With preseason almost at an end, the more difficult cuts need to be made, and the more questionable the decisions may appear. With injured vets like Mikael Backlund, Mason Raymond, and David Jones all returning, the Flames are taking a cautious approach before their final preseason game tomorrow, making sure they've got it right.
As you'd hope with a rebuilding team, a number of prospects are making the decisions difficult. It's resulted in the Flames having simply too many bodies, too many people deserving, whether by reputation or by an impressive month.
The Flames have cut three more:
- Morgan Klimchuk (assigned to the Regina Pats)
- Patrick Sieloff (assigned to the Adirondack Flames)
- Michael Ferland (assigned to the Adirondack Flames)
That leaves 30 players at camp: three goalies, nine defencemen, and 18 forwards. They need to cut seven. Three of those players will almost certainly be Joni Ortio, Corey Potter, and Tyler Wotherspoon. Raphael Diaz should receive a contract, rounding out the Flames with seven defencemen. That means four forwards will still need to be cut, and here is where it's especially tough.
The Flames have a ton of veterans owed a lot of money, so it'll be interesting to see if they decide to keep them over prospects who have had a better showing. Josh Jooris is a prime example of this. Sven Baertschi has had a great showing. So has Johnny Gaudreau. There's still the question of where Sam Bennett is going to spend his season. Markus Granlund is recovering from a concussion, but looked like he should be in the NHL. That's five, although at this point, Gaudreau is certainly on the team. Do you cut all four of those players, then? Has the mere presence of guys like Jones, Devin Setoguchi, Brandon Bollig, or even Brian McGrattan rendered them unworthy of starting in the NHL?
It wouldn't be hard to argue Ferland shouldn't have been cut, either.
Klimchuk and Sieloff? Not surprising. Klimchuk is injured, but was almost certainly going back to junior anyway. This is his last year down there, and he'll probably put on a good performance before graduating to the pro ranks. Sieloff, meanwhile, missed an entire year, and just isn't better than any of the Flames' current veterans (or Wotherspoon, for that matter). It'll do him much more good to play big minutes in the AHL than ride the pine (or pressbox) in the NHL.
That leaves Ferland.
What else could Ferland have done to make this team? Not a whole lot. He'll be back soon; injuries happen, and Ferland will almost certainly be one of the first call ups. Should he have made the team, though?
Here's something worth considering: Ferland has yet to play a full professional season. He came out roaring in the Penticton tournament, and had a stellar September after not playing since December 2013. In Ferland's entire professional career, he has only had a couple of good months, and one of those months was a preseason month. He played all of 25 AHL games last year, and needed a bit of time to get going.
So is it a bad thing if Ferland starts his year in the AHL? No. In addition to being tough as hell, he also has scoring potential, so like with Sieloff, getting more minutes with better linemates in the minors will probably be better in the long run.
At the same time, what did Bollig do that Ferland didn't?