Last night, the Flames played their third game in three nights, something that doesn't normally happen. That's because it's preseason, and when it's preseason, you have an insane number of bodies at camp. When you have nearly 60 players at your disposal, you can afford to do that.
That time is over, now. With just four games left in the Flames' preseason spread out over a week, it's time to get serious, and start putting together the roster that will actually be used in the regular season.
With that said, there aren't too many surprises in who the Flames cut today. Very few of these prospects actually had any hope of making it.
The following have been assigned to the Adirondack Flames:
- Trevor Gillies
- Ben Hanowski
- Mathieu Tousignant
- Bryce Van Brabant
- Curtis Gedig
- Kenny Agostino
- Garnet Hathaway
- David Wolf
- Dustin Stevenson
- Doug Carr
- Brad Thiessen
While Keegan Kanzig was returned to the Victoria Royals.
This leaves three goalies, 17 defencemen, and 25 forwards left at camp.
The goalies are pretty set: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, and Joni Ortio are all that remain, and it's almost certain Ortio will be the one sent down.
The defence and forwards still need to be trimmed about in half. There's time for that, however, as a number of players (nine, to be specific) are injured, and won't be sent down just yet; at the same time, they obviously won't be able to make the opening roster. Several hopefuls in the forward ranks have performed rather well, and deserve a longer look in camp, even if it isn't likely they actually make the Flames.
On defence, it's a little more set; most are prospects and the only one who has a real shot at unseating a veteran, Tyler Wotherspoon, is injured. Kanzig was the last defencemen needed to be returned to junior. Everyone else still in camp will either be outright released or sent to the AHL.
As for the actual cuts: unsurprising. The list is made up of those who have shown very little offensively, and appear to be mostly made for grit and truculence. (So it's unsurprising they all got cut, right? Almost as though a team made up of fighters is a bad idea...?) Wolf may be the biggest surprise here, as he may have been in the running for a fourth line job, but even his cut isn't that shocking. He came from the German league, and at best, likely needs time to adjust to the North American ice. He was one of the DEL's top scorers last season, but there's a lot more talent to be found in Canada and the U.S., so some AHL seasoning at the least isn't too big a surprise.
As for college kids like Hanowski, Agostino, and Van Brabant: the latter is one of those tough guys with little offensive output, and the former two are still recent grads. By virtue of signing with the Flames after their collegiate careers ended last season, Agostino and Van Brabant couldn't be sent down. This is their first year of professional hockey; they were never likely to actually play it in the NHL. Hanowski, in general, isn't likely to make it.
Hathaway was an excellent story throughout camp, and he impressed well enough to earn a really long look from an NHL club. The Flames will undoubtedly be keeping their eye on him throughout this season, but just like the other college guys, he wasn't going to play his first pro year in the big league.
("But what of Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold?" you may ask. Remember: they played on one of the country's top teams on its top line. Gaudreau especially. They're just plain better.)
What continues to be a great story? Turner Elson and Josh Jooris. Jooris was a relatively unheard of junior who dropped his senior year when the Flames offered him a contract. Elson was in the ECHL last year. Both were undrafted. Both are still at camp. Neither is particularly likely to make the Flames opening roster, but from great Penticton tournaments and onwards, they've survived this long, have only gotten better, and may be productive Flames forwards in the future.