Flames 2007-08 rookie review

By Travis Head

The Calgary Flames entered the 2007-08 NHL season with veteran players penciled into roster spots and only a few spots open for newcomers. There was no guarantee that any rookies would make the cut. But in the end, untimely injuries to some everyday players provided an opportunity for a few Flames rookies this season.

Dustin Boyd, C

HT: 6’0 WT: 187 lbs
DOB: 07-16-1986
Draft: 2004 (3rd round, 98th overall)

After making his Calgary debut last season and playing 13 games, Dustin Boyd would fail to make it onto the roster out of camp. Realistically, there weren’t a lot of spots open to him. After 18 games in the AHL, where Boyd had only recorded 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists), an injury to Marcus Nilson forced Calgary to give Boyd a call-up on Nov. 22. With injuries to forwards popping up over the course of the year, Boyd remained with the big club for the remainder of the season, appearing in 48 games.

Boyd scored his first goal of the campaign and game winner on Dec. 4, in a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. He would only light the lamp six more times, and end the season with 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists). The former Moose Jaw Warrior averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time on the Flames fourth line. Boyd showed a lot of improvement in his defensive game, becoming a formidable face-off man and shot blocker. And despite playing a checking/energy role for the Flames, which can often produce a lot of penalties, Boyd would only register a total of six PIMs this season. Boyd was a healthy scratch for all of the Flames seven playoff games against San Jose.

Eric Nystrom, LW

HT: 6’1 WT:193 lbs
DOB: 2-14-1983
Draft: 2002 (1st Round, 10th overall)

Like Boyd, Nystrom still qualified for rookie status despite making his Calgary debut in a past season. The only difference is that Nystrom made his debut for the Flames a year earlier in 2005-06, playing in two games. An injury-riddled 2006-07 prevented Nystrom from making any appearances for Calgary and he got into a mere 12 games for Omaha of the AHL.

The 2007-08 regular season had its fair share of "ups and downs" for Nystrom. The Flames 2002 first rounder started the year in the AHL, and was recalled on Oct. 21. He would be reassigned and called back up two more times over the course of the season.

Nystrom played in a grand total of 44 games for Calgary, tallying 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and 48 PIMs. While he didn’t really provide much of a spark in the Flames offense, he did however provide a lift for the Flames with his physical play. On most of the nights Nystrom was in the line-up, he was the leader in hits, he also handled himself well in the seven scraps he got into. A highlight for Nystrom came on Oct. 30 when he scored his first NHL goal in a 5-1 win over Nashville. A low point on the year would have to be the broken jaw he received in a game vs. Phoenix on Jan. 8 when a puck hit him in the face. Nystrom would dress in all seven of the Flames playoff games vs. San Jose, averaging only 7:38 minutes per game. In his 18 games he played for Quad City, he registered seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) and 15 PIMs.

If Nystrom can manage to ward off the injury bug and provide a more consistent effort on a night-to-night basis next year, he should become a regular contributor for the Flames next season.

Curtis McElhinney, G

HT: 6’2 WT: 193 lbs
DOB: 05-23-83
Draft: 2002 (6th round, 176th overall)

McElhinney was the lone Flames rookie to make the cut of out of Calgary’s training camp. Staying with the team was McElhinney’s biggest issue. The 6’2 193 lb netminder would miss three out of the first four games of the season with a minor knee injury. He made his debut on Oct. 22 vs. San Jose, logging 23 minutes in a 4-1 loss. McElhinney was sent down to Quad City the very next day. He was recalled on Nov. 19 to make his first career start against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 25 and a backup appearance vs. Detroit on Nov. 27. Calgary would drop both contests, saddling McElhinney with the loss in both games. On Jan. 17, Calgary would sign veteran tender Curtis Joseph, and reassign McElhinney back to the AHL.

McElhinney would make a total of five appearances for Calgary, with a record of 0-2-0, a save percentage of .902 and a 2.00 GAA. The remainder of his time was spent between the pipes for Quad City as the starting goalie. There he would play in 41 games and post a record of 20-18-0-2, with three shutouts, and the league’s seventh-best GAA (2.28). In his short time with Calgary, McElhinney displayed a quick glove and great athleticism, he struggled with rebound control and getting beat down low.

Matt Keetley, G

HT:6’1 WT: 187 lbs
DOB: 04-27-1986
Draft: 2005 (5th round, 158th overall)

The former Medicine Hat Tiger started the year as a goalie for Quad City, but received his first taste of the big leagues early on. After a knee injury to backup McElhinney, Keetley was recalled on Oct. 9 for three games. After being sent back to Quad City on Oct. 14, Keetley and McElhinney would trade places on Oct. 23, with McElhinney going down to the AHL and Keetley coming up to play the role of Kiprusoff’s backup. Before the two were swapped again for one another on Nov. 19, Keetley made his NHL debut on Nov. 5, playing the nine remaining minutes of regulation in a 4-1 loss to Colorado. Keetley would stop the only two shots he faced. After McElhinney was sent down to the AHL on Jan. 17, Keetley became the No. 2 goalie in Quad City. Keetley appeared in 26 games for the QC Flames with a record of 10-8-0-3, a 2.33 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

Tim Ramholt, D

HT: 6’1 WT: 195 lbs
DOB: 11-02-1984
Draft: 2003 ( 2nd round, 39th overall)

In late November, the Flames were hit with simultaneous injuries to Adrian Aucoin (shoulder) and Rhett Warrener (ankle), forcing the call-up of Swiss-born defenseman Tim Ramholt from the AHL. Ramholt made his Flames debut on Nov. 29 in a 4-1 loss to Anaheim.

His debut was short lived though, as Ramholt would only play two shifts, logging 45 seconds of ice time and was on for an Anaheim goal. The 6’1 195 lb defenseman was sent back to Quad City on Dec. 2 after just the one game and played the remainder of the season in the AHL.

Adam Pardy, D

HT: 6’2 WT: 206 lbs
DOB: 03-29-1984
Draft: 2004 (6th round, 173rd overall)

The same day Ramholt was returned to Quad City (Dec.2), Pardy was called up by the Flames. After being sent back down to the AHL on Dec.12, he was recalled the very next day by Calgary. Pardy was unable to crack the Flames line-up in his time with the club before returning once again to Quad City on Dec. 19.  He did not get into an NHL game.