Monday, August 07, 2017

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


With rookie camp and the Penticton Young Stars tourney a month away, it's time to unveil my latest ranking of the Flames top 20 prospects.

While 20 may seem like a lot, it's actually not if you consider there are 35 players in the organization that qualify as prospects by my criteria.

This is one of my favourite things to write because of how difficult it is and knowing that no matter what, there is going to be debate. But that's what makes it a fun exercise and wonderful excuse to talk hockey in August.

The biggest thing I've learned over the last two years is to do the brainstorming on paper and stick to pencil as there is always a lot of shuffling. During the week of preparation, almost every morning, I re-think something and flip-flop names.

In the end, I'm happy with the list that for your information, was finalized prior to the start of the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. For those of you just getting back from vacation, that was the tournament last week in which Adam Fox went out and played like Bobby Orr.


History

This the fifth edition of the rankings, which come out in the summer -- after the draft and development camp has taken place -- and then again around the NHL all-star break in late January or early February.

Here's a look back at past rankings, which has included guys like Sam BennettMicheal Ferland and Matthew Tkachuk, who have gone on to graduate.

As the years pass, these snapshots in time of the organization's prospect cupboard 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 each time as that makes it more interesting and gives the list a power rankings-type of feel. Who's hot? Who's not? Let the rankings reflect that.


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 an 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 do make it.


Grads and Departures

Interestingly in a summer that has seen Flames GM Brad Treliving bring in several new players to the organization, the new look has come at the expense of just one prospect that was in the top 20 last February.

That player was Brandon Hickey, who first declared he was returning to Boston University for a fourth season, then his rights were traded to the Arizona Coyotes. We may never know if he had intentions of signing with Calgary but when a college player returns to school for his fourth season, it's fair to be skeptical. If not signed when he graduates next spring, Hickey can become an unrestricted free agent on August 15.

Two others -- both defencemen -- who were honourable mentions last time around are also no longer with the organization. Stepan Falkovsky was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Kings. Kenney Morrison was not qualified and became a free agent.


Listen to the New Top 20 Podcast

For additional insight into the list including other names that didn't make the honourable mentions but nearly did, a 90-minute podcast dedicated entirely to the Top 20 was recorded this week. I think you'll enjoy the listen. Many thanks to Flames' NHL.com correspondent Aaron Vickers for joining me.

We count down the list and share some thoughts on each player. It will give you some further context into why they are ranked where they are.

You can listen to the podcast now (or download for later) via all your usual podcasting platforms:

Hope you enjoy it and do you agree, disagree? I look forward to your feedback.


Flames Top 20 Prospects - August 2017

Included for reference is each player's previous rankings starting from the most recent (e.g. February 2017) and working backwards.

1. G Tyler Parsons (previously 3rd, 9th)
  • Age | 20 in September
  • Size | 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (54th overall) in 2016
  • Last Season | London OHL (34 gm, 23-6-3, 2.37 GAA, .926 SV%)
  • ETA | 2019-20
Not the 6-foot-6 skyscraper-type so prevalent now, Parsons relies instead on his reflexes, athleticism, quickness and high compete level -- he never gives up on a puck. Has a history of delivering big performances on the biggest of stages (WJC gold, Memorial Cup). Flames brass absolutely rave about him.


2. C Mark Jankowski (previously 1st, 5th, 8th, 15th)
  • Age | 23 in September
  • Size | 6-foot-4, 200 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (21st overall) in 2012 
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (64 gm, 27-29-56), Calgary (1 gm, 0-0-0)
  • ETA | 2017-18
It's been a marathon, not a sprint, but five years after being drafted, the finish line finally nears for the first rounder, who as a rookie led Stockton in scoring and was a critical go-to guy for coach Ryan Huska, who deployed him in all manpower situations. His well-rounded game is nearly NHL-ready.


3. D Rasmus Andersson (previously 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 6th)
  • Age | 20
  • Size | 6-foot-1, 220 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (53rd overall) in 2015
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (54 gm, 3-19-22), Calgary (1 gm, 0-0-0)
  • ETA | 2018-19
It took a little time in his rookie season to elevate his game to the tempo required, but after that, he was a relied-upon top-four fixture. Elite with the puck and with a defensive game that's coming along nicely, he had an excellent season. A month in the NHL will have whet his appetite for more.


4. D Adam Fox (previously 10th, 15th)
  • Age | 19
  • Size 5-foot-10, 180 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Drafted in 3rd round (66th overall) in 2016
  • Last Season | Harvard NCAA (35 gm, 6-34-40)
  • ETA 2020-21
Seems hard to believe he was a third round pick just 15 months ago as he's looking more and more like a first-round talent. Coming off a tremendous showing at the WJ Summer Showcase, he's smart, offensively gifted and he'll be a central figure for both Harvard and Team USA at the 2018 WJC.


5. D Juuso Valimaki 
  • Age | 18
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 215 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (16th overall) in 2017 
  • Last Season | Tri-City WHL (60 gm, 19-42-61)
  • ETA | 2019-20
Trading for top-four defencemen is expensive -- see Dougie Hamilton, Travis Hamonic. Flames hope the big Finn will develop into that role and be a mainstay on the blueline for several years. Previously captained Finland's U16 and U18 teams, he'll captain the U20 team at the WJC.


6. C/LW Dillon Dube (previously 7th, 11th)
  • Age | 19 
  • Size 5-foot-11, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 2nd round (56th overall) in 2016
  • Last Season | Kelowna WHL (40 gm, 20-35-55)
  • ETA 2019-20
After making last year's WJC team to the surprise of many, he embraced and thrived in his shutdown role and was one of Canada's top forwards. It was a chance for the speedy and dangerous scorer to showcase his stingy defensive game. Faces one more year in WHL as he's not old enough to play in AHL.


7. RW Spencer Foo
  • Age | 23
  • Size | 6-foot-0, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in July 2017 
  • Last Season | Union NCAA (38 gm, 26-36-62)
  • ETA | 2017-18
After a huge year offensively in his third year of NCAA that earned him a Hobey Baker nomination, he left school and after methodically weighing his options, he chose the Flames. Some AHL time could be in the offing but his ascent into Calgary's could happen very quickly.



8. G Jon Gillies (previously 6th, 2nd, 1st, 5th)
  • Age | 23
  • Size 6-foot-6, 225 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 3rd round (75th overall) in 2012 
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (39 gm, 18-14-1, 2.93 GAA, .910 SV%), Calgary (1 gm, 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%)
  • ETA | 2019-20
It was an up and down second pro season for Gillies, but most importantly, he got through it healthy. Hip surgery cost him most of his rookie season. Spectacular on some nights but not-so-good on others, he was pushed for playing time by David Rittich. Better consistency needed to make jump to NHL.


9. D Oliver Kylington (previously 5th, 4th, 6th, 7th)
  • Age | 20
  • Size 6-foot-0, 180 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Drafted in 2nd round (60th overall) in 2015
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (60 gm, 6-21-27)
  • ETA | 2019-20
Only 20 yet has played four years of pro -- two in Sweden and two in the AHL. An elite skater and PP quarterback, who loves to push up ice and get involved in the rush, playing a more simpler game will help eradicate the poor decisions and turnovers that riddle his game and are holding him back.


10. LW Andrew Mangiapane (previously 8th, 8th, 9th, 20th)
  • Age | 21
  • Size | 5-foot-10, 185 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 6th round (166th overall) in 2015
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (66 gm, 20-21-41)
  • ETA | 2018-19
Realizing his future is as an offensive player, he was used that way and got off to a hot start alongside AHL vets Matt Frattin and Linden Vey. Smaller but not small and highly-skilled, consistency is the next step as he suffered long dry spells as a rookie. He's trending up as if he was a second rounder.



11. RW Emile Poirier (previously 20th, 10th, 4th, 2nd)
  • Age | 22 
  • Size 6-foot-2, 200 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (22nd overall) in 2013
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (43 gm, 6-11-17)
  • ETA 2018-19
Was the talk of dev camp, first, when he spoke about his battle for sobriety. Secondly, when he wowed everyone with his on-ice play, which conjured up memories of how good he was two years ago when he was the No. 2 prospect behind Sam Bennett. Will make an impact if he can return to that same form.


12. G David Rittich (previously 16th)
  • Age | 25 in August
  • Size | 6-foot-3, 200 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in June 2016
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (31 gm, 15-11-1, 2.27 GAA, .924 SV%), Calgary (1 gm, 0-0-0, 3.00, .900 SV%)
  • ETA | 2018-19
Entering his second season in North America, goalie coach Jordan Sigalet describes the Czech as "very close" to NHL-ready. Expected to be the back-up, he pushed Gillies for starts, and eventually took over the crease in the playoffs. Had the better numbers of the two and could be an NHL back-up soon.


13. D Brett Kulak (previously 9th, 17th, 11th, honourable mention)
  • Age 23
  • Size | 6-foot-2, 187 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Drafted in 4th round (105th overall) in 2012 
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (22 gm, 2-8-10), Calgary (21 gm, 0-3-3)  
  • ETA | 2017-18
Has decent size, is a great skater, and is serviceable defensively. A job on the Flames' third pairing should be his if he can be a consistently reliable option for coach Glen Gulutzan. While he may not have the same ceiling as some of the others higher on the list, he's closest to the NHL and this is a huge year.



14. LW Morgan Klimchuk (previously 12th, 14th, 7th, 9th)
  • Age | 22 
  • Size | 6-foot-0, 185 lbs 
  • Shoots | Left 
  • Acquired | Drafted in 1st round (28th overall) in 2013 
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (66 gm, 19-24-43) 
  • ETA | 2018-19 
After a disappointing rookie season, it was more of the Klimchuk of old last year as he piled up 19 goals and 43 points, eclipsing the previous year's point total in the first month. Add in his solid defensive game that developed nicely in 2015-16 and he has third line NHLer potential, if only he can stay healthy.


15. RW Matthew Phillips (previously 15th)
  • Age | 19 
  • Size | 5-foot-7, 155 lbs 
  • Shoots | Right 
  • Acquired | Drafted in 6th round (166th overall) in 2016 
  • Last Season | Victoria WHL (70 gm, 50-40-90) 
  • ETA | 2020-21 
At least in the WHL, size has not been an issue. Despite being a guy that opposing teams try to shut down, they couldn't as he racked up 50 goals with Victoria. Look beyond his dimensions and you see a guy, who is smart, can read the play and has a knack for escaping coverage and getting open.


16. LW Hunter Shinkaruk (previously 11th, 6th)
  • Age | 22
  • Size | 5-foot-11, 180 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired Trade with Vancouver in February 2016  
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (52 gm, 15-20-35), Calgary (7 gm, 0-1-1)
  • ETA | 2018-19
His speed, shot, ability to dangle, the skills are there yet 15 goals was his lowest output yet in three AHL seasons. Nearly half of them (7) came in a five-game span late in the year, which followed a stretch of one goal in 30 games. Risks the label of a career minor league if he can't put it together soon.


17. C/RW Daniel Pribyl (previously 14th, 13th)
  • Age | 24 
  • Size 6-foot-4, 210 lbs
  • Shoots | Right
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in April 2016
  • Last Season | Stockton AHL (33 gm, 5-10-15)
  • ETA 2018-19
Coming off a lost year. Missed training camp after off-season knee surgery and then was injured twice more. Pack offensive skill into a power forward's frame and there's lots of allure around the guy Treliving said reminded him of ex-NHLer Robert Lang. Starting the season healthy could be huge.


18. D Josh Healey 
  • Age | 23
  • Size | 6-foot-0, 195 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Signed as a free agent in March 2017
  • Last Season | Ohio State NCAA (35 gm, 4-21-25), Stockton AHL (2 gm, 0-0-0)
  • ETA | 2019-20
With 25 points in 35 games in his last season at Ohio State, there is some offence with Healey, who quarterbacked the power play, yet his ticket to the NHL and he knows it is his physicality. He loves to play the body and is really good at it and that edge to his game makes him a guy to watch.


19. C Linus Lindstrom (previously honourable mention)
  • Age | 19 
  • Size 6-foot-0, 170 lbs
  • Shoots | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 4th round (96th overall) in 2016
  • Last Season | Skelleftea Sweden (50 gm, 2-4-6)
  • ETA 2021-22
A long way away as he's got two years to go on his contract with his club in Sweden, but he also came a long way last year in staying up with the pro team when playing junior was expected. That should pay off with a bounce-back year offensively. Also, watch for him with Sweden at the WJC. 


20. C Adam Ruzicka
  • Age | 18
  • Size | 6-foot-4, 210 lbs
  • Catches | Left
  • Acquired | Drafted in 4th round (109th overall) in 2017 
  • Last Season | Sarnia OHL (61 gm, 25-21-46)
  • ETA | 2021-22
Big, tall, strapping centre, who can score. Ranked by some draft pundits as high as a late second rounder, Flames got Ruzicka in the fourth round, giving the organization some size down the middle for later down the road. About to play his second year in North America, he's someone to watch. 


Honourable Mentions:

The best of the rest, in no particular order.

RW Garnet Hathaway (previously 17th, 19th, 17th, 19th) - Brings jam, but tops out as a 4th liner.
LW Ryan Lomberg (previously NR) - Can do a little of everything and is willing to do anything.
G Mason McDonald (previously 19th, 16th, 9th, 3rd) - Second-year pro tumbling down depth chart.
RW Eetu Tuulola (previously 18th, 18th) - After WHL stint, intriguing talent to play pro in Finland.
D Tyler Wotherspoon (previously 13th, 12th, 13th, 11th) - Just can't seem to find traction in NHL.




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 stories I've written, other articles from my colleagues that I've enjoyed and I'll occasionally use that space to weigh in on the news of the day.

21 comments:

  1. I would probably have Mangiapane ahead of Kylington and Dube, but really, I can't argue with your list despite my unflagging appreciation and respect for an under-sized winger with plenty of sandpaper to his game. Mangiapane is going to play in the NHL, in my opinion, and I hope it's with the Flames.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always come away impressed when I see Mangiapane play and I fully expect he gets his first taste of NHL action this season. Maybe just a game or two but I expect that. It would be easy to bump him up if I didn't have to bump someone down in order to do it. That's where it gets tricky. But this second pro season is an opportunity for Mangiapane to really show that he's a guy in which it's a matter of when, not if.

      Delete
  2. Not nearly as willing to give up on Kylington as a top prospect as most of the fanbase suddenly is. He's an ELITE skater with tremendous vision. Coaching and maturity will calm his game down. I truly expect him to be another TJ Brodie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Giving up on a 20-year-old player that has yet to see his ELC officially kick in yet would certainly be asinine. Are there three defence prospects ahead of him in my eyes? Yes. Could that list shuffle over time and see Kylington climb back up? Absolutely. In explaining his fall to No. 9, it's less about what he isn't and more about what I think those ahead of him are.

      Delete
  3. Enjoyed the podcast at work this afternoon (Ohio time). Great insights and analysis, as always. You talked a little about the goalie situation and who gets the call-up in the event of an injury to Mike Smith. This made me curious about your thoughts on injury call-ups involving the forwards. Using your lines from July 21 Roster projection / the Podcast with Kristen Odlan, who gets the call or bump up in the event of injury to:
    Top 6 RW
    Top 6 LW
    Top 6 C
    Bottom 6 RW
    Bottom 6 LW
    Bottom 6 C
    Keep up the great work with the webpage and podcasts!

    Thanks,
    Derek in Ohio

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rather than ramble on in this space, that sounds to me like a great premise for a full-on article so I'll keep you in suspense and table that for future writing. This will also buy me some time to ponder it further as they are great questions. Thanks for the feedback on the podcast, I greatly appreciate it. Ohio, huh? It's interesting how the Internet has really shrunk the world. Cheers.

      Delete
    2. nice answer :)

      Delete
  4. I just hate the reasoning behind number one. There is no correlation between a goalie being on a winning junior team and being a successful pro. Wins and losses should be one of the last things you consider when judging a goalie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the last couple months, I have written in this space and talked aplenty (podcasts, radio) about Parsons. Heck, I probably spend more time talking about him than my own kids. Before you dwell too much on one sentence in that tiny synopsis above, let me re-assure you that consistent with the rationale I've been spouting ad nauseum, there are plenty of other reasons beyond (and ahead of) a winning record that has Parsons at the top of this list. You want stats? His save percentage is right there, he's been excellent. You want endorsement from the coaching staff, I've written about that too. I just think he's a terrific goalie and I like his overall make-up.

      That said, I don't think winning a gold medal in the World Juniors or the Memorial Cup is an insignificant detail. Those are the biggest stages a young player can play on and in that spotlight, delivering big-game performances in those critical moments is something that I would view as encouraging. Additionally, when your team is winning because of the goalie and he's basically putting the team on his shoulders and carrying them -- and those that watched Parsons' performance in this year's OHL playoffs say that's essentially what he did -- then that's also noteworthy.

      I appreciate the comment and I agree that it should never be 'the' reasoning -- and it isn't. But there are related outcomes that I think bode well. Cheers.

      Delete
  5. I wouldn't have Foo ahead of Mangiapane or Phillips. Sure he's the shiny new toy, but Phillips and Magiapane are 4 and 2 years younger than him respectively and have both had more productive careers up to this point. Foo was a middling NCAA player for three years before his outburst as a 22 year old. Phillips just potted 50 goals in the WHL as a 19 year old, Manigapane had back-to-back 100 point seasons in the OHL before he was 20.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment and I can appreciate that argument. I will also admit that Foo was one of the harder guys to place for me as I haven't seen him enough with my own eyes. He's very much someone that could move either direction by next February and the next update and by then we will all know a lot more about this player.

      What contributed to his high placement as you see it is I know the team is very high on him, basically saying that they fully expect him to be in the NHL this season. If not at the beginning of the season, then eventually. They've seen him play way more than I have so that weighed into my ranking.

      At forward, I have Foo then Mangiapane as one after the other so in my view, they're very, very close, with the above caveat round Foo's game. I simply have far less of my own opinion about Foo, needing to reserve final judgement in saying he's any better or any worse than where I've slotted him until I see him in game action with my own eyes. Never mind February, by the end of September I feel I'll have a much better read on Foo. So if you want to flip-flop the two of them, you'll get no argument from me.

      I will push back a little on Phillips though as 50 goals in the WHL is nice but this guys is really undersized. There's a reason Calgary got him in the sixth round, despite the NHL already having moved to a game in which smaller players are getting a better opportunity. For me, Foo has a far greater chance of making an NHL impact than Phillips and that's why Phillips is further down the list. But am I prepared and and even hoping to move Phillips up the list once he turns pro and we start to get a better idea of how the transition to pro can go and if he is big enough to fight through and make an impact? Absolutely and I'll have no issue doing so. But for now, fair or not fair, Phillips' size is a reason I'm a bit more reserved on his future from an NHL perspective.

      Delete
  6. I wanted to comment that I appreciate the nod to your previous articles. Particularly with young players I enjoy digging up an older article to follow their progress. Some outlets make this simple, others more difficult.

    Love the content, as always! Cheers!! PS, I have the podcast loaded up and ready to go for my next opportunity in the car. Looking forward!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The old lists are what they are. The top 20 as I saw it at that frozen moment in time. Hindsight will always be 20/20. More than anything, it provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of the cupboard over time. Will be interesting to see how that evolves. Looking back to two years ago and there are some duds on there and while it looks obvious now, it wasn't at the time. Makes you wonder of the can't-miss stars of today, which of those will end up being the duds! Enjoy the listen when you get a chance, it provides a bunch more background and I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete
  7. Pretty much agree with your list. Flames have the best lot of prospects in a long time. Treliving has done a great job. Interesting that you have Daniel Pripyl still a top 20 prospect for as much as he has played. I hope he can stay injury free this season and prove Treliving to be right. Another draft pick not on your list is D'Artagnan Joly. He was hurt for the prospects camp so did not see much of him. He could be a sleeper. How much do you know about him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regarding Pribyl, we're talking about a guy that should be in his prime in terms of age, who was second in the Czech scoring race two years ago. He's big, skilled, plays RW. He could end up having a far greater impact than guys in the top 10. Easily. But again, somebody we're left speculating about for now as we've hardly seen him on the ice at all.

      As for Joly, I had him as a player to watch at development camp because I don't know much about him. Instead, all I saw was him hanging out off the ice with his brother. Wasn't that helpful. As a sixth round pick, he's not going to be on the list typically right now. Mangiapane in 2015 was an exception. But could he be on the next list after getting to (hopefully) see him at rookie camp and seeing how his QMJHL season begins? Certainly. That label of where you were drafted gets shed pretty quickly once you're in a team's system.

      Delete
  8. Hopefully Calgary deploys this fourth chronolgical line:
    Versteeg (#10); Stajaan (#11), Iginla (#12)!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Darren, I just took a listen to the podcast. A few of my opinions as someone who must have watched 12-15 AHL Heat games last year but also just as a Flames fan.
    - I don't believe Adam Ollas-Mattsson is merely "HM-worthy". When I watched him play in Stockton last year, and even before that in the WJC, I saw one of the most defensively sound players - yes players not prospects - this organization has had outside of Giordano and Regehr in the last decade or so. I am not trying to overhype him here - skating and offense are legitimate concerns - but right now, I would take him over Sarich, Engelland,Bouwmeester or Phaneuf at their best defensively. As for your concern about only signing him to an AHL deal, I read a theory somewhere that it was AOM who wanted the AHL deal. An ELC would have gone 3 years for him, but he may be unsure of how life in North America would work out given his well-documented family commitments. Made sense to me. Regardless, I am a fan and that is a rarity with how jaded I am with defensive defensemen.

    Next up, Phillips. Okay... yeah yeah... size. But break down his game. His one-timer... when is the last time you saw a winger in this org who could get one off like that so cleanly? The two names that come to mind are Cammy and Iginla. And he is a right shot to boot, and a better skater to my eyes than Versteeg. Even if he is just a Sam Gagner type NHL power play specialist (not that he isn't dominant 5v5 or PK in Junior) he just has so much to offer the NHL squad in the future that due to being a RHS no other Flames prospect does, including Foo from what I have seen. Phillips offensive game is pure. Maybe he isn't Gaudreau but how about Cam Atkinson?

    Next, Kulak. You guys essentially said he is a jack of all trades / master of none. I disagree. His gap control, skating, and stickwork are exceptional.... top pairing defenseman level. His point shot is underrated too, though he hasn't gotten a bounce at the NHL level yet. Do I see him dethroning Brodie/Giordano/Kylington/Valimaki? Nope. But I see him as a solid #4-ish defenseman on an average blue line when he hits his prime. Calgary's blue line just doesn't project towards average. Kulak is not Wotherspoon though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next, Mangiapane. I would bump him up a few spots. He basically showed in the AHL that not only was size not an issue, but his strength allowed him to give opponents difficulty. I mentioned Cammalleri's one-timer WRT Phillips, but I see Mangiapane possessing many elements of Cammalleri's complete game. Remember, Cammy was 5'9 himself but like Mangiapane had a stocky build and never let his size affect his game. I doubt Mangiapane is a future 37+ goal scorer but I see him as more likely to be an NHLer than I did Emile Poirier after his All-Star season two years ago (before he plummetted). Eat Bread was really, really, really good last year - more than his stats indicate, even.

      Next, is the one I took the most issue with.. Kylington at 9. Simply too low. I understand the justification is based on decision-making concerns but I don't agree with them. I watched way too many Stockton games last year where all I came away with was "Holy Crap... Oliver Kylington is a Calgary Flames Prospect. Holy Crap". I wasn't even crazy about him in his draft year as anything more than a guy to take a flyer on at ~45 if he is there but he has shut me up. Honestly I have no doubt he is ahead of Rasmus Andersson as a prospect, just based on their play last year (Andersson's tough matchups are grossly overstated as he was carried by Wotherspoon/Kulak whereas Kylington actually carried Doetzel against mostly the same matchups). I have elaborated more on this Kylington bit over at Calgarypuck (in the thread about your list) but the gist of it is that Kylington's gaffes have built a persona that is mot reflective of the player I watched the vast majority of the time. Now he is not perfect but I doubt a 20 year old Subban or Keith was either. And that is the tier of player I see here, top to bottom. Not just the skating but the ability to read the game without the puck is there, the puck skills and shot are there, and I have a belief that you almost can't tell this player to play like everyone else and make the simple play because it would only stifle his creativity before he is a finished product. Again, go read the rest of my Kylington comments at Calgarypuck.

      Now do I love Valimaki/Fox/Andersson too? Absolutely. But hey are like the Sven Baertschis and Sean Monahans to Kylington's Gaudreau to me. Safer, maybe, but still a tier below. Kylington is firmly planted in my eyes as the best prospect on the Flames outside of Parsons and Jankowski. His "erratic" reputation is so exaggerated compared to the many games I have watched.

      Lastly, I still have Jankowski ahead of Paraons but those two have become 1A and 1B at this point. I àm of the opinion that goalies are too volatile to rank #1 so early. Even Parsons after his crazy playoff is still more risky to me than Kylington to view as a sure future NHLer. But to say his upside is exciting would be an understatement. As for Jankowski? His stats last year don't even do him justice... he was a grade A scoring chance making machine while being a two-way center. Anyone putting a ceiling to him before his rookie NHL season is just talking out of their ass. So much fun to watch despite being a responsible player.

      Delete
    2. Well, there is a lot there. Thanks for taking the time for putting forward not just some differing views, but also explaining your position. Very thorough and well done.

      I don't have time to be as thorough as you but I wanted to acknowledge that I read your comments.

      A couple quick notes:
      - Kylington, there is also an element of gut feel in this list and my observations are that he lags behind the others but am happy to be proven wrong. I know the team is still very high on him and I'm not bailing on him by any means, but it's more a case of other guys I like better that bumped him down, it's not an indictment of his play as any flaws in his game are still very much correctable.
      - Mangiapane, another guy I'm very high on. I love watching him play. I will be the first to say I don't know what Spencer Foo is yet and in placing him, I'm going from my conversations with others including people in the organization. In the end, I put Foo ahead of Mangiapane but it could easily have been the opposite and Mangiapane at 7 and Foo at 10. A goalie and d-man in the middle may it look like those two forwards are further apart in my opinion but they're not. So I agree on Mangiapane, just couldn't move him up because I wasn't prepared to move anyone else down.
      - Kulak, I hope he does become a trusted middle pairing candidate. I thought he'd get there not long ago but he's been pushed back by established vets. I also point to coach usage as a guy that knows what he has a lot more than I do and it's the lack of commitment to Kulak yet that leaves me, in turn, skeptical of my own assessment that as recently as six months ago was that Kulak could be a top-four guy. You still think that's still within him and if so, how great would that be for this team.
      - Phillips, I hope there's a role for him in the NHL. There's just an extra-small to him that worries me. Not that he can't make it and play a handful of games, but that he'll ever be a regular. Lots of highly skilled and bigger 50-goal scorers in the WHL have gone on to play zero NHL games so for me, I'm waiting for when he inevitably does get a contract and turns pro and seeing him one level up and in the AHL is something I want to see before I over-hype him. Over-hype is probably the wrong words there but I trust you get my point. No doubting his skill, I certainly agree with you there.
      - Ollas-Mattsson, I've talked to both the player and the AGM and this is not how it shook down in my understanding. There's often more than is ever shared publicly but turning down the security of an NHL contract to take a one-year AHL deal is certainly contrary to what I've heard and I don't know what else to say.
      - Parsons, it's always fair to be skeptical on ranking goalies too high. Trevor Kidd and Mike Vernon are the only two drafted and developed Flames starting goaltenders in team history. I don't need to say anything further. So if you want to lean Jankowski for No. 1 prospect still, I'm not going to challenge you to a fight at the bike racks after school to resolve this dispute. Cheers.

      Delete
  10. Darren

    Great article like always, this type of article must be much simpler than it was in the Sutter years.


    The exact pecking order to isn't as important as reviewing the great job Treliving is doing drafting quality prospects, even in late rounds and what Feaster did in his short tenure with the Flames.

    As a Flames fan I'm excited to see what's in the pipeline and I'm looking forward to the next few seasons.

    I truly think some Flames prospects have a real opportunity to become NHLers, even as early as the 2017 / 18 season.

    Thanks for giving us some hockey content in the off season

    ReplyDelete