The Flames have concluded their preseason and will now have to make their final five cuts to get the roster down to 23 for opening night. Here’s a look at each position and number of cuts that will have to be made. Italicized players indicate they are a lock to make the team.
Goalies (Cuts Needed = 1): Mike Smith, David Rittich, Jon Gillies
Defence (Cuts Needed = 2): Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Noah Hanifin, Travis Hamonic, Mike Stone, Brett Kulak, Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson, Dalton Prout
Forwards (Cuts Needed = 2): Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, James Neal, Michael Frolik, Derek Ryan, Austin Czarnik, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, Curtis Lazar, Garnet Hathaway, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Anthony Peluso
Goaltending Cut: Jon Gillies
This is a pretty simple call to make. It was up to Jon Gillies and David Rittich to take the goaltending job by force this pre-season and neither goalie really did so. So things will likely revert to the status quo with Rittich staying Calgary while Gillies heads to Stockton. Gillies also won’t have to pass through waivers which is likely a pro in sending him down.
Defence Cuts: Rasmus Andersson and Dalton Prout
While this is a decision that myself and many other Flames fans probably won’t be happy with, it strikes me as the most likely one. I doubt the Flames will be moving Mike Stone so they may just send Andersson back to Stockton. Andersson will obviously be the first call up in the event of an injury. Prout is the other cut, which is also an easy decision.
This ultimately means that Juuso Valimaki will make the team out of camp, and will at least get a nine game look before the Flames make a final decision. In this scenario I have Brett Kulak getting put in the 7th defenceman role this season as he hasn’t really impressed in the pre-season.
Forward Cuts: Andrew Mangiapane and Anthony Peluso
You could flip a coin between Mangiapane and Dillon Dube on who is sent down to Stockton. Both have had really good pre-seasons, but I’m going to give the edge to Dube as the Flames have really tested in a variety of lineup spots and special teams roles over the pre-season. It could very well end up being Dube that is cut, with Mangiapane getting the edge with two years of pro experience, it really is a coin flip.
Peluso seems like an easy call to make, but for some odd reason, I feel like the Flames may consider keeping him around, much to our collective chagrin. In this scenario, it means Garnet Hathaway and Curtis Lazar make the team. Hathaway has his useful moments (mainly as a fighter) and Lazar seems to be well liked, so having those traits in 13th and 14th forwards respectively isn’t terrible considering they’ll mostly be eating popcorn.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - James Neal
Dillon Dube - Derek Ryan - Austin Czarnik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik
Garnet Hathaway - Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Juuso Valimaki - Michael Stone
Mike Smith (Starter)
We can debate lineup combinations until the cows come home, and ultimately I think the Flames will tinker with them a lot as the season continues. For once the Flames will have multiple solid scoring options in their lineup which is very refreshing compared to past years.
2018-19 is here, and I’m ready.