Preview of the Flames in Lowell

By Aaron Vickers

Lock Monsters on Fire – A Look at the Calgary Flames in Lowell

As the puck gets ready to drop on the seventh American Hockey League
season in Lowell, excitement is brewing a little north and a little
west of the Massachusetts City. The city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada will be
watching with an intense eye as the Lowell Lock Monsters open their
season on Saturday, October 17th.

The Lock Monsters are of course the closest that Calgary fans have to rooting
for their Flames, given the NHL lockout. With ten roster spots reserved for the club, the
organization’s top professional youngsters will be south of the border
honing their skills in what is arguably the best professional league
operating right now.

With all but a few final cuts made, the Calgary Flames edition of the
Lowell Lock Monsters seem all but set, but is not without a little
ambiguity.

The Lock Monsters can apply to the American Hockey League for what is
referred to as an expansion, which would allow the club to carry 25
skaters, as opposed to the regular roster limits. It is unclear how
such a grant would effect the Calgary Flames, as they are virtually
guaranteed nine skaters and one goalie. It remains undecided that
should the organization be approved for an expanded roster, due it the
nature of the dual affiliation, that the Calgary Flames would be
entitled to any of the additional roster spots created.

It is also interesting to note the contract signed by Calgary Flame
restricted free agent Mike
Commodore
.
Commodore was signed by the Lowell Lock Monsters to an AHL contract,
and in the process avoided having to clear waivers. Again, it is
unclear at this time whether or not the Commodore contract will be
treated as a signing by the Lowell organization, or if Commodore will
have to count as one of nine skaters that the Calgary Flames have
assigned for the Lock Monsters.

Joining Commodore on the club is another Calgary Flame skater, Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi spent
79 games with the Calgary Flames last season, registering 16 goals and
29 points. Lombardi also took part in Calgary’s Stanley
Cup bid, but was knocked out of the playoffs at the hands, or elbow, of
Derian Hatcher and the Detroit Red Wings. Lombardi suffered a
concussion as a result of the elbow from Hatcher, who was quickly
suspended. Lingering effects of the concussion are still present in
Lombardi, who, while still announced as being on the Lock Monsters
roster, is currently on the injured reserve list.

Just coming off the injured reserve list in time for the start of the
regular season is prospect Lynn Loyns, who suited up for 14
games with the Flames during the 2003-04 season. There were a couple of
questions surrounding Loyns this offseason, who became an unrestricted
free agent when the Calgary Flames failed to qualify the youngster, due
mainly in part to a heart condition that the Naicam, Saskatchewan
native had corrected in offseason surgery. After signing a new
contract, Loyns was assigned to Lowell, a city and an organization he
is already familiar with. Loyns, who was acquired from the San Jose
Sharks midway through the season, was assigned to Lowell and skated for
18 games, registering 12 points.

Also rejoining the Lock Monsters is Craig
MacDonald.
MacDonald, who ironically enough used to be a part
of the Carolina Hurricanes organization, spent 27 games in Lowell
during the 2002-03 season, registering seven goals and 27 points. The
previous season, the left-winger from Antigonish, Nova Scotia
registered 41 points in 64 games for the Lock Monsters. It
appears as though MacDonald will start the season on a line with two
fellow Flame prospects, one of which being freshly signed Carsen Germyn.

Germyn, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent on July 6, 2004
has no prior history with the Calgary Flames, but spent time with Brent
Sutter’s Red Deer Rebels from 2001 to 2003. Certainly the endorsement
from Brent helped Germyn when Darryl Sutter decided to ink the Western
Hockey League graduate. As much as that may have helped Germyn, his
season with the Norfolk Admirals last year may have been enough
motivation for the Calgary Flames organization to ink the 22-year-old.
Germyn, in his first professional season, skated in 77 games, recording
11 goals and 27 points. Germyn, who plays a chippy style of game, also
added 104 minutes in penalties.

Rounding out what may be considered as the grind-line for Lowell will
be another former Brent Sutter prodigy and Red Deer Rebel in Justin Taylor. The Edmonton,
Alberta native tallied 16 goals and 38 points in 55 games last year for
the Rebels, third in team scoring, who finished second in the WHL’s
Central Division. Taylor, who is making his professional hockey debut
this season after going undrafted through junior, stands at an imposing
6’4 and over 200 lbs. Adjusting physically to the American Hockey League
will be made easier because of his large stature.

Joining his fellow Flames and defense partner Mike Commodore during his
time spent with the Calgary Flames during the 2004 players is Brennan
Evans
.
Evans, who was called up to the Calgary Flames during their
postseason run due to a plethora of injuries to the Calgary defense,
saw limited action while suiting up for two games. Undoubtedly the
experience for Evans was surreal, and something that will better the
defenseman this season. Evans, like a few of his Calgary teammates, is
returning to the Lowell Lock Monsters after a successful season spent
with them last year. Evans, primarily a stay-at-home defenseman, played
64 games for Lowell last season, which was his first professional
season after spending parts of five seasons in the Western Hockey
League.

A possible defensive partner for Evans is the younger of two brothers,
Richie Regehr. Regehr, the
younger brother of Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr, signed with
the Calgary Flames this past offseason, leaving his junior career
behind, which saw the Rosthern, Saskatchewan native skate in parts of
six seasons with the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winter Hawks. Regehr,
known more primarily for his offense, as opposed to the stern defense
of his brother, lead the Lowell Lock Monsters in preseason scoring with
two goals and two assists in three games, undoubtedly earning himself a
spot with the club.

Should Mike Commodore be considered a Lowell signing, as opposed to
taking one of nine skater positions of the Calgary Flames, the biggest
benefactor of the decision could be former Owen Sound Attack defenseman
Mark
Giordano
.
Giordano, who was signed alongside the likes of Regehr and
Germyn, had a steady but unspectacular camp with Lowell, but could
still see himself reassigned to Las Vegas of the ECHL.

Arguably Calgary’s greatest contribution to the Lowell Lock Monsters
will come in the form of former 2001 NHL Entry Draft first round
selection Chuck Kobasew. Kobasew, selected
14th overall in his draft year, spent all last season with the Calgary
Flames, skating in 70 games for the Western Conference Champions,
registering 17 points. Kobasew spent some time with the
Saint John Flames, Calgary’s AHL affiliate before they suspended
operations, and will be counted on to provide both leadership and offensive
flair for the Lock Monsters. Kobasew, who is entering his third
professional season, registered totals of 21 goals and 33 points in 48
games in his last stint in the American Hockey League.

With the dual affiliation between the Lowell Lock Monsters, Calgary
Flames and Carolina Hurricanes, one spot for a goaltender is reserved
for each of the National Hockey League clubs. The Carolina Hurricanes
have contributed former Red Deer Rebel and WHL Goaltender of the Year
Cam Ward. The Calgary Flames have
submitted their own top goaltending prospect, Brent Krahn, for the position.
Krahn, who spent last season as a part of four different organizations,
will finally have some stability after spending time with the Las Vegas
Wranglers (ECHL), San Antonio Rampage (AHL), Lowell Lock Monsters (AHL)
and the Calgary Flames (NHL). With such a talented duo in Krahn-Ward,
it will be interesting to see how much time between the pipes the
Winkler, Manitoba native gets in his second professional season.

Not Making the Cut

With Brent Krahn being named the Calgary Flames contribution to
the goaltending duties of the Lowell Lock Monsters, freshly signed Sebastien Centomo was assigned
to the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. Centomo, who spent parts of the
last three seasons with the St. John’s Maple Leafs of the AHL, was
brought in to provide competition for Brent Krahn, but inevitably was
reassigned to the affiliate.

Also en route to the ECHL is goaltender Davis Parley, who was signed as a
free agent by the organization in 2003. Instead of being optioned to
Las Vegas, however, Parley is off to tend the goal for the Texas
Wildcatters, the team in which he played 52 games for last season,
registering an 18-29-3 record with a 3.89 GAA and .905 save
percentage.

Patrik Nilson, brother of
Calgary Flame Marcus Nilson, was reassigned to Las Vegas as part of
the first round of cuts from the Lowell Lock Monsters. Nilson was
signed after a solid season in the Central Hockey League, with the
signing being announced alongside the signings of Richie Regehr, Mark
Giordano Carsen Germyn, Justin Taylor and Dustin Johner, who was also
assigned to Las Vegas.

Red Deer, Alberta native Shaun
Sutter

has been assigned to Fresno of the ECHL. Sutter, who spent last season
with Florence Pride of the ECHL, tallied 17 goals and 44 points in 69
games.

Left-winger Jason Spence, who spent 31 games
with the San Antonio Rampage last season registering 5 points, was
assigned to Calgary’s ECHL affiliate, the Las Vegas Wranglers.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.