The 2015-16 NHL season is still 17 days away, and preseason games have yet to begin, but that hasn't stopped the Calgary Flames from starting to trim their roster. Five players were cut before the start of camp when Jason Bell, Jason Fram, Julien Proulx and Tomas Soustal were returned to their junior teams and Eric Roy was released from his amateur tryout; but now, the first cuts of training camp have occurred.
Of the 64 players invited to camp, now, just 59 remain. The first casualties:
- C Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets, WHL)
- D Riley Bruce (North Bay Battalion, OHL)
- LW Pavel Karnaukhov (Calgary Hitmen, WHL)
- LW Mason Marchment (Erie Otters, OHL)
- RW Taylor Burke (graduated from the CHL)
None of these names are particularly surprising, mostly in that none of them were expected to make the roster to begin with. There is one name that is pretty disappointing to see on this list, though, and that's Karnaukhov.
You can't ask much more from a fifth round pick than you can from Karnaukhov. He seriously impressed in the Penticton tournament, and it would have been exciting to see how he would have fared in a preseason game.
That said, this isn't necessarily an indictment on him at all. The Hitmen's season starts this Friday, Sept. 25, and that's the team Karnaukhov has been expected to play with all season. By cutting him early, he'll be able to get some practices in with his Hitmen teammates before his season officially gets under way.
This is, after all, only Karnaukhov's second season in North America, and he still has a lot of growing to do. The Flames seem to feel that having him get a full season in is more important for his development.
The upside to Karnaukhov's situation is that, because he plays in Calgary, the Flames can easily keep an eye on him: perhaps another factor in their decision to cut him early.
Of the 59 players remaining at training camp, seven are goalies, 20 defencemen, and 32 forwards. One player from each of those groups is injured: Jon Gillies has not been diagnosed with a concussion, but remains under concussion protocol; and Ladislav Smid and Paul Byron are skating separately while recovering from their injuries.
The Flames' preseason officially kicks off tomorrow, Sept. 21, with two split squad games against the Edmonton Oilers, both starting at 7 p.m. MT.