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PLAYERS ASSIGNED TO HEAT – Updated
Story Courtesy of Dan Kinvig – Abbotsford News
Mikael Backlund, generally considered the top prospect in the Calgary Flames organization, is headed to Abbotsford.
The 20-year-old Swede was reassigned to the Abbotsford Heat on Thursday, along with blueliner Matt Pelech and left winger Brett Sutter.
Backlund is an electrifying offensive talent who helped the Kelowna Rockets to the Western Hockey League title and an appearance in the Memorial Cup final last season. In 47 WHL games (regular season and playoffs combined), he racked up 25 goals and 28 assists.
Backlund was a first-round pick (24th overall) by the Flames in 2007, and he led Sweden to back-to-back silver medals at the World Junior Championships in 2008 and 2009.
“He had a successful run in Kelowna,” Heat head coach Jim Playfair said of Backlund. “Now it’s time for him to step up to pro hockey, and I think it’s a really good situation for him to develop. We’ve got good character in the dressing room, and the players around him are going to help him develop, help him understand the level of pro hockey both on the ice and off the ice.”
Pelech, a six-foot-three blueliner, was the Flames’ first-round pick in 2005. He got into five NHL games with Calgary last season, notching three assists and nine penalty minutes.
Brett Sutter is the son of Darryl, the Flames’ general manager. The third-year pro also made his NHL debut last season, posting one goal in four games with Calgary. In 71 AHL games with the Quad City Flames last year, he had 10 goals and 15 assists.
The Heat have released goaltender Dan Spence and defenceman Matt Waddell. Both players were in Heat camp on a tryout basis.
Calgary, AB – Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter announced today that Keith Aulie (D), Gord Baldwin (D), Hugo Carpentier (C), Brad Cole (D), Ryley Grantham (LW), Matt Keetley (G), Josh Meyers (D), Keith Seabrook (D) and J.D. Watt (RW) have been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat (AHL).
In goal, Matt Keetley will begin his third season in the Flames organization. A fifth round pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft by Calgary (158th overall), Keetley played his junior career with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. In 59 AHL games, Keetley has a career 2.63 goals against average.
On defense, five players are part of this announcement. Keith Aulie is a hulking 6’6″ and 217 pounds who can fire the puck and provide solid shutdown coverage. The former captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, this will be Aulie’s first season as a pro.
Gord Baldwin is also a WHL grad. The Winnipeg, MB product was a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers for their 2006-07 WHL Championship. Another big d-man, Baldwin checks in at 6’5″ and 207 pounds. Baldwin will begin his third season of pro hockey.
Brad Cole is another Manitoba product, from Miniota, MB, who will begin his third season with the organization. After a WHL career that saw him split time in Kootenay and Saskatoon, this 6’4″, 206 pound d-man has spent the last two seasons with the Quad City Flames. His second game played this year will give him 100 games played in the AHL.
Keith Seabrook joins the HEAT after the Flames acquired him via trade with the Washington Capitals. Seabrook played last season in Calgary with the WHL Hitmen and was able to help his club win the WHL Eastern Conference title. A resident of Delta, BC, Seabrook’s brother Brent is playing with the NHL’s Chicago Black Hawks.
Josh Meyers will make the jump to the pro ranks this year with the HEAT. Meyers, a 6’3″ 190 pound d-man from Alexandria, Minnesota was a 7th round draft pick of the LA Kings in the 2005 NHL Draft. Meyers joins the Heat after playing his college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he scored 30 goals over four seasons.
Three forwards join the HEAT as well. Centre Hugo Carpentier begins his second season of pro hockey after a career in the Quebec Major Junior league with Rouyn-Noranda. Carpentier, from Hull QUE, played 17 AHL games with Quad City, scoring two goals and four points last season.
JD Watt brings his tenacity to Abbotsford for his second season of pro hockey. Last season, Watt stirred things up, amassing 146 penalty minutes in just 42 games. Watt brings a winning resume to the table, as this 6’2″ 200 pound right winger was part of the WHL Vancouver Giants and their 2007 Memorial Cup Championship.
Ryley Grantham rounds out this release as another big body to punish HEAT opponents this season. Grantham, from Hanna, AB, (home of Flames legend Lanny McDonald), will begin his pro career after helping lead the Kelowna Rockets to the WHL Championship in 2009. Grantham is 6’4″, 201 pound left winger who accumulated 406 penalty minutes in just 166 WHL games. Grantham also potted 23 goals and 50 points in his junior career.
UPDATE – 12 NOON PACIFIC
Calgary, AB – Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter announced today that Leland Irving (G), Brett Palin (D) and John Negrin (D) have been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
Irving is a first round draft pick (26th overall), taken by the Flames in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Swan Hills, AB, will be entering his second full season in the AHL. Last season in Quad City, Irving played the bulk of the games for the Baby Flames, playing 47 games. Irving posted a 24-18-2 record with a 2.23 goals against average this past season.
Brett Palin comes to the HEAT as a veteran AHL defender, having appeared in 266 career AHL games. From Nanaimo BC, Palin will provide a steady defensive influence.
John Negrin will begin his frist full season of pro hockey with the HEAT. Negrin, from West Vancouver BC, has just wrapped up his WHL career with Kootenay and Swift Current. The 6’3″, 206 pounder is a smooth skater with a nice first pass. Negrin notched over 100 assists from the back end in his junior career.
THE HEAT will open their 2009 preseason schedule with a pair of games against Vancouver Canucks affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. The first game is Friday, September 25 at 7:30 pm, live from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Get your tickets at 1-877-452-HEAT.
PRO HOCKEY IS HERE!