The Weekly Ignition: February 25 2014

Ryan Pike
February 25 2014 08:30AM

Ignite

There's two weeks left in the major-junior season. Eight days until the NHL trade deadline. About a week or so left in the NCAA season.

We're getting down to brass tacks, gang. Here's your weekly rundown.

PRESS ROUND-UP

First off, check out this epic piece from The Atlantic website by Chris Koentges on the Oracle of Finnish goaltending. Joni Ortio and the great Miikka Kiprusoff are discussed in-depth. 

Next up, the NCAA's own website describes, in great detail, how great Johnny Gaudreau presently is. (He briefly considered joining the Flames this year, according to this piece.) 

Finally, Mikael Backlund is wearing a Hockey Canada t-shirt all week despite being a Swede because he lost a bet and is a man of his word.

PROSPECT ROUND-UP

The Heat finished off a hectic five-game road trip this week without their top goalie, Joni Ortio. Oh, and a few other guys (Ben Street and Blair Jones, notably) got hurt over the weekend. This bunch is hurtin' right now. They beat Milwaukee 4-2 on Friday, then sputtered in a 5-3 loss the next day in Chicago, and then were largely flat in a 2-0 Sunday loss to Chicago. Nothing much can be learned from this roadie, so burn the tape and hope everybody gets healthy before the NHL trade deadline.

But hey, four points for Brett Olson over the weekend. He's pushing for an NHL contract. Sven Baertschi had a goal. Up in Alaska, the Aces won two of three against the Bakersfield Condors. Turner Elson had a goal in Wednesday's game, then got called up to the AHL.

In better news, many prospects had good weeks. Regina Pats forward Morgan Klimchuk put up a seven point week, including a hat-trick, and was named WHL Player of the Week for his efforts. Providence College pivot Mark Jankowski had two goals, both of them game-winners, as Providence College desperately tries to get into a first-round bye position in Hockey East. Boston College has already sewn up their first overall spot but didn't lose anyway – they had a win and a tie. Johnny Gaudreau extended his points streak to a million games (okay, 28) with a pair of goals. He leads all collegiate hockey playing persons in the United States in goals, assists, points and being nifty with the puck. Yale's Kenny Agostino and Brandon's Eric Roy each had three assists. Swift Current's Coda Gordon and Gatineau's Emile Poirier each had four points.

A LOOK AHEAD

The Flames kick off the last 24 games of their schedule with a pair of games this week – Thursday hosting the LA Kings and Saturday visiting the dastardly Edmonton Oilers up in Shelbyville. In a weird occurrence, neither game is on Sportsnet (Thursday is TSN, Saturday is CBC). And remember, the trade deadline is next week – Wednesday, March 5.

On the farm, the Abbotsford Heat are without their top goalie (Joni Ortio) and their top scorer (Markus Granlund), but they're back at home and get a few days off. They'll host the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Saturday. The Alaska Aces presently lack any Flames properties, but they'll be in action on the road against Idaho (Wednesday) and Utah (Friday and Saturday).

It's the last weekend of the NCAA schedule. Providence College can earn a bye with a pair of wins over Maine. By the looks of it, all Flames college and junior prospects are in playoff spots. We'll preview the various playoff pictures as we get closer, starting with the NCAA playoff picture next week as we kick off “Gaudreau Watch 2014” in earnest.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#1 Rockmorton65
February 25 2014, 11:10AM
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I know Burke prefers to do his dealing before the chaos of deadline day. Has anyone heard any buzz about who he may be talking to? I know Friedman mentioned New Jersey last week, but I think that was just speculation on his part.

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#2 seve927
February 25 2014, 11:15AM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I know Burke prefers to do his dealing before the chaos of deadline day. Has anyone heard any buzz about who he may be talking to? I know Friedman mentioned New Jersey last week, but I think that was just speculation on his part.

I think that may be reversed in this case. Burke has stated that he thinks you overpay on deadline day. He's been more commonly a buyer in the past. Now he's a seller looking for an overpayment. He may be holding out to the last minute.

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#3 cunning_linguist
February 25 2014, 11:20AM
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Maybe Garth Snow will trade us the Isles' first round pick this year for Cammy..I honestly don't think the hockey world would be surprised.

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#4 gussey
February 25 2014, 11:52AM
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cunning_linguist wrote:

Maybe Garth Snow will trade us the Isles' first round pick this year for Cammy..I honestly don't think the hockey world would be surprised.

That would be awesome

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#5 Rockmorton65
February 25 2014, 12:29PM
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cunning_linguist wrote:

Maybe Garth Snow will trade us the Isles' first round pick this year for Cammy..I honestly don't think the hockey world would be surprised.

I can't imagine that even Snow is THAT dumb, is he?

Speaking of dumb, can you believe the Devils have to forfeit, what may end up being, a top 5 pick this year?

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#6 piscera.infada
February 25 2014, 12:35PM
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@Rockmorton65

"I can't imagine that even Snow is THAT dumb, is he?"

Moulson, a 2014 first, and a 2015 second for Vanek (not even taking into account his contract expiring)? He's dumb. THAT dumb.

*Edit: This year's first rounder can be deferred to next year... So it's marginally better, assuming improvement next season.

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#7 Parallex
February 25 2014, 12:40PM
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@Rockmorton65

The dumb part was that they elected to not forfeit pick #29... why the hell wouldn't you surrender that pick?

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#8 Gmoney
February 25 2014, 12:57PM
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Send him to LA straight up for Tyler Toffoli

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#9 TRAV
February 25 2014, 01:13PM
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It seems like Janko is starting to produce at a slightly increased rate?... I just don't know what to think of this guy.There have been times when I was ready to write him off but maybe just maybe he's a young guy that will come into his own. I know that he was young for his draft year, played weak competition etc. etc. It's always tough to look back though and see what could have been. Adding to some frustration is the fact that Sieloff has had such an unlucky year. I wonder if he had played a full year and played well if that might change some of our perceptions regarding this selection.

I know that the stats don't support me but at development camp there were signs of big time potential in Jank's game. He showed good vision, skates well and the puck seemed to follow him on the ice. I would love to see a big year out of him next year! Imagine if this guy could develop into a legit centre. With Monny and Backs and Stajan and Janko that would be good size and skill. (One can dream...)

Hoping that Granland gets a chance to play. I also would love to see Ortio have a shot. This week will be fun with the trade deadline and a few games.

Go Flames Go! (but be sure to get a good draft position too!)

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#10 beloch
February 25 2014, 01:41PM
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@TRAV

Janko's production was 0.529 ppg last season and it's up to 0.625 ppg this year, which gives him a NHLE of 21 pts. That's a smaller improvement than most people were hoping for. I'd say his status is unchanged. Namely, he's still a high-risk gamble that has yet to pay off. He is pretty young and could take a big step forward to surprise everyone. That's the thing though. At this point it really would be a surprise!

We all knew Janks was a high-risk pick regardless of Feasters' hyperbole. Sometimes high risk picks don't pay off. I still think it was a smart pick at the time regardless of how Janko is turning out. The only stupid thing Feaster did was to oversell how certain he was that Janko was going to be awesome.

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#11 Sean Bennett
February 25 2014, 01:52PM
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Off-topic, but anyone looking for a wonderful advanced stats article on the sheer dominance of Team Canada check this out from Sportsnet:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/breaking-down-canadas-sochi-performance/

The fact that they did this against the rest of the worlds' best is absolutely mind-boggling. Now we know why Babcock's Red Wings have been a perennial contender for the last 8 years. In fact, the entire Canadian coaching staff deserves high praise, since, in addition to out players schooling the rest of the world, Babcock and company put on a coaching clinic at the Olympics.

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#12 beloch
February 25 2014, 02:14PM
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"First off, check out this epic piece from The Atlantic website by Chris Koentges on the Oracle of Finnish goaltending. Joni Ortio and the great Miikka Kiprusoff are discussed in-depth. "

That's one of the best articles about hockey I've ever read and flat-out the best on goal-tending I've ever read. Thanks for posting that link!

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#13 seve927
February 25 2014, 02:27PM
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beloch wrote:

Janko's production was 0.529 ppg last season and it's up to 0.625 ppg this year, which gives him a NHLE of 21 pts. That's a smaller improvement than most people were hoping for. I'd say his status is unchanged. Namely, he's still a high-risk gamble that has yet to pay off. He is pretty young and could take a big step forward to surprise everyone. That's the thing though. At this point it really would be a surprise!

We all knew Janks was a high-risk pick regardless of Feasters' hyperbole. Sometimes high risk picks don't pay off. I still think it was a smart pick at the time regardless of how Janko is turning out. The only stupid thing Feaster did was to oversell how certain he was that Janko was going to be awesome.

I think Janko's having a really good year. We don't have advanced stats, but the closest we can get is his plus minus and shots, which both turned around at the end of November. That's also when the team turned around, so it's hard to say which is the result of the other, but watching highlights, he is now featured in a lot of the them, whereas last year he was pretty much nowhere to be seen. Before December, the Friar's SF% was about 49%. Since then it's been about 57%. Janko's shots per game went from about 1.6 to 2.8.

He has now been on the ice for 7 goals against this year. The team is +19 at ES, but only +4 without Janko. He seems to me to be developing into a good all around player with some high end offensive potential.

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#14 beloch
February 25 2014, 02:30PM
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Sean Bennett wrote:

Off-topic, but anyone looking for a wonderful advanced stats article on the sheer dominance of Team Canada check this out from Sportsnet:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/breaking-down-canadas-sochi-performance/

The fact that they did this against the rest of the worlds' best is absolutely mind-boggling. Now we know why Babcock's Red Wings have been a perennial contender for the last 8 years. In fact, the entire Canadian coaching staff deserves high praise, since, in addition to out players schooling the rest of the world, Babcock and company put on a coaching clinic at the Olympics.

I really got the impression that those who were watching the games (admittedly, hard to do given their times) were not the same people as those who were looking at the close scores and getting concerned. If you watched the games, the dominance was clearly visible. Canada's performance basically broke the game. It's actually insane how few goals they scored. I'll never forget the performance of the Latvian rookie goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis. That game should have been a blowout, but that kid played with skill and so much heart that he collapsed from exhaustion on the ice in the third period before giving up the game-winning goal. I have a feeling we're going to hearing more about this young goalie in the near future!

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#15 beloch
February 25 2014, 02:32PM
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@seve927

Well, that's promising. I suppose we should all bear in mind that Janks is playing on a pretty abominable team (aside from Gillies). He's not getting a lot of help out there.

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#16 wot96
February 25 2014, 02:41PM
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beloch wrote:

Well, that's promising. I suppose we should all bear in mind that Janks is playing on a pretty abominable team (aside from Gillies). He's not getting a lot of help out there.

I agree, teammates have a lot do with it. How good would he look with Gaudreau on his wing?

Let's just see how he develops.

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#17 Lordmork
February 25 2014, 02:58PM
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I love hearing about Flames prospects. It's so great to actually have a bunch of promising ones.

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#18 Sean Bennett
February 25 2014, 03:02PM
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beloch wrote:

I really got the impression that those who were watching the games (admittedly, hard to do given their times) were not the same people as those who were looking at the close scores and getting concerned. If you watched the games, the dominance was clearly visible. Canada's performance basically broke the game. It's actually insane how few goals they scored. I'll never forget the performance of the Latvian rookie goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis. That game should have been a blowout, but that kid played with skill and so much heart that he collapsed from exhaustion on the ice in the third period before giving up the game-winning goal. I have a feeling we're going to hearing more about this young goalie in the near future!

Amen, brother.

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#19 RexLibris
February 25 2014, 05:35PM
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New Jersey refusing to forfeit their pick at #29 was believed to be partially the result of owner interference, the same owner interference that resulted in Lamoriello's making that horrible Kovalchuk contract offer that cost them the draft pick penalty in the first place.

Vanderbeek was a terrible owner and drove that team into the ground, financially and nearly organizationally. That it hasn't collapsed under the weight of their diminished drafting record and ownership's incompetence is a testament to Lamoriello's managerial acumen.

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#20 McRib
February 25 2014, 08:35PM
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@seve927

I agree, Janko is also still 30-40 pounds underdeveloped I think there is still big room for growth in his game for that reason alone.

If he was 6'3"-220 Pounds I would think he would be worth writing off, but he is 6'3"-175 Pounds playing in a very mature NCAA league. Not to mention if he was born two days later this would be his +1 season and likely first in the NCAA.

Providence as a team also doesn't score nearly as much as a Boston College considering a Chris Kreider only had 0.60PPG his Freshman Season. It says a lot about underdeveloped power forwards taking time to adjust to the NCAA.

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#21 seve927
February 25 2014, 09:26PM
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McRib wrote:

I agree, Janko is also still 30-40 pounds underdeveloped I think there is still big room for growth in his game for that reason alone.

If he was 6'3"-220 Pounds I would think he would be worth writing off, but he is 6'3"-175 Pounds playing in a very mature NCAA league. Not to mention if he was born two days later this would be his +1 season and likely first in the NCAA.

Providence as a team also doesn't score nearly as much as a Boston College considering a Chris Kreider only had 0.60PPG his Freshman Season. It says a lot about underdeveloped power forwards taking time to adjust to the NCAA.

Yes. They're still talking about Colborne needing to add about 15 pounds, and he's probably at least 20 pounds heavier than Janko. Nate Leaman said Jankowski just hasn't been able to add much muscle mass yet - that it's hard to do when you're still growing. Hopefully by next year he's able to pack on a few pounds. I feel like I can see a difference in the last couple of months in his ability to hold off checks, so maybe...

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#22 seve927
February 25 2014, 09:53PM
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Klimmer with a 5 point night. He's not far behind Poirier now, 1.35 ppg to 1.45.

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#23 seve927
February 25 2014, 09:57PM
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@beloch

Oh, and I forgot to mention that since the end of November (coincidentally about the time Gillies started to struggle), the Friars have been -13 when Janko is not on the ice, +11 when he's on.

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#24 McRib
February 26 2014, 04:25PM
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@seve927

Morgan Klimchuk is also catching even more "highly regarded" prospects in his +1 season now that he is healthy, like Curtis Lazar with a 1.35 PPG or Bo Horvat 1.44 PPG. (Not that Poirier shouldn't be highly regarded as well, outside of Hockey Canada most think so.)

Not related to the Flames, but more on the 2013 Draft. How big of a bust is Michael McCarron Montreal's first rounder looking like with 0.51 PPG, especially if you consider he is 6'5"-228 Lbs. If Janko was 220+ Lbs and only putting up 0.50 PPG playing against 16-19 year olds I would be seriously concerned, but he has 0.61 PPG playing against 19-21 year-olds at 175 Lbs. Michael McCarron is only six months older than Janko, but physically he is about three years older. You see everyone I don't like every big forward taken in the first round, I think very little of Frederik Gauthier as well.

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