FLAMES PROSPECT CAMP: Day 4

Vintage Flame
July 13 2012 07:04AM

 

I had the chance to take in the scrimmage game between Group A and Group B yesterday afternoon for the Flames Prospects Camp. From the events of the past three days I was quite looking forward to see what the kids had to offer.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the prospects came ready to impress. It wasn’t some half-paced pickup type scrimmage; these kids came with purpose and with something to prove. That being said, it wasn’t a good showing for some, including a few who needed to be showcasing something special if they want to make an impact on an already crowded Flames roster.

THE GOOD

After hearing the rave reviews of the Bärtschi – Gaudreau combination, it was interesting to watch the Red squad line up Sven with Mark Jankowski and Eric Robinson.

ERIC ROBINSON - The invited centre from Dartmouth College was one guy who caught my eye right from the get-go, and not because he was lined up with two highlight prospects. Instead he was able to create a bit of a spotlight for himself with some smart puck handling, strong skating and some pretty deft hands. What impressed me the most about Robinson was the fact that he wasn’t the ‘third wheel’ on the line. To the contrary, he was constantly in the mix alongside “The Big Jankowski” and the “SVENsational One”. In the occasions where he wasn’t directly involved in the play at the net, he was creating space for his linemates by moving into the open areas of the ice, drawing players from the white squad with him.

For much of the scrimmage and especially in the second half, he fit right I and the line looked as if they had been playing together a little longer than three days. For that I’ll give him props and so, here’s to you "Mr. Robinson”...

SVEN BÄRTSCHI – It should come as no surprise to anyone that once again Sven was out to not only impress the coaches and the Flames organization, but the fans that packed the Winsport Arena that came out to see him do his thing. And he didn’t disappoint either.

It’s hard to say Bärtschi was ‘noticeable’ today, because it’s hard to go unnoticed when everyone is literally looking for you every shift, but the young Swiss was definitely dominant. He was in on the first three goals for the red squad, scoring one himself, and watching him set up Jankowski on the first goal was impressive to say the least. Some credit has to go to his linemates in that it would be easy to sit back on the play and watch Sven while thinking, “wow, I’m playing with a kid that is actually going to be on the Flames roster this season”, but they didn’t and it seems like they are getting the full experience playing with him right now.

Bärtschi is at the top of the list of guys at the camp showing that they want the puck and they want to play. He is everywhere while on the ice and just sees the play happening and how to shape it his advantage. It’s going to be a lot different for him when he plays on a regular basis in the big’s, but we’ve all gotten a glimpse; I for one, think he’ll cope just fine.

MARK JANKOWSKI – You can see shades of what has Feaster and Weisbrod so excited about drafting this kid when you watch him play, he is a very smooth skater for a kid of his height. Watching him move around to find the open ice, and usually receive a pass from Bärtschi might not be enough to go out and buy a jersey just yet, but his stick handling and ability to rifle off a pretty quick and accurate shot, will certainly bring a smile to your face and breathe a sigh of relief.

OTHER NOTABLES

James Martin - had a great two halves for the white squad’s defense. His skating and positional play, I thought, was outstanding. Almost every time he had the puck inside his own zone, he would step into the open area and make a nice concise outlet pass up to his forwards.

Max Reinhart didn’t start off the best in the first half, but pulled it together for the second. Two specific plays stood out for me. The first was a pass he took from out of his own zone that wasn’t going to be a success. Instead, Max Power recognized the inefficiency and adjusted his position with a stutter play, allowing the red player to skate past him so he could receive the outlet and quickly dish the puck off. The second was when he came down the left boards without any support. Rather than dump the puck behind the net as he got ridden out of the play, he let loose a laser beam past Brossoit, pinging two posts before going in.

John Gaudreau wasn’t as dynamic as the last scrimmage but nonetheless he was still flying around and making things happen for the white squad. This kid goes from 0 to 60 in less time it took you to read this sentence and he turns on a dime. Listening to Craig Conroy talk about Gaudreau, you can see firsthand why the Flames aren’t too worried about his small size; it’s damn near impossible to hit this kid. Just as a player thinks they have him lined up to take him out of the play, Johnny Goo is long gone and back in the play. It wasn’t the most offensive outing, I’d hoped for, but it was a pleasure to watch the “Mighty Mite” in action.

THE BAD

Some of the kids I was looking forward to seeing, didn’t look too impressive to begin with. Some figured out their way, like Reinhart, while some didn’t grow to impress me, but saved a little face.

Brady Lamb was one that had me shaking my head in the first half. There were some sloppy plays in his own zone, with missed passes and puck turnovers. As the scrimmage moved along, Lamb seemed more at ease and started to play a lot sounder defensively, and was able to move the puck up ice to his forwards. Brady also isn’t too bad at laying the body, with some nice hits in the second half.

Michael Ferland was another one that looked rough in this scrimmage. He didn’t seem very engaged in the play when he was on the ice and stuck mostly to the perimeter, watching the play. He was one guy specifically that I wanted to watch for so I’m reconciled in that at least I got to see him come out with a few good shifts where he was showing a little more gusto. On the whole though, it wasn’t a noticeable effort.

Markus Granlund wasn’t very visible for most of the game. In the second he had a few opportunities where he was sprung for plays that could have shown off his stick work and speed, only to be cut off or stripped of the puck. Like Ferland, he was mostly on the outside while many others ‘mucked’ their way through the middle of the ice to battle for possession. He scored an empty-netter at the end, so that should tell you how the rest of his game went.

THE UGLY

I’ll save this last category for one guy in particular, Greg Nemisz; another poor outing for the 22 year old AHL vet. For pretty much both halves this afternoon, Nemo was lost in the desert as he watches his NHL future skate passed him.

It’s been said that Nemisz isn’t putting in a full effort because it’s not in developmental interest to dominate guys five years his junior. That this is not an evaluation camp to make the Flames, rather just a chance for the coaching staff to get a feel for what the kids can do and where they need to develop. That’s true to a certain extent, and even Nemisz is speaking in the same manner when interviewed.

On the radio I heard him say that this is a three month process and that he’s not ramping things up just yet and that by the time September rolls around, he’ll be in full swing to make a run at making the starting roster. I beg to differ Greg. His skating is terrible and his stability is not any better. It wasn’t hard to tell when Greg was on the ice, and that’s not meant as a compliment. Everything that made you notice kids like Bärtschi and Jankowski, it was the exact opposite that led you to notice Nemo. And when you weren’t grimacing at his poor skating, you were shaking your head that he was out of the play, or disrupting the drive.

I know it’s never good to give up on a guy that is only 22, and we have all come to the defense of other struggling youngsters, but the difference I find with Nemisz is that even if you take his skating out of the equation, it’s his sense of the game that seems lacking. His reluctance to play with an edge that should come with his size and whether it’s intentional or not, his inability to dominate kids five years his junior, should be of concern to him because it probably is to the coaches.

ON THAT NOTE...

That’s about it from the afternoon session. As I was unable to attend the morning, check out Ryan Pinder’s piece that included some highlights from the morning.

Also, big thanks to MC Hockey for his contributions with the game notes. I know he had included some other players, but I’ll leave that to the comments where I’m sure he, Ryan and Kent will have some added thoughts from yesterday.

E42f2ca09dfb26046c3060ff46473aff
Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 MG
July 13 2012, 09:28AM
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Re: The Bad Not very often you have a guy sticking to the perimeter, not getting engaged in the play AND scoring two goals. Could it be that you missed Ferland scoring two of his teams goals? They don't have to be pretty to count!

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#2 meat1
July 13 2012, 08:01AM
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I appreciate your insights. It's nice to hear both the good AND bad. I realize one half of one scrimmage doesn't make or break, but hearing how the kids can or can't ramp it up a bit is interesting. Thanks to all of you who write articles so that us schmucks can not only follow our team in the 30 degree weather, but make our opinions known.

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#3 BurningSensation
July 13 2012, 08:10AM
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To me the best news is that the 'Big Jankowski' has validated our scouting staff. Big skill pivots are all but impossible to trade for, and absent a lottery pick they can be extremely difficult to find at the draft. I'm giddy thinking we may have scooped one the way Feaster did.

Any more info on 'Mr Robinson'? What are his stats/skills/contract status like? Is he a potential signee?

Love these camp reports!

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#4 T&A4Flames
July 13 2012, 08:33AM
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Any comments on how the goalies looked during this scrimmage? It's too bad Ortio was injured for this camp, I was hoping to see if he improved any since going back to Finland.

Glad to hear our last 2 1st rounders are doing well. I liked Jankowski and was hoping that the Flames would draft him, although with a 2nd round pick.

As for Dmen, who seems to be the closest from what's been obsereved over the last few days. It doesn't seem like we have anyone close in the pipeline.

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#5 T&A4Flames
July 13 2012, 08:41AM
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What's the deal with this James Martin kid? Size, right or left shot? It would be nice if we could sign a potential bigger right shooting winger to play with Baertschi or Gaudreau and open up time and space.

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#6 Baalzamon
July 13 2012, 08:43AM
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@BurningSensation

Robinson had an only okay year in his second NCAA season (24pts, 33games). He's 2.5 years older than Sven, and more than 4 years older than Jankowski. He's a RW with a RHS. He may be signed, but he's probably going back to college. He's probably comprable to (but he's slightly taller and 6 months younger than) David Eddy.

good to hear that James Martin is impressing. Again. I was rooting for him as an invite last year, and was glad when he was signed.

and, of course, Jankowski and Sven.

also, Cheese is awesome. He should probably lead the Eagles in points this season.

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#7 FireOnIce
July 13 2012, 09:31AM
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It seems like a very difficult thing to predict how these players will do in the NHL by watching them here. Of course Jankowski looks great, he has natural talent AND is playing against slugs like Nemisz. Put Pelech or Chucko out there and Janko would probably skate circles around them too. Still, it's encouraging to know that we have some good potential in the pipeline.

I have been disappointed with Granlund so far. Reading all of the prospect camp posts, it's been consistently said that he is mostly invisible on the ice. Not good for someone who gets flashy with their lacrosse-style goals and who is supposed to be a slick scorer. If he's not consistently improving, I would suggest he eventually be thrown into a trade package. Tell people he's his brother and then let them find out it's a different Granlund once he shows up at the other team's facility.

It'll be just like when D. Sutter signed a Kronwall, only for it to be the lesser known, blind beggar's choice named Staffan. Oh boy, did he get us good!

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#8 T&A4Flames
July 13 2012, 10:08AM
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Oops. Just realized I was inquiring about Robinson, not Martin. Aaaaannnnd, it's already been answered. Thanks.

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#9 Michael
July 13 2012, 10:12AM
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It isn't really surprising, but somewhat disappointing to see Nemisz fall further and further down the depth chart. I think most fans had accepted that he wasn't destined to become a top 6 forward, but I had some hope that we could salvage a bottom six player out of the pick. His skating, mobility / stability, lack of ice vision and inability to drive the play put even that into question. Its looking more and more like another first round flop.

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#10 Kent Wilson
July 13 2012, 10:14AM
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@FireOnIce

It really is tough to evaluate kids in this setting. For instance, Matt Pelech often looked like a man against boys in these things the last few years he was in the org, but that didn't mean he was a quality prospect in the end.

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#11 Steve
July 13 2012, 10:28AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

It really is tough to evaluate kids in this setting. For instance, Matt Pelech often looked like a man against boys in these things the last few years he was in the org, but that didn't mean he was a quality prospect in the end.

Yeah, I think it's definitely tough to judge defencemen. A forward's ability to find open space, or snipe in traffic is always a good sign, but for defence it seems a little tougher. I had high hopes for Brady Lamb, and at times he's looked good, but pretty shaky at others. I've actually thought Ramage has looked really good, for long stretches, but still always seems to be on the ice for the goals against.

Still high on Tim Schaller, though given his age, he probably needs to be more dominant to really have a chance at big league time. That was a good line with Turner Elson and one of the other guys I hadn't heard of.

I actually thought Ryan Howse was really good too. Wasn't expecting that.

Good thing it doesn't really matter what any of us think! It's definitely been fun to watch and share opinions.

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#12 MC Hockey
July 13 2012, 10:34AM
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Here is my second try at posting as first one lost on darn finicky iPad.

@VF - great job, you hit key points. Some other things I saw were: 1) a couple decent offensive rushes by Debluow (7th round 2012) and David Eddy (prized college signee) in tandem. 2) Some props on Offensive plays to Patterson (couple times) with his linemates Schaller and Turner, alsoThompson (nice RW move in half 1), and even Nemisz on one play but wanted more from him as a veteran of sorts. 3) Good hits by Ramage, giant Callaghan, and Martin. 4) Did think Lamb was strong and looked comfy in half two, particularly on a out muscling a forward who had full control of puck. 5) Bancks showed hustle on back check and set up a goal by Johnston. 6) Ferland made one nice play with Murphy Besides his assists and seemed solid on skates throughout.

@T&A - 1) All goalies not great but Coreau challenged well in half 1 for team white and was OK. I half 2 Gillies hand nice late glove save on fast wriister and saved Jankowski late breakaway. 2) Robinson is a decent large winger and possibilty perhaps for future beside smaller forwards, also I though Schaller (captain at Providence) looked pretty good for that role too.

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#13 T&A4Flames
July 13 2012, 10:53AM
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@ MC Hockey

Thanks!

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#14 Mark
July 13 2012, 11:24AM
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Really like this recap article. If I could ask for anything it would be a giant recap at the end with all writers who have input to make a massive prospect article on all notable players attending. Would be really great to us fans who can't attend the camp and still want a feel for what our prospect pool hides behind the Svenator and MJ. Love the good bad and ugly tho good to see Lanky Janky holding his own!

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#15 Kent Wilson
July 13 2012, 02:04PM
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@Mark

I plan to have one recap article that includes links to these scouting reports and to Ryan's interviews (more of which are still coming).

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