Ryan covered all the angles when it comes to the Abbotsford Heat recently. Of course, the Flames have other prospects scattered throughout the junior and college ranks here in North America, as well as couple plying their trade versus men in pro leagues across the pond.
For those wondering who they are, where they are and how to look up their stats…this post is for you.
Canadian Hockey League
The CHL season starts right away and will feature a number of Calgary kids, particularly in (of course) the Western Hockey League.
A 6’01 winger who scored 30 goals for Swift Current last year. Selected in the 6th round in 2012 by Calgary. Isn’t the best skater or passer, but has sniper elements to his game.
Sven Baertschi’s teammate was selected the same year as Sven by Calgary (2011) in the second round, but is about 6 months younger so won’t be graduating to the pros quite yet. Wotherspoon is a decent stay-at-home defender, but doesn’t have any true stand-out qualities aside from perhaps his physicality. Skating is a concern and he doesn’t have much offense to speak of.
"The next TJ Brodie" needs to put some meat on his 6’01" frame. Played a steady, understated game for the Giants last year, but is poised to become a top pairing defender for the club this year. Is thought to have more offensive upside than his 24-points season suggests. Selected by the Flames in the 4th round in 2012.
Calgary’s 6th rounder from 2011 jumped into the spotlight last year by becoming the starting goatender for the WHL champs. He appeared in 61 regular season games, winning 42 of them and posting a .914 SV% which was 5th best amongst goalies who played 40+ games. He upped the ante in the playoffs where his .933 was the best save rate by miles and a big reason why the Oil Kings took the west.
When Calgary traded down to pick Mark Jankowski in the first round this past June, they used the second round pick they garnered on Michigan born Pat Sieloff. The hard-hitting defender decided to leave the US development system/college ranks behind and join the Ontario Hockey leagues Windsor Spitfires this year, where he figures to be a big part of their defense.
Sieloff isn’t all that big at just 6′ and 197 pounds, but loves to take the body and find any opponent with his head down in open ice.
The QMJHL link incorrectly lists Culkin as a center, but make no mistake the former 5th round pick in 2012 plays defense. Like Kulak, Culkin isn’t very big, but can skate and has a good all around game. More is expected from his this year in terms of offensive production as well.
For the first time recent memory, the Flames have a lot of youngsters plying their trade in fancy schools south of the border. College kids tend to take a bit longer to develop (since they often stay in school for the full 4 years), but also tend to see some higher quality opposition since colleges teams feature with older guys (relative to junior).
The fastest riser on the Flames prospect rankings last year, former 2011 4th rounder Johhny Gaudreau will look to build on his point-per-game freshman season with the BC Eagles. Fast, agile, creative and with a laser accurate shot, Gaudreau was one of the best skaters at the Flames recent development camp despite being grossly undersized. If he can take a step forward this season and gain some size/weight, he’ll solidify himself as the Flames organization’s biggest sleeper prospect.
A third round pick in 2011, Arnold is in many ways the exact opposite of his teammate Gaudreau – a solidly built centerman whose game is much more meat and potatoes. Arnold contributes at both ends of the ice and is considered highly defensively adept already, so projects more as a third line, checking type pivot in the majors.
The Flames contentious first rounder from June is skipping the USHL intermediate step altogether and heading straight to college. It’s completely unknown how the 18-year old (birthday was last week) will fare as a freshmen since it can be tough for rookies to garner a lot of ice time in their first year, especially young guys like Janko. He has the offensive tools to be dangerous, but it remains to be scene how he handles the tougher, faster game in Providence.
A 4th round pick back in 2010, Ramage is known for his no-nonsense game and leadership. He doesn’t bring any offense to speak of and isn’t very big (6′, 195 pounds) so it may be a tough go for him in the pro ranks. There was some talk about Ramage trying to make the Heat this winter, but he ultimately decided to return to school, which is probably the right move.
A towering 6’5" goalie out of the Indiana Ice of the USHL, Gillies was picked in the third round by the Flames this past summer. He’ll be joining Mark Jankowski in Providence this year. He had a good season as the Ice’s starter previously, but has a long ahead of him before he becomes a prospect of note for Calgary.
Another product of the USHL, DeBlouw is a faster center known more for defense than offense. The Flames picked him in the 7th round in 2012, so he’s a longshot prospect.
Games in Europe have already begun, including pre-season tournaments. As usual, the Flames don’t have a lot of hopefuls overseas.
A slick, creative center with some physicality concerns, Granlund was a second round pick of the Flames in 2011 and was one of the highest scoring teens in the Finnish Elite League last season. The kid’s big test will come this season now that his older brother (and one of the best prospects in the game), Mikael, will ply his trade on this side of the pond. If Markus can take a step forward without Mikael on the club, he could solidfy his standing as one of the Flames top prospects.
The 2009 6th round pick has bounced around various leagues the last few years, appearing in both pro and minor capacities in Finland before getting a cup of coffee with the Abbotsford Heat last year (where he struggled). He’s on loan to HIFK this year where he figures to be the starter.
Karri Ramo is the #1 goalie for Omsk Avangard in the KHL this season, although he’s not really a "prospect" per se. I also excluded 2008 pick Nick Larson from the list because, frankly, he’s not an asset of note at this point.
For more background on Flames prospects and how they stack up across the league, check out Corey Pronman’s list of the NHL’s top-100*.
*Hint – three Calgary kids made it.