The past two days, I have been at Winsport for the opening days of the development camp. I have seen old faces and new at the camp as the Flames begin to move forward into their new era. In addition to the flames own prospects, they invited 11 other players to try out. Over the two days, most of the players performed at a similar level, with some making an improvement after day one.
One thing that was readily apparent amongst the prospects was their height. A lot of the players and invitees were massive in size. John Gaudreau kind of stuck out like a sore thumb as there were not any other players close to him and size other than maybe Baertschi. Another thing that jumped out at me, was the overall skill level of each group. With more than a dozen players that look to be NHLers, this group of prospects might be the deepest that the flames of had in decades.
I will do a short summary of each player from each group in order of position.
Reto Berra – He fills up most of the net. Quick reflexes and a willingness to make a second effort, or even third effort made for some very nice saves. He is very composed with his limbs and will react to make saves instead of allowing the puck just to hit him. The only knock on him that I saw was that he over commits occasionally leaving himself out of position, which he does fight to get back into position to make the save. He will be competing and possibly winning a position on the Flames in the fall. One of the better potential backups I’ve seen in a long time.
John Gillies – Similar to Berra, he fills up most of the net. When he goes down to make a save there is very little room under the crossbar for a shooter to target. He possesses a quick glove and good reflexes. He was the most difficult goalie in the two days for the players to score on. In fact, most of the goals that were scored on him were caused by his movement laterally. In that aspect, he is a little bit slow. Despite that, even at 19, he would be an NHL goalie now. If he can become quicker on his feet, he could be a star goalie, not just a starter.
Brody Hoffman – The only invitee goalie at the camp. He, like Gillies and Berra, is a larger goalie. However, the flames forwards did not have a lot of trouble getting pucks by him. In today’s drills, things seem to snowball, he was allowing everything in practically.
Ryan Culkin – He is a fast skater, winning both the endurance skates at the end of the practice today. In the defensive drills he performed ably. As a primarily offensive defensemen, the fact that I could not pick out any weaknesses in his game either day is a good thing. He will be going to Abbotsford this season.
John Gilmour – Honestly, I did not notice him much of all. There were no obvious mistakes during the drills that I remember and no specific thing that stood out either.
Curtis Leonard – It was not a good showing at this camp. Of the defensemen in a group a, he was the one that I noticed was getting beat most often.
James Martin – He is a lanky defenseman, who is solid generally but not spectacular. He was undressed by Gaudreau on the first day. He is more likely an AHL defensemen will get a cup of coffee sometime.
Trey Lewis – on day one he was hit hard by Tim Harrison. At times he seemed a step behind the forwards in the drills and occasionally got beat by them. There is some skill there, I just don’t know if there is enough for him to go to the next level.
Eric Roy – A tall defender, I noticed him mostly for his shot and his overall offense of abilities rather than defense. Long-term if the flames cannot teach him the skills necessary for defense, he would make a decent forward.
Noel Accardi – The only thing I noticed was that he had decent speed and not much else.
Austin Carroll – Similar to Accardi, there was not enough shown to stand out.
Matt DeBlouw – Matt was invisible on day one but improved with day two. One of the second-tier forwards.
Michael Ferland – Michael possesses a good shot and decent enough wheels. Like DeBlouw, he needs to show more for me to consider him a possible NHL player.
John Gaudreau – There is only one if. If he adapts to the NHL, he will be a star player. Good hands, good awareness, good shot, good speed and shifty. He is everything that you hope for prospect. The only question is will he adapt.
Ben Hanowski – In his first games with Calgary, his awkward skating stride was noticeable. He has worked on that as well as his overall quickness. It is the same player otherwise, and will be competing heavily for spot in the fall.
Tim Harrison – For someone the NHL didn’t know about a couple weeks ago, he is one decent prospect. A little bit lanky and awkward, but very feisty on the ice with a decent shot. If he refines his game he could become a fan favorite down the road.
Roman Horak – it goes to show how good our prospects are when I didn’t even know if he was out there. He played his game just like he normally does, it just shows how much skill we have now.
Ryan Howse – How long till his contract is up?
Morgan Klimchuk – a quicker player than I was expecting, who plays like he is 6-2 despite being under six feet tall. He has a wicked shot, and that alone would make him an NHL player. Add in all those other skills and you wonder how he dropped to 28. I don’t see how he is not a top six forward in a couple years.
Corban Knight – he was better than a lot of NHLers if seen in practice before. He will be our third line center this year and I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up over 30 points despite being a rookie. In a face-off drill he bested one of the coaches by winning five straight draws. Definitely something that we have lacked for a long long time.
Sean Monahan – the best flames forward draft pick since Theo Fleury. He was very good in the first practice but moved into another tier entirely today. This is a forward that will score 75+ points a year and could be a star player in his own right.
Pavlo Padakin – he is a player that showed a lot of effort. With his speed and determination, he could easily be a fourth liner. Whether his other skills translator not is up to him.
Bryce Van Brabrandt – I would love for this player to make the NHL just to hear broadcasters get tongue-tied with his name. I did not know who this player was prior to yesterday. I hope he is a Flame shortly. If I can only sign one of the walk-ons, he is the one. He’s big, he’s physical, he is decent at face-offs, these quick, and he possesses a good shot. If he continues his development he will be an NHL player.
I will write up group B later
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