July 31-in-31: Calgary Flames
Draft picks! The Flames have a pick in the first round! This territory is unusual for the club. Last season saw zero picks until the fourth round and the season before that, only one pick in the top three rounds. The phones were rumored to be quite busy with the intent to acquire a few more picks but there seemingly was no trade down situation where Calgary ended up being comfortable. In the 2017 edition of Flames 31-in-31, I spoke of the four categories I’d seen the Flames target as for style of selections. They were…
- Small, skilled, high-potential forwards
- Players who fell since midterm rankings
- Close-to-home projects
- Big projects.
The last number of years, the trend of bigger projects and close-to-home projects were simply not working out. I’m not sure if Calgary fell in love with players they saw more viewings of but it was not a good fit. If they could try to snap up some potential players who fell or were being looked over due to size, it could work wonders. You could argue that Milos Roman, Dmitri Zavgorodniy and Emilio Pettersen all fit the profile from 2018.
So with that in mind, let’s look at the five new Calgary Flames selections to start off today’s 31-in-31.
First Round Pick (26) Jakob Pelletier – LW – Moncton Wildcats – QMJHL
Jakob Pelletier was a real good bet to go at the end of the first round or somewhere at the top of the second. Many saw the undersized, gritty, talented forward as a safer bet due to the type of work ethic he showcases along with the skill. He is kind of an enigma as you rarely find players under six feet tall that you’d refer to as ‘safe’ at this point in the draft. There are obvious needs for Calgary along the right side as well as on the backend, especially if the strategy is taking a player who is most likely a couple years away from development. There were those type of players available at the draft who seemingly would have filled a void in the system so this should give fans confidence that Calgary’s staff truly is selecting who they believe is the best player available.
Things to watch for:
- Calgary likes to select players who have a history of IIHF experience and Pelletier fits that mold. You can expect him to suit up for team Canada potentially as soon as this winter.
- Fellow teammates Jordan Spence and Alexander Khovanov should both be returning to the fold for the 2019-20 year which could make Moncton fairly dangerous on the top end of things.
- Flames added Pelletier’s linemate Jeremy McKenna to the development camp roster. They had chemistry out the wazoo.
Third Round Pick (88) Ilya Nikolaev – C – Loko Yaroslavl – MHL
This would be a player who you could obviously put under the “fallen from midterms” rankings. If you were to look up scouting profiles, you’ll find that people seem to detail multiple aspects of his game including passing, faceoffs, vision, powerplay abilities, or success on the PK. He is a 200-foot player who does not take for granted the little details of the game. If he is going to succeed in the Flames organization, he is going to have to improve on that consistency and build off the fundamentals to become more explosive and creative. He is another player who you will continue to see in international tournaments.
Things to watch for:
- He’s been linemates in the past with fellow Russian Vasili Podkolzin. Maybe Calgary and Vancouver fans will be friends for brief periods of international hockey.
- It has been said that he models his game after Patrice Bergeron. Jakob Pelletier says he has a little Brad Marchand in him. The future Flames might look a whole lot more Bruin-y before all said and done.
- Calgary all of the sudden has grown accustomed to drafting Russian players. This is very new for the organization and could make signing free agents in the future a real possibility. He won’t participate in development camp though.
Fourth Round Pick (116) Lucas Feuk – C – Sodertalje – SWE-1
In years past, Calgary seems to change their mindset when it comes to the fourth round and beyond. The fourth round seems to be when they take a swing or two on a high-upside player. When Lucas is on his game, he can be quite an offensive force. He is still pretty raw and under developed so don’t be surprised if he jumps up some future re-drafts. There is a lot of skill and a lot to like.
Things to watch for:
- As for most of Calgary’s swedish prospects, expect him to stay and develop in Sweden for a few years, especially since he is still under contract there.
- He did have the same skating coach as fellow Calgary Swede Mikael Backlund, so there is some familiarity there.
- He is an incredibly creative player. He could fill CGY’s hype machine with videos, starting at development camp.
Fifth Round Pick (150) Josh Nodler – C – Fargo Force – USHL
Flames elect to take another player with IIHF experience in the forward Nodler. He comes with a quick set of hands and decent wheels. The year began with a tremendous Hlinka Gretzky tournament and he had an ok year from there. There won’t be any rush on this player and fans can simply watch how he develops at the NCAA level with Michigan State.
Seventh Round Pick (214) – Dustin Wolf – G – Everett Silvertips – WHL
The story for Mr. Wolf is an easy one. He is 5-11 or 6-0 depending on how you stretch the measuring tape. Dustin put up eye popping numbers for a very good WHL squad and seemingly slipped down the draft board. This might be a player that fans hype up. He could get his name called for World Juniors eventually but truly we won’t know too much about the success of the goalie until he turns pro. He has a similar style to fellow Flames goalie Tyler Parsons.
** Zavgorodniy will be participating in a limited capacity.
They also added Jeremy McKenna from Moncton to Group B.
Thursday, July 4
9-10:15am – Group A on-ice evaluations (10:15-11:15am off-ice workout)
10:30-11:45am – Group B on-ice evaluations (9-10:00am off-ice workout)
Friday, July 5
9-10:15am – Group A skill development (10:30-11:45 off-ice workout)
10:30-11:45am – Group B skill development (9-10am off-ice workout)
Saturday, July 6
9-10:15am – Group B skill development (10:30-11:30am off-ice workout)
10:30-11:45am – Group A skill development (9-10am off-ice workout)
Sunday, July 7
9-10:30am controlled scrimmage (all players)
Off Season Moves
- Re-sign RFAs. (This basically still needs to happen with Rittich, Tkachuk, Bennett, etc.)
- Is Rittich good enough on his own? (They signed Cam Talbot to a one-year contract as a tandem)
- Draft defensemen? – They drafted none. Calgary has drafted one d-man in the last 15 selections (Valimaki).
- Improve roster? – This was the first summer in a while where Treliving did not make a big splash at the draft. There were rumors of trades which almost happened but at the moment, the roster returning next season is almost exactly the same.
In: Luke Philp, Artyom Zagidulin, Carl-Johan Lerby, Alexander Yelesin, Mark Giordano’s Norris Trophy, Cam Talbot, Brandon Davidson, Byron Froese, Justin Kirkland,
Out: Curtis Lazar, Tyler Graovac, Kerby Rychel, Spencer Foo, Adam Ollas-Mattsson, Josh Healey, Brett Pollock, Dalton Prout, Mason McDonald, Oscar Fantenberg, Mike Smith, Garnet Hathaway
Questions moving into 2019-20
- How many minutes will Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington average a night?
- Will Dillon Dube make the team and grab second PP minutes?
- Will Rittich or Talbot grab the reigns and be relied upon consistently?
- What will happen with Jon Gillies and his one-way deal?
- Can Matthew Phillips take another stride towards being a PPG player in the AHL?
- Will Yelesin or Zagidulin force the hand of the Flames coaching staff early?
Sneaky Players to watch from a fantasy perspective, in no order.
- Artyom Zagidulin – He could solidify himself as the ‘next to get a call up’ if he surprises early in net. (Goaltender shown above). Click on the profile and check out his impressive stats.
- Luke Philp – He is coming in as an older, undersized player. He might be in boom or bust territory instantly.
- Eetu Tuulola – He could fly up the depth charts similar to how Garnet Hathaway did. Brings the compete and stats for Roto leagues.
The prospect camp is under way and things will probably look mighty different a month from now. There could be trades and signings to come.
Follow along for Flames or WHL coverage at @dathockeydoe on twitter.