Flames 2012-13 Prospects NHLE – November 20 Update



It’s been about a month since we checked on the NHL equivalence of the Flames various kids. Last time around, Sven Baertschi, Johhny Gaudreau and Roman Horak were leading the way for the forwards while TJ Brodie was on an island by himself on the back-end.

The order hasn’t changed much, although they are a few risers here and there. Also, the guys are bunched much closer together this time around thanks to the sample size being a bit bigger.


Forwards League PPG Translation NHLE
John Gaudreau NCAA 1.40 0.41 47
Sven Baertschi AHL 0.93 0.55 42
Roman Horak AHL 0.80 0.55 36
Bill Arnold NCAA 1.10 0.41 37
Matt Deblouw CCHA 0.92 0.41 31
Markus Granlund SM-liiga 0.60 0.54 27
Mark Jankowski NCAA 0.70 0.41 24
Coda Gordon CHL 0.88 0.30 22
Paul Byron AHL 0.33 0.55 15
Max Reinhart AHL 0.14 0.55 6
Greg Nemisz AHL 0.00 0.55 0

Baertschi and Horak have cooled after a hot start, but still have good (but not great) numbers. The diminutive phenom Johnny Gaudreau takes on top spot as a result. His start to the season is remarkable as a college sopomore, to say nothing of a 5’8", 160 pound player. CBS Sports ranks him second in the Hobey Baker race right now.

A few risers include Bill Arnold and Matt Deblouw. Arnold is second on Boston College in scoring behind Gaurdreau and although he probably won’t be a big scorer at the pro level it’s good to see him putting up respectable numbers anyways. Deblouw was a 7th round pick this past summer so I didn’t even bother to include him in the original NHLE article, but his 11 points in 12 games is good for second on his team in scoring currently. Some nice early returns on a late round pick.

Max Reinhart is struggling significantly at the AHL level, at least when it comes to the offensive game. He only has 2 assists and 16 shots in 14 games and also carries the club’s worst plus/minus (-4). It’s early and I suspect he’s suffered through some bad bounces, but Reinhart needs to start putting up better output even if we assume his ceiling is a third line, two-way center in the show.


Defensemen League PPG Translation NHLE
TJ Brodie AHL 0.60 0.55 27
Ryan Culkin CHL 0.90 0.29 22
Tyler Wotherspoon CHL 0.90 0.30 22
Brett Kulak CHL 0.64 0.30 16
Patrick Sieloff CHL 0.39 0.30 10
Brady Lamb AHL 0.09 0.55 4
John Ramage NCAA 0.00 0.41 0

Brodie is still out in front, but with a lesser margin this time around. Culkin and Wotherspoon are scoring at the exact same rate, although Wotherspoon is older and paired with Seth Jones on the Portland Winterhawks. Culkin’s Quebec Remparts are a similarly dominant team in the QMJHL, so take both of their rates with a smallish pinch of salt.

Kulak is on the other end of the spectrum with the WHL’s worst club, the Vancouver Giants. Sieloff’s Windsor Spitfires are perfectly middling, though it probably doesn’t matter either way: Sieloff wasn’t drafted for his point production.

As you can see, the Flames don’t really have a single big gun on the back-end in the organizational pipeline. Brodie has developed into a dominant all around defender in the AHL this season, but he doesn’t project to be a guy who can run a first unit PP or score 40+ points at the highest level. Culkin is a few years out and may develop in that direction, although right now his upside looks like, well, TJ Brodie.

Points from the blueline are relatively rare and therefore expensive to buy in the NHL, so it’s the type of thing teams should hope to grow rather than purchase via free agency. In addition, the game’s most dominant defenders tend to both suppress and promote scoring to their team’s advantage: think Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Nik Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara. The org doesn’t have a guy within hailing distance of those players currently (of course, few do). 

Keep in mind, of course, that were are still only a month or so into the season for all these guys and a 10-15 game sample is still really small. Mark Jankowski’s PPG pace recently jumped from 0.44 to 0.7 after a single game for instance, so there’s still lots of room for movement.

Backlund Bonus

Mikael Backlund continues to put up points in Sweden with 21 in just 13 games so far. If we assume a translation factor  of 0.36, his current NHLE is about 48 (47.6).

Related – Backlund is currently 7th overall in the Allsvenskan scoring, despite only playing 13 games.

  • RexLibris

    I find the separation on the tables interesting, specifically those players that are performing well in their junior or NCAA leagues outpacing many of those currently in professional leagues.

    This suggests, to me at least, a gap in the quality of available prospects between now and a few years from now when players like Gaudreau, Sieloff and others.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I think that’s definitely part of it. Nemisz has been pegged as a bottom 6 guy for a couple of years now, Lamb was just a “why not” free agent signing, and Byron was a throw-in with the Regehr trade (a poor asset to request, in my opinion). Those guys are definitely skewing the pro results a little, though. When you look at the guys who I’d consider legitimate prospects in the pro league, they’re pretty much in line with/better than a lot of the guys who are further off.

    • That’s only part of it. Reality is, a proportion of every junior draft class hits the wall when pro comes along and they sink into obscurity. For instance, Ryan Howse, Greg Nemisz, Bryan Cameron and Mitch Wahl all had pretty decent NHLE’s in junior, so they all looked like legit prospects to one degree or another. Nemisz might turn out to be a bottom-6 guy at some point, but Cameraon, Wahl and Howse probably aren’t prospects of note now.

      As I’ve mentioned in this space before I believe, just about every prospect looks good in their draft+1 year…it’s when junior or college is done and they have to play the real thing you actually find out if they’re worth a damn.

      • RexLibris

        I think we share that sentiment about the attrition of prospects as they mature and move through the development stages.

        That being said, by sheer numbers at this point, it would seem to imply that the Flames ought to graduate at least one top-six forward/top-four defenceman, outside of Baertschi, from the group currently outside of the professional ranks.

        Boy, do they need right-wingers.

          • RexLibris

            Does that include a Sutter?

            Seriously, I think they have some decent starting depth at center for the 2nd line and down. And LW doesn’t suck. RW is atrocious – Nemisz, Aliu and Howse. David Eddy, too, if you want to get technical.

            Goaltending is looking much improved, in the five year timeline.

            Defence is almost as bad as RW, but for the sheer numbers buoying the potential of Sieloff, Culking and Wotherspoon.

          • SmellOfVictory

            The thing about RW is that it’s often possible to convert wingers to the other side, or convert centres to wing. I don’t think it would be particularly prudent to actively seek players purely to fill the right wing slot (although right-shooting players might be nice, since there seem to be very few of those anywhere in the org).

          • SmellOfVictory

            I’m pretty much convinced that Bill Arnold will be converted to RW as a pro. Not because I want him to be, but because he and Reinhart are both headed for the same level (3rd line center).

            The Flames should be looking at defensemen before wingers.

  • MattyFranchise

    How is Ben Street doing compared to these guys? He’s the one guy that I noticed the most in the only two games I’ve seen the Heat play this year.

    • Street is an NHLE of about 40, but keep in mind he’s 25 and therefore in the prime of his career, whereas everyone else is a kid.

      I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of Street personally and if NHL teams weren’t overly concerned about staffing their bottom line with goons and checkers, he’s the type of guy who would probably do well enough to stick.

  • SmellOfVictory

    is it now time to label nemisz as a bust? season after season with no apparent improvements, and what is appearing to be a career ahl depth player should earn him the shingle.

    • T&A4Flames

      He hasn’t played yet this year due to an injury. If I remember correctly, word was that he came to Flames prospect camp in the best shape yet. Give him a chance.

    • Depends on expectations I guess. If you thought he was going to be a scorer or something at the NHL level, then yeah…he’s a bust.

      We’ll likely know at the end of this season if he’s going to be a regular NHLer I’d say. If he doesn’t take a real step forward in the AHL, then he’ll be 23 in June and it’ll be time to send him on his way.

    • I like it a lot, this could finally be the confidence booster he needed.

      As much as I hate the lockout (and what it means for iginla, kipper, Cervenka ect) I sure am glad that sven and Horak and backs all got a chance to hone things in without all the pressure.

  • Gaudreaubey Baker!!

    I’ll be watching Jankowski tonight (I think) so I’ll probably have something to say about it. They have a stream going up on their website (friars.com).

    apparently Gillies is making yet another start.

    • SmellOfVictory

      all righty never mind. They want me to make an account, and I don’t really want to bother. lazy is me. Providence is out-shooting Quinnipac 6-2 so far.