Future harvest looking thin down on farm

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

If the Flames adopt an 'out with the old, in with the new' policy next season, they'll be looking to the farm to fill some holes.

Sadly, new doesn't always mean improved.

There aren't many prospects in the Flames system that will get anyone even mildly excited when you mention plugging them into the lineup.

Outside of defenceman Adam Pardy, forward Brandon Prust and potential backup goaltenders Curtis McElhinney or Matt Keetley, you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for the kids to crack the big-league roster.

There's always the chance a few will wow everybody with an unbelievable training camp, but that hasn't happened often here over the past few seasons.

Mark Giordano forced the Flames' hand with a stellar camp two years ago, but bolted to Russia last season when the team stood firm on the offer of a two-way deal.

They still own his rights, and he could return to the Flames fold this summer.

Tim Ramholt hasn't impressed in his brief auditions here, and bringing junior graduate John Negrin up ahead of all other blueline prospects to join the playoff taxi squad tells you how the AHLers rate.

Pardy probably would have received that call had foot surgery not ended his all-star AHL season with the Quad City Flames early.

The Newfoundland product is big, mobile and one of the few bright lights on the back end for the big club's future.

But GM Darryl Sutter's Calgary Flames already have a half-dozen defencemen under contract, so the future of the forwards ranks is more of an immediate issue anyway.

The top two farm team scorers -- Grant Stevenson and Krys Kolanos -- are going to weigh all their options this summer, with the 26-year-old restricted free agent Stevenson considering a job overseas and Kolanos likely looking for at least a two-way deal somewhere.

A bad hip de-railed Prust's hopes of becoming an energy player for the Flames out of last year's training camp.

He might be able to fill a role similar to the one Eric Nystrom did this year, but you can't expect him to come in and contribute too much offensively.

Nystrom is a pending unrestricted free agent, but the Flames would probably love to have both he and Prust form two-thirds of an energy line.

There are going to be larger roles up for grabs, too. Kristian Huselius is likely gone.

Owen Nolan played with neck problems all season and the UFA is no lock to return.

Are there prospects capable of taking on a top-six role in Calgary?

David Van Der Gulik is quick, but small, and needs to show he can do some serious damage in the AHL before getting a shot in the show.

Kris Chucko, Carsen Germyn, Warren Peters?

Not exactly on par with Robert Nilsson, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano.

Unless currently unsigned Swedish star-in-the-making Mikael Backlund comes to North America and wows us all, the answer is painfully clear.

Ol' father Sutter's cupboards are bare.

He'll have to be very active on the free-agent market to throw his poor fans a bone.


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