July 03 2014 01:16PM
It's time to unwrap the new toys from last week's draft. The Flames announced their development camp roster and schedule today and this year's crop is bound to garner as much attention as last years (and last year was shockingly busy for a summer prospect camp at Winsport). Development camp is a fun time because it is a chance to see the highly touted prospects in the Flames system along with an interesting supporting cast of NCAA players, CHL players, and sometimes overseas draft picks.
The focus of this post isn't the Flames picks, whom have had oceans of interweb ink spilled on them, but some of those attending on a tryout basis.
Over the past few seasons, the Flames have signed quite a few players who attended dev camp on a tryout, the most famous obviously being Giordano many moons ago. Last season, the Flames invited Josh Jooris, Bryce Van Brabant, and Austin Carroll among others to development camp, all of whom are now with the organization in some capacity. So here's a look at some of the 18 names that may find their way into the organization some day.
Predictably, theme to #Flames dev camp invites is size -- nobody under 6-0. Breakdown of the 16 skaters: 6-0: 2 6-1: 3 6-2: 4 6-3: 4 6-4: 3— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) July 3, 2014
As Darren Haynes observed, the Flames seem to have only invited big,strong players to camp which at this point should surprise no one. Unfortunately, a lot these invites are essentially excess 'beef' (i.e PIMS are their most valuable stat) which doesn't exactly excite me a great deal. However, there are a few that can hopefully surprise management, much like Jooris did with his strong dev camp which led to an invite to main camp, a solid pre-season and eventually a pro deal. You can find a full list of the camp invitees here, but here's some of the notable ones that I'm interested in seeing.
6'3 207 - LW 22 years old - Slavia Praha
Lukas Zejdl is an interesting invite because he isn't completely the archetypical Flames invite (in that he isn't North American, or 6'6, I suppose). That being said, Zejdl is still a big kid at 6'3 and likely that contributed a great deal to getting an invite from Flames brass. Offensively, Zejdl had 26 points in 47 games last year playing in the Czech Extraliga and has played there since 2010-11. Like everyone on a tryout deal, Zejdl is a long,long,long shot but at least he seems like an interesting player to watch out for. Oh, and here's a not-so-helpful video in czech which I think has some of Zejdl's brief highlights. But I could be wrong..
6'1 175 - RW 22 years old - UMass Lowell
The Flames have been paying a lot of attention to players in NCAA hockey over the past few seasons with a seemingly laser-like focus on Hockey East. Chapie is entering his Junior year at UML and last season scored 23 points in 38 games. I will defer to Lambert's expertise in this area but I am a little interested to see what he can do. Here is Chapie scoring on a penalty shot...because why not:
6'2 180 - D 21 years old - Western Michigan University
Dienes is entering his second year at WMU and seems like a defender with some offensive upside, at least during his time in the USHL. During his second year in the USHL, Dienes scored 27 points for the Fargo Force and ended the year +28 (do with that stat what you will). However, in his freshman year, Dienes didn't exactly blow the doors off. He finished with five points in 33 games. However, freshman defencemen rarely sparkle and maybe there is some untapped potential in Dienes.
6'0 195 - D 19 years old - Spokane Chiefs
Fram is one of the names I am most intrigued to see at dev camp. This past season in the WHL, Fram had 57 points in 72 games. For the most part, Fram is known for his leadership qualities but has also put up some decent numbers in junior. It would not surprise me in the slightest if Fram impresses onlookers at development camp this year and earns an invite to main camp. Oh, and it seems as though he isn't afraid to fight which I am guessing will improve his standing among Flames brass:
6'2 216 - LW 21 years old - P.A Raiders/Abbotsford Heat
The Flames have had their eye on Valcourt for a while now as evidenced by the fact that he signed an ATO last year and appeared in exactly one game for the Heat. In his last season of junior, Valcourt put up some decent numbers splitting time between two teams. However, Valcourt was playing as a 20 year old, so the numbers are really as impressive. I suppose I am curious to see how much skill, if any at all, is in Valcourt's game or if he projects to be, at best, a bottom sixer for the Heat.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
Once again, I'm not looking for much out of most of these guys. Dev camp is fun to watch for the invitees because they are playing for their hockey lives, if not with the Flames then with other teams elsewhere. Last year, Jooris and Linden Penner were some of the best forwards at dev camp and we all know the origin story of our newly minted fearless leader/captain so if you're heading down/up to Winsport in the next few days, keep your eyes peeled.
Also, take a look at the full list and let me know in the comments if I have missed some other intriguing names from the invitees. I am obviously not familiar with them all.