parsons, who is still being labelled as the “goalie of the future” will look to recapture some of his junior magic and solidify his status as the #1 prospect for the Flames in between the pipes. Wolf, who is coming off a late round selection at this year’s draft, will most likely be heading back to junior this season, but still has the opportunity to show why he should have been taken higher. Zagidulin was impressive in his debut at the rookie games this past weekend and could apply some pressure on Parsons in Stockton. Schneider saw lots of time in Stockton due to injuries last season, but could be in the middle of a battle come the start of the AHL season.

DEFENCE

The only real surprise that comes on the backend for Team Otto would be the inclusion of Brandon Davidson. Looking to be the Flames 7th defenceman, Davidson perhaps may find himself heading in the other direction. With seven defensemen already spoken for, Davidson will need a strong camp to end up not in Stockton come October.

A name to watch for here is Alexander Yelesin. Not a well known name for Flames fans, as he just signed this offseason from the KHL. Not known for his offence, the 23 year old Russian was a KHL All-Star last season and has impressed scouts with his consistency. While he will likely take some time to adjust to the North American game, he could be a surprise at camp this year.

FORWARDS

There are most likely some players on Team Otto you wished to see with the NHL regulars. Phillips, Gawdin, and Pelletier are most likely the big three that will be looked at to potentially make a splash on the Flames roster. Although they may not be completely NHL ready yet, Phillips and Gawdin have made enormous strides and could be looked on as the first players called-up should they not crack the roster off the bat. Pelletier is obviously younger and perhaps not primed at the professional level, but wouldn’t it be nice to get some young gun fireworks at camp?

Ruzicka, Roman, Pospisil, and Zavgorodniy have all impressed over the last year or so, but are long-shots to be considered for the NHL roster this season. Still interesting names to watch in the pre-season

Let the games begin

With that, those are the 55 players vying to be on the 2019-20 Calgary Flames. Most of them we already know and love, but there are bound to be one or two surprises come the final cuts. There is still some drama to settle off the ice, but with the first on-ice sessions beginning on Friday, the season is finally starting to feel like it’s just a puck drop away.


Photo by @NHLFlames

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