Steve Begin and Leland Irving are out and Brad Winchester and Henrik Karlsson are out as the Flames finalize their 23-man roster this afternoon while awaiting the return of Jarome Iginla, Jiri Hudler, and Roman Cervenka to the lineup.
Yesterday, the Flames announced that 2012 first-round pick Sven Baertschi will be on the roster for opening day (surprise, surprise), and after placing goalies Henrik Karlsson and Leland Irving on waivers yesterday, it appears Irving has won the chance to back up Miikka Kiprusoff--for now.
Both goalies have had so-so results at the NHL level and Irving has barely seen the ice in what has likely been a frustrating season thus far with Abbotsford. Irving has played in six games this season with the Heat, with a 2-3-1 record and a .871 SV%. It doesn't help that Barry Brust and Danny Taylor have been playing out of their respective minds for the past three and a half months. Brust has a .944 SV% and set a new AHL record for most consecutive minutes of shutout hockey earlier this season while Taylor comes in with a .931 SV%.
However, it was Irving who got the call from the Flames last weekend to try out for the back-up spot. Exactly how many games Irving will actually play in a shortened season remains to be seen. Kiprusoff played 70 games for the Flames in 2011-12, but he is now 36-years-old and in the second-last year of his contract. Many observers also see this season as Irving's last stand; the goalie signed a one-year contact with the club this summer and will be an RFA in July if he is not re-signed.
It will be interesting to see what kind of impact the addition of Dennis Wideman to the Flames' top four has on Kipper's (and Irving's) numbers this season.
The Flames also announced today that they have signed Steve Begin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $525,000/season. Begin played only two games in the NHL last season with the Nashville Predators and before that, appeared in 77 games with the Boston Bruins in 2009-10. Although I'm not sure he'll fill the hole left by Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak, Begin, who was originally drafted by the Flames in the second round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, will also give the Heat a helping hand up front should he get sent down when Hudler/Cervenka return.
Hudler is expected to be back from the Czech Republic on Saturday following the death of his father earlier this week, although the team doesn't want to rush him. Cervenka still has to see a hematologist and will not be cleared to play until he has stopped taking blood thinners.
As far as the rest of the roster goes, the Flames sent Paul Byron down to Heat today and also demoted defenceman Brett Carson, so it appears the Flames blueline will be composed of Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Chris Butler, Dennis Wideman, Cory Sarich, Derek Smith and TJ Brodie (Steve McCarthy was released from his PTO), at least until the return of Anton Babchuk from a shoulder injury.
See the full roster here.
Yes my friends, we are close to game time and things are starting to shape up nicely.
Stay tuned for my full season preview tomorrow and then the return of the M&G Game Thread on Sunday. It's been far too long.