Hayley from Matchsticks and Gasoline asked us to do a quick Q & A for her blog and I got to ask her five questions in return! Be sure to go check out the good folks over at Matchsticks and Gasoline for their excellent coverage of the Flames.
1. Were Flames fans surprised that Burke didn't move Mike Cammalleri? What do you think his future is with the club?
Hayley: A lot of Flames fans were surprised and a little bit disappointed that Cammalleri didn't get dealt at the deadline, for sure. Given what the going rate was for a guy like him at the time, people were hoping for a first or second-round pick or possibly a prospect from a team looking to acquire him as a rental for a playoff run. There have been some rumours that he's been in negotiations with the team for an extension and he has been playing well since the deadline, but if nothing gets done then hopefully Burke will be able to swing a deal for him at the draft.
2. Who is that Flames prospect that the rest of the league isn't talking about but really should be?
Hayley: There are a few players who are up with the team right now who fans are really impressed with. After looking like he might be a bit of a dud when the Flames acquired him from Buffalo a few years back, Paul Byron has shown Flames fans that he can compete at the NHL level; six goals and 18 points in 42 games for the team so far this season, he's a small player who has been pretty fun to watch in an energy role.
Then there's also defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon, who is getting his first taste of NHL action this season. In 11 games so far he was four assists and has been seeing his ice time steadily increase to around 17 minutes per game.
In terms of more recent draftees, Emile Poirier has really been turning heads lately in the QMJHL. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Flames in a move that upset many fans at the time because he was something of an unknown, but he led his team in scoring this season with 43 goals and 87 points and has six goals so far after the first round of the QMJHL playoffs.
3. What is the future of Calgary goaltending going to look like?
Hayley: Despite being sent back down to the minors last week, Joni Ortio has impressed many fans and looks like he could certainly be an option for the Flames in goal going forward. Other than that, the team appears to be waiting on Providence Friars goalie Jon Gillies to make the jump to the next level. In 32 games this year, Gillies has three shutouts and an SV% of .929.
4. We all know that Calgary is a team that is in "rebuild mode", what aspect of the team needs the most work in your opinion? What aspect of the team is furthest down the road to being where it needs to be?
Hayley: The part of the team that still needs the most work is definitely the top six. Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund are good and all, but they need to be surrounded by more top-flight young talent as well as the likes of Jiri Hudler, Curtis Glencross and Mike Cammalleri. As it stands, the Flames aren't going to win many battles power vs. power with the top two lines they have, and if some of the players they currently have in their top six got moved down the lineup a little bit and replaced with even better players, they could be a force to reckon with. However that probably won't happen for a little while yet as the Flames await the further development of some prospects and by the time it does, we'll probably be dealing with different roster components.
5. So... who do you guys want to draft?
Hayley: To be honest I really haven't started looking too much in to potential draft picks quite yet, which is surprising given the fact that the draft is basically what the focus of this whole season has been since it became obvious that the Flames weren't going to surpass anyone's expectations in late October. I have heard a lot of chatter about Aaron Ekblad, but I don't know how I would feel about taking a defenceman with a potential top-five pick. The Flames' rebuild is still at the stage where there are a lot of holes to be filled and it can be tough at times to prioritize what the most important ones are. I would like to see a forward picked but on the other hand we don't want to be one of those rebuilding teams that keeps stacking up on skilled forwards and neglects the back end of their roster year after year (*cough* Edmonton *cough*). Defencemen tend to take longer to develop as well so I guess it depends on the timeline management is shooting for in terms of being competitive again and the priorities of the scouting department in terms of stockpiling talent and the readiness of certain prospects to make the jump and create space for a newcomer.
Well, there you guys have it. Be sure to check out Hayley on twitter and take a look at the excellent hockey talk over at Matchsticks and Gasoline. Do you guys think the Rangers will be taking their sixth game in a row tonight or will they be upset by the hardworking Flames? Is the future bright for Calgary?
Let's Go Rangers!!!
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