Tomorrow is the last morning of the prospects camp, but this is the last day that everyone will be on hand.
Being on hand for all 5 days of the camp was an interesting experience. I was impressed by the professionalism and great attitude shown by both the management and the players. It is a good thing to have such a positive atmosphere around this organization after years of frustration. I was also impressed by the amount of fans that were in attendance each day. Even during the practices, most of the 227 seats were filled, and there was closer to a thousand people during each of the scrimmages. If there were holding the scrimmages at the 3000 seat facility, I think all those seats would have been filled. With everything that happened this weekend, anyone that was reticent about having the team go through a rebuild should be relieved.
The thing that surprised me most about this weekend was the calibre of talent that was on the ice. There are at least a dozen players that look like they should be in the NHL at some point, and another group that couple very well join them if they progress well in the coming seasons. I’ll group all the players into categories based on both upside and my opinion on the likelihood of reaching it (percentage).
With a player, if I have them rated at 60% to be a first liner, they have a better chance at being a 2nd line center, and are virtually guaranteed to be NHLers.
Player (#) – Potential – Likelihood – Details
82 Jonathan Gillies – Starter – 80% – He is a very large goalie who is also fairly quick with his legs, glove hand and blocker. The only weakness that I could see in his game is that he gets a little unsettled when he has to move laterally and that he is not overly quick while doing that. By in large the only times that anyone scored on him was when they got him moving. He is by far the best goalie prospect that we’ve had since Trevor Kidd.
53 Johnny Gaudreau – 1st line LW/RW – 50% – If he was 6-0, that percentage would be very close to 100%. He does everything at the highest level. There is nothing that I could say that hasn’t already been said about him. The only question mark is whether or not he will adapt well to the NHL and become the next Briere or St. Louis.
23 Sean Monahan – 1st line C – 70% – He does not look like your usual 18 year old prospect. He could easily slot in on the opening day roster without issue. He is excellent in the faceoff circle, with good on ice vision and a great shot. Had instant chemistry with Johnny Gaudreau, and really any other player that played with him. I would actually prefer that he went back to juniors so he can be a dominant force this year and get the experience of being a winner under his belt, especially after being on a bad Ottawa team. The only reason why I don’t think he’ll be a 1st line center is that we are trending towards a top 5 pick each of the next two seasons and there are a couple of exceptional ones in Reinhart and McDavid the next two years. There is no chance in my opinion outside of injury that he does not become an above average NHLer.
47 Sven Baertschi – 1st line LW – 60% – A tireless worker and very skilled. All Flames fans are familiar with Sven. I think that his floor is that of Jiri Hudler. A skilled winger that will put 50-60 points up. If he does develop, he could be a star.
Key Secondary Forwards and Defensemen
77 Mark Jankowski – 2nd line C – 70% – When I first saw highlights of Mark a few months prior to him being drafted by the Flames, I though of Gaudreau, but one that had a freakish growth spurt. A very cerebral player who is very quick for his size and has a deceptively good shot. He still has not quite adjusted to his new body and how he can be more physically imposing on players. He is getting better though. He could easily be a first line calibre player if he does develop. Having him and Monahan as a 1-2 punch down the middle will be very good for the Flames down the road. I don’t see how he does not become an NHLer with all of the secondary skills that he possesses.
67 Ryan Culkin – 2nd pairing D – 30% – With later round picks, I prefer prospect that have shown some offensive abilities, because you can’t teach skill. Ryan slipped to the 5th round because he was a mostly offensive defenseman that had some holes in his defensive game. He certainly didn’t have any glaring weaknesses in that regard from what I watched. On the one on one drills, he was matched up against the best forwards of Group A and shut them down. He is not currently an NHL calibre defenseman, but he is better defensively now than TJ Brodie was at the same time in his development.
61 Brett Kulak – 2nd pairing D – 40% – See Culkin with a better slap shot.
56 Tyler Wotherspoon – 2nd pairing D – 50% – See Culkin with a better all round game
50 Patrick Sieloff – 2nd pairing D – 75% – He will be an NHL D-man. Tough as nails. I don’t think he has much offense in his game, but he will be a bear to play against. One person said he looks like he could be another Adam Foote type guy, and I can totally see that. I can’t wait till he starts punishing the Oilers in a year or two.
52 Morgan Klimchuk – 2nd line Winger – 50% – With Morgan’s shot release, he will be an NHLer. He will likely be a 20+ goal scorer at that. To me, his floor is that of Lee Stempniak. A quality depth guy with a great shot. If the remainder of his game develops, he could even be a 30+ goal scoring first liner. It depends on the work he does from now moving forward.
60 Markus Granlund – 2nd line C – 25% (3rd line 40 %) – He has a very deadly shot and seems to know where to go to use it properly. Like his brother, his speed could derail him. He is somewhat inconsistent as well and that too could hold him back. He is the definition of a boom bust player. If he hits, he’ll be very good. If he doesn’t he’ll be a KHL star.
57 Emile Poirier – 2nd line RW – 25% (3rd line 75%) – In my opinion, at worst, he will be Matthew Lombardi/Andrew Cogliano #2. A speedster that puts up 30-40 points and can play the PK effectively due to their speed. If he can develop his offensive game, he could be a really good player. I don’t know what level his offensive abilities will carry him to.
Good Depth Players
10 Corban Knight – 3rd line C – 100% – He possesses all the skills necessary to be a top end 3rd line center in the NHL. He might get some time as a second liner as well. The only thing that I do not think is up to par with him is his shot. From what I witnessed, it is good but not 60+ point good. To me, I think he could be a 40 point 3rd liner that wins 55+% of the faceoffs and is great defensively.
94 Ken Agostino – 3rd line Wing – 70% – He is a very tenacious player that does give it his all. He also has NHL skills (Speed/Size/Shot). The only thing that could prevent him is that he’s a bit inconsistent. Also, some people might think I’m nuts for saying 3rd line winger, but I’m referring to being a 3rd line wing on a contending team, not the current iteration of the Flames.
21 Roman Horak – 3rd line – 50% (4th line 100%) – You would not know based off his play this week that he has 80 games under his belt. He is the definition of a jack of all trades master of none player. He makes those around him better and he is an NHLer, but I don’t think he has the offensive abilities to score more than 15 goals in a season. A good player to have regardless.
58 Ben Hanowski – 3rd line – 40% (90% 4th line) – It is fitting that he has David Moss’ old number. I could see him becoming that type of player down the road. Someone that has a nose for the net and can pick up some garbage goals, but is also feisty enough to be a good depth guy. His skating no longer looks wonky like it did in his first games last year. I could see him being one of the first injury recalls if he doesn’t make the team outright.
92 Bill Arnold – 3rd line – 40% (90% 4th line) – His overall skill level is very impressive and he does have enough skill that he could be a 40 or 50 point guy down the line if he continues progressing. With his package of tools, I would be surprised if he doesn’t make the NHL.
97 Tim Harrison – 4th line – 90% – I like Tim Harrison. He’s big. He’s fast. He hits everything that moves and he has decent hands. I would genuinely be shocked if he is not in the NHL in 3 years. He is a Matt Martin/Cal Clutterbuck type of guy that will get under everyone’s skin. Plus he exudes personality, almost like a young Craig Conroy in that aspect. I am sure that he will become a fan favourite down the road.
40 Reto Berra – Backup – 75% – He is very large, similar in size to Henrik Karlsson. Unlike the former Calgary Tower, Berra realizes that you need to move your body to make saves instead of hoping the shots just hit you. Seeing both players several times, Berra is better by a moderate margin. I don’t think he will be a starter in the NHL down the road, but he could be a quality backup as soon as this year. He should give you a chance to win, which is what you need from a backup.
79 Michael Ferland – 4th line – 50% – He is a tough player that has a decent shot and did look a lot better than he has in the past. With the quantity of quality lower line guys that we have, he may be lost in a numbers game despite having a lot of the requisite skills to be a quality 4th liner.
65 Turner Elson – 3rd line 20% 4th line 40% – He was very noticeable and at times was the best player on the ice during the second scrimmage. I don’t know if he has the kind of upside that would place him in the top nine, but if he progresses he could be a quality NHLer.
84 Eric Roy – 2nd/3rd pairing D – 25% – He has good offensive instincts and a good shot. Similar to Kulak and Culkin and Brodie, you can’t teach skill. With his size, he could possibly pull a Brent Burns and be converted to an offensive winger. There is a lot of time for him to learn.
90 Bryce Van Brabrant – 4th line Wing – 25% – He is quick and large and does a lot of things decently. He also is not overly consistent. In some of the practices he looked awesome, and in the games he wasn’t overly noticeable. He would definitely be a good AHL forward.
1 Laurent Brossoit – Backup – 50% – I’m saying backup, but with goalies you cannot really tell where they will be in 5 years. He is not in the same class currently that Gillies is in but he does have some skill.
73 Keegan Kanzig – NHL D-man – 35% – He is a very big man that is very strong and will destroy you if you bug him. He is also very very raw as a prospect. If you flashed forward 5 years and it showed him being a shorter Chara, I could believe it. If you flashed forward and it showed him being a physical AHL D-man that is just a little too slow to make the NHL, I could believe it. It all will depend on if he takes the next step.
49 John Ramage – 6th/7th D-man – 30% – He didn’t look bad out there in a general sense. I don’t know if he has NHL talent, but he could be.
59 Max Reinhart – 4th liner – 80% – He has all the qualities necessary to be a depth NHLer. He might be passed in the depth charts though as we really do have a number of guys with similar profiles.
C 91 Noel Accardi – He did not show anything offensively to stand out and we have enough prospects that are better as defensive forwards.
RW 75 Austin Carroll – I liked his effort as he gave quite a good one this week. He would be a guy that would be a good guy to have on the 3rd/4th line on the Heat (if we had a spot available)
C 95 Matt Deblouw – With a rebuilding team, you need to stand out otherwise you’ll get passed quickly on the depth charts as there will be quality additions through the drafts following yours. Deblouw was mostly invisible this week and did not stand out at all.
D 83 John Gilmour – He is a good enough offensive defenseman. I am leery of defenders under six feet tall. If he was taller, he probably would’ve been put in the category above. The good thing is that we have a few years to see if he becomes a player like Torey Krug,
G 70 Brody Hoffman – He’s a big goalie that plays somewhat like Henrik Karlsson. His glove and blocker seemed a bit below par. Might be someone that could be given a minor league contract to play in the ECHL maybe.
RW 64 Ryan Howse – Seriously, how long till his contract is up. He might have been the worst player this week including the walk-ons.
D 98 Curtis Leonard – He has a lot of work to do to be a quality AHL Defenseman.
D 78 Trey Lewis – He is rather quick, but his decision making is not exceptional. He does most things at a calibre suited for the AHL that might eventually get a cup of coffee as an injury replacement.
D 68 James Martin – He can hit well, but the rest of his game is at an AHL level.
RW 74 Pavlo Padakin – He is fast, and has some offensive abilities. I don’t think he did enough though to earn a contract. He might eventually develop into an NHLer but he needs to make several steps of progression do so.
RW 45 David Eddy – He is a quality defensive oriented forward. I think he’ll suffer because of the numbers game though.
C 86 Josh Jooris – Jooris was actually fairly good this week. However, he is the type of player that is a top 6 or bust. I think he will fall in the same category of player as Kris Kolanos or Ben Street. An AHL All Star that might get the occasional cup of coffee if injuries pile up. He could also be the next PA Parenteau though. Basically, it depends on him.
D 63 Drew MacKenzie – He’s alright as a D-man, but his skills trend more to the AHL than otherwise.
C 96 Dan O’Donoghue – He’s a decent overall player, but he doesn’t possess any skill that would make him an NHLer
C 62 Coda Gordon – He’s an okay player at everything. I don’t think he is good enough offensively or defensively to fill either role effectively.
RW 93 Linden Penner – He performed terribly during the drills (looking lost most of the time), but was one of the better players during the games. I could see him being signed to see if there is anything there. I could see him being a possibility down the road, but the more likely thing is that he won’t develop into an NHLer.
G 37 Joni Ortio – I don’t see how he makes the NHL. He is getting in his own way. The effort that he gave in the drills and even the games was very minimal. With the whole goalie situation being up in the air, this would be the time for you to show that you are better than Joey Macdonald, and Reto Berra at the least, neither of which should be overly difficult (both are backups). Instead he pouted and hasn’t given any effort. With that kind of attitude, he should go away. No need for that type of person in the organization at all.
I think that’s everyone.
This is by far the deepest group of prospects I’ve seen donning Flames jerseys since I’ve been alive, and there very well could be upwards of 20 players that could be NHLers from the camp this week, although several of those would likely have to find spots on other teams down the road.
Any way you slice it, it is an exciting time to be a Flames fan.
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