CALGARY - Mitch Wahl is a lucky guy these days.
It’s up to him to take advantage of a big break.
Wahl, the Calgary Flames 2008 second-round draft choice should be in a position where he’s pushing to make the NHL roster.
Instead, the 21-year-old centre from Seal Beach, Calif., was on the verge of going all the way down to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies for the second time this season.
Wahl, whose career trajectory looked to be rocketing right out of junior only to be derailed last season with a horrific concussion, can’t seem to get it back on track.
He was about to be sent down to the ECHL from the AHL Abbotsford Heat, but was loaned to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
“When (Paul) Byron was recalled to Calgary, (Wahl) played second-line centre,” Flames GM Jay Feaster said via email. “He was not productive over three games (both offensively and not as strong defensively as we wanted) and was a healthy scratch against San Antonio. His ice time in Abbotsford is based on merit.”
Wahl collected five goals and seven points in a five-game stint with the ECHL’s Grizzlies, but he had no points and was minus-2 in five games with the Heat.
“Montreal was in need of a centre in Hamilton, and we felt assigning him to Hamilton, where he will play, was better for his continued development than sending him back to Utah. He needs to play, but we are not going to deviate from our merit system. This assignment will enable him to play at a higher level than ECHL.”
Plus, should Wahl start to get his game in order, it’s just as easy for the Flames to call him up from Hamilton. Still, it’s becoming high time for Wahl to find his form.
IN THE CORNERS
After the morning skate, Flames head coach Brent Sutter said the odds of Brendan Morrison playing in the game were 50-50. Morrison said he was probably within a week of returning from the injured list to give his knee more time to heal. Morrison took part in the pre-game skate but was scratched. He admitted earlier in the day his problem was more mental than physical. “I’ve got to be better. The repair is strong,” he said. “There’s no issue with the repair, so it’s trusting it again. I did find myself being very hesitant as far as getting to guys, because I didn’t want to get beat and have to chase guys. It’s getting the mindset of challenging guys.” ... With Morrison due to be back in action, expect David Moss to be put on the injured list. Moss (foot) is hobbling around with a walking cast on his foot ... Calgary’s other scratches were D Derek Smith, with Cory Sarich back in action for the first time in six games, and LW Pierre-Luc Leblond.
OFF THE GLASS
Congrats to rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie on his first NHL point on Lee Stempniak’s highlight-reel calibre game-opening goal ... Man, if Jonathan Toews played the Flames every game, he’d be a 150-point player. How does he not rack up points on every other team like he does against the Flames? ... Another game, another bunch of great saves from Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames would be battling with Columbus without him this season ... Freaky factoid. In Game 18 last season, the Flames beat the Blackhawks 7-2 at home to improve to 8-10-0. This win puts them at 8-9-1, so — technically — they’re ahead of last year’s pace by one point.
CGY #Flames game will be delayed while scoreboard operators try to figure out how to switch home team scoreboard to “5”