Young Stars Tournament Preview

FlamesNation is in Penticton for the second annual Young Stars Tournament involving prospects from the Flames, Oilers, Sharks, Jets and the host Canucks.  Last year was the coming out party for T.J. Brodie, a party that carried over to main camp and culminated with the defenceman starting the season with the big team.  Who will stand out this year?  We’ll find out starting Sunday night.

We’ll have full coverage of every game the Flames prospects play here on the site, as well as feature articles throughout the camp and other observations, as I’m here first hand each and every time they’re on the ice.  The team is on the ice every day in Pencticton, Sunday through Wednesday inclusive, with three games to be played.

  • Sunday, September 11th – Flames prospects vs. San Jose Sharks prospects, 5 pm
  • Monday, September 12th – Flames prospects vs. Vancouver Canucks prospects, 5 pm
  • Wednesday, September 14th – Flames prospects vs. Edmonton Oilers prospects, 8:30 pm

On Friday, the group of prospects will play a game at Father David Bauer Arena in northwest Calgary against the University of Calgary Dino’s to finish off the rookie side of things; main camp starts on Saturday.

The Forwards

The team invited 18 forwards to Penticton, including their latest first round pick in Sven Baertschi along with a few tryout players.

  • Sven Baertschi, Portland (WHL)
  • Carter Bancks, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Lance Bouma, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Bryan Cameron, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Justin Dowling, Swift Current (WHL)
  • Tuner Elson, Red Deer (WHL)
  • Michael Ferland, Brandon (WHL)
  • Blake Gal, Spokane (WHL)
  • Patrick Holland, Tri-City (WHL)
  • Roman Horak, Chilliwack (WHL)
  • Ryan Howse, Chilliwack (WHL)
  • Logan MacMillan, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Greg Nemisz, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Gaelan Patterson, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Max Reinhart, Kootenay (WHL)
  • C.J. Severyn, Ohio State (CCHA)
  • Dustin Sylvester, Freiburg FHC (Germany II)
  • Mitch Wahl, Abbotsford (AHL)

There’s no question it’s an experienced group of players, with seven players seeing extensive time with Calgary’s top affilliate last year.  Of those players, Bouma and Nemisz are expected to play the largest role on the Heat this season, with both seeing time in Calgary last season.  New Abbotsford Head Coach Troy Ward has told me on a couple of different occasions how heavily he’s going to rely on the two forwards this season.

After scoring 53 goals in his final year of junior, Bryan Cameron suffered a slow transition to pro hockey last season, scoring just six times in his 60 game campaign.  As an undrafted signing, this is a big camp for him to show Flames brass whether he’s taken any steps.  A concussion sidelined former second round pick Mitch Wahl for most of the season last year, limiting him to just 17 games.  The former Spokane Chiefs captain and Memorial Cup winner is healthy now, and remains one of the Flames prospects I’m most excited about.  He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch, because I know he was jacked up to take part in development camp in July.

From the junior ranks, Patrick Holland is the guy I’m most intrigued by, as his busy summer transitions into a busy spring.  It was a surprise to some to see Holland invited to Team Canada’s summer world junior camp, but Hockey Canada has said nothing but good things about the 2010 pick.  Scouts love his two way game, so I’m looking forward to see how far he’s come since the last time we saw him.

Ryan Howse is coming off a 51 goal year with the Bruins, but many still wonder how his game translates to the pro and NHL level.  Is he a guy who can keep up with high level skating?  Is he a guy who can score at the next level?  These questions won’t be answered entirely in this camp, but we may see some indicators.  His Chilliwack teammate Roman Horak came over in the Tim Erixon trade, and will have lots of fan eyes on him as a result.

Then there’s Max Reinhart, who has quickly become one of Calgary’s most exciting young players, thanks to his huge step forward this past season.  Playing in Cranbrook, Reinhart put up a solid 79 points in the regular season, and 33 more in the playoffs, and impressed many with his all round play.  Frequently put in a "best on best" role, Reinhart showed he can shut down the top players on the other side while still putting points on the board, which is something that obviously projects very well to the next level.

The Blueline

There is certainly an excess up front when it comes to Flames prospects, but things are a tad slimmer numbers-wise when it comes to defence.  Nine defenders will skate in the Young Stars tournament, with a couple recent draftees from Minnesota and Los Angeles.

  • Chris Breen, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • T.J. Brodie, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Dallas Ehrhardt, Moose Jaw (WHL)
  • Reid Jackson, Lethbridge (WHL)
  • Peter Kosterman, Calgary (WHL)
  • Joey Leach, Kootenay (WHL)
  • James Martin, Kootenay (WHL)
  • John Negrin, Abbotsford (AHL)
  • Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland (WHL)

It’s still a fairly experienced group, with three players taking part with at least one season of pro under their belts.  The blueline is where we see a number of tryout players invited, including Peter Kosterman of the Calgary Hitmen, who’s coming off a solid 68 game season with the team.

Tyler Wotherspoon was Calgary’s second round pick in Minnesota, but it looks like we won’t see much of him on the ice, as he continues to battle back from an injury.  Flames prospects have been skating for the last couple days, and at some point the Surrey product switched from a regular "contact" jersey to a brighter one signifying "no contact".

Joey Leach intrigues me a lot, coming off a season filled with lots of ups, but some downs as well.  The 2010 third round pick was limited to 56 regular season games due to injury, but was able to come back towards the end of the season and help the Ice get on their roll that propelled them to theWestern Hockey League title and the  Memorial Cup tournament.  He’s played an offensive, more sheltered role before but saw much more difficult minutes down the stretch and into the posteseason, seeing lots of time on the ice with Reinhart against top opposition on the other side.  His teammate James Martin will also attend the camp on a tryout basis.

In Net

Due to unforseen circumstances, it sounds like most eyes will be on one goaltender in particular this week, as Joni Ortio will likely be the focus.  The Flames have invited three goaltenders to camp, but may have to change plans.

  • Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton (WHL)
  • Andrew Engelage, Utah (ECHL)
  • Joni Ortio, TPS Turku (Finland Elite)

Brossoit has seemingly suffered an injury prior to the Young Stars Tournament starting and will likely not be on the ice, so it sounds like the team might look to bring in another player to fill things out.  We’ll keep you up to date on how that plays out.

Ortio was a sixth round pick of the Flames back in 2009, and since that time has made his blip on the radar a whole lot larger due to his play.  He played in six games at the World Juniors for his country at Christmas time, posting some impressive numbers to go along with solid performance.  The Turku native is now in North America for hockey full time, seeing a game with the Heat last season.  He’ll be fun to watch in this tournament, because you know he’ll get lots of time.  What will be even more interesting will be how Abbotsford uses him this season, with Leland Irving also on the team coming off a fairly good season.

Andrew Engelage has been invited on a tryout basis after spending most of his time in the ECHL last year.  He played 40 games with Utah posting a 2.80 goals against to go along with a .913 save percentage; in two games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, his numbers weren’t as impressive, at 3.37 and .892.

It’ll be a fun camp and the games will be enjoyable, as these guys aren’t going half speed whatsoever.  All Flames games can be seen on Calgary’s official website.

  • flamesburn89

    So psyched for this to finally start! Can’t wait to see a handful of guys. This is gonna be cool!

    “Brossoit has seemingly suffered an injury prior to the Young Stars Tournament starting and will likely not be on the ice, so it sounds like the team might look to bring in another player to fill things out”

    So Pat, does that mean the Flames are just gonna bring in another guy on a tryout contract? Because I don’t think the Flames have another goaltending prospect who qualifies for this tournament, but I could be wrong.

    1 more question: Where are John Ramage, John Gaudreau and Bill Arnold? Are those guys not permitted to come because they play college hockey or something??

    • 1 more question: Where are John Ramage, John Gaudreau and Bill Arnold? Are those guys not permitted to come because they play college hockey or something??

      Yeah, SinCity was right; Ramage and Arnold are both in college while Gaudreau is getting set for his USHL season. Gaudreau is committed to Northeastern for not this season but the year after.

      • Boston College not Northeastern. And I think you’re thinking of the wrong Gaudreau, his brother is going to play in the USHL this year for the Omaha Lancers but I’m pretty sure John Gaudreau is playing College hockey this year.

  • Vintage Flame

    Very excited to finally have some hockey on the screen.

    @Flamesburn89

    I am not Pat, but the goaltender would be a camp invite. An undrafted player not currently under contract or in the Flames system.

    As for John Ramage, John Gaudreau and Bill Arnold you are correct that they are not attending because of College committments.