Flames Cuts Loom — Pressure On for PTOs Milano, Eakin
It’s crunch time for the Calgary Flames players on PTO deals looking to earn NHL contracts.
Not only to they need to impress the team that’s given them the opportunity, they need to stand out for other potential suitors at the turning point of training camp.
Flames head coach Darryl Sutter hinted at the big chop that expected after tonight’s preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers up north.
“The last three we’ll be moving more into what our team could look like,” the Calgary Flames bench boss said after one of the group skates at the Saddledome Friday afternoon.
The evaluations started at the onset. No details go unnoticed, whether it’s fitness scores, attitude or the stuff happening on the ice.
“Conditioning coming into camp, first off,” Sutter said, listing off some of the things he’s looking from from Sonny Milano, Cody Eakin and Michael Stone. “If it’s possible they could mesh or fit in. Practice habits. Attitude. Performance.
“The reason they’re on PTOs is they don’t have a contract. So why don’t they have a contract? Let’s find out.”
Friday’s expected line combinations offer some insight into the battles for those final few roster spots up front — where the Calgary Flames have the most glaring holes for help.
Tonight’s expected Calgary Flames line combinations:
Ruzicka in prime position on top line
Adam Ruzicka gets a prime positioning filling in for Elias Lindholm on the top line between Jonathan Huberdeau and Tyler Toffoli.
The young centre, who resigned with a two-year deal on camp’s opening day, has passed the first test on Sutter’s list.
“He put a really good summer in. He’s got a man’s body now, which wasn’t there before,” Sutter said of Ruzicka. “That was lifestyle, diet, training. All that. He’s taken a really big step in those three areas. Now it’s about performance. This is when you get that opportunity.”
Both Eakin and Milano are also in the lineup. Sutter is looking for 200-foot efforts from every player, whether it’s a veteran, prospect or PTO.
Eakin may have a more prominent place in tonight’s starting point for combos, playing with a couple of the anticipated NHLers, Milano’s playing with two guys who should be equally motivated in prospects Cole Schwindt and Connor Zary.
Milano is someone Calgary Flames fans were dying to see come to the city this summer. As of yet, he’s not done enough to lock up an NHL deal.
“He’s got to take advantage of his ice time. Bottom line is maximize your skillset,”
Sutter said when asked about Milano on Friday. “If he’s only 75 per cent, then that’s not going to happen.”