Thursday, February 09, 2017

Ranking the Calgary Flames Top 20 Prospects (February 2017 Edition)

Nicely settled into the second half of the hockey season and with the Flames on their CBA-mandated five-day bye week, it's an ideal opportunity to issue the mid-season update to my list of Calgary's top 20 prospects.

After all, fans need something to debate and argue about at the pub this weekend before the Flames return to action on Monday with home date against the Arizona Coyotes.


This the fourth edition of the rankings, which typically come out in the summer -- after the draft and development camp has taken place -- and then again around the NHL all-star break.

Here's a look back at past rankings, which has included guys like Sam Bennett and Micheal Ferland, who have gone on to graduate. Meanwhile, others like Markus Granlund have graduated but done so with a different organization.

Over time, these snapshots in time of the organization's prospect cupboard will provide a nice way of tracking players as they rise and fall on the depth chart. By rise and fall, I mean it. I like there to be movement as that makes it more interesting so there will often be a power rankings-feel to my list.

Just think, by the time the next edition comes out, an expansion draft will have happened, another entry draft, free agency. You can bet by August, there will be names that will be no longer be with the organization as churn is a necessity in the world of sports. There are only so many seats on the bus.

Definition of "Prospect"

If you look at other hockey publications and websites, there are different definitions for "prospect". Some have age maximums, some exclude players once they're no longer considered an NHL rookie. My criteria is simple and comes down to two things:
  • Age 25 or under for skaters (age 26 or under for goalies)
  • Has not established himself as a NHL regular

For my rankings, it's also important to point out that this is not the order I expect players to ascend to the NHL. The estimated time of arrival (ETA) is a minimal factor only. A bigger consideration are two things: 1. Likeliness to make the NHL, 2. Projected impact if they make it.

Grads and Departures

Before we proceed, there is a graduation ceremony to attend and man, talk about a quick study. Matthew Tkachuk made his debut on the Top 20 Prospects last July after being selected sixth overall. He went straight to the top as the No. 1 ranked prospect. Sure enough, six months later and just 19 years old, he has already established himself as an excellent NHLer.

That's it though. Garnet Hathaway has been up with the Flames since mid-November so he's getting real close to being anointed a regular, but he's not a lock to remain with the team the rest of the season so for now, he remains a prospect.

Note: For further insight into how the mid-season prospect rankings came together and why players are ranked where they are, there was a segment dedicated to this in my latest Flames at 80 Decibels podcast with PostMedia beat writer Kristen Odland.

Flames Top 20 Prospects - February 2017

1. C Mark Jankowski (previously 5th, 8th, 15th)
  • Age | 22
  • Size | 6-foot-4, 205 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (21st overall) in 2012 
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (38 gm, 14-16-30), Calgary (1 gm, 0-0-0)
  • ETA | 2017-18

In his rookie season, he's stepped into the role of No. 1 center in Stockton and been very consistent. Playing in all situations, Jankowski leads the team in scoring. He was named an AHL all-star. He even got a call-up with Calgary in November. It's been a long time coming but Jankowski and his sound 200-foot game is getting closer to NHL-ready.

2. D Rasmus Andersson (previously 3rd, 2nd, 6th)
  • Age | 20
  • Size | 6-foot-1, 215 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (53rd overall) in 2015
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (41 gm, 2-17-19)
  • ETA | 2018-19

After being singled out at development camp for his fitness, he's made great strides and the Flames are pleased with his commitment. He is down 8-10 pounds from July while adding muscle. Impressively, has spent much of the season on the top pairing and despite tough match-ups, is a plus-16. He is elite with the puck.

3. G Tyler Parsons (previously 9th)
  • Age | 19
  • Size | 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (54th overall) in 2016
  • This Season | London OHL (26 gm, 17-4-4, 2.25 GAA, .926 SV%)
  • ETA | 2020-21

After winning a Memorial Cup last season with London, he backstopped the U.S. to a gold medal at this year's World Juniors. He was excellent at Flames rookie camp and has been brilliant in the OHL. Calgary was excited to get him where they did and you can see why with his Jonathan Quick-like style.

4. D Brandon Hickey (previously 7th, 3rd, 4th)
  • Age | 20
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 195 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 3rd round (64th overall) in 2014 
  • This Season | Boston University (28 gm, 4-9-13)
  • ETA | 2019-20

Playing on a deep and very good Boston U. team, Flames continue to be very happy with Hickey's progression as he settles into a niche of being a strong defender, who can occasionally sprinkle in some offence. Smooth skater, good stick and quick feet, I'd expect him to turn pro this summer.

5. D Oliver Kylington (previously 4th, 6th, 7th)
  • Age | 19
  • Size 6-foot-0, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Drafted in 2nd round (60th overall) in 2015
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (35 gm, 4-10-14)
  • ETA | 2018-19

Still a young man in an older league. Still skates like the wind. Played key role and logged big minutes for Sweden at WJC. He's simplified his game, which is good news for someone with a tendency to freelance too much. Can quarterback a power play and his defensive play continues to improve.

6. G Jon Gillies (previously 2nd, 1st, 5th)
  • Age | 23
  • Size 6-foot-6, 225 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 3rd round (75th overall) in 2012 
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (27 gm, 11-10-4, 3.00 GAA, .908 SV%)
  • ETA | 2018-19

After missing most of 2015-16 (hip surgery), there was much anticipation heading into this year with him pain-free. But it's been an inconsistent season and he's being pushed by Rittich. He was out a long time so some inconsistency expected, but you'd like to see a more consistent second half.

7. C Dillon Dube (previously 11th)
  • Age | 18 
  • Size 5-foot-11, 182 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (56th overall) in 2016
  • This Season | Kelowna WHL (22 gm, 8-18-26)
  • ETA 2019-20

Really impressive in Penticton showcasing an alluring combination of speed, skill and tenacity. Surprised some in making Team Canada for the WJC where he thrived in a bottom-six role -- always around the puck, always noticeable. Knee injury delayed the start of his WHL season but is on a real roll lately.

8. LW Andrew Mangiapane (previously 8th, 9th, 20th)
  • Age | 20
  • Size | 5-foot-10, 180 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 6th round (166th overall) in 2015
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (39 gm, 10-13-23)
  • ETA | 2018-19

Mangiapane's rookie season got off to a sizzling start as he thrived alongside AHL vets Matt Frattin and Linden Vey. While he's a shorter guy, he's solidly built and is not afraid of the rough stuff. He has slumped recently (3-0-3 in last 17 gm) but inconsistency is common when making the jump from major junior.

9. D Brett Kulak (previously 17th, 11th, honourable mention)
  • Age 22
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 187 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Drafted in 4th round (105th overall) in 2012 
  • This Season | Calgary (19 gm, 0-3-3), Stockton AHL (11 gm, 1-4-5) 
  • ETA | 2017-18

The tools are there -- he's got size, is a good skater, OK defensively and he moves the puck well. What hasn't been there is consistent opportunity as he's spent many nights in the press box. But with the changes coming this summer, he has put himself at the front of the line to be a regular on the blueline in 2017-18.

10. D Adam Fox (previously 15th)
  • Age | 18
  • Size 5-foot-10, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 3rd round (66th overall) in 2016
  • This Season | Harvard (22 gm, 2-23-25)
  • ETA 2021-22

Calgary was pumped to get the smooth-skating, slick-passing blueliner where they got him last draft, Fox is playing a ton as a freshmen at Harvard and he's racking up points. Part of Team USA at the WJC, he's undersized and needs to get stronger but they rave about his hockey IQ and that can take someone a long way.

11. LW Hunter Shinkaruk (previously 6th)
  • Age | 22
  • Size | 5-foot-11, 180 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Trade with Vancouver in February 2016  
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (25 gm, 7-12-19), Calgary (7 gm, 0-1-1), 
  • ETA | 2017-18

Enjoyed modest NHL success in a late call-up last season but he wasn't able to carry that into this season when he got into seven games with Calgary but did not make an impact. As a third-year pro, you see his upside in spurts but more production and better consistency needed. Has gone 12 games without a goal.

12. LW Morgan Klimchuk (previously 14th, 7th, 9th)
  • Age | 21
  • Size | 6-foot-0, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (28th overall) in 2013
  • This Year | Stockton AHL (40 gm, 13-15-28)
  • ETA | 2018-19

After a frustrating rookie season, Klimchuk's commitment to rediscovering his scoring touch has paid off as he's second on the team in goals and points. With the work he put in a year ago on his defensive game and play away from the puck, he's turned himself into a well-rounded player. He's still on the radar.

13. D Tyler Wotherspoon (previously 12th, 13th, 11th)
  • Age | 23
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 210 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (57th overall) in 2011 
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (30 gm, 2-8-10), Calgary (4 gm, 0-0-0)
  • ETA | 2017-18

You thought this was going to be the season he stuck in Calgary but he's fallen behind Kulak on the depth chart. Plays top pairing in AHL and is much relied-upon. Coach Ryan Huska says is playing the best he's ever played. But will that ever translate to being an NHL regular? The window seems to be closing.

14. RW Daniel Pribyl (previously 13th)
  • Age | 24 
  • Size 6-foot-4, 210 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in April 2016
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (22 gm, 4-8-12)
  • ETA 2017-18

When he signed, GM Brad Treliving said Pribyl reminded him of longtime NHLer Robert Lang. We don't know what he will end up being as he's had an injury-plagued season (hip, concussion). This after major knee surgery in the off-season. On a two-year deal, he still has lots of time to showcase himself.

15. LW Matthew Phillips (not previously ranked)
  • Age | 18
  • Size | 5-foot-6, 140 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 6th round (166th overall) in 2016
  • This Season | Victoria WHL (53 gm, 38-29-67)
  • ETA | 2021-22

If only he wasn't so tiny. Given his size -- Johnny Gaudreau would tower over him -- it's a longshot Phillips will make the NHL but man, can he ever score. He's already surpassed last year's goal total. The good news is hockey continues to evolve towards more speed and skill and he's got plenty of that.

16. G David Rittich (not previously ranked)
  • Age | 24
  • Size | 6-foot-3, 200 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in June 2016
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (16 gm, 7-7-1, 2.26 GAA, .922 SV%)
  • ETA | 2019-20

In signing him last summer out of the Czech Republic, the organization liked his quickness, athleticism and attitude. He's eager to learn and says he has come to North America to win a Stanley Cup. Still raw, he's had great nights -- four shutouts -- but also some rough outings. He's pushing Gillies.

17. RW Garnet Hathaway (previously 19th, 17th, 19th)
  • Age | 25
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 210 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in April 2015
  • This Year | Calgary (25 gm, 1-4-5), Stockton AHL (8 gm, 3-3-6)
  • ETA | 2016-17

Ivy League-educated, Hathaway understands what he needs to do to stay in the NHL and that's bring energy, play physical, be hard on the puck and rattle the other team including their best players. Doesn't project as more than a fourth liner but has been solid in that role. He could be in Calgary to stay.

18. RW Eetu Tuulola (previously 18th)
  • Age | 18 
  • Size 6-foot-3, 225 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 6th round (156th overall) in 2016
  • This Season | Everett WHL (42 gm, 11-11-22)
  • ETA 2021-22

Exploded onto the scene at development camp with an impressive scoring barrage in the scrimmage. Organization hoped he's be considered for Team Finland in WJC but that didn't happen. The self-described Milan Lucic-like power forward has put up decent numbers for his first year in North America. 

19. G Mason McDonald (previously 16th, 9th, 3rd)
  • Age | 20
  • Size | 6-foot-4, 200 lbs
  • Catches | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (34th overall) in 2014 
  • This Season | Adirondack ECHL (19 gm, 10-6-2, 2.72 GAA, .897 SV%)
  • ETA | 2020-21

Drafting McDonald as the first goalie off the board in 2014 was a highly scrutinized decision and it hasn't panned out so far. In his first year as a pro, he is winning games on a good Adirondack team but he's 30th in the league in save percentage. He just returned Tuesday after missing five weeks with an injured back. 

20. RW Emile Poirier (previously 10th, 4th, 2nd)
  • Age | 22 
  • Size 6-foot-2, 200 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (22nd overall) in 2013
  • This Season | Stockton AHL (40 gm, 6-11-17)
  • ETA 2018-19

Drop-off continues since sniping 19 goals as an AHL rookie in 2014-15. In year three as a pro, his production has steadily declined since. Organization has done everything to try to light a fire under him including a brief NHL call-up last season. With a year left on his entry-level contract, you'd think a trade is possible.

Honourable Mentions:

D Stepan Falkovsky (previously NR) - 6-foot-7 Belarusian in ECHL has an intriguing skill set.
C Linus Lindstrom (previously NR) - Small but skilled. Sticking all year in SEL is a nice surprise.
C Mitchell Mattson (previously NR) - Lanky project much like Jankowski. Next year goes NCAA.
D Kenney Morrison (previously NR, 15th, 13th) - Strong Penticton put him back on the radar.
D Adam Ollas Mattsson (previously 20th, 19th) - Ice time in SEL is down under a new coach.

By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Do so now! It's another way to be alerted to new Calgary stories I've written, other articles from my colleagues I enjoyed and I'll also sometimes use that space to weigh in on the news of the day.


Recent Flames Reading:


    1. Garnet Hathaway stays with the Flames as a 4th liner!

      1. For a while, anyway. Might he be done with the AHL? I'd bet on it but there is no room for any lapse in his game as he needs to go all out, all the time, to remain an NHL player.

    2. Great, always look forward to these. If your looking for a article to write during a slow news cycle (summer) I'd be interested in a detailed look at the prospects who have made it off this list either by accession into the NHL or out of the system. It would probably be an interesting look.

      1. Sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

    3. Will be tough for flames to part with poirier! Would be hard to see a first rounder have success on another team! Feaster era draft right?

      1. Was a healthy scratch the other night. At some point, guys stop being prospects and he's very close to that with this organization if not there already, unfortunately. Yes, that was a Feaster draft. Monahan, Poirier and Klimchuk the three first rounders taken in 2013.