We’re into the holiday season, which means that junior kids are off to World Junior camps, that college schedules are sparse to allow for final exams, and various European club teams are off to allow for holiday tournaments.
What better time to assess how the various Flames prospects are doing this year?
– LW Sven Baertschi [Abbotsford (AHL)] In his first full year as a pro, Sven Baertschi is chugging along at just under a point-per-game pace. He’s learning the defensive side of the game, but he’s been a constant offensive threat for the Heat.
– LW Johnny Gaudreau [Boston College (HE)] The sophomore sensation is just 19 years old, but leads his conference in goals and game-winning goals, and is second in overall scoring. He’s the best offensive player on perhaps college hockey’s best team with 23 points in 14 games.
– G Jon Gillies [Providence College (HE)] Thrown into the deep end of being a starter in the NCAA as a freshman, on a team that was going to have more bad nights than good, Gillies has been more than up to the task. He’s got a good goals against (1.95) and a strong save percentage (.928). Hard to ask for more.
– LW/C Roman Horak [Abbotsford (AHL)] Arguably the best player the Flames got for Tim Erixon, Horak is the leading goal-scorer for the Heat. After struggling to find his stride last year, he’s got 18 points in 26 games and has driven the Abbotsford offense.
– C Ben Street [Abbotsford (AHL)] Signed over the summer, this former Penguins prospect has 19 points in 26 games and leads the Heat in scoring. He’s a complete three-zone player and is the most pleasant surprise in Abbotsford.
– D Tyler Wotherspoon [Portland (WHL)] Reliable two-way defender, often paired with uber-prospect Seth Jones, turned a corner this year and added some offense to his game. He’s among the WHL leaders in plus/minus (+34) and has 23 points in 29 games. He made Team Canada’s roster for the World Juniors, too.
– D T.J. Brodie [Abbotsford (AHL)] The most versatile blueliner in Abbotsford, Brodie has 14 points in 26 games and quarter-backs the power-play. He’s just as good as he was in Calgary last year and is far adn away Abbotford’s best defender.
– C Bill Arnold [Boston College (HE)] In his third year in college, Arnold has matured into what Eagles coach Jerry York has called a “three-zone player.” Good on either side of the puck, Arnold has been a scoring threat for BC’s power-play while playing a shut-down role against the other team’s best players. He’s “only” got 13 points in 14 games, but he’s earning his time.
– D Chris Breen [Abbotsford (AHL)] 3 points in 26 games, good plus/minus, big and mean. His skating still isn’t amazing, but he’s learned to work around it and has had easily his best year of his pro career in Abbotsford so far.
– D Ryan Culkin [Quebec (QMJHL)] Playing on one of Canada’s best junior teams, Culkin has 27 points in 33 games as an 18-year-old. He’s doing really well offensively, but he’s also really benefiting from being on Quebec. His +12 rating is possibly more a reflection that he’s on when guys like Grigorenko, Duclair and Shaw are scoring than merely his defensive skills. That said, he’s the team’s scorer from the back-end and appeared for team QMJHL in the Subway Super Series.
– LW Turner Elson [Red Deer (WHL)] Captain and leading scorer for the Rebels this year. Provided a lot of solid grit and leadership as the team underwent a lot of changes off-ice. He has 23 points in 29 games as a three-zone, all-situations forward. He’s 20 and is the best player on his team, as you’d hope he would, but he’s also shown a lot of growth.
– C Matt DeBlouw [Michigan State (CCHA)] As a freshman, DeBlouw has become the Spartans’ go-to tough face-off guy and leads the team in assists. He has 13 points in 17 games as a first-year player on a team that’s below .500, but that has a handful of NHL draftees and will get better.
– C Mark Jankowski [Providence College (HE)] A true freshman, the Big Jankowski hasn’t kicked the door in during his first year in college, but he’s also never looked out of place. Moreover, he’s one of the offensive leaders of a low-scoring Friars club and he’s getting chances. Eight points in 14 games is pretty good for a guy who was playing high school hockey in Quebec last year.
– G Joni Ortio [HIFK Helsinki (SM-Liiga)] 11-13-5 record isn’t great, but he’s got a great 2.16 goals against and .926 save percentage. If only his team scored more.
– G Karri Ramo [Avangard Omsk (KHL)] He’s got slightly worse numbers than last season. Still, he’s a star goalie of a good team in the world’s second-best league.
– D Patrick Sieloff [Windsor (OHL)] Culkin’s numbers probably inflate how good he really is, while Sieloff’s probably under-play it a bit. Sieloff’s a moderately sized, mean dude playing a big, mean game. He’s relied upon to create time and space for Windsor’s forwards and to make guys think twice about trying to make pretty plays in the defensive zone. He’s got 9 points in 34 games and a -3 rating on a team that’s allowed more goals than they’ve scored.
– C Mitch Wahl [Utah (ECHL)] Good news: over a point-per-game and team leader in points! Bad news: he’s tearing up the ECHL. He’s done it before and then underperformed in the AHL.
– C Ben Walter [Abbotsford (AHL)] A veteran on the Heat roster rapidly approaching 30, he’s provided some leadership and a lot of poise. He’s also got 17 points in 22 games, good for third on the team in scoring. He’s consistent, but it’s unclear what his NHL prospects are at his age.
(C Mikael Backlund doesn’t count as a “prospect,” but he’s fit in here based on his excellent half-season with Vasteras. He has 27 points in 20 games in Sweden’s secondary league.)
– G Laurent Brossoit [Edmonton (WHL)] 13-4-2-3 in 21 games, 2.65 GAA, .903 SV%. His back-up has more shutouts and a better goals against average and save percentage. Brossoit is very Jekyl and Hyde – he’s had 11 starts where he’s only allowed two goals or less, but he’s allowed four or more on seven occasions.
– F Paul Byron [Abbotsford (AHL)] Injured for the first part of the year, Byron’s still finding his legs as he has returned to the Heat line-up. He’s got 7 points in 17 games this year and has struggled to finish, but he brings speed and skill to Abbotsford. At 23 years old and with his size a big question mark, his NHL prospects are starting to dim.
– F Bryan Cameron [Utah (ECHL)] Third-year pro is a point-per-game scorer in the ECHL. That said, it’s the ECHL and it’s probably too-little, too-late.
– LW Coda Gordon [Swift Current (WHL)] The Broncos haven’t had the best year overall, and as one of the team’s leaders, Gordon probably bears some of the blame for that. Then again, low tide lowers all boats, so his lower-than-hoped offensive totals probably aren’t the end of the world. He’s got 31 points in 37 games, but also has a disappointing -10 rating.
– F Ryan Howse [Utah (ECHL)] The winger has 7 points in 16 games in his second year of pro. He was recently called-up to Abbotsford for a cup of coffee and promptly got injured.
– D Brett Kulak [Vancouver (WHL)] Playing for one of the Dub’s worst teams, Kulak is now a back-end leader for the Giants. The team is lousy, don’t get me wrong, but he’s getting a ton of quality minutes.
– D Brady Lamb [Abbotsford (AHL)] The big, bruising defender has 2 points in 16 games in his first year in pro and is frequently a healthy scratch. He’s being out-played by Chris Breen, which is odd considering they’re about the same age.
– D James Martin [Utah (ECHL)] The number-seven guy in Abbotsford last year, when he wasn’t hurt, has played nearly as much this year as he did all season. He’s put up 5 points in 19 games, but he’s also remained in the black for plus/minus.
– F Gaelan Patterson [Utah (ECHL)] More of an all-around guy than Wahl and Cameron, Patterson’s got 12 points in 24 games for Utah. It’s not horrible, but it’s not likely to earn him a renewal.
– D John Ramage [Wisconsin (WCHA)] He’s the team captain and a shut-down defender and his plus/minus is the worst of the Badgers’ full-time defenders. That said, his role isn’t the kind that would reflected in the stats. He has 2 points in 16 games on a sub-.500 team.
– F Max Reinhart [Abbotsford (AHL)] Absolutely snake-bit offensively, but very effective otherwise.
– C Markus Granlund [HIFK Helsinki (SM-Liiga)] 12 points in 28 games is a giant step backwards relative to last year for the 19-year-old. When we profiled Granlund after his big season, the primary question mark surrounding him was how he would fare without older brother (and superior player) Mikael Granlund on the team. So far, the answer is "not good".
– G Leland Irving [Abbotsford (AHL)] Third-string goalie behind two AHL veterans with unclear NHL prospects. This year it was expected Irving would climb up the organization’s ladder, but he’s back down on the lower rung.
– LW Nick Larson [Notre Dame (CCHA)] Larson has the lowest points-per-game of any Notre Dame senior, which is a bit scary when you consider he’s one of the older players on a good college team. He’s got 3 points in 18 games and is one of three Fighting Irish players in the red for plus/minus, and the one of those three who’s played the most games.
– Greg Nemisz [Abbbotsford Heat (AHL)] Has only appeared in seven games so far due to injury, but doesn’t look to have taken a meaningful step forward as a pro. He has zero points in seven games, is mostly invisible.
– C Lance Bouma, RW Akim Aliu [Abbotsford (AHL)], F David Eddy and LW Michael Ferland [both Utah (ECHL)]
All these guys have been hurt for big chunks of the year, so it’s hard to conclude anything about their shortened seasons.
(F Jiri Hudler, F Roman Cervenka and D Chris Butler aren’t prospects, but they’d fit into this category if they were.)