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Heat Wave: 2020-21 Season Preview

The Canadian Divison 2.0 makes it debut, with some exciting rookies in 2020-21

2019-20 Record: 30-17-4-4, AHL Season Cancelled

2019-20 Team Leaders:

Goals

Luke Philp (19), Byron Froese (19), Buddy Robinson (18)

Assists

Alan Quine (32), Glenn Gawdin (31), Byron Froese (23)

Points

Glenn Gawdin (47), Alan Quine (46), Byron Froese (42)

Goaltending

Jon Gillies (14-10-4), 2.69 GAA .907 SV%

Artyom Zagidulin (16-7-4), 3.07 GAA .898 SV%


Introducing: The Canadian Division

Well, this is going to be fun. On January 28th, the AHL announced the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames affiliate in the AHL, would play their 2020-21 season out of the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. It’s the first time the Flames have had a “Canadian” affiliate since the Abbotsford Heat in 2013-14, and the first time they’ve ever had one in the same city. The Heat will retain the Stockton name for the 2020-21 season.

They’ll join the Laval Rocket (Canadiens), Belleville Senators (Senators), Manitoba Moose (Jets), and the Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs) in the first ever Canadian division in the American Hockey League. The Bakersfield Condors (Oilers) have opted to remain in the Pacific division, and the Utica Comets (Canucks) remain in the North division.

The debut of this new division began February 12th for all teams except Stockton. The American teams began play last week, except for those who opted out of the 2020-21 season (Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals, and Springfield Thunderbirds). Stockton was the only team in the AHL to cross the border, hence why their season opener isn’t until February 21st. They’ll take on the Toronto Marlies in Calgary for the first of a 4 game series against the Marlies in 6 days.


Packed their Bags:

Out: Jon Gillies (G), Alan Quine (F), Austin Czarnik (F), Ryan Lomberg (F), Andrew Nielsen (D), Rinat Valiev (D)

Gillies long tenure as a Flames prospect ended this off-season with his signing in St. Louis. Despite his decreasing quality of play, Gillies was the clear starter for the past 3 seasons so his departure opens the door for Tyler Parsons and Artyom Zagidulin. Quine and Czarnik leave the Heat and Flames after signing as free agents for the past 2 seasons. Both were major offensive factors for the Heat last year, and their scoring, leadership, and presence will need to be filled quickly.

Lomberg followed the inspiring paths of Garnet Hathaway and others before him, turning an AHL contract into an NHL one, and earning an NHL call-up and even recorded an assist in his brief stint. He will be missed by this fanbase for his tenacity and ability to overcome the odds.

Nielsen and Valiev were both returns in exchange for Morgan Klimchuk and Brett Kulak respectively. Both were solid presences on the back-end, and helped Stockton improve a shaky D-corps.


New Faces

In: Dustin Wolf (G), Dmitry Zavgorodniy (F), Emilio Pettersen (F), Connor Zary (F), Alex Petrovic (D), Colton Poolman (D), Carl-Johan Lerby (D)

Taxi Squad: Louis Domingue (G), Brett Ritchie (F)

Brads Pascall and Treliving give the Heat an interesting infusion of youth and some veteran NHL players as additions to this season’s rosters.

The most intriguing, at least for a little while, will be the possible pro debuts of highly touted prospects Dustin Wolf and Connor Zary. The WHL is still not very close to figuring out how their season will work, nor when it will start. This means there is a chance either could see pro hockey team right up until the start of the WHL season, where they will be forced to return to junior hockey.

Wolf, selected in the 7th round of the 2019 draft, will have a good chance at playing with Tyler Parsons still dealing with injuries, and questionable KHL statistics from Artyom Zagidulin. Zary, selected in the first round of this past draft, will also have a good shot at seeing time after a strong training camp with the Flames.

From a season-long standpoint, the additions of Emilio Pettersen and Dmitry Zavgorodniy are just as exciting. Pettersen, a 2016 sixth round selection, left the University of Denver early to sign with Calgary this past offseason. His blazing speed and quick hands will allow him to keep up at the pro pace while the rest of his game develops. Extremely underrated prospect.

Zavgorodniy has already made his pro hockey debut thanks to the delayed start of the NHL season. The Flames loaned Zav to SKA St. Petersburg, where his development wasn’t exactly prioritized like it will be in Stockton. He played mostly fourth line minutes, but managed to post a point per game pace through his first 2 games. Countless scratches and an injury limited him to just 6 games, but his offensive skill could really blossom this season with much more ice time.

Poolman and Lerby are both free agent signings out of the NCAA and Sweden respectively, and both will make their Heat debut this year. With how loaded the Flames are at the NHL level, both will need strong AHL seasons to be considered as being brought back next season.

Petrovic, Domingue, and Ritchie are all veteran NHL players that will add depth to the Flames, and veteran presences whenever they’re sent down to the Heat.


First Game: February 21st, 6pm MST, vs. Toronto Marlies

Poll

Who will lead the Heat in scoring this season?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Matthew Phillips
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    Adam Ruzicka
    (1 vote)
  • 12%
    Luke Philp
    (3 votes)
  • 16%
    Dmitry Zavgorodniy
    (4 votes)
  • 25%
    Emilio Pettersen
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Other
    (1 vote)
24 votes total Vote Now