Flames: Do Eakin & Stone Have True Shot on PTOs?

In recent days, the Calgary Flames have invited two players to camp on professional tryout offers (PTOs). The first was Cody Eakin, who has spent the past two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. The other was a very familiar face in Michael Stone, who has played with the Flames for the past five and a half seasons, albeit in a very limited role.

Related: Flames Vs. Oilers: How They Stack Up Heading Into 2022-23

The PTO given to Eakin didn’t come as a major surprise, as it was known that the Flames were hoping to add another forward to the mix for the 2022-23 season. Whether he will be that, however, remains to be seen. As for Stone, his invite isn’t shocking in that this has turned into a regular occurrence for him, but is given the fact that the Flames already have a ton of blueliners at their disposal. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at each player’s chances of earning a contract.

Eakin Has Real Opportunity

As mentioned above, the Flames have been looking for one more forward to add to their group for the 2022-23 season. If they trade or perhaps sign a free agent between now and training camp then this outlook will change, but as of now, it appears that Eakin has a legitimate shot at earning a contract with a solid showing.

Cody Eakin, Buffalo Sabres
Cody Eakin, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

When elevated in a lineup, Eakin is a player who can provide secondary offense, having hit the 40-point barrier two times in his career. That said, he won’t be relied upon for points in the talented Flames lineup, and if he is to make the team would have more similar numbers to his 2021-22 stat line of four goals and 12 points in 69 games.

Eakin’s role on this team would be primarily as a fourth liner who kills penalties. He averaged over a minute per game when down a man with the Sabres last season, and could help fill a limited role that former Flames in Calle Jarnkrok and Brad Richardson held in the past.

Where Eakin could also help in a big way, both at even strength and on the penalty kill is in the faceoff dot. He won a spectacular 482 of the 860 faceoffs he took last season for a career-best 56.1 percent success rate. To put in comparison, Sean Monahan led the Flames of any player who took 300 or more draws last season with a success rate of 53.2 percent. These types of intangibles are things that an old school coach in Sutter loves to have on his roster.

Stone’s Best Chance is a Two-Way Contract

If the hope for Stone is to earn himself a one-way contract like he was able to last season, he will have a very hard time sticking with the Flames. That said, if he is able to take a two-way deal like he did for the 2020-21 season, perhaps the organization is able to find room and keep him around as a depth piece.

This signing was quite shocking given the fact the Flames’ blue line is extremely overcrowded, but with that said, not having Stone on a PTO would have felt quite odd. The 32-year-old has seemingly been fine with earning himself one-year deals over and over in Calgary and has not once complained despite his lack of game time.

Michael Stone Calgary Flames
Michael Stone, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As mentioned, if Stone’s goal is a one-way contract, he may be left disappointed. He rarely drew into the lineup this past season, appearing in just 11 games. That said, the Flames having their American Hockey League team relocate from Stockton to Calgary for the 2022-23 season could entice the veteran defenseman to sign a two-way contract. Not having to worry about moving his family or being away from them regardless of what league he is playing in would be extremely convenient.

Both Players Provide Depth

While neither Eakin nor Stone will have huge impacts on any game, they could provide extra depth for what is expected to be a very strong Flames team. That said, both have to first prove themselves in camp to try and earn a deal. Whether they have a legitimate chance to do that remains unknown, but at the very least they will provide this talented group with some extra competition through camp and exhibition contests.

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