For at some point, anyway, this prime perch belonged to Elias Lindholm.
With the Calgary Flames lastly stepping on the ice Friday morning — nonetheless Thursday night again residence — for his or her first observe of the season at Shenzhen Universiade Sports activities Heart, it was the 23-year-old Lindholm driving shotgun with the dynamic duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
Prized free-agent signing James Neal, the opposite main candidate for duties on the Flames’ first line, was working with Matthew Tkachuk on what can be a harmful second unit.
With almost three weeks of prep earlier than the puck drops on their regular-season slate, even probably the most hardcore hockey poolies can be loopy to place a lot inventory in Friday’s observe combos.
Lindholm notched 16 objectives and 44 factors final winter with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Acquired in that draft-day blockbuster, the Flames determine he could possibly be a defensive asset in a primetime function. Plus, with the crew hoping to restrict Monahan’s faceoff work throughout the pre-season as he recovers from wrist surgical procedure, it is smart to have an skilled centre on his flank.
The 31-year-old Neal, in the meantime, arrives in Calgary with a popularity as one of many NHL’s most constant marksmen and looks like a shoo-in for a spot on the highest power-play unit. He has tallied 20-plus instances in every of his 10 campaigns on the highest degree, together with 25 final season on behalf of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Each guys, you might be certain, will get a glance alongside Gaudreau and Monahan throughout coaching camp and the exhibition schedule.
Regardless of who scores that job, it’s secure to imagine each will see time with Nos. 13 and 23 throughout the common season, too.
The Flames will face the Boston Bruins in Saturday’s matinee in Shenzhen, the primary of two stops on the 2018 O.R.G. China Video games. It’s a 12:30 a.m. MT begin, with protection on Sportsnet.
Right here is Friday’s full observe lineup:
Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-James Neal
Michael Frolik-Derek Ryan-Austin Czarnik
Sam Bennett-Mark Jankowski-Garnet Hathaway
Morgan Klimchuk-Curtis Lazar-Anthony Peluso
Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin-Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak-Michael Stone
Dalton Prout-Rasmus Andersson