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Flames Cut Milano, Eakin Loose from PTO contracts



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The Calgary Flames finally cut their professional tryout contracts — releasing both Sonny Milano and Cody Eakin from their PTOs on Thursday.

They also sent goaltender Dustin Wolf to the AHL Wranglers.

With one more preseason contest to tune up for the regular season, the Flames have 14 forwards, nine defencemen and two goaltenders. With Oliver Kylington still dealing with a personal family issue, there is uncertainty on the back end. Head coach Darryl Sutter is still trying to figure out his pairings. And maybe more importantly, his special teams roleplayers.

Sutter said both his powerplay and penalty killing “sucked” in a 5-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. The team is missing defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who was a key part of the PK last year but signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a UFA this summer. Up front, a major reason for the team’s success on the PP was the chemistry of the trio, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk.

We won’t beat a dead horse but Jonathan Huberdeau, Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli have yet to find that spark.

Barring a trade, the forward group is fairly set. Lines may shift but it looks like the third-line winger and fourth-line centre roles will come down to newcomer Radim Zohorna, Kevin Rooney and Adam Ruzicka. One of them could be waived or sit as a 13th or 14th forward. That all depends how many bodies the Calgary Flames plan to carry on opening day. Brett Ritchie is another player who could either be waived or in the press box.

The good news for the franchise is that with the AHL Wranglers now based in Calgary, call ups are close at hand. And Ritchie isn’t likely to be snatched on waivers.

On defence, however, there are a couple of guys still here who could be scooped if/when they hit the wire.

Juuso Valimaki, who is celebrating his 24th birthday today, is a first-round pick who was once the team’s top prospect. Someone may just be waiting to take a shot at him. Connor Mackey is another blueliner fighting to make the roster as No. 6 or 7 and was a coveted prospect coming out of college when the Calgary Flames signed him.

Michael Stone is still on a PTO. His intention is to stay in Calgary. Stone has built a life with his family here. It’s possible they work out a franchise friendly two-way deal that might allow them more flexibility. He may have interest from elsewhere given his playoff showing and preseason performance. With three goals, he was the team’s most potent player in exhibition.

Nicolas Meloche is the other candidate for one of the final slots on the back end. He was brought in with the idea of possibly filling a role on the penalty kill. But Meloche has not yet made enough of an impression to cement himself in there.

The Flames preseaon finale is at home against the Jets on Friday, and all the answers should follow fairly quickly.

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