Prospect Round-up



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.

  • shep

    I watched a lot skellefteås games in the SEL playoffs and tim erixon looks nice compared to rundblad and larsson.

    skellefteas d-pairs at ev was:

    lindgren – rundblad
    erixon – larsson
    majesky – burström

    PP was a bit mixed up but rundblad always on the 1st unit and erixon switched between.

    He haven’t got the offensive flair of rundblad but is a better passer and decision maker all over the ice. has a good point shot/one timer and is good positionally in his own end. handled himself well with the physical play.

    rundblad had a lot of giveaways in his own zone and got blown up a couple of times admiring his passes.
    larsson looked overwhelmed defensively, often out of position looking for the big hit but still very good for an 18 year old.

    I can see erixon playing bottom pairing nhl or top pairing ahl next year.

  • shep

    yes, I think thats reasonable.

    He’s still young and seems to be nice kid and there is still a lot of development needed but I think that is a resonable expectation

    • Runblad had some really nice numbers this year, but it sounds like he’s more the 3rd pairing, PP specialist type: dude who needs to be sheltered at ES, but can put up numbers in the right situation. Accuaate?

  • Robert Cleave

    Carter Bancks is a super hard worker. I got to see him first-hand when he played junior down in Lethbridge and you would never question his effort. He never had the most talent in Lethbridge but would make up for it through penalty killing, great defensive play and hard work. Good guy to have.

  • shep

    I dont think rundblad was totally sheltered at ev, he played with Lindgren (tough 2way d) on the 1st pair, got a lot of pp time, didnt pk much. probably high oz%.

    He is an offensive force at ev/pp i think, but his defensive game has major warts from what i saw during the playoff.

    Im on the subway atm so cant check stats etc but hes somewhat like phaneuf whitout the hitting during his time in cgy.

  • shep

    ok, i checked and the stats breakdown for rundblad is:

    boxcars: 11-39-50

    ev: 5-14-19

    pp: 3-25-28

    the last 3 goals is the 3 shootout gamewinners that the sel apparantly adds to the boxcars(?!)

    so ignoring that he got 60% of his offence on the PP.

    lidström had 60%, enström 54%, weber 35% visnovsky 45% this season for comparison.

  • If Erixon ended up anywhere CLOSE to being a Lidstrom, chalk one up for the Flames.

    Are there any current NHL comparables for Ryan Howse? It would be interesting to see if he stacks up with any current NHLer and see what we might have on our hands.

  • As per Flames Insider with the Herald the flames decided not to renew the contracts of Cookson and Mclennan today. Interesting move. I thought Mclennan seemed pretty good. Apparently they offered him another position.

  • Noodles coaching our goalies was ridiculous. Seriously, all he’s memorable for was chopping Franzen in the chest during the playoffs several years ago.

    Is THAT what we want our younger goalies to be doing? I would prefer Ortio, Irving, and Karlsson to be more than just goons.

  • interesting, the flames never re upped two flat tire members of the coaching staff. perhaps lowery is next to be kicking stones. hope the replacements are names sutter, as in rich. rich did wonders ruining the hurricanes, right schevvy

    • Rich gets some blame for putting the team in disarray, the mess that ensued was not pretty. Personally, I think more of the blame goes on Rich Preston, trading almost everyone who was decent for picks who haven’t done well so far.

      On another note: If Erixon ends up near anyone on that list, chalk one up for the Flames.

      • Oyo

        rich sutter showed up to run the powerplay/special teams while mike dyck was still bench boss,who got a very raw deal by staziak and the committee. of which richies father in law was one. the hurricanes are dealing with that bitch named karma now. preston aint the answer, mike dyck led them deep in playoffs only to be for bancks good ahl career type, not sure if full time nhl skill set.

        • Oyo

          The mess with the Hurricanes started when Dyck was let go. He was a great coach and had led the team to the finals the year before he was fired. The whole reasoning the president gave was that a new GM, would need a new coach. I don’t agree at all with that. Rich Sutter got a raw deal through that process and since then, as you said, karma’s a bitch. Bancks I think could be a Jackman like player, 3rd liner who works hard every night.

          • dont think of bancks as a jackmanish type. however he is a high energy, team first kinda guy, see him more as a prust type,just not to that level. rich showed up to run the pp while mike was still coach. staziak the then gm, began tampering with the lineups. mitch fadden move was the beginning of the end. mike’s a great coach, the kids love him. reminds me of teddy nolan in some respects. the raw deal rich got was trying to wrestle power and ownership from the 12 apostle in the windy city. and karma is a bitch. preston may be a nice guy but when it comes to talent evaluation he is terrible at best.

  • I watched a couple of regular season games of the Kootenay Ice, and Reinhart was pretty good. But that series against Saskatoon, he was amazing. His line was dominant against the Blades, and he was arguably the Ice’s best player. I would be infuriated if he doesnt recieve an invite to Canada WJC summer evaluation camp. Joey Leach was a lot less spectacular, but he seems like a reliable guy on the back end.

  • Maybe it’s time they bring back Playfair to replace Cookson. I remember Dutter said he didnt want him wasting away as an assistant coach in the NHL but really which is a better position? Head coach of an AHL team or assistant coach of an NHL?

    Playfair really does seem like a good coach. Even when he was the Flames head coach I dont recall he deserved to be fired. Maybe he can rise the ranks to become Butters right hand man and they can really come up with some pretty remarkable stuff. All of this is assuming Playfair doesnt get a job offer to be a head coach with another NHL club.

  • I like Playfair as an AHL coach just because he seems to get it in terms of developing players, and that’s something the Flames deseperately need. Given a choice between him as an asst coach in the bigs or leaving for another team however, I’d prefer he be with the Flames.

  • everton fc

    Tough situation w/Playfair. If you do something else w/Brent… Then Playfair can move up. Or, does he move back behind the bench here? Or… Could he be moved up into a more senior scouting role… Or…


  • Oyo

    ive liked this teams overall defensive corps this year (with babchuk not white.)
    i think augmenting one or two younger talented players will help this team in the near future. perhaps season 2013. also would look at trading big D man for offensive stud

  • everton fc

    re: Playfair – on record repeatedly as saying he doesn’t want to be an assistant in the NHL or anywhere else for that matter. He wants to be a head coach and if that means doing it at a lower level the so be it. He will only go to the NHL as a head coach, which is his ultimate goal.