DENVER, CO -- With TJ Brodie on the shelf with a broken bone in his hand, the remainder of the 2015 pre-season becomes even more important for the defencemen jostling for a roster spot in Calgary.
Several blueliners will get another audition in Denver when the Calgary Flames take on the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at 7:00 PM MT.
Former Avs rearguard Ryan Wilson is one of the defencemen who made the trip for the Flames third pre-season match this year. The 28-year-old, who is attending training camp on a professional try-out agreement, knows every game he gets into is a golden opportunity to earn a contract.
"You've got to come ready to go at camp," he said after Wednesday's practice. "You have to earn your spot, they don't just give them out. No matter what happens at camp, you've got to earn everything you get.
"I came into this camp ready to go, ready to show everyone that I'm healthy, and can still play at a high level."
Jakub Nakladal, who also skated in the group that traveled to Denver, already has a contract in place but is cognizant of the competition on the blueline. If he wants to earn a spot with the Flames, he has to perform well in every pre-season game he makes it into and show that he can make the adjustment to the North American game.
"It's a big opportunity for me," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "I try to focus just on myself. Everything is faster, quicker -- this is the biggest difference than Europe. I have to [move] fast with the puck. I know that I have to work hard in this because in Europe, if you get the puck in your zone, sometimes you're just standing around, watching around, thinking but here, right away, you have to [start] skating with the puck and looking for the pass.
"I know I had a little bit of a problem with it in the first game so I have to work hard."
Youngsters Brett Kulak, Rasmus Andersson, Keegan Kanzig, Patrick Sieloff, and Kenney Morrison also skated in the traveling group and could skate against the Avs.
Thursday's match-up could also feature the return of two forwards.
Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris skated with the game group at the Scotiabank Saddledome before the team departed for Denver. Both underwent wrist surgery in the off-season and have yet to make their 2015 pre-season debut.
On the Avs' side, expect to see the likes of Andreas Martinsen, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nathan MacKinnon, John Mitchell, Matt Duchene, Jack Skille, and former Flames goaltender Reto Berra. As per ColoradoAvalanche.com, head coach Patrick Roy confirmed these players for Thursday's game.
The game in Denver will not be broadcast but CalgaryFlames.com will have pre-game coverage, highlights, and post-game reaction from the Pepsi Center. @NHLFlames will also be live-tweeting the game.
ICE CHIPS: Colorado native Drew Shore is part of the contingent who traveled to Denver. He spent three years at the University of Denver before turning pro in 2012 ... Paul Byron, who is not slated to play in Denver, has been fully cleared to join in practices ... Jon Gillies, out on concussion protocol, has been working out off-ice and was expected to go for a solo skate on Wednesday.