Flames Prospect Dev Camp: The Invitees


The Calgary Flames announced the roster for their annual Prospect Development Camp held at WinSport July 10th to 15th, on Monday. The 45 man roster features the usual suspects like Sven Baertschi, Johnny Gaudreau and the recently drafted Sean Monahan but also listed 11 invitee players on tryout contracts.

It’s always interesting to look into these invitees and investigate as to whether or not any of these guys have the potential to become legitimate prospects.

Last years crop of invitees actually featured some pretty decent guys like Tim Schaller and Jared Coreau, who have since signed with Buffalo and Detroit respectively, along with other skilled players like Carter Rowney and Frankie Vatrano.

This year’s group seems a little underwhelming, however, especially when it relates to the word, "skill". It’s pretty obvious that the emphasis has been put on size, grit and defence this time around rather than goal scoring and finesse. Not one of the guys invited scored at a point per game pace or close to it last year in their respective leagues and almost all of these guys stand over six foot.

Here’s the run down (in alphabetical order):

#91 – Noel Acciari, C, Providence College (NCAA)

Like recent 7th round draft pick Johnny Gilmour, Acciari played on the same Providence College team as Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies and managed to impress enough to garner an invite. When you examine him a bit, nothing really jumps out you. He stands about 5’11 and weighs in at 194 pounds, he played 33 games for the Friars last year, recording six goals for 11 points – nothing too exciting. His point totals lead me to assume he’s a third/fourth line checking center with minimal offensive upside so it must be an intangible you can’t read in the box score (skating, hockey IQ) that earned him the invite because a low upside, AHL ceiling prospect is not something Calgary needs or lacks.

#75 – Austin Carroll, RW, Victoria Royals (WHL)

The 6’4, 205 pound right winger played with fellow Flame coke machine prospect Keegan Kanzig on the WHL’s Victoria Royal’s this past season. Maybe "coke machine" is a little harsh as he did manage 15 goals and 42 points in 67 games, which isn’t too bad for a 19 year old bruiser. Oh, did I mention he racked up 152 PIM’s as well?

I’ll be interested to see how he performs at camp and to see if he’s more than just a goon. The Flames depth chart is severely lacking at right wing so adding a big, mean dude that can play the game and chip in offensively would be a welcome addition.

#70 – Brody Hoffman, G, U. of Vermont (NCAA)

My guess is the Calgary Flames needed to have 5 goalies in camp in case one guy gets hurt and Hoffman was the only one available because nothing about him on the surface really impresses me. The 22-year old was the starter on a presumably bad Vermont team posting an 11-19-6 record with a 2.86 GAA and .904 SV% and two shutouts. Like I said, nothing great.

He actually had a pretty good season the year before this with Fort McMurray of the AJHL which is likely what landed him the starting job at Vermont, but he hasn’t done much to impress during his time there. Much like Acciari and most of the invitees, Hoffman must posses something that caught the eye of Flames brass and doesn’t show on the stat sheet. He does stand 6’4 so maybe he has good tools and his poor numbers are due to a crappy team. This camp will probably answer most of these questions for us.

#86 – Josh Jooris, C, Union College (NCAA)

This is an invite I don’t mind at all. Jooris has played an fairly offensive role for Union over the past three years maintaining a 0.75 point per game average, highlighted by a career high 12 goals this past year. He put up 28 points and 46 PIM’s in 2012-13 with a +7 rating along side his career best goal total in 39 games. In fact, he’s been a plus player every year for Union suggesting he knows how to take care of his own end as well. He’s a solidly built kid, standing 6’1 and weighing 190 pounds and would be a very interesting addition to the Flames prospect base, although I expect he’ll return to college again this year.

#98 – Curtis Leonard, D, RPI (NCAA)

The 20 year old blueliner has the size the Flames have been looking for, standing 6’3 and weighing 195 pounds and has also seen his offence production improve over the last year, scoring career best totals of five goals and 15 points in 36 games as a sophomore. I don’t know much about him, so we’ll see what he’s made of soon.

#78 – Trey Lewis, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Captain of the juggernaut Mooseheads, Lewis put up career best numbers this year in the form of five goals and 23 points in 59 points as well as two goals and three points in 15 playoff games en-route to a Memorial Cup win. Lewis brings a hardnosed, shutdown game with certain leadership qualities and I wouldn’t mind him get a shot in Abbotsford this season. He’s a tad undersized at 5’11, 176 pounds so he’ll probably need to overcome that if he wants to transition to the pro game.

#63 – Drew MacKenzie, D, Abbotsford Heat (AHL)

At 24, MacKenzie is the senior of the group, splitting last season with the Heat and the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. He didn’t put up big points in either league but he’s got pro size – 6’3, 203 lbs – and is probably only here for management to see his progress ahead of Heat camp this fall.

#96 – Dan O’Donoghue, C, Mercyhurst College (NCAA)

Another intriguing invite, O’Donoghue finished third on his team in scoring this past season with 12 goals and 36 points in 41 games, both career highs for the 22-year old Junior. He also stands at a staggering 6’5, 200 lbs which leads me to wonder about his skating ability since most guys that size don’t tend to be the fleetest of foot. That said, being a big center who can score a little is never a bad combo.

#74 – Pavlo Padakin, RW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

I had the chance to see Padakin live on multiple occasions this past year and I’d describe him as a hardworking, utility forward. He consistently gives it his all and does have some offensive skill showcased by his 22 goals in 70 games this season. He’s a decently sized at 6’1, 192 lbs and is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. A strong dev camp could earn him a contract with a Flames organization team desperate for depth at the right wing position.

Padakin is one of the youngest invitees at just 19, so he’ll have to go back to junior if the Flames do indeed decide to sign him to a pro deal.

#93 – Linden Penner, RW, Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL)

Another guy right wing, Penner is an especially interesting player because he’s just 18 years of age. He put up okay numbers in the ‘A'(JHL) last year, scoring 14 times for 34 points in 40 games and is also a big boy at 6’3, 209 pounds. His rights are owned by the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and that’s where he’ll likely play next year barring trade. I think it’d be wise to give him a year in the ‘Dub and see how he performs before inking him to a deal, but he is young and full of promise so this camp will go a long way in dictating whether or not he gets himself a deal.

#90 – Bryce Van Brabrant, LW, Quinnipiac (NCAA)

He must be a good defensive forward because offence is clearly not his forte. Van Brabrant is coming off a career season where he scored – wait for it – 5 goals for 13 points in 42 games. Yeah, watch out for this guy on the powerplay. He is a pretty big guy at 6’3, 205 so he must have excellent defensive and physical tools to earn an invite. I guess we’ll have to see how he plays in camp but if Ross Johnston (who was here last year) can get an invite, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise Bryce Van Brabrant can too.


Overall, no one really stands out in this group of invitees – if anything, they’ll make the Flames property look better. There’s a few guys who have some promise but don’t hold your breath that any of these guys will land anything more than an AHL deal with the organization.

  • PrairieStew

    Its reassuring to see that we have enough skill in the system that we arent desperately signing unsigned skill guys.

    Our prospects are quite respectable league-wide and if we could only find a hidden gem on the blueline and/or perhaps a righthanded RWer we would have legitimate higher end prosepcts in every position…

  • McRib

    Lets hope undrafted WHL players (like Jesse Lees, Jared Hauf, Connor Honey, Parker Bowles, Connor Rankin, Jaedon Descheneau, etc) choose other NHL rookie camps to attend, because some of these players are very obscure….

    At least we hit three potential homruns in my opinion with our first rounders, because these Rookie Camp invitees remind me of the Flames later picks in the draft (outside of Roy) just strange very odd decisions…

    Tim Harrison, Rushan Rafikov and John Gilmour WHAT!?!?!? Dan O’Donoghue, Curtis Leonard, Noel Acciari?!?!?!? HUH!!?!?!

    Like Josh Jooris, Austin Carroll and Trey Lewis the rest can get out in a week.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Wow man. Keep calm. Calgary had its fill of WHL preference during Darryl’s time. I honestly believe hockey ops don’t care which league guys come from. They pick who they like best.

      It’s good for you to wave the WHL banner though. Perhaps keep an open mind on other kids. Or not.

      • McRib

        The reason for waiving my WHL banner is because of some legitimate undrafted talent this season out west worth looking at. Considering this was the best year in history for the QMJHL, scouts flocked to the east and the WHL was very underutilized at the draft.

        Any other year I “might” be okay inviting a Dan O’Donoghue or Mark Jakowskis buddy Noel Acciari. O’Donoghue finished third in scoring on a Div. 2 NCAA team (I know, I know look at Cory Conacher who we invited two years ago, but let slip through our hands). This is just not the year to invite wildcards, when the draft was so deep and legitimate talent slipped trough. A couple of years ago Connor Rankin was projected as a first rounder and could have been a invite for us as he went undrafted. Its like the Flames feel (I do as well) that they got three homeruns in the first round and instead of looking at decent secondary players they are fishing for wildcards. At least we got high end talent, but would like to have seen a Rankin or Lees come to camp and possibly sign afterward.

        • McRib

          “O’Donoghue finished third in scoring on a Div. 2 NCAA team”

          I’m not sure what you’re saying there, as Div II doesn’t even exist anymore (IIRC). At any rate, Mercyhurst is a Div I team.

          • McRib

            At least to me AHA is not a Div. 1 team they can call it that all they want, especially in recent history with two of the better programs Bemidji State & Alabama Hunstville moving on to the WCHA.

            The only reason it’s not Div. 2 is they would be the only league in NCAA Hockey. Lots of friends played in the division and they all said it would be on par with ACAC, as most ended up quitting and playing for SAIT or Mount Royal anyway. CIS Teams don’t like to even play them, as its no contest. Speaking of CIS would like to see Abby take a look at Brock Nixon this year.

          • McRib

            Always liked his game UofCs best player for four-five years. Players on the stacked CIS teams like UofA & UofS always put up more points, but was always one of the better CIS West players for me.

            Reminds me of Bracken Kearns when he spent time with UofC. Clearly he wants to keep playing at he joined the ECHL after School was finished.

  • McRib

    Since the Coke Machine got brought up, read this peice that mentions him at the bottom of it: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/report-oilers-outbid-leafs-for-clarkson/ Apparently Button believes he’s a lot smarter(hockey IQ wise) than most people will believe or give him credit for due to the fact he’s big and has a lot of PIMs. Don’t know how much of that I believe, but we’ll hope for the sake of our prospect depth something stood out for the Flames outside of being a big good.

    Quite interested to hear a lot more about Carroll, Leonard, O’Donoghue, Penner and Van BraBrant. All are bigger guys that maybe don’t have the best offensive tools, but reading the ON article on them offer sheeting Clifford from the Kings, sometimes you need a big crap disturber to play with your more skilled guys in the top 6 to open up space, especially if any of these guys can be Corsi positive guys. I don’t think any of these guys are going to be at the top of the NHL points leaderboard, but if they can skate and can provide a postive puck possession to a forward line, I’m not against a signing.

  • McRib

    Inviting Pavlo Padakin actually really angers me, as its a statement that clearly the Flames watched the Hitmen this year….. DID YOU NOT SEE GREG CHASE!!!!!!

    Edmonton clearly did as they slected him (188) one pick after where we should have selected him (187)!!

    Congrats to the Oilers though as they stole Jackson Houck and Greg Chase this year!! Any other year both those players are off the board in the 2 & 3 rounds. It seems every scout in the world spent all season in the QMJHL, because there were 10+ WHL players that should have gone (see above comment) and another 10 that should have gone three-four rounds higher.

  • Lordmork

    Are all these tryout contract players technically free agents? Or undrafted players? Or something else? I don’t have a good sense of how they work.

    I think the crux of the latest argument about rebuilding the Flames is that the team has to consider all options to improve the team… and part of that is improving the farm team. So even if these guys only have AHL upside, then hopefully we can find some serviceable players.

    I heard it said that one of the reasons Ottawa was able to make the playoffs despite their injury list was not just having a farm team with players who were able to play at the NHL from a skills perspective, but who were able to fit right in because of similar coaching styles. That’s something I’d really like to see for the Flames, so I really hope improving the Heat is a top priority for the organization this year.

    • McRib

      They are all guys that either were passed over in the draft or went unsigned by the team that drafted them.

      If younger players like Linden Penner (1995) have a good year next season they could be drafted. JC Lipon, Myles Bell or Peter Quenneville come to minds as guys out west, who attended a rookie camps last summer and were drafted this year

      Whereas the older ones like Drew MacKenzie or Trey Lewis would have to be signed and are looking for an AHL contract. Its interesting most players that attend these things end up being drafted by a different team the following year or signed by someone else. But there is the odd circumstance like Alex Roach at LAs Camp two years ago, where they like a guy so much they sign him on the spot, even if he is eligible for the draft that coming year.

    • Lordmork

      They are undrafted free agents, if they slipped through their first eligible draft year they are free to sign with any team. I don’t know if there is a signing window for these kids because I believe if they don’t sign they are eligible to be drafted next year.

      I believe any of them can be signed to a standard ELC, except for the College guys, not to sure on them, I think they might have to go back. Can’t remember if they have to declare they are leaving school at a certain date or something.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I’m quite interested to see the Feaster regime’s preference on hockey IQ out together on the ice.

    I want to see what kind of chemistry they have together. Last year it was how do Sven, Jankowski and Gaudreau mesh?

    Now the three 1sts are added not to mention everyone else they’ve drafted are acquired (Agostino, Hanowski) who were billed as having the characteristics they want.

    The possibilities are exciting.

    • McRib

      You better believe it!!! Cory Conacher was at our Rookie Camp 2-3 years ago, Tampa Bay beat us to the punch signing him.

      That’s why I don’t really take these invites that seriously, players usually end up getting drafted or choose to sign with a different team than the camp they attended. Wish we would just take all young guys (1995s) that we could scout as potential late draft picks the following year ala JC Lipon last year or Jesse Lees this year. The older guys are just biding their time before they get an AHL offer or ideally a Two-Way Contract (NHL-AHL) wherever it ends up being.

      The only guy I can remember that Calgary signed from one of these in recent memory is Turner Elson, who does absolutly nothing for me as he is going to have a hard time making the AHL, Thanks Brent Sutter could have had Cory Conacher!!

  • Derzie

    These big- bodied extras may serve the purpose of demonstrating how our smaller, skilled guys hack it when getting clobbered by man sized opponents. See how they handle it. Do they get pushed around, do they push back or does their skill raise them to the next level*.Not a bad ideer if that’s what this is about.

  • mattyc

    It’s interesting that the focus for the invites seems to be on size and grit. My by eye, it’s been pretty clear that management sees a ‘soft spot’ in the market for undersized players (Gaudreau, Baertschi), especially defensemen (Russell, Billins, Cundari, Smith, Wilson, etc.). Personally I would use this time of camp to make a whole bunch of gambles trying to find a diamond-in-the-rough skill player. Skill is a lot harder to acquire than a knuckle-chucker or ‘character’ guy.

    • everton fc

      I’m actually in the opposite camp, I think the draft is where you find your skill players and hidden gems and development camps like this are were you can find your grinders and role players. A lot of role guys are a dime a dozen, I think a camp like this is a great time to find one or two that could be potential third/fourth line pluggers. You can see their skating and compete against more skilled prospects you got in the draft and can have ice level judgements with coaches/gms right there. I would much rather have invivted a Keegan Kanzig to a development camp like this and give him a contract than have used a third round pick that could have been used to secure the rights of a more skilled player.

  • Christian Roatis

    I’m still trying to figure out why they didn’t sign Tim Schaller. It would have made a lot of sense since he’s kind of a mentor to Gillies and Jankowski (and Gilmour).

    • Christian Roatis

      Yeah, he didn’t make it. Disappointing, but not altogether surprising since there aren’t many places further from Calgary than Yaroslavl (not in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).