With an NHL lockout looming, the Calgary Flames assigned 18 players to the Abbotsford Heat on Friday afternoon.
Among the interesting names on the list are Sven Baertschi, T.J. Brodie and Lance Bouma.
Brodie, a smooth-skating defenceman, and Bouma, a grinding winger who hits like a sledgehammer, are Heat alumni who spent the vast majority of last season in in the NHL. Both will be counted on as key players in Abbotsford for as long as the lockout lasts.
But it’s Baertschi, heading into his first full pro season, whose presence is most intriguing. The 19-year-old Swiss forward is considered the Flames’ top prospect – he tore up the Western Hockey League last season, averaging two points per game (33 goals and 61 assists in 47 games) with the Portland Winterhawks. During an emergency recall to Calgary in March, he scored three goals in five games, and appeared ready to jump directly to the NHL this fall with no AHL apprenticeship.
Other notable names on the list of players sent to Abbotsford include centre Ben Street, a Coquitlam native who joined the organization as a free agent in July; promising rookie pros Max Reinhart and Michael Ferland; and key Heat returnees like Greg Nemisz, Roman Horak, Carter Bancks and Chris Breen.
Additionally, according to TSN.ca, the Flames placed five players – forwards Krys Kolanos, Ben Walter, Paul Byron and Akim Aliu, and defenceman Joe Piskula – on waivers Friday, presumably with the intention of sending them to the Heat when/if they clear.
The AHL’s communications department, via its Twitter feed (@AHLPR), also announced on Friday that in the event of a lockout, AHL clubs may sign locked out NHL-contracted players who finished the 2011-12 season in the AHL or who were on the 2012 Clear Day list.
That means defenceman Brett Carson would be eligible to sign with the Heat. He’s got one more year remaining on a one-way contract with the Flames, but spent the tail end of last season in Abbotsford.
A complete list of players assigned to the Heat on Friday is as follows: