The Flames have a lot of different options among their prospects – Flamesnation
This week, we looked at the depth of the Calgary Flames’ positional prospects. They’re probably set in purpose for now. They would probably need some defensive help.
And looking at their strikers: they may lack impact prospects, but they have plenty of promising players of different types and styles.
Perhaps the most NHL-ready forward the Flames have is Adam Ruzicka, who spent just over half of last season on NHL roster (and played in 28 games). He may not progress higher than the third line, but Ruzicka has size, mobility and intelligence. The other close player is Matthew Phillips, who has everything but size. But his lack of size is fueling fears he can’t translate his AHL success into NHL success. (If nothing else, he has great depth in the AHL and maybe a trade chip.)
2021 first-rounder Matt Coronato had a superb season with Harvard in the NCAA, adapting well to college play and emerging as one of Crimson’s best players in a weird season where their best players disappeared for a few weeks for the Olympics. He’s a pure scorer, but he also completes his game, and Harvard has used him in all sorts of different game situations.
Rounding out this group are Ontario Hockey League snipers Rory Kerins and Jack Beck. Neither is big, but “Matthew Phillips isn’t small either,” and both have had fantastic offensive seasons. Due to Kerins’ age and the fact that he finished second in the OHL in scoring (and didn’t look out of place in the AHL playoffs), he leads Beck in terms of of progress. But both players are really promising.
Round trip in both directions
The Flames have a bunch of forwards who aren’t “pure” scorers, but can be really useful players across a team’s roster.
The two best guys in this category are probably Stockton rookies Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary. Pelletier was terrific last season, scoring with consistency and being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. Zary had a rocky start to the season with an injury that upended his entire training camp process, but he worked his way into a key role for the Heat and was a key contributor during the playoffs. Both could have big roles in the Flames’ mid-six in another season or two.
Stockton also saw Emilio Pettersen and Eetu Tuulola take action. In previous seasons, Pettersen relied on his speed and Tuulola relied on his shooting, but this season both seemed to be making progress to complete their overall games. The two project themselves more as complementary pieces – neither is as complete as Pelletier or Zary – but both show potential and have been effective pros at Stockton.
After that, we get into the guys that are longer term projects:
- Ilya Nikolaev was really good for Tri-City of the USHL (at 20) and signed an entry-level contract.
- William Stromgren had a bit of a quiet attacking season for Rogle BK (in the Swedish junior league) and therefore didn’t really get much of the world junior buzz.
- Josh Nodler had an unimpressive third straight offensive season for Michigan State, then moved to U-Mass for his next senior year.
- Lucas Feuk has bounced between Sweden’s second and third tier for the second straight season. He has yet to find a team for 2022-23, which is not a good sign.
- Cole Huckins was pretty decent for Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL this season when he played. He left the team for much of the season for undisclosed reasons and missed many games as a result.
- College seniors Demetrios Koumontzis (Arizona State) and Mitchell Mattson (Michigan State) have both had rather slack seasons. Koumontzis dealt with injuries, while Mattson was often injured. Koumontzis returns for a fifth season in redshirt, while Mattson ages out of college (and the Flames will lose his rights in mid-August).
Finally, the Flames have a quartet of crashers and bangers.
Walker Duehr had a pretty good first professional season. He was called up early in the season and played one NHL game. When he was in the AHL, he developed an identity as someone who might not have a lot of pure skill, but he works hard and uses his size and speed effectively. (He might become a slightly inferior version of Garnet Hathaway.)
Martin Pospisil is anything but lucky on injury. The Slovak product is big, tough, good with the puck and – as general manager Brad Treliving joked – “could get in trouble at church.” But Pospisil was very lucky to get injured as a professional and has yet to go a full season injury-free. He seems like a natural fit for the NHL on the fourth line, at the very least, if only he could stay healthy.
Meanwhile, Czech signing Adam Klapka will join the organization this fall. He’s big and was an effective secondary scorer in the Czech Extraliga, suggesting he could do the same in the AHL next season. WHLer Lucas Ciona is probably still a season or two away from turning pro, but he has many of the same attributes as Pospisil – and hopefully a better chance of injury.
In terms of forwards, the Flames could probably use impact players of all types, but they have a few good prospects in every category and they don’t really have any massive pressing needs other than a continued desire to keep accumulating. the depth. (When in doubt, I would always recommend adding more potential scoring depth.)
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