Flames Prospects: Missed the Cut



We recently wrapped up FN’s ranking of the Flames top-15 prospects under 24. TJ Brodie topped the list, while Mark Jankowski came in at #15.

We’ll re-order things next summer and I’m sure that list will include new guys like Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk. For now, we’ll look at the other hopefuls who didn’t quite make the cut for various reasons this year.

Missed by a Nose

#16 – Joni Ortio – G

The 22-year old Finnish goalie gets lost in the mix a bit these days thanks to the success of Laurent Brossoit and Jon Gillies, both of whom made our top-10 list. Although Ortio struggled in a very brief appearance for the Abbotford Heat in 2011-12, he went back to his native land soon after and established himself as a capable starter for Markus Granlund’s HIFK of the SM-liiga. Ortio started 54 of his team’s 65 regular season games last year and managed a respectable .917 SV%, the 9th best save rate amongst goalies who played 40+ games in the league.

A former 6th round pick by the Flames, Ortio has never managed elite results anywhere, but last year was a strong enough step forward that he’s worth keeping in the organization. Ortio may hop the pond and battle for a spot on the Heat with Brossoit and Berra, but he always has the option to go back and compete in the SM-liiga if things get too crowded in NA.

#17 – Pat Sieloff – D

The hard hitting second rounder from 2012 had an injury marred season in the OHL with Windsor and his output confirmed that he doesn’t have much of an offensive game to speak of (3 goals, 11 points in 45 games). On the other hand, Sieloff was also a surprise late addition to the gold medal winning US squad at the world junior championships and provided a number of highlight reel bodychecks despite not being the biggest dude on the ice (6′, 197 pounds) during the regular season with the Spitfires.

The lack of offense and potential durability concerns drop Sieloff’s stock given his kamikaze style of game. If he can become a consistent top-2 shut-down defender and play most of the season this coming year, his value will rise.

#18 – Brett Kulak – D

In contrast to Sieloff, Kulak was the highest scoring defender on his team, the near-CHL worst Vancouver Giants this year. He managed 12 goals and 44 points in 72 games, just 13 points off the overall team lead. He was also a team worst -34 (thanks, in part, to goaltending that hovered around the .870 mark all season) and there’s still some question marks about his size (5’11, 170 pounds) and overall game.

Of the Flames current prospects on the blueline (aside from TJ Brodie), Kulak probably has the highest offensive ceiling. It’s hard to gauge guys when they play on horrible teams, so it will be interesting to see how he fares as a 20-year old, #1 defender for Vancouver next year.

#19 – Carter Bancks – LW

A high battle "glue guy", Carter Bancks is your prototypical balls-to-the-wall checker who every coach loves. Bancks was a free agent signing out of the WHL who has played three seasons with the Abbotsford Heat, which is likely where he’ll spend most of his pro career. Bancks is small, but quick, feisty and willing to engage with just about anybody, making him a fan favorite.

That said, he doesn’t have much offense or a high ceiling, so at best he could eventually work his way onto the big club’s roster as a replacement level mucker and grinder on the 4th line.

#20 – Ryan Culkin – D

It was a relatively strong season for Culkin, who was a top-4 option for the Quebec Ramparts. Culkin’s point total jumped from 25 points in his draft season to a decent 45 points. Like Kulak, Culkin was the highest scoring defender on his team, but unlike Kulak, he played on a quality club featuring guys like Adam Erne and Mikhail Grigorenko.

Culkin is a competent two-way defender who doesn’t stand out as exceptional in any particular way, but tends to do most everything well. Similar to Sieloff and Kulak, a big season as a top-pairing guy in junior could drive his stock a lot higher. 

Not Ranked

This group of players were eligible, but didn’t get enough votes to even make it onto the list.

Coda Gordon – LW

The 6th rounder from 2012 ran in place this past year in terms of overall points with 59 in 70 games, although his goal scoring dropped off precipitously from 30 to just 17 relative to the season before. Not really fleet of foot, Gordon was drafted as a sniper with concerns about his overall game and 2012-13 didn’t really provide any evidence of significant improvement overall.

Ryan Howse – LW

A 47 and 51 goal scorer in junior, Howse hasn’t been able to overcome questions about his conditioning, compete level or foot speed to make a dent in the pro game yet. Last year, the 22 year old spent most of the season the ECHL where he scored 9 points in 20 games.

At this point, Howse is probably not a prospect of note for the organization. The AHL is the first true hurdle for hopefuls and a lot of them tend to fall hard and never recover.

John Ramage – D

After a four year college career, John Ramage finally signed with the Flames recently and will be fighting for a spot on the Abbotsford Heat come September. A squat but solid defender at 6′, 205", Ramage is generally considered highly competitive and positionally sound.

Unfortunately, Rob Ramage’s son doesn’t seem to be particularly gifted in any one area of the game, which makes his pro ceiling somewhat low. His offensive game is nothing to talk about, he’s not particularly big and he didn’t exactly dominate the college ranks.

Ramage is a guy who could ripen in the AHL for a few years and develop into an Adam Pardy type player down the road. He’s also the kind of guy who could struggle to keep his head above water in the AHL, like Brady Lamb did last year. We’ll see which way he goes soon. 

Matt Deblouw – C

Two-way college centerman Matt Deblouw started out the year on a near point-per-game pace for Michigan State University. He couldn’t sustain that rate, however, and finished the year with just 21 points in 42 games. That total is underwhelming overall, although it was tied for the second best output on what was apparently a very low scoring squad.

Deblouw’s game isn’t really about offense anyways. Most scouting reports note he is a good face-off man who can play in a checking role and read the game well. At 19 years old and entering his sophomore season in college, we’re many years away from knowing just how capable a prospect Deblouw really is.

No Longer Prospects

Finally, we have the guys who aren’t really considered "prospects" anymore, if because they are too old or because their performance suggests they don’t have a future in the NHL.

Greg Nemisz – RW

We’re 5 years removed from the draft that saw Nemisz chosen 25th overall by the Flames and the big winger is as far away as ever from making the jump to the NHL. He turned 23 in June, so he’s technically young enough to qualify as a prospect under our age guidelines, but the fact is Nemisz scored just 10 points in 55 games for the Heat last season, wasn’t invited to the Flames training camp in January and wasn’t recalled when the team was auditioning kids post-trade deadline.

An RFA heading into July, Nemisz was re-signed by Feaster recently, but there’s a good chance he’s being kept around as veteran AHL roster filler. He has never posted meaningful numbers in three seasons as a pro, in fact taking a gaint step backwards after battling injury this past year. Nemisz is a big guy at 6’3, 200 pounds, but he’s not a crash and banger, doesn’t read the play well enough to be a shut-down guy and still can’t skate very well.

Leland Irving – G

Another failed first rounder, this past year was Irving’s last chance to prove to management he could be an NHL level netminder. Instead, he struggled to be an AHL level goalie, eventually falling behind both Barry Brust and Danny Taylor on Abbotsford’s depth chart. The Flames gave Irving a shot when Miikka Kiprusoff went down with injury, but he floundered in 6 starts, managing a SV% of just 88.3%.

Unlike Nemisz, Irving wasn’t re-signed by the Flames this off-season and is currently looking for work. My guess is he ends up overseas.

Chris Breen – D

Disqualified because he turned 24 this June, Breen is one of the few players on this list who might have a chance at a meaningful NHL appearance down the line. The huge 6’7" defender has been a fixture amongst the Heat’s top-4 rotation for a couple of seasons now and could very well challenge for a bottom pairing role with the Flames if things fall into place.

Despite his size, Breen was never drafted and was signed as a free agent out of the OHL. He has all the typical strengths and weaknesses of a bigger man: huge reach, size to clear the crease and battle in the corners vs lackluster mobility and puck skills. Breen also has zero offensive upside, with his pro career best total being 11 point in 73 games back in 2010-11. Incidentally, his junior career was similarly barren, with his production topping out at 13 points in 2008-09.

Breen’s viability as an NHLer depends on who you talk to. Jim Playfair loved the player when he was coaching the Flames farm club and I know more than a few Heat fans/writers who swear he could have been playing in the show last year. I am far less bullish on his ability to make the jump, however, given my viewings of Breen – his way below average foot speed and puck skills look like intractable problems that will be relentlessly exploited by players at the next level, but then my exposure to the guy has been limited. 

Gaelan Patterson – C

A 7th rounder in 2009, Patterson spent two seasons with the Heat where his point and games played totals dropped from marginal to near non-existent. He spent last year in the ECHL which is likely where he’ll have to continue his por career. The Flames chose not to re-sign him this summer.

Ben Street – C, LW

A 26 year old AHL veteran, Street is too old to be considered a prospect. The Heat’s third highest scorer last year, Street is a capable overall skater and could probably staff a 4th line on most NHL teams around the league. He’ll be a leader for Abbotsford again this year and will probably find his way onto the Flames as an injury replacement now and then.

Bryan Cameron – C, RW

Like Ryan Howse, Cameron was a big scorer out of junior who had significant question marks about whether he could translate that offense at the next level. The answer is, no, he couldn’t.

A free agent signing by the Flames in 2010, the 24 year spent one season in the AHL (his rookie year) before being permanently demoted to the ECHL where he has languished ever since. The team released him to free agency recently.

Other – David Eddy, Akim Aliu, Brady Lamb, James Martin


Although they didn’t make the top-15 list, there’s more than a few guys here who could climb up the orgs depth chart by taking a meaningful step forward this coming year. Guys like Kulak, Culkin, Ortio and Sieloff have promise and could bump a few of their peers with noteworthy performances in 2013-14.

On the other hand, you have a lot of big question marks and failed projects in this category as well. Nemisz and Irving represent the period of poor scouting that has partially led to the Flames downfall at this point in time. Particularly Irving, who is the only player in the Flames 2006 draft class to play an NHL game. Yikes.

Things are getting better though. I hope.

  • DoubleDIon

    I like the two smallish offensive defensemen. I think Deblouw has an outside shot at 4th line duty too. Had high hopes for Gordon, but he had an awful year. Even riding shotgun with Lowry he was poor. Things will be tough in Swift Current next year with Gordon and Black leading the charge…

  • Parallex

    Heh, I was just about to say Where’s Hanowski?

    On Deblouw: Eh, I dunno… I think 0.5PPG, while being second on his team in scoring is a pretty good result for a guy drafted so low (who was generally promoted as being drafted for his faceoff and defensive skills).

    • Parallex

      lol he’s been gone for a LONG time. Remember the Tim Erixon thing? Bjorklund was also not signed that year, which meant he re-entered the draft in 2011. No one took him.

      He’s a free agent now.

  • Parallex

    I still don’t quite agree with Ferlund at 14, but looking at the list of names up there, I don’t think I could pick one I would put in Ferlunds spot(well I’d easily make Jankowski switch spots with him). Though maybe I’d put up Hanowski up there.

    I like the looks of top 15(especially with the recent additions as well), but anything outside of there has some major flaws.

  • seve927

    I think Turner Elson deserves at least a mention. I think he shows very good bottom 6 potential. He scored 21 even strength goals last year. That’s 5 more than Sean Monahan, and 1 less than Martin Frk. He was +26 on a team that was only +4, and he was the captain.

    I saw him take what was supposed to be one of Sieloff’s spectacular hits last year at dev camp. He barely broke stride, and Sieloff was done for the week.

    He’s tough, he’s a leader, he can score at even strength, he’s a great PK guy, he plays both ends. He’s a prospect, even if his NHLE doesn’t say so.

    • Forgot Elson. And Paul Byron too. Yeesh.

      Short versions: Byron isn’t a prospect anymore. Too old.

      Elson is another Carter Bancks type. Tough, hard worker, nice to coach. Probably doesn’t have the offense or the ceiling though. His numbers were good this year, but he was playing in the WHL as an overager so they should have been good.

  • icedawg_42

    Kulak and Sieloff are my two favorite less heralded prospects…

    They will rise up the rankings…and I think they will play in the NHL in the not too distant future..

    • SmellOfVictory

      Oh well. I really wish they’d have just splurged and put him under contract until he was 30, but I understand they might at least have some injury concerns regarding him. Decent for a bridge contract.

    • SmellOfVictory

      schevvy is THE INSIDER 🙂

      Seriously though, that’s not even a huge raise. Last year the guy made around 800k, and now he’s making just 1.5m? I thought he was gonna get around 3 million.

      Well it’s certainly a value contract in terms of the cap hit.

      And why such a short-term deal? I thought they were gonna make a contract around 4 years in length.

      • icedawg_42


        I think part of it is concern that he can stay healthy. I don’t think the Flames know what they have in him. Personally I still think he can be a strong 2C, and doubtless this year he’ll spend some time as 1 C. This is a bridge deal..it’s up to him now to use the next 2 years to cash in. I think he will.

    • SmellOfVictory

      You list three actions, of which Calgary signs arguably the best player (someone might debate in Perron’s favour), and start talking about going all-in for the lottery? Are you saying that because Calgary’s not making more moves?

      • icedawg_42

        oilers didnt give up too much for perron, and pens signed dagostini for 500 k. small moves that better their respective teams.signing backs is a good move, but hardly anything of earth scattering gm of the year nomination. both perron and dags could have helped the flames, just sayin.

          • BurningSensation

            I just think it was an overpay by Edm. PRV is bigger, faster and IMO has a higher defensive ceiling than Perron.

            Perron has a lot of warts (age, size, injuries) and I wouldn’t have paid the price StL was asking for him.

            That said, Perron had positive Corsi and Rel Corsi, so at least he should help that 2nd line push back some.

          • BurningSensation

            perron same draft as backlund, 3 times as many points. 3 mill a year contract. with almost 200 career points. at 25 yrs old i would say he has a comparable edge over stajan and backlund.

          • BurningSensation

            I should clarify this by saying that I don’t think Backlund is better than Perron. I just don’t see any reason to compare them since they play different positions, different roles, etc.

          • BurningSensation

            my point is that a move such as acquiring perron for loose change and dagostini for practically nothing are moves feaster should be pulling to make the rebuild that much more a reality. the comparison to stajan was dollars, the comparison to backlund was age/same draft year. signing backlund is not a huge move by feaster. when looking at this rebuild/retool re whatever, building solely through the draft is pie in the sky. that would take a life time, the flames dont have access to the crosby,malkin,toews types or the dale tallon strategy of enomorous selections.

        • McRib

          Right… of course Perron would help the Flames… if the oilers had to deal a 22 yr old with promise to get him who would we have had to give up. We arent exactly stacked with young players … the ones we have we are keeping. Feaster had no asset to move that could have gotten Perron outside of Backlund or Baertshi or Brodie.

          • piscera.infada

            Thank you!

            It seems like every time another team acquires a player, there are several people on here that ask why Feaster didn’t pull the trigger first. We have about zero legitimate pieces to move outside of a few prospects (that we want to keep), vets (that are on bad contracts – either $ or term), prospects that aren’t going to garner much (either long-term projects or college guys not able to come up for 2 or 3 years), or of course picks (that no one wants to give up – ie. first round).

        • Burnward

          Just dreaming of Bob McKenzie…


          “But the real surprise of this Camp so far has been the play of Calgary Flames prospect Mark Jankowski. When he was drafted, he turned heads, but for what a lot of people thought were the wrong reasons. He was considered a stretch, a blunder by Jay Feaster and Co. Well I can tell you this James, he’s turning heads this week in all the right ways. Big, strong, a surprisingly good skater with excellent hockey sense…Jankowski is proving a lot of people wrong…and Jay Feaster and the Flames scouting staff right for making, what many so-called experts thought, was the mistake of the 2012 Draft. It’s not looking like a mistake at all anymore. We’re just starting to get a glimpse of what this kid’s potential could be.”

  • T&A4Flames

    Apparently VAN is out on Blum (didn’t know they were in on him). So, hopefully now with Backs signed, a Brodie deal gets done soon and a Blum signing.

    I really want the Flames to give this kid a shot.

  • T&A4Flames

    Before we get too excited about Jankowski’s late invite, it’s worth remembering that Patrick Holland bafflingly received an invite to the summer camp one year.

  • McRib

    Solid list glad to see Joni Ortio, Pat Sieloff, Brett Kulak, etc mentioned its nice to think these players would be in a lot of teams Top. 15, been awhile since Flames Fans can say that!!!

    Its funny Mark Jankowski getting an invite to the World Junior Camp (mentioned possibility last week) is probably the biggest surpise to Flames Fans (His Harshest Critics). This does not surprise most in the Hockey World!!! Like I have said once he adds 20-30 Pounds he is going to dominate (Seems to have this summer). Nice Contract for Backs, Feaster seems to be getting it.

  • McRib

    Coda Gordon still looks to have the offensive potential this season, but he needs to add leg strength, if he does this off season could have a big year next season.