Despite the doom and gloom that seems to be penetrating the Saddlesphere from all sides as the new season approaches, there are some bright spots to be found for Flames fans, and they can be seen in Penticton this weekend.
With the likes of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov having already graduated to the NHL, the names on the Oil's roster may not be quite as recognizable, at least not the ones at forward, but they do boast some up-and-coming names on the backend.
Seventh overall pick in this summer's draft Darnell Nurse headlines the crop of young rearguards, which also includes 2011 first round pick Oskar Klefbom and 2010 second round selection Martin Marincin. Among the Oilers' defencemen participating in the tournament is a familiar face for Flames fans. Joey Leach, who was drafted by the Flames in 73rd overall in 2010, signed with the Oklahoma City Barons in June.
Up front, 2013 picks Marc-Olivier Roy, Jackson Houck and Kyle Platzer will also make their debuts for Edmonton while Tyler Bunz, drafted by the Oilers in the fifth round in 2010, is expected to start in goal tonight.
For the Flames, all eyes will likely again be on Sven Baertschi, who looks to impress Flames management heading into the new season after finishing 2012-13 on a strong note with six points in his last five games.
Max Reinhart and Ben Hanowski will also be looking to build on their Flames debuts ahead of main training camp, while Flames fans will also look forward to seeing Markus Granlund and Corban Knight as well as 2013 first round picks Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk.
On defence, Tyler Wotherspoon will be looking to impress after turning pro, as will Patrick Sieloff and John Ramage, while eyes will also be on offensive dynamo Ryan Culkin and six-foot-seven Keegan Kanzig.
Laurent Brossoit, whom many Edmontonians are familiar with, will start in goal for the Flames tonight.
Here are the projected Flames lines and pairings for tonight's game, which will be streamed live on the team's website:
Andy Taranto-Max Reinhart-Josh Jooris
Michael Ferland-Markus Granlund-Ben Hanowski
Turner Elson-Sean Monahan-Emile Poirier
Sven Baertschi-Corban Knight-Coda Gordon
Keegan Kanzig-Tyler Wotherspoon
Ryan Culkin-John Ramage
Patrick Sieloff-Brett Kulak