With this morning's announcement that the 113-day long lockout has finally come to an end with a tentative agreement on a new CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA, it's time to take a look at how the Flames' roster could be shaping up a couple weeks from now.
Like most NHL teams, the Flames lost players to other leagues during the work stoppage, and like the NHL season, injuries are part and parcel of the game.
Summer 2012 acquisitions Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler, who had both been playing in the KHL this season, remain out with injuries. Cervenka returned to action briefly for Lev Prague before being sidelined again by blood clots on November 27th, and will not be ready for training camp (via Vicki Hall). Jiri Hudler, also playing in the Czech Republic, returned briefly from an abdominal injury only to have his neck sliced by a skate. Thankfully the injury was minor and Hudler only received a few stitches to close the wound; he could be ready to return the lineup by the time the shortened NHL season starts either on January 15th or 19th, barring ratification of the new CBA.
Mikael Backlund has been putting up some fine numbers playing alongside St. Louis' Patrick Berglund for Vasteras of Sweden's Allsvenskan league, scoring 12 goals and 30 points in 23 games, good for 1.3 PPG. Backlund spent time with Vasteras, his hometown team, before and after joining the Flames organization in 2007.
Maligned Flames defender Anton Babchuk signed with HC Donbass Donetsk of the KHL back in September, where he has scored one goal and three points in 31 games, although he has 82 shots on net. Former part-time Flames rearguard Clay Wilson is a teammate of Babchuk's, and has scored eight goals and 20 points in 39 games for HC Donbass, who are currently ranked 10th in the KHL's Western Conference.
In the AHL, the Flames will be without Lance Bouma, who has suffered a season-ending knee injury according to Bob McKenzie. Sven Baertschi, who recently returned to the Abbotsford Heat's lineup after missing 13 games with a neck injury, TJ Brodie, and Roman Horak, who leads the Heat with 14 goals in 34 games, are likely call-ups for the Flames once the season starts up.
The Heat were sitting atop the league before a miserable December in which they won just three times in the 13 games that Baertschi missed before beating the Rochester Americans 3-1 last night. Abbotsford D Steve McCarthy and former Flame Steve Begin will both be joining the club on PTOs in a shortened training camp. Because we don't have enough aging d-men with lead skates (I'm looking at you Cory Sarich).
Of course there are also still a number of UFAs out there to be signed, but the Flames don't have much in the way of cap space with 23 players signed under the current ceiling of $70.2M (around $3.5M), and will have to be careful about how they spend their cash ahead of next season's $64.3M limit.