The Calgary Flames are well into their preseason, and soon decisions will need to be made when it comes to who makes the roster. With a very different looking team compared to last year, the team needs to make a fairly large deicision on who’s opening the year as the sixth defenceman? We asked, you answered.
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One spot up for grabs
The Flames’ defensive corps a bit uncertain based on the recovery timeline for Chris Tanev. However, he was ahead of schedule and before the preseason even got underway, the pairings were clear. Newcomer MacKenzie Weegar would pair with Tanev, Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin would remain together, and Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington would round it out.
Unfortunately, Kylington’s personal matters looks like it will interfere with his open to the year, meaning the Flames have an open spot in a log-jammed position. There’s competition for ice time and someone will rise up to the occasion. Who should it be?
Connor Mackey has had an impressive preseason. He has been a reliable player who seems to look comfortable whenever he steps foot on the ice. Additionally, last year in Stockton, he served a very key role for the team and had a successful year overall.
At 26 years old, it is probably time for Mackey to secure his spot on the Flames team, remove the iffy prospect status he carries, and really solidify himself as an NHL player. At his age, there is not much more development that can occur, so at this point it’s either he makes the team, or he just might be left behind.
One of the more surprising signings at the time, Nicholas Meloche just might make the Flames roster on opening night. Meloche is a great Gudbranson replacement for the team, and he would be a very beneficial addition to the Flames. He played 50 NHL games last year with the Sharks, and if he is more comfortable in the NHL this year, Meloche could be a cheap addition to the roster.
On top of that, the Flames gave Meloche a one-way deal which shows that the Flames are clearly comfortable with Meloche at the NHL level. That trust is warranted as Meloche has looked like an everyday NHL player at training camp.
A fan favourite, Michael Stone seems to be the lock to make the team based off the poll results. It would make perfect sense to bring him back as well. Stone has had nothing but a positive impact on the Flames, especially last year.
Though he spent most of his time as the seventh defenceman, whenever Stone was needed, he would be a very reliable option both on the defensive end and the offensive end with his patented one-timer slap shot. One thing is certain—if Stone is on the ice and is taking a slap shot, then the opposing goalie will definitely not be Ready For It.
Mark Stone… I mean… Juuso Valimaki has just not impressed during the preseason. Once a top prospect for the Flames, Valimaki has had horrible injury luck. Ever since he tore is ACL, it seems like Valimaki has struggled to get back to form. Now, is the door completely shut for Valimaki to find his game again? I wouldn’t think so.
Although what is the issue is Valimaki is just not good enough for the NHL currently, and in order to be sent down, Valimaki must clear through waivers. At the end of the day, we just might be watching Valimaki’s last moments of being a Flame.
Decisions on defence must be made
The Flames have three more preseason games to make up their mind when it comes to the sixth defenceman slot. Look for the team to give every opportunity to these four players to showcase their skills. The start of the season is coming up quickly, and the Flames will undoubtedly want to put out the best roster that they can for opening night.