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Flames working towards final roster decisions

The Flames have 27 players remaining in camp, leaving just a handful of cuts to be made

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- And then there were 27.

The Calgary Flames trimmed their roster by one after releasing forward Lauri Korpikoski from his professional try-out Sunday, leaving two goaltenders, nine defencemen and 16 forwards in camp.

And a few decisions.

"They're going to come," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said.

"I'd like to be at 13 and seven. Now, at the start, if we're at 13 and eight or 14 and seven, whatever that combination may be, that's fine. I don't want to hold that all year. I'd like to be at 13 and seven all year, ideally. I don't like three guys sitting, especially if it's a young player. He should be playing. Yeah, 14 and seven, 13 and eight, whatever it may be, I don't want that all year.

"But it can start that way.

"We've still got Tuesday at 5:00 PM.

"That'll probably decide it."

It will. Calgary's 23-man roster will be due.

And final decisions will be done.

The Flames are currently skating with 14 forwards, while restricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau and Daniel Pribyl, still recovering from ACL surgery, make up the remaining numbers. Of those 14, Chris Higgins remains in camp on a PTO, and in competition with Linden Vey and Freddie Hamilton for those final roster positions up front. 

Gulutzan has coached both Vey and Higgins as members of the Vancouver Canucks.

"I think the only comfort they have is knowing that I know what they can do when they're playing well," Gulutzan said. "But they've still got that pressure that they have to play well. I'm not the only decision-maker here that's looking at things and judging what's best for our group. But there's probably some comfort. They know I know what their level is.

"They still have to hit it." 

The other decision-maker, of course, is general manager Brad Treliving, who met with Higgins on Sunday.

Any decision up front comes down to fit.

"Fit with our group," Gulutzan said. "That's what we're trying to see during practice here. We know what Higgy brings and I know what Vey brings. I've had those two guys. Each has their strengths, for sure.

"But we'll see what fits and what shakes out the next two days."

It's a similar story on the back end. 

On defence, Calgary has eight active participants, with Ladislav Smid, the ninth, out for the season because of a neck injury. Six are on one-way contracts.

Nicklas Grossmann, like Higgins, is a free agent invite in search of a contract.

His primary obstacle comes in the form of 22-year-old Brett Kulak.

"Grossie's a well-respected guy in that locker room," Gulutzan said. "Brett's a young player trying to cut his teeth. Grossie brings that element of size and strength. Throughout the pre-season he's played very well. He gives us that element of being able to staple guys in his own zone. Big veteran presence. Brett is coming along. He's a young, offensive defencemen that can really skate. They're two different guys."

Again, it comes down to fit.

And, again, the decision will be made soon.

"You look at what your team needs going into the start of the regular season and what's the better fit," Gulutzan said. 

"Both guys have played really well. 

"It's a credit to a veteran guy coming in here and playing as well as he did and we expected that and that's why we brought him to camp.

"And Brett has made great strides in the summer getting up to speed. The one thing about Brett is he's gotten better as camp's went. He looks better playing as he goes. He's looking more comfortable. That's what you want … the progression with your young guys."

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