The Calgary Flames have been carrying two extra forwards all season. Most recently, this resulted in the recalls of several high performers from the Adirondack Flames, only to bench the prospects in favour of the current lineup. The most recent victims of this silly occurrence were Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund.
Well, they were sent down (and in their first game back, Granlund had a goal - and eight shots! - while Baertschi put up an assist... so you know, playing them is good). But nobody was called up to replace them. The Flames were down two forwards.
Curtis Glencross has been activated off the injury reserve, and should play on this upcoming little swing through San Jose and Los Angeles (two very, very important games, as I'm sure we scoreboard watchers are all aware). Which means someone will have to be scratched. And I think we all know who that someone should be. (Here's a hint: the last time Brandon Bollig was trusted with more than 10 minutes in a game was Jan. 15. Against the Arizona Coyotes. Who are bad, and lost 4-1.)
That still leaves an open spot at forward. David Wolf is still on the injured reserve, but he isn't currently skating with the team.
You know who is, though? Fourth overall pick Sam Bennett.
Bennett is currently a non-roster player. The Flames have two choices when he comes back: send him back to Kingston, or activate him.
They have two additional choices if they activate him: keep him in the NHL, or send him to the AHL for a two-week conditioning stint. CHL players are allowed to partake in these conditioning stints as long as they have not been returned to their junior team. Once the two weeks are up, he can't stay there, and will have to go to either Calgary or Kingston.
The important thing right now is: there is a roster spot available at this exact moment. The Flames have made no moves to fill it. They'll be going on a very important, albeit short, road trip with just one extra forward, and Bennett is currently skating with the team.
Which seems to point in a certain direction, doesn't it? First things first, Bennett should absolutely take the two weeks in the AHL. Dropping an 18-year-old who hasn't played in months due to a shoulder injury he already had been playing with for a while right in the middle of an NHL season, on a team suddenly with playoff aspirations, no less, is a very bad idea. The AHL, at this point in time, is probably closer to his speed.
Now, a player on an AHL conditioning stint counts as part of the active roster, so the Flames would still only have one extra forward if they choose to go this route.
But it's a route that will give them the chance to see exactly where Bennett is at, while keeping the option open to have him make his NHL debut this season. (Once Bennett returns to the OHL, there's no coming back to the NHL for him this season, unless everyone on the team gets simultaneously injured like that time Baertschi had his emergency five-game recall, but... that's probably not going to happen. The Flames were very, very injured that year, and we haven't seen it get that bad since.)
If Bennett does make his Flames debut, then he absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, be allowed to play more than nine games. That would burn a year of his entry level contract, and if all goes well, Bennett will soon be a very expensive player. Even with the Flames in the playoff race, that would be an extremely short-sighted move. You can't burn the entry deal of a fourth overall pick on not even 30 games. He'll almost certainly be finishing his season in the OHL.
But that still leaves nine NHL games available for him. And the way things are shaping up right now... it sure feels like we'll be seeing him soon, doesn't it?