At one time or another during the 2005-06 regular season, the Calgary Flames featured five rookies in their lineup. Two were former first round choices, while the remaining three were signed as free agents in 2004. In total, the five players combined for 107 games.
The standout among these five players, and indeed among most rookies featured in the 2005-06 NHL season, is Dion Phaneuf. He combines a ferocity seldom seen in a defenseman so capable with the puck. His offensive output of 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) exceeded the totals that helped make fellow defenseman Bryan Berard a Calder trophy winner in 1996-97 by one point. It placed him first among league rookie defensemen. Of his 20 goals, 16 were scored on the power play.
With Phaneuf making such an impact, he has raised the bar for other prospects, not only in the Flames organization, but also throughout the entire NHL. Voted top rookie for the month of November, he was a top ten rookie in virtually every category including goals, assists, total points and average ice time per game. He is a fantastic checker, and he plays a tough physical game – just ask Bill Guerin, Mark Bell and Barret Jackman, all of whom have dropped the gloves with Phaneuf.
In the postseason after five games, Phaneuf, with one goal, and a plus/minus rating of –5, has seemed human.
Three free-agent signees, two defensemen and one winger, were introduced into Calgary’s lineup this year. Among them is the younger brother of Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr. While Richie Regehr may not be of the same caliber as his aforementioned teammate, he possesses similar qualities: he loves to hit and to move the puck. Ranked 15th overall by Hockey’s Future among Calgary’s top prospects, Regehr could very well have been the name atop the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights’ scoring list if he had played the entire season with the team. But, fortunately for him, he did not — he got called up by the parent club for a total of 14 games, and registered his first NHL point in his first NHL game, Dec. 29 against the Minnesota Wild. In total he had two assists in his 14 games and was +2. Though he played 25 fewer games with the Knights than fellow defenseman Mark Giordano, Regehr managed 30 points (7 goals, 23 assists) in 48 games there.
Giordano, the stocky defenseman who lead Omaha this season in AHL points, was suited up for seven Flames’ games this year. His introduction to the NHL was rather inauspicious as the Flames lost the first two games he was involved in in shootouts, but he did have a bit of impact late in the season. On April 8 in a game against division rivals the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames found themselves down 2-0. Midway through the third period Giordano scored making it 2-1. Minutes later the Flames tied it up forcing overtime thus granting Calgary a point and effectively clinching a playoff spot in the 2006 playoffs.
Carsen Germyn, the last of the free-agent signees who had an opportunity to strut his stuff for the big team, is a veteran of five seasons in the WHL and 214 games in the AHL. He played two games with Calgary this year, and his first came April 1 against the Edmonton Oilers. He registered no points, but he is hoping to contribute to Calgary’s success a bit more next year.
The Flames other first rounder to debut this year was winger Eric Nystrom, whom they picked in 2002. He played just two games with the club, and was held scoreless. This season marked his first as a professional, and saw him sit fifth on the Knights’ scoring list. He is an aggressive player who should thrive under the intensity of the Western conference.
Including Regehr and Nystrom, four additional rookies were called up April 21 as insurance for the Flames in the playoffs if anyone on the regular roster should experience an injury. These include goaltender Brent Krahn, right winger Tomi Maki, and a couple of left wingers, Brandon Prust, and the Knights’ third-leading goal scorer, David Moss.
Krahn is coming off his best season of pro hockey ever – one that saw him place in the top ten in every significant category for a goaltender. Far and away Omaha’s purveyor of penalty minutes, Brandon Prust is a heart and soul type player, and if he should see any playoff action he’ll bring energy to the lineup. The final cog in Calgary’s rookie machine is 24-year-old Moss, a left-winger who stands 6’3 and weighs 200lbs. Moss scored 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 63 games in his debut with the Knights this year.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.