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July 14th News and Notes: Camp Wraps Up, CBA Negotiations Ongoing

The Flames wrapped up their annual summer development camp yesterday at Canada Olympic Park, and many fans and observers got their first look at the seven players drafted by the organization less than a month ago and a large number of college and junior free agents that has perhaps been absent from past development camps.

I was unable to attend the camp so I don't have any personal observations to share but Rob Kerr interviewed Assistant GM John Weisbrod following the conclusion of yesterday's scrimmage:

There were several things that jumped out to me in the interview so I'll list them below:

  • Weisbrod talks about valuing all players equally regardless of where they were drafted, which I think is a good attitude to have that I'm not sure really existed previously in this organization, at least in a noticeable way. Obviously there is going to be more importance and pressure placed on the development of a first round pick like Sven Baertschi or Mark Jankowski but sometimes players selected later in the draft or those not drafted at all turn out to be just plain better, and they need as much of a chance to prove themselves as the top prospects do. That's not to say they'll get the same chance at the NHL level but evaluating a prospect based on their skill level and not burying them simply because they weren't picked in the first round is something the Flames have been almost forced to improve upon given the organization's lack of recent success in that department outside of Mikael Backlund.
  • Weisbrod also mentions Troy Ward's influence, something that was discussed when the Flames hired Hartley and management had said that Ward had come in a close second for the job and would continue to work very closely with the big club during development camp and could also potentially make an appearance or two behind the bench during pre-season. Weisbrod said that having a small camp was important to give Ward the opportunity to work with each player one-on-one, something that has been important for the Abbotsford head coach in the past with guys like Ryan Howse, whom Ward sat for almost a month at the beginning of the season to encourage the forward to improve his conditioning habits.
  • Former first round pick Greg Nemisz apparently showed up to camp in the best physical shape of his career, which is encouraging for a guy who, as Weisbrod says, knows he has to make a lasting impression on the big club if he wants to earn more than a cup of coffee in the NHL this coming season. However it was 2007 seventh round pick Gaelan Patterson who finished first place amongst all development camp attendees in fitness testing, which says something about the "all prospects are equal" mentality mentioned earlier. Amongst some of players he was most impressed by at camp, Weisbrod listed Coda Gordon, Matthew DeBlouw, and Ryan Culkin, whom he said made the most of Patrick Sieloff's absence on the blueline due to injury.
  • Last but not least, Weisbrod discusses the dynamic duo of Baertschi and Jankowski, which has been a hot topic amongst local media outlets this week. At about 3:21, he even refers to him as The Big Jankowski. I think our work here is done.
The second item of interest this week is the ongoing negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA as the two sides look to come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before the current one expires on September 15th. The NHL tabled an offer to the PA yesterday that will almost certainly be rejected, but includes some interesting proposals nonetheless, including increasing the number of years a player must play in the league before becoming a UFA from seven to ten, five-year entry level deals instead of three, and five-year contract limits (which I would be a huge proponent of but I doubt the PA would agree). Of course, the biggest thing here which will ultimately stall the proceedings is the reduction in the player's share of league revenue, a proposed 11% drop from 57% to 46%.

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, because it appears we're in for a wild ride and possibly one long off-season.