The Flames made a trade and made a pick during the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The circumstances of both weren’t without a bit of hand-wringing among Flames fandom.
With the clock ticking on their pick at 14th overall, the Flames pulled the trigger on a swap with the Buffalo Sabres. The Flames sent their first rounder to the Sabres for the pick Buffalo got for Paul Gaustad (21st overall) and a second rounder (42nd overall), essentially replacing the pick Calgary sent to Buffalo at last year’s draft. Feaster had previously mentioned that he wanted to attempt to get a second round pick.
Then the Flames went off the board when the time came, drafting centre Mark Jankowski. Jankowski was ranked 43rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and is a bit of a project. He’s 6-2 and 170 pounds, and plied his trade for Stanstead College, a prep school in Quebec. That said, he’s young (he turns 18 on September 13) and had very good offensive numbers in his league (94 points in 57 games).
He’s also got a great hockey background. His great-uncle was the legendary Red Kelly, his grandfather played in the NHL and his uncle’s a scout. He’s ear-marked for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL next season (Johnny Gaudreau’s old team), and then likely headed to Providence College of the NCAA on a scholarship. Based on his status as a prep school player headed to the NCAA, he’s a longer-term project. But he’s got some tools.
Prospect guru Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had this assessment of young Mr. Jankowski:
Playing in a pretty obscure league, Jankowski has impressed scouts I’ve talked to due to his significant growth physically and from a hockey development standpoint over the last year or two. Jankowski is an above-average skater who has a nice fluid look to his movements on top of good agility and top speed, although I should note that not every scout I talked to liked his skating. Jankowski’s best asset is his hockey sense, as he’s an aware, creative playmaker. He was checked tightly in games this year due to his skill level and the relative low talent level of his peers but he regularly executed above-average distributions and showed the ability to make plays in tight spaces. Jankowski tries to play physical, but despite good size he is not that effective in the physical game due to a significant lack of strength and a beanpole frame.
Jankowski has the puck skills and hockey sense to be a noticeable possession player but will need quite a few years of development time. He arguably has first round talent and could be a major sleeper, but due to the fact that I haven’t really seen him, I don’t feel comfortable putting him that high and this ranking is due to projection uncertainty as much as it is talent assessment.
In short: this could be a very shrewd pick or a bad one, and it’ll probably be a few years before we know either way.