Post-mortems and deep analysis will continue this week at Flames Nation, but for now a quick update on some of Calgary’s more notable prospects.
– Max Reinhart is making me look foolish for doubting his selection last June. The third rounder took a significant step forward this season, scoring 34 goals and 79 points in 71 games playd this season – a 28 point improvement over his draft year. That was the best total on the Kootenay Ice aside from Cody Eakin, who was traded to the team late in the season.
Reinhart has followed up a nice regular season campaign with a good showing in the playoffs, managed 7 goals and 13 points in 10 games so far. That total is good for third on his club and 11th overall in WHL playoff scoring.
As mentioned, I was pretty dubious when the Flames passed up potential home-runs like Jordan Weal and Kirill Kabanov for a guy with unspectacular scouting reports and point totals, but Reinhart has certainly justified the orgs love so far with his rapid devlopment. Obviously we’re years away from knowing whether the team made the right decision or not, but right now I’m happy to say it seems that I was wrong about him.
– The junior prospect who garnered the most attention this year was 51-goal scorer Ryan Howse. The smallish winger started the season on fire, scoring at a near goal-per-game pace during the first month or so of hockey. He eventually slowed down, but still finished with a career-best goal total. Only Tyler Johnson of the Spokane Chiefs scored more goals than Howse this year in the WHL – and he played on a vastly superior team.
Howse’s goal totals are notable given the paucity of support he had on the Bruins and the total lack of snipers in the Flames system right now. That said, it’s questionable whether Howse is a guy who can translate his offense from junior to the pro ranks. Last season, he was the player most dependent on the power-play for his scoring out of all the Flames junior forwards I examined, which isn’t the best indication going forward (see: Rob Schremp). We’ll re-examine his points this year to determine how reliant he was on the man advantage for his scoring again.
– As Robert noted recently, Tim Erixon had a vert strong season in the SEL this year. His five goals and 24 points in the regular seaosn were strong and he followed that up with 8 points in 18 games in the post-season. He was also Skelleftea’s ice time leader in the post-season, no mean feat for a kid playing in a pro league.
To put Erixon’s season in perspective, Calgarypuck poster icarus compared his results against some other notable NHL defenders who also played in the SEL at the same age. Even with names like Lidstrom, Kronwall, Enstrom and Ohlund on the list, Erixon leads the parade. Good news.
– Seventh rounder Patrick Holland also managed a decent showing this past season given his draft pedigree. Holland scored 22 goals and 62 points for the Tri-City Americans, sixth highest on the team. He is currently tied for third on the club in the playoffs with 7 points in 9 games.
– As for the Abbotsford Heat, Jim Playfair recently talked about the farm team’s mediocre season with Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald while Dhiren Mahiban of the Canadian press does a post-mortem here.
There wasn’t a lot to write home about for the Heat this year. The club was the youngest in the AHL and probably one of the most injury prone. Matt Pelech, Carter Bancks, Mitch Wahl, John Negrin, Cam Cunning, Kris Chucko and Gaelan Patterson all missed significant chunks of time due to various ailments. Add in the Flames general lack of high-end talent and you have the lowest scoring squad in the league.
It wasn’t all bad news for Abbotsford, however. Playfair points to the development of TJ Brodie, Chris Breen and Leland Irving in the Hall article as bright spots. Lance Bouma and Greg Nemisz weren’t terribly overwhelmed during their brief stints in big league for the Flames either. Adding Howse, who should turn pro this coming season, and maybe getting full years out of guys like Patterson, Wahl and Negrin might help the team put a few more goals on the board. Irving continuing to improve would help things as well no doubt.
– A final note on the farm team: Carter Banks was frequently talked about in glowing terms by Playfair this year. The former Flames bench boss even went as far to say that if Bancks had played the whole season (rather than just 29 games), the club would have probably made the playoffs.
I don’t know how true that is (few single skaters have that much influence on a team), but it’s high praise for an undrafted player nonetheless. Interestingly, Bancks was playing under a pro contract for the Heat this season and has never actually been signed by the Flames themselves. He is a pending free agent this coming summer, so it will be interesting to see what org does with the 21-year old.