While all of the attention is concentrated on signing Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett, and Andrew Mangiapane, the cap-strapped Calgary Flames still have some work to do to stock the farm.
Since July 1, the Flames have added two forwards, Justin Kirkland and Byron Froese, and a defenseman, Brandon Davidson, presumably to fill the Heat roster. Froese and Davidson will join Alan Quinn and Buddy Robinson as veteran players. While there is not a limit on the number of veteran players an AHL team can have on their roster, they can only ice a maximum of five per game.
In my initial article, I failed to mention defensemen Alexander Yelesin and Carl-Johan Lerby as possible blueliners for Stockton. Yelesin has been added to the chart below, while Lerby will be spending 2019-20 on loan in Sweden and won’t be on the Heat roster.
Thanks to Tony Androckitis from InsideAHLHockey.com (who produced the free agent list I used last week), I will be updating my list of players that I feel would be a good fit for the Heat. Based on the full list in his article, East Coast teams were pretty active filling their affiliates in the first week of free agency. Most of these players signed league minimum two-way NHL or AHL-only contracts as noted below.
Here is the updated list of players that will probably open the season in Stockton:
*Likely to be in Calgary
**Filed for arbitration
(V) veteran status
|Alan Quine*(V)||Juuso Valimaki*||Tyler Parsons|
|Dillon Dube*||Oliver Kylington*||Nick Schneider|
|Buddy Robinson (V)||Andrew Nielsen||Artyom Zagidulin|
|Glenn Gawdin||Rob Hamilton (AHL)||Jon Gillies|
|Matthew Phillips||Corey Schueneman (AHL)|
|Luke Philp||Alexander Yelesin|
|Adam Ruzicka||Brandon Davidson (V)|
|Martin Pospisil||Rinat Valiev**|
|Mason Morelli (AHL)|
|Byron Froese (V)|
Surfing the net
Since I did not address the netminders in my last article, it is time to discuss the Stockton crease. The Cam Talbot signing may signal the end of Jon Gillies’ time as a Flame. Once dubbed the “goalie of the future,” there may be no room for Gillies with the Heat, as Tyler Parsons needs ice time and I doubt Calgary signed Artyom Zagidulin to send him to Kansas City. Nick Schneider will man the Mavericks crease along with some free agent signee (Ryan Faragher please). Gillies would need to agree to go to Kansas City, but I highly doubt he would accept that assignment or the Flames want to pay $750,000 for an ECHL goalie. Time to either package him in a trade or buy him out.
The blue line
Stockton had between eight and ten defensemen on their rosters at any given time last season, so signing at least three more would be ideal. Looking at the current roster, two are on AHL contracts, two are playing in North America for the first time, two are experienced, and one needs to develop both mentally and physically. Some experienced defenders would be preferred. Here is an updated look at last week’s list along with a few new additions.
- Chris Bigras – signed with Philadelphia (two-way)
- Tommy Cross (Veteran) – signed with Florida (two-way)
- John Gilmour – signed with Buffalo (one-way)
- Chris Kato (Veteran) – This veteran played most of his time in Providence before bouncing to both Chicago and Bridgeport the past two years. At 27, this 6’ 3” right-handed shot could provide some stability to an inexperienced group.
- Keaton Middleton – At 6’6”, this 240 pound 21-year old left shot spent last year playing next to his brother in San Jose. I watched this kid push Heat players around for 6 games last season. He tallied 13 points (6-7) in 61 games. Hopefully the Barracuda do not resign this kid.
- Aaron Ness (Veteran) – signed with Arizona (two-way)
- Philip Samuelsson (Veteran) – In Stockton’s camp last year, the 6’2” left shot was jettisoned after preseason and landed in Lehigh Valley for the year, where he had a respectable 15 points (4-11). Samuelsson, with his 51 playoff games, has bounced around the AHL since he entered the league in 2011.
- Tyler Wotherspoon (Veteran) – Signed with Philadelphia (two-way)
New additions to the list:
- Ryan Sproul (Veteran) – Sproul played on three teams during the 2018/19 season (Toronto, Laval, Hershey) but still put up 29 points (10-19) in 64 games. The 26-year old is a second-round pick of Detroit back in 2011. The right-handed defender has 44 NHL games to his name along with 5+ AHL seasons. (Editor’s Note: Sproul was in Flames camp on a PTO last season, so there’s a relationship.)
- Ryan Stanton (Veteran) – After spending 2 full seasons in the NHL with Vancouver between 2013-2015, Stanton has bounced around the AHL, suiting up for four teams in five seasons, the last two in Bakersfield. Ryan put up 20 points last year, his first double-digit point total since 2015 in Hershey. He has finished with a plus number in every season except one (2011/12).
- Zac Leslie – After being traded from the Kings to the Golden Knights last season, Leslie has been a stable blue line force for the Chicago Wolves. Only 25 years old, this left-handed defender contributed 16 regular season and six playoff points for the Vegas farm club.
- Erik Burgdoerfer (Veteran) – This 30-year old broke in with the ECHL Bakersfield Condors back in 2009/10. A constant scorer in the teens, he was a plus 18 last season with Belleville, where he was the captain.
- Griffin Reinhart – The ex-Oiler was chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft and has played with their AHL squad for the past two years. At 25-years old, this former #4 pick of the Islanders still has something to prove.
Needing between 15 and 18 forwards, Stockton has at least five openings for some tenured players up front. Alan Quine is the only top five goal scorer to return, and he may be in Calgary. The Heat still have the option to bring back Kerby Rychel, as he still remains unsigned.
This team needs to find over 100 goals to replace what has been lost to free agency. Here are the names still out there from my original list, with a few additions:
- Daniel Audette – A 23-year old left-handed center, he has scored 98 points in his first three years with St. John’s & Laval, lighting the lamp 37 times. At 5’9”, he is on the smaller end and could be a bottom six player.
- Justin Bailey – signed with Vancouver (two-way)
- Riley Barber – signed by Montreal (two-way)
- Greg Carey (Veteran) – signed AHL contract with Lehigh Valley
- Tyrell Goulbourne – signed with Vegas Golden Knights (two-way)
- Dave Gust – Solid right wing for the Bakersfield Condors over the past two years. Nifty little skater at 5’10” and 177 lbs. He had 33 points last year (18-15) helping the Condors reach the second round of the playoffs. Likes to shoot the puck as he fired 149 pucks on net this season (12.1%). He would be a good middle pairing.
- Scott Kosmachuk (Veteran) – On his fourth team since 2015, Kosmachuk (6’ 185lbs.) has netted double-digit goals in each season, his high mark of 19 coming in 2015/16 in Manitoba. One drawback is he has never finished in the plus category.
- Danny O’Regan – signed by New York Rangers (two-way)
- Cole Schneider (Veteran) – signed AHL contract with Milwaukee
- Adam Tambellini – A left shot, Tambellini has recorded 4 straight 30-point seasons for Hartford and Bellville. From his stats, he needs to work on his defensive game, going minus 34, minus 12, and minus 2 in his previous three years. Only 24 years old, this 6’3” 191lb. winger may just need a change of scenery.
- Corey Tropp (Veteran) – Another right winger who I have seen too much of, Tropp is a solid point producer for San Diego. He has three consecutive 40+ point seasons. At 29 years old, he has a bit of a nasty side to him as well, registering over 100 PIM’s the past two seasons. He is a guy you love to have on your team but hate playing against.
- T.J. Tynan (Veteran) – signed by Colorado (two-way)
Adding to the list:
- Kerby Rychel (Veteran) – It would be nice to see Rychel back in Stockton, where he was one of the few players not allergic to the blue paint. A solid 43-point season (and a team second-high 23 goals) was cut short after a late season injury. He knows the coaches, players, system, and the division, which is a plus. On a personal note, it would mean I would still be able to sport my game-worn superhero jersey from last season.
- Kalle Kossila – This 26-year old left shooting center has been a solid contributor to the San Diego Gulls over the past three years, while being called up to the Ducks each season. Kossila has sandwiched a 22-goal season in 2017/18 between two 14-goal seasons. He had three goals and seven points in last year’s playoff run for the Gulls.
- Wayne Simpson (Veteran) – This 29-year old AHL journeyman has put up double-digit goals and 40+ points over his last three seasons with three different teams (Providence, Hersey, Rochester). A right winger, he brings Calder Cup playoff experience with him, a plus for a team with a young core.
- Mitch Callahan (Veteran) – This right winger has spent the past two seasons in Bakersfield after six years in Grand Rapids. Along with two Calder Cup championships, he brings five years of 30+ points and double-digit goals. A short trip up Highway 99, he knows the Pacific division.
- Marko Dano (Veteran) – Only 24 years old, Dano has as much NHL experience as AHL. In a weird situation last season, the Avalanche claimed him off waivers from Winnipeg before being reclaimed by the Jets five week later and assigned to Manitoba. A former first round pick of the Blue Jackets, this left-shooting center was sixth in scoring for the Moose (12-18-30) in only 51 games. He would fill the Curtis Lazar role for the Heat.
With only four veterans signed, there is room for another four or five to round out the Heat roster. Stockton needs to add with some quality players to help the younger players get acclimated to the professional life while trying to lead a Heat team to the Calder Cup playoffs for the second time in their five-year residency in Stockton.