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Filling in the Holes: Forwards

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Looking at the chances of young Flames forwards to grab a spot on the Flames roster this training camp

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Following the acquisition of Troy Brouwer in free agency, along with the choices made to let players such as Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris walk away, the Flames roster for next season is starting to take shape. Now we will look at the players within the organization, starting at those guaranteed a spot and work our way down to see what spots will become available for young players and new players on the Flames roster.

As the defense and goaltending spots are mainly set, we will only be looking at the forwards and assume that the Flames choose to carry 14 forwards into next season.

*Note: All charts are not line combinations but simply positional depth charts

Guaranteed Players: LW Johnny Gaudreau, C Sean Monahan, RW Troy Brouwer, C Sam Bennett, C Mikael Backlund, RW Michael Frolik,  C Matt Stajan

Here's a look at how the Flames lineup would stack out with these players on a depth chart.'

Flames Forwards
Left Wing Center Right Wing Scratches:
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Troy Brouwer
Sam Bennett Michael Frolik
Mikael Backlund
Matt Stajan

Each of these players deserves a full time lineup spot and all of them are key pieces on the Flames forwards group. Right off the bat we see that the Flames centre position is already filled up, leaving some young players such as Mark Jankowski on the outside looking in.

High Probability Players: Lance Bouma, Brandon Bollig, Michael Ferland, Alex Chiasson

Flames Forwards
Left Wing Center Right Wing Scratches:
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Troy Brouwer Brandon Bollig
Lance Bouma Sam Bennett Michael Frolik
Michael Ferland Mikael Backlund Alex Chiasson

Matt Stajan

With these four players added to the lineup it suddenly looks like there will be barely any room for new players to make the team. However, I could very easily see one or two of Bouma, Ferland, and Bollig gone before the season begins. Bollig was already a healthy scratch for most of last season, and with the Flames getting younger, I'd expect to see him there even more this season. The three LW's combined eat up $4.275M in cap space. As for Chiasson, I expect him to make the team simply based on being a right handed shot right winger who can provide depth scoring. All of these players struggled in 2015-16 and there's always the possibility that they could end up in the AHL as a result.

The Rest:

With the 3 or 4 lineup spots the Flames will have left, I expect them to fill in the gaps with their plethora of young developing talent. I have found 11 players that the Flames could potentially use to plug the final few lineup spots. There's really two categories that we can split these players into: #1. Pro Experience #2. Light to No Pro Experience.

1. Pro Experience: C Freddie Hamilton, RW Garnet Hathaway, C Hunter Shinkaruk, RW Linden Vey, C Daniel Pribyl, LW Emile Poirier

So first of all, I chose to classify Pro Experience as a minimum of 100 games played at either the AHL or NHL level or in Daniel Pribyl's case, 100 games in the Czech League. So let's go through this list:

  • Freddie Hamilton: Looked pretty good in his callup to the NHL last season as well as a strong stint in the AHL with 43 points in 62 games. Hamilton is one of the most experienced guys on this list with 292 games of professional experience with 33 of those coming in the NHL.
  • Garnet Hathaway: He extended his original stay last season after making an impact during his callup around the trade deadline. Has 139 games of pro experience with 14 games in the NHL all coming during this past season.
  • Hunter Shinkaruk: Had 27 goals at the AHL level last year split between Utica and Stockton but also looks like he's ready to compete for a spot in traning camp this fall. While he may not make the team out of camp, he definitely could be one of the first callups we see.
  • Linden Vey: With all the off ice issues from last season now behind Vey, he should be expected to push for a lineup spot in September. He split last season between the Canucks and the Utica Comets. Vey has by far the most NHL experience on this list with 134 games played plus another 229 games played at the AHL level. With a 1yr/$700K deal, it's all up to him this season as a low risk/high reward signing by Brad Treliving.
  • Daniel Pribyl: He definitely won't be on the roster off the start of training camp as he's rehabbing an ACL injury and will likely be unable to play until after training camp. From there, he'll likely be placed into the AHL to acclimate again to game speed and of course to the North American game. He has 211 games of experience with Sparta Praha in the Czech League and had 56 points in 54 games last season.
  • Emile Poirier: After being a first round pick in 2013, Poirier had a lot of high expectations placed on him. After a strong 2014-15 season, he was expected to compete for, but not get a roster spot on the Flames for 2015-16 as there was a glut of forwards in Calgary. He had a down year in Stockton, but this year could be the year we see Poirier make the team in Calgary. He has 75 points in 117 games in the AHL and an assist in 8 NHL games.

2. Light to No Pro Experience: LW Matthew Tkachuk, LW Andrew Mangiapane, LW Brett Pollock, LW Morgan Klimchuk, C Mark Jankowski

This category involves all players who played CHL or college hockey last season, as well as players with one season or less of AHL hockey.

  • Matthew Tkachuk: Fresh off being drafted 6th overall this past June, Tkachuk had a solid development camp with the Flames and signed his ELC shortly after. Tkachuk had an amazing first season in the OHL scoring 147 points in 75 games or just shy of 2 points per game. Granted that they came along very skilled linemates, but Calgary has a few offensively skilled players too. If I was betting, with Tkachuk now having an ELC, I'd expect the Flames to give him nine games next year to prove his worth before deciding if they should send him back to London for another season.
  • Andrew Mangiapane: After the entire NHL passed over him in the 2014 draft, the Flames took a shot with him in the 6th round in 2015. He didn't disappoint by putting up 127 points in 74 games in 2015-16 with the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Mangiapane has a small stature but thus far that hasn't affected his scoring touch as he has 299 points in 230 OHL games in his career. Mangiapane has one more season of OHL eligibility and it's likely we see him there next season.
  • Brett Pollock: As being the part of the package that the Flames got for Kris Russell, Pollock has a few more expectations placed on his shoulders. Pollock had 82 points in 78 games last season for Edmonton in the WHL and is likely destined to be back there again this season. He did score a goal in three games with Stockton at the end of the season.
  • Morgan Klimchuk: After having a solid WHL career, Klimchuk's scoring touch dried up during his first professional season with the Stockton Heat. He only posted 9 points in 55 games as seems to be getting passed by others on the Flames depth chart. However with the departures of offensive stalwarts from the Heat in Kenny Agostino and Derek Grant, Klimchuk will definitely have an opportunity to significantly improve his output next season in Stockton.
  • Mark Jankowski: With an ELC contract and his time with Providence over, Jankowski will be officially turning pro. Whether that be with the Flames or the Heat is up to him. As a center, it'll be tough for him to crack a Flames lineup already teaming with 4 established centermen. He may need at least a full season to fully develop and adjust to the professional game and the Flames are fine with that as they've become accustomed to patience with Jankowski. However if his 6 points in 8 games outing with Stockton last spring was any indication, he could find his way to the NHL quicker than we expected.

Here's a depth chart for these 11 roster players (*Note: All positions from general fanager) with the order simply based on the order of the players being covered and a recap of the Flames chart:

Potential Forwards
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Emile Poirier Freddie Hamilton Garnet Hathaway
Matthew Tkachuk Hunter Shinkaruk Linden Vey
Andrew Mangiapane Daniel Pribyl
Brett Pollock Mark Jankowski
Morgan Klimchuk

Flames Forwards
Left Wing Center Right Wing Scratches:
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Troy Brouwer Brandon Bollig
Lance Bouma Sam Bennett Michael Frolik
Michael Ferland Mikael Backlund Alex Chiasson

Matt Stajan

It's apparent that the Flames lack another offensive left winger behind Johnny Gaudreau, and they could look to Matthew Tkachuk to take that 2nd line left wing spot for at least the start of the season. If I was to guess on the remaining spots, I'd say that Shinkaruk would find himself on the fourth line RW spot or even possibly move Chiasson down to the 4th line. Finally, I'd have Linden Vey as the other scratch finding his way into the lineup on a more usual basis than Brandon Bollig.

Of the 11 forwards remaining I'd have (NHL: Tkachuk, Shinkaruk, Vey) - (AHL: Poirier, Hamilton, Hathaway, Pribyl, Jankowski, Klimchuk) - (CHL: Mangiapane, Pollock)

Of course that's just my opinion and we here at M&G would love to hear your opinion on which of these players you think is ready to make the jump to the NHL next season. Feel free to comment on one of our platforms and Go Flames Go!