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Crunch time for Flames hopefuls Shore, Granlund

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- On the cusp.

It’s a place not unfamiliar to Drew Shore.

Ditto for Markus Granlund, too.

And whether none, one, or both hopefuls can get over the hump and crack a Calgary Flames roster deep at the centre position has yet to be determined.

But there’s still hope.

“Everyone that is here (has a chance),” coach Bob Hartley said Tuesday in advance of Calgary’s sxith pre-season game, against the Colorado Avalanche. “We don’t give receipts for charity over here. If you’re here, we believe that you can do it. It’s up to you to find a way to do it.”

It might be music to Shore’s ears. It wasn’t his situation a year ago.

As a member of the Florida Panthers organization last fall, Shore, 24, was two NHL games away from needing waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League. It was almost predetermined, he suggested, that a start with the San Antonio Rampage -- Florida’s affiliate -- was an automatic.

No longer waiver exempt with 78 career NHL games under his belt, Shore senses the opportunity Hartley describes.

“Certainly last year going into camp only having a game or two before waivers I kind of knew my situation and knew I was in a tight spot there. I kind of knew what was going to happen,” said Shore, acquired in exchange for Corban Knight in January. “At the same time, you want to get better every year. I put in a lot of work this summer to hopefully take the next step. That’s what I’m working for. I’m excited for the opportunity tonight.”

Granlund could find himself in the same squeeze Shore did a season ago.

Twelve Flames forwards find themselves on one-way contracts, while Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan will each play out the final season of their entry-level deals. Including Granlund himself, Calgary had 14 forwards suit up for at least 48 regular season skates last year. Mix in free agent addition Michael Frolik, and promising prospects Sam Bennett and Micheal Ferland, and a deep log-jam is created.

The 22-year-old can sense the tension as camp rolls deeper.

“There’s a lot of good players in this group and everybody is playing for a job so of course there is pressure,” said Granlund, who recorded eight goals and 18 points in Calgary last season. “I think I’ve gotten used to playing under pressure and I think I can do it. I just have to keep going. When you play here, you get more comfortable every time. Last season was good, but now I want to be better.”

Both have showed well, and both are trending in the right direction.

In three pre-season spins, Markus Granlund has recorded two goals and is a plus-1. Shore is pointless, but has been noticeable -- the right way -- with his efforts.

As such, both survived Calgary’s roster purge on Sunday, and both will get the opportunity to showcase themselves once again against the visiting Avalanche.

“[Granlund] and [Shore] have had pretty good camps,” Hartley said. “We didn’t make gifts to anyone on Sunday when we started to evaluates who we should keep. We were all on the same page. Obviously, there was some talks on some players, but we all came to the decision that the guys we kept were the guys that deserved it and were the guys that had a shot at making the hockey club.”

A shot.

On the cusp, with a final hurdle to clear.

“You work all summer to get off to a good start and I’ve been pretty happy with my game so far in camp,” Shore said. “I think that you just want to keep getting better every game. Hopefully the last game comes around and you’re playing your best hockey.”

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