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Calgary Flames

Cuts Make Flames Finalists Clear for Opening Day



Introducing the Calgary Flames finalists.

With a massive and expected purge, the Flames are down to 28 healthy bodies in training camp. And none of the cuts should be much of a surprise — even if you desperately wanted to see one of two of them just a little longer.

Although some might have hoped for more looks or better linemates for one or both of wingers Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier, the truth is neither of them showed enough evidence they could help rather than hurt a team looking to start its defence of a Pacific Division title with a strong start to the regular season.

Phillips flashed some of his offensive ability and plays harder than his diminutive frame would suggest. But for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations it’s hard to trust he can handle the grind of the NHL right now.

There’s some risk he could be snatched off waivers by a rebuilding team. But the Calgary Flames are willing to accept that possibility. If he lands with a new team, He may flourish the way Paul Byron did when the Montreal Canadiens pounced all those years ago.

Pelletier was disappointing in Penticton against the other prospects in the Young Stars Classic and the moments he looked ready for the big club were brief the rest of the way.

Still battling for positioning at forward are PTO players Sonny Milano and Cody Eakin, who are trying to usurp the likes of Kevin Rooney, Adam Ruzicka and veterans Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie and Trevor Lewis.

On defence, Jeremie Poitier is still hanging around because of his dynamic puck-carrying skills. A longshot to make the top six, he’s likely just getting some extended time to help him understand the 200-foot game Calgary Flames head coach wants to see from all his players.

But he’s joined by a number of more experienced pros, including Juuso Valimaki, Connor Mackey, Nicolas Meloche and PTO Michael Stone.

There are two spots open on the back end to start the year, assuming Oliver Kylington remains away dealing with his personal family situation into the regular season and the Flames go with seven blueliners on the roster.

Every game may be the last for these guys

Assigned to the Wranglers

Defencemen: Ilya Solovyov, Yan Kuznetsov
Forwards: Walker Duehr, Adam Klapka, Mitch McLain, Jakob Pelletier, Cole Schwindt, Brett Sutter, Connor Zary.

On waivers tabbed for AHL

Goaltender: Oscar Dansk
Defencemen: Colton Poolman, Nick DeSimone
Forwards: Ben Jones, Clark Bishop, Matthew Phillips.

Happiest campers

Goaltenders (3): Jakob Markstrom, Dan Vladar, Dustin Wolf
Defencemen (10): Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, MacKenzie Weegar, Nikita Zadorov, Chris Tanev, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Nicolas Meloche, Connor Mackey, Jeremie Poirier
Forwards (15): Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri, Dillon Dube, Kevin Rooney, Milan Lucic, Cody Eakin, Trevor Lewis, Sonny Milano, Adam Ruzicka, Brett Ritchie

Out of action, for now

Personal: Oliver Kylington (D)
Injured: Dennis Gilbert (D), Emilio Pettersen (F), Martin Pospisil (F) are all day-to-day.