August 31-in-31: Calgary Flames
Flames fans have been spoiled by their prospects in the last number of years. Immediate impact from Matthew Tkachuk in 2016-17 continues the trend set by high first-rounders Monahan and Bennett. However, beyond those players, you have to go back a number of years to find an NHL player to appear through development. Seems you have to go back to the 2011 NHL draft to find Johnny Gaudreau, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, etc.
So what's happened to Calgary's development?
Let's begin by trying to understand the process of the Calgary Flames and how they treat their prospects. In 2015-16, Stockton was filled with pros who were getting older based upon a mandate passed down a few years before to "stock the cupboards". Calgary wanted to make sure they had organizational depth at all positions. Moving into the 2016-17 season, Treliving cut ties with quite a few older players and decided to choose a more developmental approach, handing the reins effectively to first and second year prospects with a few pros sprinkled in.
Stockton is for development.
Calgary is for the developed.
This is the model we've seen. When an opportunity presents itself for a prospect to potentially grab some NHL games, Treliving has opted to go with what could be called, "Solid Pros".
Although there were a number of reasons for it, Calgary saw Nicklas Grossman begin with the club and Mark Bartkowski end it. They also chose to bring in Michael Stone and Curtis Lazar via trade.
Long and short of it? – When an opportunity comes, Calgary would rather give bottom 6, role-filling minutes to guys like Linden Vey or Freddie Hamilton. I can't see this changing as long as they consider themselves a playoff team.
BUT LETS KEEP IN MIND… Calgary was a healthy team.
Probably the biggest reason why Calgary fans couldn't be excited about the next crop of prospects is that they dealt with very few injuries. Often prospects get a chance to shine when a top 9 job opens up. Here is a list of Calgary's major misses last year.
Gaudreau – 10 games – finger
Bouma – 17 games – shoulder
Versteeg – 10 games – groin
Brouwer – 8 games – finger
Hathaway – 8 games – upper body
What did this lead to? Freddie Hamilton got into 26 games. Garnet Hathaway took over Bouma's role for a while. Vey and Shinkaruk got a handful of games each but really didn't play more than 11 minutes very often. Shinkaruk saw his minutes slowly decrease in games he saw. Not a positive for him personally.
The BIG question ——– What does this mean for 2017-18??
Calgary's Lines might be familiar in the top-9.
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Bennett – Brouwer
others: Lazar, Stajan, Hamilton, Hathaway
Ferland on the top line is not a certainty, but it'll start that way. Brouwer will most likely continue to get minutes he hasn't earned, so thus his placement in the top-9. Fans should hope for a bounce back, but expectations are pretty negative. There are two prospects currently to have on your radar. Mark Jankowski and Spencer Foo.
If Calgary deems Jankowski ready to step into the NHL, there's a 90% chance it'll be as a C.
In the final year of a contract, Stajan could move to the wing, or sit. Bennett could move to the wing allowing Jankowski to play on the 3rd line. Come training camp, Jankowski should make their decision tough.
Spencer Foo? – He has to out hussle Garnet Hathaway for minutes. Tough to know what to get from him. At this point, expect Foo to start in the AHL.
Also…. if history has taught us anything, there will be at least one player on a camp tryout who will make things interesting.
With Calgary locking up Gio, Brodie, Hamilton, Stone, and Hamonic, they have one every day spot available. Probably nothing changes with Kulak and Bartkowski trading minutes.
1. Adam Fox – Had an electic first year for Harvard. 40 points in 35 games.
2. Morgan Klimchuk – 43 in 66 games. Had only 9 points in 2015-16. Finished third in points for Stockton despite moving up and down the lineup. Consistent production. Improved skating and confidence.
3. Dillon Dube – Surprised some by making Team Canada at the WJC. Finished the WHL year with 36 points in his final 22 games and 21 points in 17 playoff games for Kelowna.
1. Hunter Shinkaruk – At some point, Stockton could start giving Shinkaruk's PP minutes to others. While Shinkaruk hasn't had a ton of time in Calgary, he's had more time than most. While he still could be a decent option to be pulled up in a pinch, it won't be long until they pass on him for others.
2. Mason McDonald – Plain and Simple, most fans haven't seen much from McDonald. The memory of the World Juniors is still vivid and he spent the year in the ECHL. With Rittich, Gillies, and Parsons ahead of him in depth, it just pushes him further down. Maybe a new start with a new club could come via trade. He is still a prospect with good potential.
3. Emile Poirier – After leaving the team in February 2017 for personal reasons, there was a lot of mystery. Emile revealed he had been struggling with addiction issues. He's been working hard and he is certaintly one to root for this year. The reality is, last season wasn't a good one for him. He looked like a new man in training camp so his future is in his own hands. It would be wonderful to have a write up next year with EMILE EMILE EMILE be a major component.
1. Mark Jankowski
2. Juusi Valimaki
3. Rasmus Andersson
4. Jon Gillies
5. Tyler Parsons
6. Dillon Dube
7. Adam Fox
8. Oliver Kylington
9. Spencer Foo
10. Morgan Klimchuk
HM: Kulak, Mangiapane and Rittich
Free Agents Signings: Josh Healey, Spencer Foo, Marek Hrivik
Turning Pro: Adam Ollas Mattsson (AHL contract), Tyler Parsons.. probably.
Not Currently Under Contract
Adam Ollas Mattsson
Point form summation
– Calgary has a lot of good Defensive prospects
– Calgary has 3 legit NHL Goalie prospects
– Jankowski, Klimchuk, Andersson, and Dube are better than most people think
– Depth players to really keep your eye on?? – Adam Ollas Mattsson and Ryan Lomberg.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE READ.
You're all caught up now. For more Flames discussion, you can follow me on Twitter at @dathockeydoe
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