With the Flames first preseason game in China less than a week away the long wait for the new season is almost over. It is a season that has many fans of the team optimistic about a playoff berth and maybe more. The new look squad will be competing this weekend against the highly regarded Boston Bruins. Although this matchup will feature watered down preseason squads it will allow a first glimpse at the new system and potential line mates for the coming season. Here are some Flames players I'll be keeping an eye on participating in the China trip:
Andersson represents a big part of the future defense in Calgary. His time of arrival in Calgary remains unclear due to the other available options on the defense. He'll need to supplant one of Stone or Kulak to make it onto the opening day roster. Due to Stone's contract status it seems almost certain that Stone will be in the opening night roster. There will be lots of competition for that final spot and he may be able to impress enough to earn it.
Czarnik signed on with the Flames this offseason after spending his professional career with the Boston Bruins. He now has the opportunity to play against his former team this weekend. His role with Calgary remains unclear due to the acquisitions of Neal, Lindholm, and Ryan. A sleeper pick this season for an offensive breakout, expectations should be tempered as may find himself in a limited role.
This season may represent the last opportunity that Bennett has to establish himself as a core player in Calgary. Up to this point in time he has failed to live up to the steep expectations that come along with being a high 1st round pick. He may be a useful player for the team but the top 6 in Calgary has become crowded. This will limit his opportunity for exposure to the other Flames elite offensive payers. It will be interesting to see where he fits in under the new system and if he is able finally breakthrough to the elite level he was drafted for.