Sunday, July 05, 2015

Flames Development Camp 2015: 12 Intriguing Prospects to Watch

A busy off-season for the Calgary Flames continues this week as they'll hold their annual development camp. Players arrive today, go through fitness testing on Monday and then hit the ice in two different groups for skills development sessions starting on Tuesday.

The camp takes place at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre and all the on-ice sessions are open to the public.

Flames Development Camp Schedule:

Monday, July 6 - Fitness Testing (8 am)
Tuesday, July 7 - Skill Development (10:30 am, 12:15 pm)
Wednesday, July 8 - Skill Development (11:30 am, 1:15 pm)
Thursday, July 9 - Scrimmage (9:30 am)
Friday, July 10 - Skill Development (9:00 am, 10:15 am)

One thing that's changing from previous years is a greater emphasis on skill development and getting away from as many scrimmages. In assessing last year's camp, his first as Flames GM, Brad Treliving was not happy with how hard guys were going at the camp for the time of year. He felt prospects were trying to "win jobs", which isn't the intention of development camp whatsoever.

The theory is that the hockey season just ended not that long ago and guys should be ramping up their conditioning and training to be ready for the start of September, not going full-out in the first week of July.

There is still one scrimmage on the docket for Thursday but don't be surprised if it's fairly short in duration. We'll wait and see.

Nonetheless, it will be a great opportunity to see many of Calgary's prospects as every player the Flames have drafted since 2012 (who is still with the organization) other than established NHL centre Sean Monahan, NCAA centre Tim Harrison (reason unknown) and Russian defenceman Rushan Rafikov, who the Flames -- despite trying -- have yet to be able to pry out of Russia to attend this camp.

Bennett Leads the Big Names

Sam Bennett, expected to be a full-time NHLer this season, is easily the most marquee name on the list of 42 attendees, which is comprised of 20 forwards, 18 defencemen and 4 goalies. Other household names include 2013 first round pick Emile Poirier, who turned pro last season and got in six games with Calgary. He missed last year's camp due to shoulder surgery. Another notable name is Jon Gillies, the highly-touted goaltender out of Providence College, who just turned pro this spring and is destined to be the starting keeper with Stockton (AHL) this season.

While I've mentioned some of the more higher profile names and they are definitely players to check up on along with familiar names like Morgan Klimchuk and Patrick Sieloff, there are also many others I'm interested to keep an eye on. Here's 12, in particular, that I'll be watching out for. Included for each is the jersey number they've been assigned.

Twelve Intriguing Prospects To Watch 

47 - C Tyson Baillie

Age: 19
Acquired: Undrafted. Attending camp on an invite.
Size: 5-foot-10, 195 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: Kelowna, WHL

Somewhat surprisingly passed over in the last two NHL drafts, Baillie is an interesting situation given he was a key part of that Kelowna Rockets team that lost to Oshawa in overtime in the Memorial Cup final. In 19 playoff games, Baillie's 10-14-24 ranked him third in points on the team behind a pair of first round picks in Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall, 2014) and Nick Merkley (30th overall, 2015). 

Did You Know: In Kelowna, Baillie played three seasons under coach Ryan Huska, who is now the Flames AHL coach.

Proving People Wrong: Undrafted Tyson Baillie Earns Invite to Flames Rookie Camp - Passed over twice in the draft, the Flames were quick to call Baillie right after the draft and invite him to development camp and after an impressive camp, they immediately invited him back for rookie camp. Here's my take on his story.

49 - D Jakub Nakladal

Age: 27
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in May 2015
Size: 6-foot-2, 200 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: TPS, Finland

After playing his whole life in the Czech Republic, Nakladal transferred to the KHL in 2011-12, where he spent three seasons before playing last season in Finland. After last season he signed a one-year/two-way deal with the Flames. Described as having a good shot, he's known more for his defensive game. He was described as the Czech's most reliable defender at the 2015 World Championships.

Did You Know: Two years ago in the KHL went to the Gagarin Cup final with Lev Praha before losing to Magnitogorsk in seven games. Was coached that year by former Flames C Kari Jalonen, who is also head coach of the Finnish national team.

53 - D Kenney Morrison

Age: 23
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in March 2015
Size: 6-foot-3, 205 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: Western Michigan, NCAA

Having attracted interest from at least a dozen NHL teams, the native of Lloydminster, Alberta, is described as being a good skater with a good shot, which nicely complements his size. Although his two-year/two-way deal didn't begin until 2015-16, he reported to Adirondack on a tryout basis late last season and put together a nice trial run of 2-4-6 in 10 games.

Did You Know: He grew up an Edmonton Oilers fan. Also, his coach in college was longtime NHL skipper Andy Murray, who coached in the NHL for 20 seasons, the last 10 as a head coach during which he won 333 games and was runner-up for the Jack Adams in 2009.

Morrison's Journey from Nearly Learning a Trade to Plying his Trade in Pro Hockey - Driving around in a gravel truck and playing some junior B hockey. At age 17, that was what Kenney Morrison thought his future might hold. But then he started taking hockey a little more seriously and six years later, here he is at Flames development camp on a pro contract. Here's my story from my Monday talk with him.

54 - D Rasmus Andersson

Age: 18
Acquired: Drafted in 2nd round (53rd) in 2015
Size: 6-foot-1, 215 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: Barrie, OHL

In his first year in North America, inherited the role of Barrie's top blue-liner after 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad jumped to the NHL. He had 12-52-64 in 67 games to finish third among OHL defencemen in scoring. Is described as having good smarts and good hands.

Did You Know: His father Peter (1983) and brother Calle (2012) were both fourth round draft picks by the Rangers. Peter played 47 NHL games with New York and Florida. Calle is expected to come to North America this season after playing last year in Switzerland.

58 - D Oliver Kylington

Age: 18
Acquired: Drafted in 2nd round (60th) in 2015
Size: 6-foot-0, 180 lbs
Shoots: L
Last Year: Had three stops in Sweden -- Farjestad (junior), Farjestad (1st division), AIK (2nd division)

Described as a tremendous skater with good vision and hockey sense, he was expected to go as early as middle of the first round only to nearly tumble to the third round before Calgary traded both its third round picks to Arizona to grab him at No. 60. He was NHL Central Scouting's No. 1 ranked international skaters at their midterm rankings in January.

Did You Know: Is of Eritrean descent. Due to a civil war, his mom -- as a teen -- fled the small African country of Eritrea, which is located on the Red Sea between Sudan and Ethiopia. She took refuge in Sweden and that is where she met her husband (Oliver's Dad).

62 - RW Austin Carroll

Age: 21
Acquired: Drafted in 7th round (184th) in 2014
Size: 6-foot-3, 225 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: Victoria, WHL

Playing for former Flame Dave Lowry, Carroll wrapped his junior hockey career with his best season yet, leading the Royals in scoring with 38-39-77 in 69 games. Much like Micheal Ferland, Carroll possesses that alluring blend of offensive skill -- has a great shot -- in a big-sized frame. Known for playing a rugged, physical game, he racked up 124 penalty minutes last year. 

Did You Know: Born in Calgary and a big Jarome Iginla fan, Carroll grew up in Arizona. In 2012, Carroll lost his father Phil to cancer. Worth watching is the touching story from CHEK News.

64 - RW Garnet Hathaway

Age: 23
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in April 2015.
Size: 6-foot-2, 210 lbs
Shoots: R
Last Year: Adirondack, AHL

After signing a one-year AHL contract last season, Hathaway raised his stock tremendously with a solid first pro season going 19-17-36 in 72 games. That earned him a two-year deal from the Flames after the season ended. Before that, he played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Brown University. Hathaway's hard-nosed and physical style, off-ice character and ability to chip in offensively has drawn comparisons from GM Brad Treliving to Lance Bouma.

Did You Know: A few summers ago, Hathaway got into business for himself selling lobsters on Rhode Island from a converted sausage cart. Scott Cruickshank from the Calgary Herald with the story.

67 - D Ryan Culkin

Age: 21
Acquired: Drafted in 5th round (124th) in 2012
Size: 6-foot-2, 195 lbs
Shoots: L
Last Year: Adirondack, AHL

A good puck mover, Culkin quietly moved up the AHL depth chart in his first pro season and was spending time on the top pairing and logging tons of ice time when he suffered a gruesome season-ending injury (sliced tendons in his wrist) in early February. Appears to be closing the gap on Tyler Wotherspoon as the next-in-line among Flames drafted defencemen.

Did You Know: During three of his seasons in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts, his coach was current Avalanche coach Patrick Roy, who once described Culkin as being similar to San Jose defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who also played for Quebec.

72 - G Mason McDonald

Age: 19
Acquired: Drafted in 2nd round (34th) in 2014
Size: 6-foot-4, 190 lbs
Catches: R
Last Year: Charlottetown, QMJHL

Many eyebrows were raised when Calgary used its first selection of the second round in the 2014 draft to take the first goaltender off the board. Adding to the surprise of taking a goalie that high was the fact many had Thatcher Demko as the top ranked goalie. But, one year later, so far so good. McDonald is coming off a superb year in which he was named Charlottetown's MVP and his .906 save percentage was second-best in the QMJHL, behind only a guy (Marvin Cupper) that was over two years older. McDonald is also a candidate to play for Canada's World Junior team this Christmas after being invited to Hockey Canada's U20 summer development camp.

Did You Know: The Halifax native, who grew up a Boston Bruins fan, suffered a season-ending knee injury in gSidney Crosby, World Juniors, Turning Pro - Lots on the Mind of Mason McDonald

Sidney Crosby, World Juniors, Turning Pro - Lots on the Mind of Mason McDonald - Read my feature on McDonald after I caught up with him one-on-one on Monday, after he had completed his fitness testing. Safe to say the 19-year-old is in a pretty good place right now with a bright future.

74 - D Brandon Hickey

Age: 19
Acquired: Drafted in 3rd round (64th) in 2014
Size: 6-foot-2, 190 lbs
Shoots: L
Last Year: Boston University, NCAA

In his freshman season, the smooth-skating Hickey played a much more prominent role than first-year players usually do. In fact, he was described as the Terriers' most consistent defenceman all season as Boston won the competitive Hockey East conference then went all the way to the nation's championship game before losing 2-1 to Providence.

Did You Know: A teammate last season of 2015 second overall pick Jack Eichel, Hickey is a decent bet to play in the 2016 World Junior Championship after being invited to Hockey Canada's U20 summer development camp that takes place in Calgary in the first week of August.

77 - C Mark Jankowski

Age: 20
Acquired: Drafted in 1st round (21st) in 2012
Size: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Shoots: L
Last Year: Providence College, NCAA

Ever since he was controversially selected by Jay Feaster in 2012 with Calgary's first pick --  coming out of a Quebec prep school at the time -- Jankowski has been heavily scrutinized. While always billed as a long-term project, Jankowski's offensive totals including a regression from 13 goals to 8 goals this past season has not helped his case. As he enters his fourth and final year of NCAA, the silver lining is Jankowski is coming off a championship-winning season in which he was an important and much relied-upon player for the Friars. In seven playoff games, his offence also returned going 3-2-5.

Did You Know: His uncle Ryan Jankowski, once an assistant GM with the New York Islanders, is now Hockey Canada's Director of Player Personnel. His brother David was draft eligible in 2015 but went unpicked. His great uncle is Red Kelly, who played 20 seasons for Detroit and Toronto and is in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame.

Yakking with Jankowski: Pro Wannabe, National Champion and Face-off Aficionado - Had the opportunity on Monday to go one-on-one with the 2012 first round pick and in an engaging chat (here is the story), we covered a range in topics from the glory of being national champion, his desire to turn pro, his own growth developmentally and his prowess at the dot.

88 - LW Andrew Mangiapane

Age: 19
Acquired: Drafted in 6th round (166th) in 2015
Size: 5-foot-10, 170 lbs
Shoots: L
Last Year: Barrie, OHL

Short, quick and skilled, Mangiapane's draft ranking was all over the place with TSN analyst Craig Button ranking him 44th so mid-second round. Getting him in round six could turn out to be a steal if he can transition his offensive game to the pro ranks. Last season with Barrie, Mangiapane had 43-61-104 in 68 games to finish tied for seventh in OHL scoring. Three of the six players head of him -- Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Connor McDavid -- were all top five picks in the 2015 NHL Draft. 

Did You Know: After going undrafted in 2014, Mangiapane (pronounced MON-gee-ah-PAWN-nee) was taken with the same pick -- No. 166 -- that Calgary used to draft diminutive Theoren Fleury in 1987.

Will There Be a Josh Jooris 2.0?

Last year, one of the players that stood out the most from the non-organizational guys invited was WHL defenceman Jason Fram (growing up in a non-hockey household, here is my feature on him from last year). Fram did so well at last year's development camp that he earned an invite to the Flames rookie camp in September. That's an outcome that Fram, Baillie and the other non-organizational guys (e.g. Mason Marchment, son of ex-NHLer Bryan will be in attendance) will be hoping to get out of this camp. Failing that, these guys just want to get noticed and get on Calgary's radar for down the road.

For the organizational guys, it's also a chance to leave their mark. Last summer, unheralded Josh Jooris made a good impression at development camp and he carried that positive experience forward into rookie camp, into main camp and then he surprised everyone by spending the whole season as an NHL regular. That's the type of positive impact the others want to leave behind next week, so they can be in good stead come rookie camp and the rookie tournament in Penticton.

It will be a fast-paced few days at WinSport and a great chance to see the type of young talent Calgary still has in the cupboard beyond the Monahans and Gaudreaus. Get out and enjoy it, it will be a nice cool break from the summer heat also.

By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.


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