How Are The Prospects Doing?

Ryan Pike
March 15 2015 01:04PM

The Calgary Flames are pushing for a playoff spot. Down in the American Hockey League, the Adirondack Flames are doing the same thing. But there's a bunch of other players in the Flames organization who are also toiling away, working towards (eventual) NHL opportunities.

So on this sleepy Sunday, how are the Flames (non-pro) prospects doing? (European prospects exempted because they both already finished their seasons.)

CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

SAM BENNETT - KINGSTON FRONTENACS

You may have heard of this kid. He's 18. Spent majority of the season in Calgary rehabbing an injured shoulder. He's played 9 games with Kingston. He's got 21 points, including 11 goals. He's doing well, and helping Kingston (who've already clinched a playoff spot) potentially move up a bit in the standings. Bennett's doing well.

HUNTER SMITH - OSHAWA GENERALS

By coincidence, Oshawa plays Kingston tonight for the first time since Bennett returned to the OHL. Smith has had a decent season himself, with 48 points (and 22 goals) in 56 games. I'd be concerned about his penalty minutes, though: he's got 115 PIMs this season, including 80 that aren't related to fights. I mean, he's big and uses his size, but that's more than a penalty per game. Oshawa's clinched their division, by the way.

MASON McDONALD - CHARLOTTETOWN ISLANDERS

The Islanders have clinched a playoff spot but their placement is unclear in the mess that is the QMJHL standings. However, McDonald has quietly been one of that league's top netminders - his .906 save percentage is third in the league - and he's played more games than all but three Q goaltenders.

AUSTIN CARROLL - VICTORIA ROYALS

If you asked me what I'd hoped an over-age season would look like for a junior player, it'd be Carroll's year. He leads Victoria with 76 points in 67 games and he's the straw that stirs the drink for them. They've clinched a playoff spot, too. Like Smith, I'm a bit concerned about his discipline though - 122 PIMs this season, including three fights.

MORGAN KLIMCHUK - BRANDON WHEAT KINGS

The Wheaties have already clinched their division. Klimchuk has had a good season, with 73 points (and 32 goals) in 57 games. He's only got 22 penalty minutes, which seems to indicate that he's (a) not worse than the players he's against and (b) disciplined. He'll be a pro next season, most definitely.

ERIC ROY - BRANDON WHEAT KINGS

Roy has had a decent over-age season on Brandon's second pairing, with 43 points (5 goals) in 63 games. He's not blowing the doors off, so to speak, but he's not a tire-fire, either. He's simply not an exceptional junior player right now.

KEEGAN KANZIG - CALGARY HITMEN

Kanzig is fairly typical of a big Calgary Flames prospect. His scoring isn't amazing - 22 points (3 goals) in 66 games - but he sure does take penalties and fight a lot. He's got 164 penalty minutes and is third in the WHL with 14 fighting majors. Interpret that as you care to. Calgary will be in the playoffs, and has clinched a spot.

COLLEGE

MATTHEW DEBLOUW - MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Deblouw had a rough sophomore season, playing fourth line minutes and getting bumped out of the line-up quite a bit. He's been a lot better this season, putting up 13 points in 34 games and contributing 3 game-winning goals. His face-off numbers are down from last season (49%), but he's been strong late in the season. He's probably not a prospect of note, but he's definitely recovered from that awful last season. And hey, he's a seventh rounder, so expectations (and investment) is low. Michigan State begins the playoffs next weekend.

TIM HARRISON - COLGATE RAIDERS

Harrison had 10 points in 35 games for the Raiders, and continues to be a role guy for his team. He's big, he hits guys and he occasionally takes penalties. He's not an offensive powerhouse, but he's still added three game-winning goals, so at least he picks his spots. Colgate has advanced to the second round of the ECAC playoffs.

MARK JANKOWSKI - PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

The Big Jankowski has had a decent year, with 23 points in 32 games. He's gone through stretches when he's barely scored, and stretches where he's scored in bunches. He's a good face-off guy, and his coach praised his play in last night's game with New Hampshire. The Friars play again tonight in the deciding game of their opening-round series.

JOHN GILMOUR - PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

Gilmour recently returned from an injury. He amassed 11 points in 25 games this season, which isn't bad for a late-round college defenseman. He's fine. He was second star in PC's win against New Hampshire yesterday.

JON GILLIES - PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

Gillies has had another strong college season, passing the 100-game mark in his conference and continuing to have a save percentage around the .930 mark. He continues to be one of the best collegiate goaltenders in the nation. Keep an eye on the Friars, because as soon as their season is over, he could go pro. Maybe.

BRANDON HICKEY - BOSTON UNIVERSITY TERRIERS

Two years younger than Gilmour, Hickey is already off to a strong start to his college career with a strong Boston University squad. He has 15 points in 35 games thus far, largely playing second-pairing minutes. BU has advanced to the next round of the Hockey East playoffs. I wouldn't be shocked if they went far.

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Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. He's just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.
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#51 clyde
March 16 2015, 08:12AM
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Walter White wrote:

Roland McKeown is a star?

The same Roland McKeown that BT passed over in the draft so he could pick McDonald at 34......?

I guess he thought McKeown would still be there at #54............what a puts!

It's not like we needed a "star" D-man at last years draft or anything.........

WW

Just because he is a top defenceman on his junior team doesn't mean he will be a sure fire NHL player. His numbers are actually going down so maybe his development has stalled? Hickey was taken later and looks to be developing quite nicely against much older competition.

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#52 Dave
March 16 2015, 08:14AM
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Keep in mind BT drafted hickey last year too. By all accounts he is trending very well.

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#53 Walter White
March 16 2015, 08:35AM
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clyde wrote:

Just because he is a top defenceman on his junior team doesn't mean he will be a sure fire NHL player. His numbers are actually going down so maybe his development has stalled? Hickey was taken later and looks to be developing quite nicely against much older competition.

I too like the Hickey pick.

Problem is we should have had 4 players like Hickey with our 4 picks in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds.

Not: McDonald, Smith and Bollig.

WW

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#54 Parallex
March 16 2015, 09:01AM
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Jake the Snail wrote:

..but Hunter Smith got a goal and 7 PIMs for Oshawa!

He's lucky it was a blowout and they had the game well in hand... putting his team down two men on a minor-major like he did could have been disasterious in another circumstance.

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#55 everton fc
March 16 2015, 09:45AM
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Gerard wrote:

Can he skate with the big boys??? hmmmm.....

I tend to agree with Derzie somewhat...FN posters do not like bad news even though it's the truth....

This pick may have spelled doom for Feaster, as it was crystal-clear we lacked organizational depth on the back-end.

Unless the strategy was to have a plethora of forwards, particularly centers, to use as trade-bait to sure-up our defence. Which I think is highly doubtful, not to mention madness.

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#56 everton fc
March 16 2015, 09:46AM
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Walter White wrote:

I too like the Hickey pick.

Problem is we should have had 4 players like Hickey with our 4 picks in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds.

Not: McDonald, Smith and Bollig.

WW

I tend to agree. Especially on Bollig. And I'd take Carroll any day over Smith. Carroll was a real steal. He'll get every "opp" to play here, too. Another Ferland.

And I still say we sign Eric Roy. It's not like we are over-flowing with defencive prospects on the farm; Roy's not putting up the goals he did last season, but he's playing well, and played well in Penticton. He deserves a look, as we need defencemen. If he can put on some muscle, he, too, may prove a steal.

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#57 Bean-counting cowboy
March 16 2015, 10:33AM
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everton fc wrote:

I tend to agree. Especially on Bollig. And I'd take Carroll any day over Smith. Carroll was a real steal. He'll get every "opp" to play here, too. Another Ferland.

And I still say we sign Eric Roy. It's not like we are over-flowing with defencive prospects on the farm; Roy's not putting up the goals he did last season, but he's playing well, and played well in Penticton. He deserves a look, as we need defencemen. If he can put on some muscle, he, too, may prove a steal.

If Rafikov decides to come over, I'd rather give the spot to him. If not, then maybe sign Roy.

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#58 Avalain
March 16 2015, 11:17AM
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I went to the Hitmen game on Sunday and watched Kanzig closely. I'm not exactly a pro hockey scout but here's my take on him for those people who don't get around to watching him.

My first impression of him is that he's generally quite defensively sound. He was never really caught out of position. I did see him get beat once because he wasn't fast enough and I saw him leave a man free in the slot once (nothing came from either of those mistakes). Other than that he was potentially one of the most consistent defencemen in terms of defence. He seemed to be the top choice for the PK. So, I'd say these are the good things.

As for the not-so-good things, I saw a few issues. First of all, he's quite chippy. I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of his penalties are from slashing. Basically, if he's battling along the boards for too long he just starts to hack at stuff. Second, you know those people who always want the puck? That's not him. He seems like he doesn't want the puck to ever be anywhere near him. I guess that's not a terrible thing for a defenceman to want but it seems like he tries to dump it out too early sometimes. Finally, his offence. The last time I watched him I had a really hard time figuring out why his points are so low. Part way through this one I maybe started to figure it out. Not all of it is his fault, really. He gets basically no power play time and the forwards seem to randomly struggle to make something happen whenever he's on the ice. That being said, every stretch pass that I saw him make was never received. He either missed the pass entirely or the forward simply couldn't corral the puck. He doesn't come in to pinch which is likely a result of his foot speed. He also seems to only be part of a cycle in the offensive zone very rarely.

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#59 beloch
March 16 2015, 11:41AM
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@Gerard

Smith is 19, so there's plenty of time for him to learn a little discipline. His point generation is good. If he can translate that success to the AHL and take fewer penalties, he'll be a keeper.

Kanzig is both older and far, far huger than most WHL competition, so I'd have liked to see a little bit more offence from him. Then again, he's almost tripled his point generation since last season, so that's at least something. The AHL is going to be the real test for him.

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#60 MontanaMan
March 16 2015, 12:24PM
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Walter White wrote:

I too like the Hickey pick.

Problem is we should have had 4 players like Hickey with our 4 picks in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds.

Not: McDonald, Smith and Bollig.

WW

Wally - you consistently like the picks that work out. You're brilliant. Wally for GM.

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#61 okg
March 16 2015, 12:50PM
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Walter White wrote:

I too like the Hickey pick.

Problem is we should have had 4 players like Hickey with our 4 picks in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds.

Not: McDonald, Smith and Bollig.

WW

You can only have so many good prospects that are so similar. We have the following smooth-skating puck moving defensemen in our system right now:

On the team: Gio Brodie Russell

On the AHL squad:

Wotherspoon Culkin Kulak

In the NCAA:

Hickey Gilmour

You can probably add Jason Fram to that list very soon, who happens to also be that elusive right-hander.

So what do we have for players like Hunter Smith? A right-handed power forward with some smooth hands? The closest might be Garnet Hathaway, who's about 4 inches shorter which is a pretty big difference in terms of intimidation value.

Goaltenders? Why wouldn't you rather have one of the better goaltending prospects rather than hope a late rounder pans out? Right now the only goaltending prospects we have are Ortio and Gillies, and Ortio will probably be in the NHL next year. It's always good to not put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to goalies, so having two more in the system who may but may not pan out is always a safe bet.

Lastly, Bollig. Say what you will about his actual gameplay, but he fills a lot of niches for the Flames that might just be worth the #85 overall pick that he was traded for (Hickey was ~#64). He's a better player than McGrattan, so they could afford to waive Big Ern. He's a smart player coming from a championship level organization who's been a good veteran to have around and he could be helping groom Ferland for the same role someday. You need veterans for rookies to learn from, and while I'm not always the biggest fan of when Hartley plays him, I'm also not privy to all that he contributes on the ice as a vocal presence.

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#62 Scary Gary
March 16 2015, 02:09PM
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okg wrote:

You can only have so many good prospects that are so similar. We have the following smooth-skating puck moving defensemen in our system right now:

On the team: Gio Brodie Russell

On the AHL squad:

Wotherspoon Culkin Kulak

In the NCAA:

Hickey Gilmour

You can probably add Jason Fram to that list very soon, who happens to also be that elusive right-hander.

So what do we have for players like Hunter Smith? A right-handed power forward with some smooth hands? The closest might be Garnet Hathaway, who's about 4 inches shorter which is a pretty big difference in terms of intimidation value.

Goaltenders? Why wouldn't you rather have one of the better goaltending prospects rather than hope a late rounder pans out? Right now the only goaltending prospects we have are Ortio and Gillies, and Ortio will probably be in the NHL next year. It's always good to not put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to goalies, so having two more in the system who may but may not pan out is always a safe bet.

Lastly, Bollig. Say what you will about his actual gameplay, but he fills a lot of niches for the Flames that might just be worth the #85 overall pick that he was traded for (Hickey was ~#64). He's a better player than McGrattan, so they could afford to waive Big Ern. He's a smart player coming from a championship level organization who's been a good veteran to have around and he could be helping groom Ferland for the same role someday. You need veterans for rookies to learn from, and while I'm not always the biggest fan of when Hartley plays him, I'm also not privy to all that he contributes on the ice as a vocal presence.

I'm not sure I'd agree, I'd take seven Gio's or Brodie's.

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#63 Walter White
March 16 2015, 02:11PM
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MontanaMan wrote:

Wally - you consistently like the picks that work out. You're brilliant. Wally for GM.

feel free to go back as far as you want; you won't find WW saying anything bad about Hickey; in fact you will find other references to the fact we should have drafted 4 Hickeys...

Nice try though.....and yes; WW for GM would be an upgrade!

WW

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#64 Walter White
March 16 2015, 02:14PM
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okg wrote:

You can only have so many good prospects that are so similar. We have the following smooth-skating puck moving defensemen in our system right now:

On the team: Gio Brodie Russell

On the AHL squad:

Wotherspoon Culkin Kulak

In the NCAA:

Hickey Gilmour

You can probably add Jason Fram to that list very soon, who happens to also be that elusive right-hander.

So what do we have for players like Hunter Smith? A right-handed power forward with some smooth hands? The closest might be Garnet Hathaway, who's about 4 inches shorter which is a pretty big difference in terms of intimidation value.

Goaltenders? Why wouldn't you rather have one of the better goaltending prospects rather than hope a late rounder pans out? Right now the only goaltending prospects we have are Ortio and Gillies, and Ortio will probably be in the NHL next year. It's always good to not put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to goalies, so having two more in the system who may but may not pan out is always a safe bet.

Lastly, Bollig. Say what you will about his actual gameplay, but he fills a lot of niches for the Flames that might just be worth the #85 overall pick that he was traded for (Hickey was ~#64). He's a better player than McGrattan, so they could afford to waive Big Ern. He's a smart player coming from a championship level organization who's been a good veteran to have around and he could be helping groom Ferland for the same role someday. You need veterans for rookies to learn from, and while I'm not always the biggest fan of when Hartley plays him, I'm also not privy to all that he contributes on the ice as a vocal presence.

Wow; thats all we have for D in our system???!

This really proves my point; we should have drafted 4 D, because if we are lucky/good maybe 2 of them make the show.

WW

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#65 Cccsberg
March 16 2015, 03:32PM
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Walter White wrote:

Wow; thats all we have for D in our system???!

This really proves my point; we should have drafted 4 D, because if we are lucky/good maybe 2 of them make the show.

WW

No, I don't believe it's even half the D in the system.

And no, D isn't the only need in the system. FTR we drafted 2 D in 2014... 4 D in 2013 and 3 more in 2012. 3-4 more in 2015 would be good.

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#66 gerard
March 16 2015, 04:22PM
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beloch wrote:

Smith is 19, so there's plenty of time for him to learn a little discipline. His point generation is good. If he can translate that success to the AHL and take fewer penalties, he'll be a keeper.

Kanzig is both older and far, far huger than most WHL competition, so I'd have liked to see a little bit more offence from him. Then again, he's almost tripled his point generation since last season, so that's at least something. The AHL is going to be the real test for him.

Thanks for answering my question...I also like both prospects but my concern remains the skating. Prospects over 6'5" rarely make the NHL primarily because of skating issues....I personally hope those guys can make it in specific roles that are needed to balance a winning team....

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#67 Gerard
March 16 2015, 04:28PM
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everton fc wrote:

This pick may have spelled doom for Feaster, as it was crystal-clear we lacked organizational depth on the back-end.

Unless the strategy was to have a plethora of forwards, particularly centers, to use as trade-bait to sure-up our defence. Which I think is highly doubtful, not to mention madness.

Most fans fail to mention that in that draft Feaster was able to obtain a 2nd rounder (Sieloff)...remember Darryl Sutter gave all of those away...IMO I would still take my chances on a couple of 20 year olds (Janko/Sieloff) and develop them properly and hope they turn out to be top level prospects than an injury prone Maata!

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#68 xploD
March 16 2015, 05:27PM
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Its a HELL of a lot easier to tell someone to play with more discipline or tone it down then it is tell someone to be more aggressive and feisty so I'm not worried at all..

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