The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks aren’t waiting for next season to test out new talent.
With both teams well removed from the playoff race entering their final game, both clubs have brought new faces in and will get a look at the future Sunday night in Vancouver.
The Flames (35-39-7) have added new Boston College signees Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold to the roster, and they’ll debut against the Canucks (35-35-11) after skating with the team in Saturday’s practice.
"They’re two young players that are obviously very excited, very nervous of making their NHL debut (Sunday)," coach Bob Hartley told the team’s official website. "I thought that they both had a great practice based on the little (information) that we (gave) them for what we’re expecting out of players at practice, little details about what we’re expecting from players also."
The college linemates joined the Flames with little time off campus after Boston College was eliminated in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals on Thursday.
Gaudreau’s 80 points led the country and his 31-game point streak matched a Hockey East record. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Gaudreau won the Hobey Baker Award as the top Division I college hockey player.
He’s glad a teammate will be joining him in the NHL.
"I feel like it would be a lot more stressful and nerve-racking without Billy here," said the 20-year-old Gaudreau as he and Arnold figure to join Paul Byron on the third line. "By yourself it would probably be more difficult. He’s one of my best buddies at school and it makes the transition a lot easier having him here."
The duo will skate with a team that had won four straight before Friday’s 5-3 loss to Winnipeg in Calgary’s home finale.
Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist to give him five points in four games while Sean Monahan has goals in consecutive games.
"We’re going to do everything we can to end the right way," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "We feel like we’ve been playing well lately and we’ve been getting wins, and no better way to go home for the summer with a nice win over (Vancouver)."
It’d be their first in this season’s series. Vancouver has won the previous four and six straight dating to last season.
The Canucks’ offense has been about done with the season since the end of March, but coach John Tortorella is asking for one more good effort.
"It’s our last game and you need to be professional," Tortorella said. "You need to play."
Vancouver has scored 10 goals in its last seven games, a 1-5-1 stretch that includes three straight losses after Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Edmonton.
It was Michael Zalewski’s first NHL game after the Canucks brought the free-agent college forward in out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Like so many Canucks lately, he didn’t find his way onto the scoresheet while goaltender Jacob Markstrom struggled in his second start with the team.
Markstrom is 0-2-0 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .833 save percentage in three games since being traded from Florida at last month’s deadline. He last won Oct. 11 and is 0-7-3 since. He’s never faced the Flames.
Flames goalie Karri Ramo is 1-1-1 with a 2.28 GAA against the Canucks.