December 26 2016 10:00AM
With the WJC going on, the focus of the hockey world is all on the prospects. Similarly, we here at FlamesNation are following suit. In case you missed it (was there something important going on yesterday?), we re-ranked our top twenty prospects from the summer.
Now, we're going to pull the curtains back a bit and reveal some of our thinking and impressions about the Flames' farm crop. It's our first roundtable in a while, so we're getting in the spirit of the (hockey) season and discussing the future.
1. Which prospects were your biggest risers/fallers and why?
Ari: I just wanna preface this by saying I'm still somewhat blown away from how difficult it is to compile these things. Some prospects fell in my rankings that I honestly didn't mean for them to, it's just... some other guys are really good, you know? Or show more potential. Lists are tricky, man.
Anyway. This is difficult, so I'm gonna cheap out on this question, but Adam Fox is someone who has really surprised me with how well he's doing right now. I'm a little disappointed in Hunter Shinkaruk's showings so far, but that's unfair to him; he's doing well in the AHL and it's not like he was given much of a chance during his NHL callup.
Brett Kulak rose for obvious reasons (I should hope) while David Rittich is doing more than I thought he'd be able to in the A. I was hoping for more out of Daniel Pribyl, but it's still early yet.
Kent Wilson: I'd say the biggest riser for me is Morgan Klimchuk. He needed to take a big step forward this season to prove he was still a prospect of note and he's done that so far.
Biggest faller might be Brandon Hickey. He was starting to look like almost a top five prospect for the Flames last year but he has gotten off to a slow start this season and was even bumped from his team's top pairing for a time.
Moving backwards in your draft +3 season isn't usually a good sign.
Ryan Pike: I'm higher on Matt Phillips, Adam Fox and Mark Jankowski than I was in the summer, primarily based upon their successes so far this season. On the flip side, I'm colder on Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier and Ryan Culkin, in part because it seems like they're all getting lapped by younger prospects.
Christian R: My biggest riser was Mark Jankowski, though maybe not in big ranking jump, but in my opinion of him. Coming out of college and into this season I saw him as a career AHLer type, maybe fringe NHLer if the Flames really pressed the issue. However, his smooth transition into the pro ranks and the skills he showed during his brief stint with the flames - chief among them being faceoff ability - made me believe there might be a brighter future for 77 than I gave him credit for. He could turn into a very useful bottom six centreman, relied upon for his faceoff ability but also capable of pushing the play and contributing 30 points or so on a yearly basis. A modern day Paul Gaustad if you will.
Similarly, Emile Poirier tumbled down my list and my view of him. His inability to become a key member of a very strong Stockton Heat offence, despite this being his third AHL season, has caused my souring of him to peak - or would it be, valley? He’s hardly a legitimate prospect at this point in my mind, and that’s unfortunate. I’d say Poirier and Jankowski have completely flip flopped in my mind since the last time we did these rankings.
Christian T: I would have to say that Morgan Klimchuk is my biggest riser, seeing as I didn't even consider him in the initial rankings but gave him a top 10 spot in this go around. As for sinkers, I soured on Daniel Pribyl. Perhaps I set my expectations too high for him, but he has been all-around underwhelming so far this season.
2. Who was your biggest surprise in the first half of the season? Who do you expect more out of in the second half of the season?
Ari: Fox. I thought he'd be good, but I didn't think he'd be 16-points-in-11-games, tied-for-seventh-in-NCAA-defencemen-scoring good. And that's while having played seven or eight games fewer than everybody above him. He's a freshman. What the hell.
As for someone I expect more out of in the second half of the season, I'm still a believer in Emile Poirier. His scoring rate is okay, not great. He also has the second most shots on the Heat. Something's gotta give.
Kent Wilson: Adam Fox put together some incredible results to kick off the year in Harvard. I really liked the pick when it was made, but I didn't quite expect him to start out this well this soon in college.
As mentioned above, I'd like to see Hickey become his team's go-to defender in the second part of the season. I'd also like to see Eetu Tuulola get more ice time and put together better results for Everett.
Ryan Pike: I had high hopes for Fox but I didn't expect him to grab the ball and run with it as much as he has for Harvard thus far. I'm hoping to see more out of Brandon Hickey in the remainder of his season.
Christian R: Rasmus Andersson was my biggest surprise, without a doubt. Especially after starting the year in a sheltered, third pairing role, I didn't foresee this type of offensive contribution. I realize offence is his bread and butter, but given the circumstances, I’m very pleasantly surprised to see what he made of them.
As for wanting more out of someone, I’d love to see Jon Gillies bounce back from an uneven first half and reclaim the net his own. Since injuring his finger earlier on in the season, he hasn’t been the same dynamic goaltender we’ve seen since he was drafted. I definitely think he has it in him, I just hope that can transfer into results in light of a surging - and seemingly impenetrable - David Rittich in the Stockton crease.
Christian T: It's Tkachuk for me. I knew he was good, but I would've never guessed he would be this good this young. If we're talking about non-NHL prospects, I guess I would go with the (mostly) consensus pick and say Adam Fox.
For the second half, I would like to see Hunter Shinkaruk be able to force his way onto the big team. I really liked what I saw from him last season, but I was slightly discouraged by the few games he played in the NHL. As long as he doesn't Baertschi himself and under-perform in the AHL, he should be golden.
3. Which of our fine young pups at the WJC will you be watching most?
Ari: Oliver Kylington. I wanted that dude at 15th overall in 2015. The Flames got him at 60th. He's playing his second professional year in North America and he's still eligible to play in the WJC. That's exciting. He's exciting. And he's probably the closest out of all of the Flames prospects to making the NHL, too.
Kent Wilson: Adam Fox and Tyler Parsons for team America are at the top of my list. I'll be very interested to see Oliver Kylington play against his peers, particularly since he's been competing against grown men since he was 17 years old.
Ryan Pike: I'll have my attention primarily on Fox and Dillon Dube.
Christian R: Without a doubt that pup has to be Oliver Kylington. After getting unfathomably snubbed from the Swedish team last year, the dynamic blueliner - with a season and change of pro hockey under his belt - should surely dominate. He hasn’t played against peers of his age group basically since he was 15, so the expectation he emerges as one of the top defenceman in this tournament isn’t outrageous - I would suggest it’s mandatory if we’re to keep considering him an elite prospect. I trust he’ll fulfill the prophecy, nonetheless.
On a lesser note, I’m curious to see if Canada keeps Dillon Dube in the primary role he filled all through selection camp, and if so, what he does with that. He hasn’t played much this season so it’s been tough to fairly evaluate his progression in his D+1 year.
Christian T: I'll most likely be seeing a whole lot of Dube, but I'm not going to miss a chance to watch Oliver Kylington do Oliver Kylington things.