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Training camp cuts: 5 more gone, 40 remain

Three preseason games to go, five more cuts to be made.

Mark Cundari's season will not start with the Flames.
Mark Cundari's season will not start with the Flames.
Derek Leung

Another preseason game in the books, another day closer to regular season, and more cuts to be made. Following an impressive 2-1 over the Colorado Avalanche, in which Michael Ferland scored both goals and Karri Ramo had a stunning performance, five more Flames hopefuls have been sent down to the Adirondack version.

The cuts are:

  • Turner Elson
  • Emile Poirier
  • Ryan Culkin
  • John Ramage
  • Mark Cundari
All kids this time, ranging in age from 19-24.

Elson had a pretty impressive showing at camp. Last season was his rookie pro season, and things didn't go too well for him. He played in just 37 AHL games, scoring only two goals and three points, before being sent down to the ECHL. He performed better at the lower level, putting up five goals and 15 points over 18 games with the Alaska Aces, and then helping the team to a championship as he scored 11 points over 21 playoff games en route to the Kelly Cup. He apparently had a great off season, as Elson entered prospect camp with a bang, performing exceptionally well during the Penticton Young Stars Classic and in a handful of preseason games. Elson is unlikely to play in the NHL this year, but look for him to have a much improved AHL campaign as he plays for a new contract.

Poirier is one of the Flames' top prospects, but he has been unable to participate in camp due to shoulder surgery. He'll be meeting with his doctor tomorrow, but is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season. You'll notice, however, that he's being sent to the AHL, and not back to major junior. That's because his later birthday permits him to jump right into pro hockey. Poirier's junior career ended with 87 points over 63 games last season. His professional career began with four points in two games for the Heat, plus a goal in the playoffs. You think he's ready for pro hockey? Keep an eye on him for sure.

Culkin was the third defenceman the Flames selected in the 2012 draft, behind Patrick Sieloff and Brett Kulak, and he has a lot of work to do. Culkin performed poorly in his own zone throughout exhibition games. He could put up points in the QMJHL, but here's the thing: like with Poirier, due to his later birthday, Culkin could have been playing in the AHL last season. The Flames wanted to keep him in junior. There's a lot of work to be done there, and he'll have this year in the minors to get started.

Ramage had an impressive Young Stars tournament, but didn't get much in the way of preseason time. Like Elson, he had a poor initial pro season showing, scoring just one assist in 50 AHL games. Sent down to the ECHL, it was in the playoffs where Ramage really seemed to find his groove, putting up 13 points over 20 games as he helped the Aces win the Kelly Cup. The Flames are thin on defence prospects, but if Ramage can keep improving, look for him to be one of Addy's leaders on the blueline.

Cundari is the oldest of this group, and the only one who requires waivers. He isn't likely to get claimed; the 24-year-old simply hasn't shown enough for an NHL team to put him on their roster to open the season (even though he was part of the Jay Bouwmeester package). Maybe it's the new management, but he seemed to take a step back last season, including being traded to the Chicago Wolves in an AHL transaction. He played far less in the four NHL games he had last year compared to the year before as well. Who knows where he ends up? Cundari is on a one year deal.

That leaves three goalies, 14 defencemen, and 23 forwards at camp. Some interesting names are among them: Tyler Wotherspoon, like Poirier, hasn't participated due to shoulder surgery, but he's started skating, so he's still there. Sena Acolatse is a new face in the organization, a castoff from the Sharks on a one year deal with Calgary to prove himself. Then there are the aforementioned Sieloff and Kulak, still vying for spots.

On forward, the prospects are being trimmed down, but there are two intriguing names still present: Josh Jooris and Ferland. Jooris, like Elson, is a relative newcomer who has had a strong camp showing to date, including an assist in last night's game. Jooris had a better showing than Elson in their rookie pro seasons, scoring 11 goals and 27 points over 73 games, and while he'll likely be sent down before training camp is over, it's impressive that he's still among the big club.

Then there's Ferland, who has really impressed. He ran from his initial rookie pro season, unfit and unable to crack the AHL lineup, instead opting for an over-ager year in junior. Then, just when he was putting things together in 2013-14, including scoring at a point per game pace, he suffered a season ending injury in December. That hasn't deterred him, however, and what initially looked like someone without hope has completely turned it around. He's been an offensive force throughout training camp. He's big. He's tough. He's making an excellent case to start on the opening roster. And even if he doesn't, he's probably playing his first NHL game sometime this year.