Flames Top 15 Prospects 2013: #12 Tyler Wotherspoon

Ryan Pike
May 15 2013 09:02AM

Tyler Wotherspoon

A year ago, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Tyler Wotherspoon. The 2011 second round choice of the Calgary Flames was a face in the crowd on a very stacked Portland Winterhawks team at the time. This year, he's become one of their best players and has arguably raised his stock faster and higher than many in the organization had hoped.

Acquired with one of the picks acquired in the Tim Erixon trade with the Rangers, Wotherspoon has been to three straight WHL championship series – finally winning this year – and will be appearing at the Memorial Cup next week, to go along with a trip to Ufa, Russia for the World Juniors at Christmas.

He's had a very busy, very successful season.

  Justin Ryan Kent Hayley BoL
Wotherspoon 10 9 12 14 6

Wotherspoon plays a very smart, simple defensive game. He's got good size and decent mobility, but he's also added a deceptively accurate first pass to his repitoire. He's skated with WHL rookie Seth Jones on the Winterhawks top pairing for much of the season. While Wotherspoon's numbers no doubt benefited from that arrangement, Jones was also likely given a boost from the fact that Wotherspoon never seems to get rattled. A lot of long playoff runs will do that.

Wotherspoon set career highs in assists, points and plus/minus this season, boasting the second-best plus/minus mark (+62) in all of Canadian major junior hockey.

That said, Wotherspoon is unlikely to have a meaningful offensive component to his game at the next level, so his contributions will mostly have to come at the defensive end of the rink. The question is whether he'll be able to develop into a legit shut down d-man in the show or struggle to move beyond a third pairing/replacement level type guy.

Wotherspoon has an NHL contract with the Flames beginning next season, so it's likely he'll make the jump to the professional ranks in September and likely play in Abbotsford. He's also eligible to return to the WHL as an overage player (and his NHL deal would slide), but given his success as a 19-year-old, I'd wonder what he had left to accomplish in that league.

CONCLUSION

The Flames acquired three assets when Tim Erixon left town.

One of them was Roman Horak. The other two were draft picks (Wotherspoon and Markus Granlund). If either of the draft picks turned into NHLers at all, I think you'd call the trade a clean win given the circumstances. There's a good chance that Wotherspoon could turn into a good professional hockey player, as he's graduating from the Winterhawks and into a pro organization where he already knows a few teammates (at the very least Sven Baertschi and Laurent Brossoit).

He may not become T.J. Brodie in terms of impact, but based on his skill-set and temperment, Wotherspoon projects to be a perfectly fine third-pairing blueliner. It's just a question of how long it'll take him to get there. (And you never know, he could take another leap forward in the next few seasons...).

Flames top 15 Prospects

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Now in his third full season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#1 Kent Wilson
May 15 2013, 09:56AM
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@Colin.S

He improved his PPG pace to .61 from .42, improved his plus/minus by +44 and made the world junior club. That stands head and shoulders above his prior year, which was pretty middle-of-the-road.

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#2 Kevin R
May 15 2013, 02:08PM
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seve927 wrote:

It's still getting younger, so I do think it fits. I just think that definitely sets the center ice position up, if we can add a Lindholm/Monahan, about as well as we could hope. It's an upgrade from an excellent player to an elite player (IMO)...

I don't know if I'd want to do it, I'm just curious to see the discussion, and to see if people think it would be possible.

Not sure I would want to add Backlund in that equation even if we could have traded for him. Colorado are pretty well stuck with him until next year. I was more thinking Wotherspoon & our St Louis pick for Carolina's 5th overall & maybe a salary dump , perhaps Ruutu.

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#3 Colin.S
May 15 2013, 09:09AM
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For some reason again this seems low, but since he hasn't shown anything at the next level it's probably right where he should be.

I think he should easily be a third pairing guy, with good potential to be a lot more.

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#4 Parallex
May 15 2013, 09:27AM
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How do you have a deceptively accurate first pass? I mean an accurate first pass sure... but where is the deception in the accuracy coming from? I think he's a little low personally, I'd rank him higher considering his acheivements over the past year.

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#5 Kent Wilson
May 15 2013, 09:32AM
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@Colin.S

For me personally there's a few reasons I ranked Wotherspoon this low:

lack of offense, strength of team and the fact his only truly outstanding season in junior was his last one at 19-20 years old.

He feels a bit like Keith Aulie to me, who came out of junior with a big last season, including a trip to the WJC (where he was on the top pairing with Tyler Myers). He's still trying to establish himself at the NHL level today though.

I think Wotherspoon is probably more mobile and has a bit more oomph in terms of offense, but there are question marks for me as to just how much impact he'll have in the pro ranks.

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#6 Mamie Jacouns Love Child
May 15 2013, 09:39AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

For me personally there's a few reasons I ranked Wotherspoon this low:

lack of offense, strength of team and the fact his only truly outstanding season in junior was his last one at 19-20 years old.

He feels a bit like Keith Aulie to me, who came out of junior with a big last season, including a trip to the WJC (where he was on the top pairing with Tyler Myers). He's still trying to establish himself at the NHL level today though.

I think Wotherspoon is probably more mobile and has a bit more oomph in terms of offense, but there are question marks for me as to just how much impact he'll have in the pro ranks.

Echo this view of Wotherspoon..in fact I think your being generous Kenta.

Backend for the W-Hawks is loaded and IMO by far the two studs are Rudkowski and Pouliot. I think Wotherspoon and even dare I say Seth (BabyPopeye) Jones are a bit protected. Saw a fair share of WHL this year and much like in the WJC, Wotherspoon was getting beat to the outside. I originally thought the WJC was a step up for him but he had trouble at the WHL level too.

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#7 Colin.S
May 15 2013, 09:42AM
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@Kent Wilson

I agree with you on the lack of offense and strength of team(though Baertschi came from that same strong team and he looks to be a great prospect), however I disagree with the truly outstanding season part. The only difference between this season and last is his plus minus. So if this season is truly outstanding, than his last season must still be a great season.

But yeah I agree he's still a project, but if you can pair him with another great defender(Brodie?) maybe he elevates his play.

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#8 Baalzamon
May 15 2013, 10:00AM
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It occurs to me that Wotherspoon with Sieloff's skating would have probably gone in the first round.

for me, there's no comparison between Wotherspoon and Aulie. Aulie has always looked terrible IMO, and Wotherspoon is about 400x better at skating. And he's still below average (or maybe average).

Which isn't to say that Wotherspoon will definitely turn out better than Aulie.. but he's a better prospect (and yes, I realize that perceptions of Aulie were bizarrely high for no apparent reason. Probably because he's giant).

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#9 Colin.S
May 15 2013, 10:05AM
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@Kent Wilson

The PPG was the result of 9 assists, not exactly giant leaps and bounds we are talking about here, the biggest difference was the +44 and making the World Junior team(as disappointing and underwhelming as that team was).

He took a step forward but it wasn't a giant leap.

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#10 FireOnIce
May 15 2013, 10:09AM
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Just my opinion, but this is one player I'd be dangling out there for a trade. Especially to Colorado. Not that they'll ever deal with Feaster again, but it's worth a shot. Reunite him with Seth Jones. Re-live the glory days, yadda yadda.

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#11 Kent Wilson
May 15 2013, 10:21AM
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@Colin.S

This was his best season in junior and it was the only really noteworthy one on his resume is the point.

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#12 Sincity1976
May 15 2013, 10:30AM
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I have Wotherspoon at 9. I agree with Kent that Wotherspoon isn't a sure hit. But very few are. He is playing very well this season and I don't think you can fault him for being on a great team.

I think he is a solid prospect and I don't see 11 other prospects that are better then he is in the Flames system.

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#13 T&A4Flames
May 15 2013, 10:34AM
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I'm fairly surprised you guys have him so low. It makes me very curious as to who you all have above him.

I understand the argument that he hasn't done anything at the next level, but considering our lack of talent currently at that next level, outside of Sven and perhaps Horak, I would have expected him higher.

Also, he has played with a juggernaut team in POrtland for the last 3 years. Has he benefited from that talent or has he helped that talent. Did he not play with Pouliot last year? Jones this year? Maybe it's been his steadying presense that has allowed those guys the confidence to jump up in the play and up their stats.

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#14 piscera.infada
May 15 2013, 10:41AM
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I have a really hard time forming any kind of respectable opinion with regard to Wotherspoon, other than I hope he works out, 'cause for some odd reason I really like the cut of his jib.

That being said, I won't for a minute take his being on a good team as a negative towards his evaluation. So perhaps his stats were inflated playing with great teammates. I'm not sure we drafted him as Karlsson 2.0, just sayin'.

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#15 Bezer
May 15 2013, 10:52AM
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I was pretty annoyed with the whole Erixon debacle but with lil' Tmmy gettin traded to the BJs and the emergence of Wotherspoon, Horak and Granlund Ive become pretty "OK" with it. Id also be "OK" with lil' Timmy somehow finding his way to the bottom of a well..

As far as Wotherspoon goes I'm gonna remain optimistic that one day he will be a solid D man in the NHL. I'm very excited to see how he develops in the AHL next year.

I think Kent's ranking is a lilttle low but understandable using his criteria.

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#16 Kevin R
May 15 2013, 11:29AM
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FireOnIce wrote:

Just my opinion, but this is one player I'd be dangling out there for a trade. Especially to Colorado. Not that they'll ever deal with Feaster again, but it's worth a shot. Reunite him with Seth Jones. Re-live the glory days, yadda yadda.

My thoughts as well, not sure what Colorado would trade for him if they even talk to Feasty but I was thinking maybe Tampa or Carolina may like his last year successes, especially if he shines in the spotlight at the Memorial Cup.

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#17 T&A4Flames
May 15 2013, 12:35PM
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Completely off topic but I just heard that Cervenka signed with SKA in the KHL. So much for that..........

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#18 seve927
May 15 2013, 12:37PM
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Kevin R wrote:

My thoughts as well, not sure what Colorado would trade for him if they even talk to Feasty but I was thinking maybe Tampa or Carolina may like his last year successes, especially if he shines in the spotlight at the Memorial Cup.

How 'bout this. We take the weight of Ryan O'Reilly's required brutal 6.5 million qualifying offer off their shoulders for Backlund, Wotherspoon + ?? (Pittsburgh 1st/marginal prospect).

They get back a good center, Jones partner/needed defensive depth and probably about 4 million in budget space going forward.

Would it take more... less?

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#19 danglesnipecelly
May 15 2013, 12:41PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Completely off topic but I just heard that Cervenka signed with SKA in the KHL. So much for that..........

Yeah I just heard that to... well there's some more cap space freed up! Not really all that surprising.

Also unrelated, heard that Barkov and Nurse will not take part in the combine in TO due to injuries. Maybe another ever so slight reason why someone might pass on Barkov and he slides to us?!?!?

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#20 danglesnipecelly
May 15 2013, 12:41PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Completely off topic but I just heard that Cervenka signed with SKA in the KHL. So much for that..........

Yeah I just heard that to... well there's some more cap space freed up! Not really all that surprising.

Also unrelated, heard that Barkov and Nurse will not take part in the combine in TO due to injuries. Maybe another ever so slight reason why someone might pass on Barkov and he slides to us?!?!?

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#21 the forgotten man
May 15 2013, 12:49PM
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danglesnipecelly wrote:

Yeah I just heard that to... well there's some more cap space freed up! Not really all that surprising.

Also unrelated, heard that Barkov and Nurse will not take part in the combine in TO due to injuries. Maybe another ever so slight reason why someone might pass on Barkov and he slides to us?!?!?

Does Cervenka once again become the best centreman playing outside of the NHL?? (sarc off)

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#22 Baalzamon
May 15 2013, 12:54PM
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@seve927

O'Reilly can't be traded for one year. Offersheet matching, and all that.

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#23 T&A4Flames
May 15 2013, 12:55PM
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seve927 wrote:

How 'bout this. We take the weight of Ryan O'Reilly's required brutal 6.5 million qualifying offer off their shoulders for Backlund, Wotherspoon + ?? (Pittsburgh 1st/marginal prospect).

They get back a good center, Jones partner/needed defensive depth and probably about 4 million in budget space going forward.

Would it take more... less?

I wouldn't give up Backlund for ROR. Backs will likely be a lot cheaper and I think he is just as good, maybe better if he stays healthy. They can have Stajan + . I'm still not sure I would give up our best D prospect either. I'm just not sold on ROR.

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#24 Alt
May 15 2013, 01:05PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

Does Cervenka once again become the best centreman playing outside of the NHL?? (sarc off)

Hartley will have to call up Jones from the minors to play whipping boy.

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#25 seve927
May 15 2013, 01:13PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

O'Reilly can't be traded for one year. Offersheet matching, and all that.

True. More of a pre ROR re-signing thing, so the draft picks would be out of it. That notwithstanding, would you want to do it, and would it take more than those two pieces?

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#26 piscera.infada
May 15 2013, 01:46PM
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@seve927

Pre-ROR attempted signing maybe I would have been with you (with the team where it was, and what their goals were). Now, I don't think he fits what we're trying to do here. Just me though.

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#27 seve927
May 15 2013, 01:53PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Pre-ROR attempted signing maybe I would have been with you (with the team where it was, and what their goals were). Now, I don't think he fits what we're trying to do here. Just me though.

It's still getting younger, so I do think it fits. I just think that definitely sets the center ice position up, if we can add a Lindholm/Monahan, about as well as we could hope. It's an upgrade from an excellent player to an elite player (IMO)...

I don't know if I'd want to do it, I'm just curious to see the discussion, and to see if people think it would be possible.

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#28 seve927
May 15 2013, 02:16PM
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Kevin R wrote:

Not sure I would want to add Backlund in that equation even if we could have traded for him. Colorado are pretty well stuck with him until next year. I was more thinking Wotherspoon & our St Louis pick for Carolina's 5th overall & maybe a salary dump , perhaps Ruutu.

Yes, that would definitely be better for us - and hence I believe less likely to be doable.

It's going to be a fun couple of months of wild speculation!

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#29 T&A4Flames
May 15 2013, 03:51PM
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seve927 wrote:

Yes, that would definitely be better for us - and hence I believe less likely to be doable.

It's going to be a fun couple of months of wild speculation!

I would hope they 1st try moving a guy like Cammi and/or Tanguay and Sarich or Butler with a prospect and preferably not Wotherspoon. I would rather add a Granlund to that offer as he is a redundant asset IMO, as a 2nd line C cieling. Add in salary retention and/or dump. We already have Horak, Reinhart, Arnold etc. Not to mention that if we could pull off that deal we would certainly get a top centerman in either Barkov, Lindholm or Monahan. I would really like to see what CGY can do with all the 1sts.

Throw the kitchen sink etc to try for another top 5 pick. If Barkov is still there, draft him and then look into trading down the 6th with BUF for the 8th & 16th (we likely add something) and if by some luck Lindholm or Monahan are there, take them. C is locked up, hopefully, for years. Grab a good D prospect with 16th. Trade down the #19-#22 for a lower 1st and 2nd. Fill the gaps.

Wow. I sure can dream.

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#30 piscera.infada
May 15 2013, 04:04PM
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@T&A4Flames

Your second scenario would be amazing. If somehow we could end up with 5 and 6, I wouldn't be opposed to taking Lindholm/Monahan and Nischukin, or Lindholm and Monahan. I just have no idea what we could trade to Carolina.

Perhaps Gio could be thrown in the mix? I happen to think he's a little over his head as a top pairing guy, and I really don't want to see his stock plummet. I'm definitely with you on Granlund though. I don't really picture him as having a future with the Flames.

But again, I'm all for keeping things the way they are and I'll remain optimistic it will work.

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#31 seve927
May 15 2013, 09:50PM
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Who knows something about Bobby Sanguinetti? I was just looking at UFA's, and he played 450 minutes against average competition last year, with a CF% of .573 with TMCF% of .500. He's 6-3 and 190 lbs and a right shot, and he's 25. He's scored at a pretty good clip as well, 50 points in 60 games in Charlotte two years ago.

Does that not sound like a bit of an upgrade on Chris Butler at 1.25? He made 700k last year. I hadn't even heard of him. Possible target?

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#32 piscera.infada
May 16 2013, 08:47AM
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@seve927

In the (very) limited amount of research I've done on him, he sounds like he's been a bit of a defensive liability in the very small sample size of NHL games he's played (9, I believe?).

He would definitely be worth a try though. Sounds like he has reasonable offensive upside playing in a 4-6 roll.

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#33 seve927
May 16 2013, 09:15AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

In the (very) limited amount of research I've done on him, he sounds like he's been a bit of a defensive liability in the very small sample size of NHL games he's played (9, I believe?).

He would definitely be worth a try though. Sounds like he has reasonable offensive upside playing in a 4-6 roll.

Actually he played pretty much the full season this year, 37 games and 466 ES minutes. That's not a bad sample size.

I see Dallas hasn't re-signed Jordie Benn yet either. He might be a little more physical.

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