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Size and grit plentiful in Calgary Flames' minor league system

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Old
02-04-2013, 07:25 PM
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Size and grit plentiful in Calgary Flames' minor league system


The Abbotsford Heat finished comfortably in fourth place in the AHL Western Conference for the 2011-12 regular season, playing in the Calder Cup Playoffs after missing them in the previous year. The Heat swept through the first round but was beaten in five games by the Toronto Marlies in the second round of the playoffs. The team lost to a Marlies team that would end up playing for the Calder Cup.



This season, Abbotsford has a veteran team along with the addition of four rookies, two of the Calgary Flames' top prospects in Sven Baertschi and Max Reinhart along with NCAA players David Eddy and Brady Lamb. read more



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Last edited by Ken McKenna: 02-04-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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02-04-2013, 10:33 PM
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MarkGio
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Size and grit is a euphemism for ****** prospects that couldn't bury their dead cat let alone a puck.

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02-05-2013, 12:33 AM
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02-05-2013, 12:26 PM
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Reads like a fluff article from someone who hasn't seen the prospects play often enough to form a real opinion and is basing the article off of stats.

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02-05-2013, 02:19 PM
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David Thicke
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Reads like a fluff article from someone who hasn't seen the prospects play often enough to form a real opinion and is basing the article off of stats.
I never form an opinion on stats. I have seen quite a few of the televised Heat games as well as all the highlites. If I wrote the article on stat then you might want to read a little closer to what I wrote regarding Reinhart. I don't make up the title but I should try to because I don't really agree fully with it.

Calgary Flames have some excellent prospects coming at the junior level and a few at the AHL but it will take time for them to develop fully. Calgary needs to stop using so many veteran AHL's who aren't going to play in the NHL and let their drafted prospects sink or swim at the AHL not in the ECHL. Push Howse to play with Horak and get his offensive game back. Wahl has played well in the ECHL why isn't he in Abbotsford, Doghouse maybe?

Thanks for reading my fluff article. If you have questions about what I think about any players I will try to answer as many readers as I can.

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02-05-2013, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by David Thicke View Post
Calgary Flames have some excellent prospects coming at the junior level and a few at the AHL but it will take time for them to develop fully. Calgary needs to stop using so many veteran AHL's who aren't going to play in the NHL and let their drafted prospects sink or swim at the AHL not in the ECHL. Push Howse to play with Horak and get his offensive game back. Wahl has played well in the ECHL why isn't he in Abbotsford, Doghouse maybe?
Ward's a really, really, poor choice for a developmental coach. Great if winning is the only thing that matters, but awful at getting players ready for the NHL. Although, to be fair, it's very likely that the parent organization put a lot of pressure on Ward to start winning games given how unhappy the city of Abbortsford is, what with the team losing a lot money because they can't attract enough fans.

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02-06-2013, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by David Thicke View Post
I never form an opinion on stats. I have seen quite a few of the televised Heat games as well as all the highlites. If I wrote the article on stat then you might want to read a little closer to what I wrote regarding Reinhart. I don't make up the title but I should try to because I don't really agree fully with it.

Calgary Flames have some excellent prospects coming at the junior level and a few at the AHL but it will take time for them to develop fully. Calgary needs to stop using so many veteran AHL's who aren't going to play in the NHL and let their drafted prospects sink or swim at the AHL not in the ECHL. Push Howse to play with Horak and get his offensive game back. Wahl has played well in the ECHL why isn't he in Abbotsford, Doghouse maybe?

Thanks for reading my fluff article. If you have questions about what I think about any players I will try to answer as many readers as I can.
Although I appreciate you watching the televised games and highlites, I think you are off the mark on some of you opinions having watched the vast majority of the games online as well as in person.

Your assessment of Aliu is poor. While you acknowledge his has been injured, you suggest that he has struggled based on his inability to generate scoring chances. Had you watched Aliu you would know that he has been generating numerous chances; crashing the net and out-muscling defenders in the slot. Perhaps it is a poorly worded sentence, however the connotation is that he is playing poorly because he is not putting up numbers. As a fourth line, energy guy it would be foolish to think Aliu would be depended upon to put up points for the Heat.

The Carter Bancks review is similarly worded. "Bancks has cooled off drastically in the offense department having not cracked the score sheet since November, a stretch of 21 games. Despite his lack of offense, he has stayed in the team's starting line-up due to his solid two-way play and excellent penalty killing." Bancks is a fourth line energy player, yet the assessment begins with his lack of offensive output. "Despite his lack of offense..." He's not paid to put up offensive numbers! You acknowledge that he has remained in the lineup due to his other contributions (the actual reason he is on the team), however the way the paragraph is constructed suggests that he is an offensive player who has struggled to put up points and therefore has been limited to PK and defensive duties.

Breen's write up is also flawed. "His puckhandling, passing, and board play have improved as the year has moved along and there are glimpses of his offensive potential. Though 40 games, he has picked up three goals along with two assists and an even rating on the AHL's best defensive team." Breen's greatest improvement this year has been his skating, something that you may not notice if you do not watch the Heat consistently. Breen's "offensive potential" is the result of being paired with Brodie and now Carson. Both Brodie and Carson are much more offensively
skilled than Breen and by watching the Heat play, you would know that the majority of Breen's points have been the result of Breen passing to Brodie or Carson and then letting them make a play. It's like the goaltender getting an assist by putting the puck behind the net on the PP. Yes, Breen's numbers have improved, but it is a reflection of his defensive pairing, rather than any improvement in his puck-handling or passing skills.

The paragraph about Lamb doesn't really include any real information other that he hasn't been sent down and was occassionally a healthy scratch in the early part of the season. "Lamb needs to play his game..." How well can you describe his game? Your assessment also ignores the transition from college to pro hockey and his climb up the depth chart to a steady top four dman for the Heat in the last month. He is a strong skater and has sneaky offensive skills (puck-handling, shot accuracy). Your write up was mostly fluff.

"He has struggled to put up points since his return to the Heat's starting line-up, only collecting three assists and a minus-three rating in 26 games." If you have watched Nemisz since his return from injury you would know that he has been on a line with Laing and Howse/Ruegsegger. Hardly linemates to produce points with. The decision has already been made for him as he has been unable to crack the top six of the Heat. Also, if you have watch Nemisz consistently you would see the obvious improvement in his skating which has always been the biggest knock against him.

Reinhart's write up also neglects to acknowledge the transition from the WHL to pro hockey. To ignore this and suggest his recent offensive improvement is based on better linemates is lazy. Had you watched many Heat games you would know that Reinhart had been very unlucky hitting a absurd number of posts.

Your assessment that the Heat need to provide opportunites for prospects like Wahl and reduce the number of veterans is also flawed. If you look at the rosters of all the successful AHL teams, you would see that most rely on veterans to provide the majority of the offensive output. The reason is simple. Young players that light up the AHL are not in the AHL for long. Wahl has been given opportunities and has not taken advantage of it. What other Flames' prospects deserve a spot in the top six? Nemisz? He has been given the opportunity and did not take adavantage. Howse? He has shown he is still adjusting to pro life, let alone top six responsibilities. Byron? Horak? Reinhart? Oh wait, they are in the top six. Baertcshi? Yup, him too when he was in the AHL. Guys like Walter, Kolanos, and Street are necessary to keep the team competitive and show the prospects how to be a pro. As more offensive prospects graduate to the AHL (Granlund, Gaudreau, college free agents) guys like Kolanos will no longer be on the team. The Heat actually have a nice mix of forward vets and prospects. The problem is the lack of prospects on the blueline other than Breen and Lamb. As Wotherspoon, Ramage, Culkin, and others graduate to the AHL, the number of prospects will improve as well.

I appreciate your contribution to the Flames page on HF. While it seems like the majority of your stories are Canadien based, at least someone on HF is writing something about the Flames more than once a year. However, the use of plus/minus in most of your write ups, repeated information (invited to Flames camp) and little true assessment of a player's strengths and weaknesses make the article "a little fluffy."

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02-06-2013, 10:14 AM
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InfinityIggy
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Dunno what you guys are so upset about. I thought it was a good read and a mostly accurate assessment and at the end of the day, this is always someones opinion you don't have to take it as gospel.

Anyway, I agree with the assessment that the Heat org is very gritty this reasoning is twofold.

First: Our "Skill guys" like Brodie, Bartschi are in the NHL now, Horak, Reinhart and Howse (in a sense) are the other "high scorers" atleast, the guys who should be scoring. Outside of them most of the other prospects on the team project as 3rd and 4th liners so I think the idea that the Heat are a "gritty" team, is mostly founded in truth.

Second: Coaching staff. Enough said there..

Just wait a couple years though when we have guys like Jank, JG, Wotherspoon, Granlund as a new group of scorers and this team identity will change. I think it has already started.

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02-06-2013, 01:13 PM
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David Thicke
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Originally Posted by InfinityIggy View Post
Dunno what you guys are so upset about. I thought it was a good read and a mostly accurate assessment and at the end of the day, this is always someones opinion you don't have to take it as gospel.

Anyway, I agree with the assessment that the Heat org is very gritty this reasoning is twofold.

First: Our "Skill guys" like Brodie, Bartschi are in the NHL now, Horak, Reinhart and Howse (in a sense) are the other "high scorers" atleast, the guys who should be scoring. Outside of them most of the other prospects on the team project as 3rd and 4th liners so I think the idea that the Heat are a "gritty" team, is mostly founded in truth.

Second: Coaching staff. Enough said there..

Just wait a couple years though when we have guys like Jank, JG, Wotherspoon, Granlund as a new group of scorers and this team identity will change. I think it has already started.
I am not blaming the coaching staff for the direction as it comes from the Flames management who for some reason want to play veteran AHLer in order to win games. The best explanation I have heard is it possible that these moves are about attendance in Abbotsford but the Flames shouldn't give a damn. Their job is to develop their prospects.

Here's what I was saying about Nemisz, Wahl and Howse. These players have all been first or second line offensive players so why try to make them into third or fourth line checkers. Put them out on the top lines and let them sink or swim. It's adjusting from junior to the AHL and then to NHL but you have to see what your prospects can do and they need to learn how to be a pro. It's not about winning, it about improving your young talents every day. Develop, develop and then develop, it's a big part of smaller market team as well as the big teams now in the salary cap NHL. Calgary has done a piss poor job in the past of doing this and their success rate for their draft picks turning into NHL player has something to do with development.

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02-06-2013, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by David Thicke View Post
I am not blaming the coaching staff for the direction as it comes from the Flames management who for some reason want to play veteran AHLer in order to win games. The best explanation I have heard is it possible that these moves are about attendance in Abbotsford but the Flames shouldn't give a damn. Their job is to develop their prospects.

Here's what I was saying about Nemisz, Wahl and Howse. These players have all been first or second line offensive players so why try to make them into third or fourth line checkers. Put them out on the top lines and let them sink or swim. It's adjusting from junior to the AHL and then to NHL but you have to see what your prospects can do and they need to learn how to be a pro. It's not about winning, it about improving your young talents every day. Develop, develop and then develop, it's a big part of smaller market team as well as the big teams now in the salary cap NHL. Calgary has done a piss poor job in the past of doing this and their success rate for their draft picks turning into NHL player has something to do with development.
I completely agree with this, this has been a problem with the Flames farm system for far to long. I know Ward is a good coach, but for example a mandate from management should of been made to give Irving the majority of starts during the lockout if he was seen to be our goalie of the future. Irving did admirable last season in his few starts and regardless of his struggles this season he should be been playing a ton more on the Heat. If you draft players to be top 6 players, then that's where you should be playing them. That's what a farm system is for, hence the name. Developing our prospects has been the biggest weakness for the Flames since they came to Calgary, this needs to change just as much as our drafting needed to.

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02-07-2013, 02:37 AM
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David Thicke
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Originally Posted by Tilley_ View Post
Although I appreciate you watching the televised games and highlites, I think you are off the mark on some of you opinions having watched the vast majority of the games online as well as in person.

Your assessment of Aliu is poor. While you acknowledge his has been injured, you suggest that he has struggled based on his inability to generate scoring chances. Had you watched Aliu you would know that he has been generating numerous chances; crashing the net and out-muscling defenders in the slot. Perhaps it is a poorly worded sentence, however the connotation is that he is playing poorly because he is not putting up numbers. As a fourth line, energy guy it would be foolish to think Aliu would be depended upon to put up points for the Heat.

The Carter Bancks review is similarly worded. "Bancks has cooled off drastically in the offense department having not cracked the score sheet since November, a stretch of 21 games. Despite his lack of offense, he has stayed in the team's starting line-up due to his solid two-way play and excellent penalty killing." Bancks is a fourth line energy player, yet the assessment begins with his lack of offensive output. "Despite his lack of offense..." He's not paid to put up offensive numbers! You acknowledge that he has remained in the lineup due to his other contributions (the actual reason he is on the team), however the way the paragraph is constructed suggests that he is an offensive player who has struggled to put up points and therefore has been limited to PK and defensive duties.

Breen's write up is also flawed. "His puckhandling, passing, and board play have improved as the year has moved along and there are glimpses of his offensive potential. Though 40 games, he has picked up three goals along with two assists and an even rating on the AHL's best defensive team." Breen's greatest improvement this year has been his skating, something that you may not notice if you do not watch the Heat consistently. Breen's "offensive potential" is the result of being paired with Brodie and now Carson. Both Brodie and Carson are much more offensively
skilled than Breen and by watching the Heat play, you would know that the majority of Breen's points have been the result of Breen passing to Brodie or Carson and then letting them make a play. It's like the goaltender getting an assist by putting the puck behind the net on the PP. Yes, Breen's numbers have improved, but it is a reflection of his defensive pairing, rather than any improvement in his puck-handling or passing skills.

The paragraph about Lamb doesn't really include any real information other that he hasn't been sent down and was occassionally a healthy scratch in the early part of the season. "Lamb needs to play his game..." How well can you describe his game? Your assessment also ignores the transition from college to pro hockey and his climb up the depth chart to a steady top four dman for the Heat in the last month. He is a strong skater and has sneaky offensive skills (puck-handling, shot accuracy). Your write up was mostly fluff.

"He has struggled to put up points since his return to the Heat's starting line-up, only collecting three assists and a minus-three rating in 26 games." If you have watched Nemisz since his return from injury you would know that he has been on a line with Laing and Howse/Ruegsegger. Hardly linemates to produce points with. The decision has already been made for him as he has been unable to crack the top six of the Heat. Also, if you have watch Nemisz consistently you would see the obvious improvement in his skating which has always been the biggest knock against him.

Reinhart's write up also neglects to acknowledge the transition from the WHL to pro hockey. To ignore this and suggest his recent offensive improvement is based on better linemates is lazy. Had you watched many Heat games you would know that Reinhart had been very unlucky hitting a absurd number of posts.

Your assessment that the Heat need to provide opportunites for prospects like Wahl and reduce the number of veterans is also flawed. If you look at the rosters of all the successful AHL teams, you would see that most rely on veterans to provide the majority of the offensive output. The reason is simple. Young players that light up the AHL are not in the AHL for long. Wahl has been given opportunities and has not taken advantage of it. What other Flames' prospects deserve a spot in the top six? Nemisz? He has been given the opportunity and did not take adavantage. Howse? He has shown he is still adjusting to pro life, let alone top six responsibilities. Byron? Horak? Reinhart? Oh wait, they are in the top six. Baertcshi? Yup, him too when he was in the AHL. Guys like Walter, Kolanos, and Street are necessary to keep the team competitive and show the prospects how to be a pro. As more offensive prospects graduate to the AHL (Granlund, Gaudreau, college free agents) guys like Kolanos will no longer be on the team. The Heat actually have a nice mix of forward vets and prospects. The problem is the lack of prospects on the blueline other than Breen and Lamb. As Wotherspoon, Ramage, Culkin, and others graduate to the AHL, the number of prospects will improve as well.

I appreciate your contribution to the Flames page on HF. While it seems like the majority of your stories are Canadien based, at least someone on HF is writing something about the Flames more than once a year. However, the use of plus/minus in most of your write ups, repeated information (invited to Flames camp) and little true assessment of a player's strengths and weaknesses make the article "a little fluffy."
I have a format that is needed to be followed because not all writers can give really depth analysis of each prospect nor could I do it without writing a whole article per players. I have 35+ years of refereeing, coaching and playing at elite level hockey so I can give more info concerning the player real skating flaws as well as skills or lacking and other offensive or defensive errors. I can't write the article with the skating stride errors, edge control issues or that the player isn't fluid in all four directions without too much explanation and detail that would make it too long as well as boring to most people. So yes, fluff. I also have to leave some of that information for the upcoming Top 20 list for February. The HF players profiles give a little about what kind of player each prospect is but not everthing and I wrote most of those but with limited space.

Let's address your issues with what I said one by one.

Aliu played at the end of last season for the Flames and scored some goals while making things happen but due to some of the injuries this season, he hasn't produce offensively where he should be at. A fourth liner in the NHL needs to be able to bury chances or others that do will take their places in the line-up. If he can't score some goals then just creating chances isn't good enough to get into the NHL. If you haven't noticed Abbotsford has trouble scoring goals so they need the help of all four lines or play amazing defense to win games.

Bancks is a player that I love as an energy guy but the Flames are controling how reckless he can be to reduce his injuries. They need him in the line-up for the other reasons I stated but he usually scores important or timely goals. He's gone 21 games without a point, isn't good even for a fourth line or energy role player and creating chances if they don't lead to goals, won't win you games. Bancks has more offense in him than he shown so far this season that doesn't mean he won't start putting up more points.

You kind of answered Breen for me. How does he get a majority of his offensive points from giving the puck to Brodie and Carson? He has three goals, did they get deflected off him from those two shooting at him then the puck rebounding into the net, no he shot them in himself. I agree he has played with Brodie and Carson who are offensive defensemen but what I am saying is that Breen isn't just a defensive defender anymore and other aspects which were his weakness have improved every year. He's getting closer to making the jump to the NHL and he's not a liability offensively.

Reinhart, you kind of answered again for me with what you said about Nemisz playing on with Laing, Howse and Ruegsegger, hardly the linemates to help produce offense. It goes to what I said in the post above. You should read the Flames Depth article if you want more information about Reinhart's adjustment to the pros. Ex. Reinhart plays with Horak and Byron instead of Laing and Bancks then he's going to produce more offense because he has the threat of them scoring more often and this gives him more oportunities for himself to score. So what if he hits a hundred posts, he's supposed to be shooting for the posts anyway, that's what goal scorers do. The pros practice the in-off shot thousands of times every time they are on the ice. He just needs to practice more on his shooting. It will always help him become a better passer because his shot is a weapon, without that he's going to have to pass the puck more and that gives the defense an easy play on him. He's one of the better Flames prospect so I not be lazy about him as I was pointing out not to look at his stats only or you would be wrong about his play so far this season.

I addressed the veterans issue in my other post but I will add that Wahl has been down in the ECHL playing well but is given only three games and that's just isn't good enough. He was a second pick and the Flames are keeping too many veterans which of course can help the prospects to learn how to be pros but they are players who aren't or haven't played in the NHL. Wahl belongs in Abbotsford sink or swim. If you want to teach the kids to be NHL pros then use ex. NHLer like the Montreal Canadiens are using Martin Lapointe and Patrice Brisebois to work and help the drafted kids in the juniors, NCAA and AHL. They started doing this development just since the new management and it makes more sense. These guys teach them, what the players need to do in practice, games, the gym and what to eat as well as their personal lives to become an NHL pro. There has been steady improvement in most of the team's draft picks play as the season has moved on. I know Hamilton isn't burning up the league (last place) but the kids are improving and are getting the experience of learning from their mistakes. The Canadiens are one of the best in the league of picking players in the draft but also making them NHL players. Go look at the stats.

Thanks for reading the article and commenting on it. I know the Top 20 article will be more about what kind of player each prospect is and why he's placed at that number on the HF Flames list.


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02-07-2013, 03:01 PM
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^^ One of the reasons the Flames need to keep alumni within the organization. These players go on and become coaches, scouts, managers and support staff. The people under playing contracts are only a small variable in the winning formula.

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