Michael Stone is officially back with the Calgary Flames. The team announced that Stone had signed a professional tryout offer (PTO), just as he did in the 2021, and will partake in training camp and preseason games at the very least. His veteran presence will be valuable for the young blueliners in the system and it just feels right to have Stone with the team. He was great in the playoffs last season and has proven he can be effective in Darryl Sutter‘s system as well.
The rundown on PTOs
PTOs don’t always turn into contracts. For Stone, there’s always a feeling in Flames land that this is but a formality, and Stone will be on the roster like he has been for the better part of half a decade.
However, this year might be different.
Last year, it made a ton of sense for Stone to play as the seventh defenceman in the NHL. The team didn’t have a deep NHL blueline, and when Juuso Valimaki failed to cement a regular spot in the lineup, it only made sense to have the veteran Stone in the press box.
On top of that, he was probably not interested in playing in playing for AHL Stockton considering his family has settled in Calgary, and his familiarity with the organization made jumping into games as needed less difficult and less nerve-wracking.
With The Calgary Wranglers now playing out of the Saddledome, this adds even more flexibility to Stone’s role. He may not be guaranteed an NHL roster spot but if he does get passed in the lineup by a player like Valimaki, Connor Mackey, or even Nicolas Meloche, he will at least still be at home in Calgary playing for the Wranglers.
Flames defensive depth chart
So, on the roster flexibility side, signing Stone makes sense. On the organizational depth chart side though, it makes much less sense, and might not even matter.
So far, the Flames’ blueline stacks up like this:
- Connor Mackey
- Juuso Valimaki
- Nicolas Meloche
- Yan Kuznetsov
- Jeremie Poirier
- Ilya Solovyov
- Nick DeSimone
- Dennis Gilbert
- Colton Poolman
The Wranglers are already nine defencemen deep and yes, maybe one or two could be sent to the ECHL, but that’s unlikely given the fact that non-entry-level contract (ELC) players are on one-way deals, and ELC players are ones you want to face top professional competition because they actually have NHL potential.
Adding in Stone to this mix makes things incredibly crowded.
Making room for Stone
Stone had a great playoffs, but with how deep the Flames’ blueline is at both the NHL and AHL level, it really doesn’t look like there is room for another player.
If history is any indication, Stone will be on the Flames’ opening night roster serving as the team’s seventh defenceman. But, this year, it just might be a little different.
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