Friends! At 5 p.m. MT, there will be a hockey game for us to watch! It'll feature a number of Flames prospects, some of whom we already know and love dearly, others whom we are looking forward to getting acquainted with so we can know and love them dearly soon as well. Also there will be some Winnipeg Jets prospects, including some relatively big names live Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan, and Josh Morrissey, but, whatever. They aren't Flames.
Speaking of Flames, here's the projected lineup:
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Morgan Klimchuk||Sam Bennett||Austin Carroll|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Bill Arnold||Hunter Smith|
|Bryce Van Brabant||Brandon Magee||Kenny Agostino|
|Michael Ferland||Markus Granlund||Josh Jooris|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Keegan Kanzig||Eric Roy|
|Patrick Sieloff||Brett Kulak|
|Ryan Culkin||John Ramage|
Some thoughts on the lineup:
- A number of skilled players here, including some major hopefuls to make the Flames full time within the next few years. There's also Gaudreau, who's probably the most likely of all these prospects to spend the year in the NHL.
- Klimchuk and Bennett are not only both first rounders, but both participated in Canada's World Juniors summer camp. Carroll is a 20-year-old seventh rounder, so he doesn't quite fit the caliber his linemates possess; so, really, it seems like it'll be about how well he gels with two superior players.
- This will probably be most Flames' fans real first looks at Smith, and he gets to jump in with a pair of linemates already very, very familiar with one another.
- Magee is the only camp invite dressed for this game. It's interesting to note that the Flames have chosen a more experienced roster to open the tournament with, and Magee is the only invitee who's of a smaller stature (5'9", but a steady 190 lbs. - he's heavier than Gaudreau). He was also over a point per game in the WHL last season, although that was his 19-year-old season.
- The last time Ferland played a game was Dec. 12, 2013. Prior to his season-ending knee injury, he had 18 points in 14 games, so, he was going on quite the roll. He's also big - 6'2", 215 lbs. - and a fighter, so if he's able to build off his past success and not let his injury/other possible external factors derail him, he may be able to help satisfy the Flames' desire for toughness, all the while actually putting up points as well.
- Similar to Ferland, this is Sieloff's first game action in nearly a year. The now-20-year-old was set to play his first season of professional hockey last season, but a staph infection kept him out pretty much the entire year. The last time Sieloff suited up for a game? Oct. 5, 2013. Hopefully the year off hasn't hurt him too much.
- I'd also keep an eye on his defence partner. Kulak is entering his first professional season after flirting with the point per game mark in the WHL last season (60 points in 69 games). He also started scoring in the AHL once his junior career wrapped up, tallying up three points in the six regular season games he played for the Heat. Like Tyler Wotherspoon, he could turn heads sooner rather than later.
- Ortio should be a good watch as well. He's finally played a full year in North America, he has NHL experience, and considering his contract structure and waiver eligibility, it looks like the Flames may be thinking he'll be ready to be in Calgary full time by this time next year. Let's see if he can keep up last year's performance - it all starts tonight.
There are still two games after this one, and they probably won't feature as strong a lineup as this one, so this might be the game to watch this weekend. Go (baby) Flames! You can watch them on the Flames' site, app, or YouTube Channel.