While the Flames have been busy constructing their 23-man roster, they've also had to deal with some turnover in Abbotsford. Gone are veteran leading scorer Jason Jaffray and local product David Van der Gulik on an injury prone team that struggled to score goals last season, as well as goalie David Shantz who emerged as the #1 guy, if only by default, down the stretch and into the post season. While many of the new additions have made the team younger and likely faster, it remains to be seen if this group, many of whom are getting their first taste of AHL action, will provide more offensive punch than the last iteration. If nothing else, this Heat squad will certainly be an interesting one to follow next season.
Swapping out veteran forwards who are no longer considered viable prospects for younger players who still have room for improvement is always a solid strategy, and that's just what the Flames appear have done here. The oldest of this group are 25-year-olds Stefan Meyer and goalie J.P. Lamoureux, who made his pro debut in 2008-09 with Alaska of the ECHL and spent 28 games with the Portland Pirates last season. The addition of another goalie doesn't exactly speak to the organization's confidence in the Irving-Keetley tandem in Abbotsford, however; a three-goalie system rarely works at any level, and one of these guys will probably spend at least a portion of the season in the ECHL.
Meyer, a second round pick of the Panthers in 2003 and spent last season with the Phoenix Coyotes' AHL affiliate. With all of four games experience in the NHL, Meyer's career ceiling is likely that of a "depth player." His stats in the AHL have been mediocre after scoring three straight thirty-plus goal seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. MacMillan is in the same boat, only four years younger. Since being drafted nineteenth overall by the Ducks in 2007, he has yet to play a game in the NHL and has never scored more than 20 goals and 55 points at any level. Although he has been limited by injuries throughout his young career, Hockey's Future's scouting report on him seems relatively optimistic.
With the exception of Breen and Cameron, both unsigned overage juniors coming out of the OHL, every other incoming prospect was drafted by the Flames, a product of either the draft class of 2008 or, in Patterson's case, 2009. While Cameron was a scorer in junior, Bouma and Wahl seem to have been built in the mould of the responsible, two-way forward--although Wahl certainly has more of an offensive upside. In five playoff games with the Heat last season, Bouma scored one goal on seven shots, had an even +/-, and accumulated only 2 PIMS while Wahl scored 3-7-10 in 16 games with Abbotsford. Not quite the PPG pace he scored at in junior, but that's to be expected. Nemisz and Patterson are a little harder to get a read on, as the former scored three thirty goal seasons with the Windsor Spitfires but still needs to improve upon his skating, and the latter, a seventh round pick in '09, was a late bloomer, scoring 20+ goals in his final two seasons with the WHL's Saskatoon Blades.
When it comes to defencemen, T.J. Brodie seems to bring what the Flames' prospect stable has been lacking in recent years, arguably since Mark Giordano graduated to the big club in a smooth-skating rear guard with an offensive upside. Chris Breen, however, seems to be cut from the same cloth as a Gord Baldwin type--big, but with a limited ceiling.