Crowd Sourced Prospects Camp Observations

 

 

While FlamesNation will be covering the rest of prospects camp, official members weren’t able to make it down today for day one. Instead, I asked for some thoughts from those who did attend and was taken up on the offer by Christian Roatis who kindly put together this very thorough report for us. For anyone else who has attended, I urge you to share your own thoughts in the comments as well.

By Christian Roatis

The Calgary Flames annual development camp kicked off Monday in Calgary as most of the Flames top prospects got together for Fitness Testing and a 45 minute on ice session. A couple notables missing include Bill Arnold (back) and Mitch Wahl (management decision). Wahl was once considered a top prospect a couple of years ago, but his AHL career was sidetracked by a concussion early in his rookie campaign.

The Flames also had 27 players attending the Development Camp on Amateur Try-out agreements, including Dan Bakala, Sean Callaghan, Jared Coreau, Connor Hardowa, Ross Johnston, John McGuire, Wade Murphy, Eric Robinson, Carter Rowney, Tim Schaller, Garrett Thompson and Frank Vatrano.

The first group hit the ice just before 3:30pm, followed by the second at 4:30. The first thing noticed was that only 2 of the 3 goaltenders listed to be in Group A were on the ice. It was later revealed that Joni Ortio was suffering from a knee injury and would not partake in any of the ice times or events planned this week.

Who Impressed

Group A:

Michael Ferland – I always thought of Ferland as a big checking line player with limited offensive upside and poor skating ability. In other words, a stereotypical Darryl Sutter player. I was shocked to see how well he moved around the ice, distributed the puck and how well he shot.

My view on Ferland has changed completely and while it was only one ice time, I firmly believe that if he continues this play he could see time with the big team this season and maybe even be a Top 6 forward in the future.

Markus Granlund – Poor guy has had to live in the shadow of his brother for most of, if not all of his career but has still made a pretty good name for himself. The kid has tremendous skill and hockey sense and it was all on display Monday afternoon. He moved around the ice effortlessly and always looked to be in control of the puck. He hooked up with Johnny Gaudreau a few times to create little slices of hockey magic.

The only thing that underwhelmed me a little bit was his shot, it didn’t seem to be all that hard or accurate but that’s always something that you can work on and improve.

Johnny Gaudreau – I mentioned he and Granlund were in on some pretty plays and it seemed like all he did was make you sit back in your seat and say "Wow, what a guy." He’s about as tall as a Jarome Iginla action figure but boy is he skilled. There were no one on one drills but he still showed off his great hands and wicked shot. Another diamond in the rough from the 2011 Draft haul.

Carter Bancks – Although he wasn’t the fasted player out there, nor the most skilled there were two things that stuck out about Carter Bancks: his relentless work ethic and the .45 magnum he used as a stick. He not only had one of the hardest shots but the one of the most accurate. He let a couple bullets fly that shot top corner before the goaltenders had a chance to react. He was also among the most hardworking guys on the ice, just as advertised.

Jared Coreau – He was one of the invitees to camp and first thing that stuck out at me was the 2.31 GAA and the .931 SV% he posted last year playing for Northern Michigan in the CCHA. He’s a big man at 6’5 and very athletic for his size. He moved around the crease well and didn’t let in many goals. He’s only 21 and has lots of room to develop and with Brossoit and Gillies not ready for Abbotsford and Irving likely seeing more time with the Flames next year, Coreau would fit in perfectly in Abbotsford.

Group B:

Dustin Sylvester Good skater, good passer, great shooter. Can you ask for anything more? He made quite the good impression on the first day of camp. He looked confident and played just like that. A shifty little player with a nice skill set fills that 22-28 age gap Feaster keeps talking about.

Carter Rowny – A little known kid out of the University of North Dakota played really well. He skated well and packs a pretty good shot. Probably wont be more than an AHLer but had a real good showing.

Mark Jankowski – I wasn’t too thrilled by the pick either, but after actually seeing him play I’ve gotten a lot more optimistic. He skates really well and clearly possesses great hockey IQ, the kind of stuff Feaster and Co. drool over these days. He’s also got a great shot. Real hard and accurate.

The one downside to the kid is his weight. It looked like his stick weighed more than him, but if he packs on a few pounds the Flames may have something.

Tyler Wotherspoon – He missed last years camp due to a shoulder injury, so this year was his first in Flames threads and he sure didn’t disappoint. He skated well, passed with the best of them and also showed a pretty lethal shot from the blue line. The best thing about him is he seemed to play with a kind of swagger the Flames lacked last year.

Wotherspoon also has the tools to be a dynamic two-way Top 4 defensemen. I’d say he and Brady Lamb were the top 2 defensemen today, an area that severely lacking in the Flames system.

Who Disappointed

Group A:

Ross Johnston – Yikes. He looked like he came straight from Midget 10. He was slow, un-coordinated and nothing seemed to go his way. He had trouble holding onto the puck and I think I saw him raise the puck twice. Not a good showing for a guy on a try-out.

Connor Hardowa – Another guy on a try-out contract, Hardowa only stood out a few times, those times being when he botched a play or missed a pass. He’ll really need to pick it up if he hopes to land a spot in Abbotsford this fall.

Chris Breen – For quite a while now the talk about Chris Breen is how mobile he his for a big man and how he has the potential to be quite a steal being signed as a UFA out of junior. Honestly, I don’t see it. His skating was pretty poor, his passes lacked that ‘crisp’ element to them and seemed to have trouble getting around the ice. Are people seeing something I’m not?

Group B:

Brett Kulak – I was expecting bigger things from Kulak, but he disappointed me. He seemed to lack confidence and it reflected in his play. His passes weren’t great and he seemed hesitant to add creativity to some of the drills, instead doing them kind of like a robot, except not perfectly every time.

Sean Callaghan – Slow and pretty poor passer. He didn’t move well and seemed to be lacking in every category imaginable. He played exactly like the tough guy he is.

Other Notes

– Baertschi was good as usual but didn’t do anything to stand out.

– This was the best group of prospects I’ve ever seen at a Flames prospect camp, which goes to show that Feaster and Co. are trying to replenish the cupboards.

Frankie Vatrano is fat. Really fat. At times I thought Peter Griffin was doing the drills.

– Brady Lamb sported a full beard making him look like he was thirty

Conclusion

While it was only the first day, this group of prospects can give Flames fans a little confidence that the cupboards aren’t all that bare and that there some quality prospects currently in the system.

  • Colin.S

    Well said

    Can I add a dishonorable mention to Ramage? He was bad.

    Honorable mentions go to Schaller and Turner Elson

    I was impressed with Jankowski. I thought he looked lazy in the first drill when skating by himself. You learn quickly it’s not laziness. He is an effortless skater. He has a Bouwmeester like stride, maybe more like Jordan Staal. He had a couple of dangerous plays where he surprised the dman with his smooth acceleration before passing the puck cross crease or to the trailer for easy goals

  • EricH

    I went to grade School with Brady Lamb… the guy could grow a full beard in Jr.High, and I’m not surprised he showed up with one as a 23 year old. Glad to hear he is faring well!

  • That’s one thing I always found interesting about Lamb. He looks like a beast with that lumberjack beard.

    Even though I always expect it, Ferland’s skating always surprises me too.

    personally, I never got the hooplah about Breen either.

    great to hear about Jankowski on the impressed side. yay.

    too bad to hear that about Kulak, though to be fair he sounds like he always plays rather mechanically (though usually flawlessly). I really liked that selection, myself.

    what did anyone who went think of Culkin and Reinhart?

    • The only guy who ever really liked Breen in the organization was Playfair I think. Since Jim left, there hasn’t been a lot of people singing the big guys’ praises anywhere near the same degree.

      The Flames used 11 blueliners this year, and it’s telling Breen wasn’t one of them.

    • EricH

      Culkin, didn’t notice. Call that a good thing for a dman.

      Reinhart. He was who we thought he was. You notice his power and strength. Him and Ferland were men amongst boys. He didn’t make any one play that made you take a step back, but he’s solid and seemed be able to play with anybody effectively.

    • EricH

      Culkin, didn’t notice. Call that a good thing for a dman.

      Reinhart. He was who we thought he was. You notice his power and strength. Him and Ferland were men amongst boys. He didn’t make any one play that made you take a step back, but he’s solid and seemed be able to play with anybody effectively.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      I did not notice Culkin at all. Reinhart did indeed look like a man among boys. It looks to me like he’s definitely ready for pro, and maybe just a year away from the big club. Most impressed by Schaller. If I had one contract to give, it would be to this guy. Based solely on this day, he was the best player on the ice.

      The good, in order of noticeability (and recognizablility): Schaller, Nemisz, Reinhart, Ferland, Gaudreau, Elson, Lamb, Wotherspoon, Howse, Murphy, Eddy, Murphy, Sylvester

      The unnoticeable: Granlund, Jankowski, Seiloff, Gordon, Horak, Ramage (got better as it went on, but couldn’t control a pass for the first half hour)

      I didn’t think Seiloff was terrible, but he didn’t really look to me like he was excited to be there. Looked a bit too cool for my liking.

      And just about forgot, but Laurent Brossoit was probably the most fun to watch. In terms of future value, this guy might turn out to have the most. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets on a bit of an accelerated path and could be replacing Kipper in 3 or 4 years.

  • Colin.S

    I think it’s a good thing that the only players in the disappointing coloumn are guys that are invites and a D. Sutter hold over that probably will be left to walk after his contract falls off and a 4th round pick(or was it 5th). Thats not bad.

    Good to see Jankowski in the Impressed coloumn.

    • EricH

      “I think it’s a good thing that the only players in the disappointing coloumn are guys that are invites and a D. Sutter hold over…”

      By the Holdover, you mean Breen, yes? Brett Kulak isn’t an invite, and he’s not a hold over, so it must be Breen. So you forgot Kulak.

      I think Vatrano was invited solely because he’ll be a team mate of Gaudreau and Arnold next season.

      oh, another thing was was happy to see was Wotherspoon impressing. He might be more than a depth defenseman after all (though I always liked him, it was mostly because I considered him boring outside the occasional big hit or fight. I didn’t see a lot of upside in him, but it seems I may have been wrong about that). I always thought of him as sort of the 2nd coming of Jim Vandermeer, myself.

  • Colin.S

    Also I hope Wahl is put on Waivers or traded or something and another team gives him a chance as it’s clear that the Flames have pretty well given up on him. Feel bad for the guy after what was considered a very promising prospect a couple years ago.

    Especially after hearing a Peter Griffin on skates was given a Prospect Camp invite over Wahl.

    • EricH

      My comments on goaltending by rank

      1. Careau

      He was exceptional. Technically sound with excellent footwork. He’s huge. His hands were average but played aggressively. All-in-all very good

      2. Brossoit

      Good. He wins with his hands and flexibility. He has lLuongo syndrome a bit. He gets lazy with his feet and it forces him to stretch out. He needs to be more compact to become a powerful skater in the crease. Good outing, he’s come a long way

      3. Gillies

      Technically raw. He’s very athletic and plays big. He needs to be a more efficient skater. Very close to where Brossoit was last summer.

      4. Bakala

      Efficient goaltender. Unfortunately not terribly athletic or big. He reminds me of Gerry Festa. Noticeable what makes him a good junior goalie, but I don’t expect big things from him as a pro.

  • EricH

    What are the prospect camps like? Is there much to do in between skates? Which building are the practices in? And finally How long does the full squad skate generally take?

  • beloch

    Lots of great tidbits here. My thanks to everyone who took the time to write up their impressions! It’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod for the pre-season.

  • beloch

    I actually liked Nemisz, he isnt the best skater but he had some really nice snipes. He seemed confident which probably comes from getting a cup of coffee in the bigs.

    Definatly a little disappointed in Sven, but I am gonna chalk it up to being the first session. Speed wise he is right at the top of the camp tho.

    Max Reinhart is a fairly big guy I was surprised. I didn’t see a whole lot from him but dude seems pretty intense.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I saw sven in penticton bc last year at first he seemed out of place and then boom he kicked into overdrive. He really showed why he deserved to b e picked in the first round. I met most of the team and him and chris breen were b y far the most fan friendly. On another note i’ve been a big maxreinhart fan since he was drafted and out of the whole team he was the only one that didnt stop he just walked right past like he was too good. Go Flames Go

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    @Baalzamon

    “I think it’s a good thing that the only players in the disappointing coloumn are guys that are invites and a D. Sutter hold over…”

    By the Holdover, you mean Breen, yes? Brett Kulak isn’t an invite, and he’s not a hold over, so it must be Breen. So you forgot Kulak.”

    Please read my whole comment next time, I said D. Sutter Hold over, invites AND, please see the AND, And a 4th(or 5th) round pick, being Kulak. I’m well aware of our recent draft picks.

  • OH HEY I WAS THERE TOO.

    I mentioned it a bit already, but I really liked the play of Tim Schaller. I know it’s hard to gauge a player’s worth in these development camps, but dude looks like he’s got the tools. He’s already 21 too, and he looks pretty polished.

    Everything else I thought has basically been said already. Sven is magnificent, Nemisz looked bad to the point where I would not be surprised if we found out he was injured. Ortio WAS injured, which was disappointing, because I wanted to see him play.

    I liked Wotherspoon out there. A lot. Dustin Sylvester is John Gaudreau small. Ryan Howse looked actually kinda okay, which whatever, but considering how far off the map he fell last year, it’s actually quite something.

    Ramage looked bad, but I think it was just the day. You can tell there’s a lot more there.

    We said the exact same thing about Brady Lamb. My exact words were “that guy is 30”

    Christian’s assessment on Jankowski is spot on. Lots to be excited about, just needs to fill out. He’s a pole.

    Again, can’t say enough good things about Schaller. I had no idea who he was, but he stuck out the most. I thought “If this guy is a Calgary pick, it’s too bad, because he’s the kind of guy that usually gets traded away in Calgary” I guess like Patrick Holland, so take that for what it’s worth

  • Interesting on Schaller. It should be noted that older guys tend to look pretty good as a function of their age (aside from the really terrible ones like JD Watt). Each time I saw Matt Pelech at these things the last couple of years he looked great. It’s mostly because he was older than everyone though.

  • @Colin.S

    so you did. I have to be honest, I read your whole comment, and I flat-out did not see that. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked. or learn how to read.

    Kulak was a 4th rounder.

    btw, I didn’t mean to come off grouchy.. sorry.

  • BurningSensation

    The best news IMO has to be Jankowski looking like he belongs. If the Flames hit a home run with him it could be the lynchpin of good things going forward.

    I’m curious what Ferland’s upside is. Could he be a 30 goal scoring power forward?

    What is Gaudreau’s best NHL comp? Gionta? Fleury? Ronning?

    Last but not least, I think it’s great we have actual prospects to get excited about.

  • BurningSensation

    Greetings my Lords,

    I am square but I was there…..

    Goooooodrow? Granlund? and Brossoit? Book em as NHLers and three thumbs you know where as these guys are sure to be NHLers & we’re talkin top 6.

    Jankowski, get out of your shorts, spatial awareness and puck pursuit like diabetics to pancakes. He’s a diamond in the rough for sure.

    Svensky – happy to be there – but just going through the paces albeit at blazing speed with another couple gears to spare.

    Reinhart and Ferland are men amongst boys. Guaranteed 3rd liners with grit.

    Wotherspoon he’s got a shot.

    Damn good players in the system. There were others but I’m clearly not a scribe nor a scientist like some of the worthy combatants on this gauntlet.

    Thanks for all that you did and thought about doing. Not bad for young masters.

    twitter: @BruceVeloor

    • BurningSensation

      “Goooooodrow?”

      I really REALLY hope people at the dome don’t yell “Goooo!” every time Gaudreau touches the puck when he’s in the NHL. It was one thing with Loob. It was slightly amusing when the Canucks fans started doing it for Luongo. But now it seems like every other fan base has a player that they relentlessly “OOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

      please, only one per generation. It gets tiresome fast.

      I know. I might as well hope that the Flames trade Babchuk and Stajan for Galchenyuk..

      • BurningSensation

        If you say Goooo and I say Drow we wouldn’t be the only pipers that gave up some ‘OOOOOOO’ over this kid.

        Should his success continue,
        I’ll see it through,
        that the nepotism of ‘OOOOOOOO”
        will be all they knew
        when they leave the city of MOOOO

        Carry on young master,
        Bruce.

        “Fan960’s ‘Boomer’… miles away from funny, but merely a stones throw away from apathy.” _BV

        http://www.facebook.com/BVeloor
        Twitter: @bruceveloor

  • loudogYYC

    The one time I have to travel for work this year, I miss a week of Stampede and the prospect camp! dammit.

    If anyone’s posting any videos on YouTube, please advise!