Flames top 10 Prospects – Summer 2013



FlamesNation recently did an in-depth, democratically structured prospect ranking. This was before the recent draft and included TJ Brodie owing to the age cut-off point. It was a fine list, but is now incomplete thanks to the 2013 selections, and parts of it didn’t reflect my personal ratings of the Flames hopefuls. In addition, Corey Pronman recently released his own Flames top 10- ranking, so I wanted to add my own take to set up things heading into the new season.

So, without further ado…

Flames Top 10 Prospects

My criteria: less than 24 years old and less than 30 games played at the NHL level.

1.) Sven Baertschi

Sven comes in at the top of the list, but only just barely edging out Johnny Gaudreau. The former 13th overall pick had an up-and-down first pro season where he initially struggled to compete at the NHL level after playing a couple of months of excellent – though not quite dominant – hockey for the Abbotsford Heat.

Baertschi looked much more comfortable in his second stint in the show after a brief demotion and figures to be a top-6 player for the Flames this upcoming year. He boasts some of the best junior numbers of any Calgary draft pick in the last couple of decades and has a great package of offensive skills, including speed, agility, soft hands and sniper’s nose for the net. Baertschi has the potential to score 60+ points at the NHL level, a mark no Flames forward prospect has managed since Corey Stillman (or, to be exact, German Titov who scored 67 in 1995-96).

2.) John Gaudreau

The smallest player selected in the 2011 draft became one of the most dominant figures in college hockey last season in just his second year in the league. With a resume that boasts rookie of the year and player of the year plaudits, as well as a WJC gold medal and a Hobey Baker nomination, Johnny hockey is one of the most decorated Flames prospects in the organization’s history. Of course, Gaudreau would be one of the best prospects in all of hockey, not just in the Flames system, if he was 6′, 190 pounds rather than 5’7′ and a buck-sixty.

His size is the only reason Gaudreau doesn’t top my list. With blazing speed, a laser accurate shot, top-notch vision, silky smooth hands and the best single season NHL equivalency rate I’ve seen in the organization since I started tracking the numbers, Gaudreau would be a near lock as a blue chipper if he was even average size.

But he’s not, so until the mighty mite turns pro and proves he can translate all that potential against bigger bodies at the NHL level, there will always be a question mark beside his name.

3.) Sean Monahan

The highest Flames pick since 1998 (Rico Fata!), Sean Monahan has all the makings of a future high-end, two-way center in the league. Big and strong with excellent hockey IQ and patience with the puck, Monahan has the sort of results in junior that echo fellow top-10 picks like Gabriel Landeskog and Sean Courturier. As such, he could likely step into the NHL at 18-19 and at least compete, if not contribute meaningfully. The last Calgary prospect who even had a shot at landing a spot on the big club as a teenager was Dion Phaneuf (he didn’t because of the lock-out).

Monahan faced some of the toughest minutes in the league on a lousy team last year and still managed to contribute to over 40% of his club’s scoring. He also lead the 67’s in total scoring by by nearly 40 points, even though second placed Dante Salituro played six more games. The next best forward on the team, Ryan van Stralen, played in 3 more contests and scored exactly half as much as Monahan (39).

The only real question about Monahan is just how high his offensive ceiling is at the NHL level. Lacking in "flashy" puck skills and explosive speed, Monahan doesn’t quite figure to be a point-per-game type player in the show.

4.) Jon Gillies

I’ve changed my vote on this player since the FN ranking, if only because his ceiling – and therefore potential to impact the organization down the road – is so high. Gillies came out of nowhere to win Hockey East’s rookie of the year this season after grabbing the starting reins in Providence as a freshman. HIs .931 SV% was one of the best save rates in the entire league, a rare feat for a rookie in college hockey. He also made the USA gold medal team, albeit as a back-up, though he figures to be the club’s starter this season.

The only real question for the big 6’5" netminder is if he can keep it up. Predicting goalies at the best of times is tough and his season, impressive though it might have been, was only 35 games long. There are plenty of flash-in-the-pan netminders who look unbeatable for 20-30 game stretches only to come crashing back down to earth, so Gillies is going to have to prove his performance wasn’t an aberration going forward to further solidify himself as a top prospect.

5.) Corban Knight

This off-season’s best and most unexpected acquisition was that of college stand-out Corban Knight. A former 5th round pick of the Panthers, Knight was a better than point-per-game player in three of his four seasons with the University of North Dakota. He was also named UND’s most valuable player and finished as a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist this year. 

Knight is NHL sized at 6’2", 200 pounds and is known for his faceoff prowess and two-way ability. Ar 22, he’s a good bet to step right into the NHL as a fully formed player given the completeness of his game.

6.) Mark Cundari

I wrestled with this one. After my "top 5", we settle into guys who likely "support player" ceilings in the NHL. Cundari seems like a guy closest to stepping in a playing real minutes for the Flames in the near future, though he’ll probably never be an anchor defender.

The 23-year old was acquired in the Jay Bouwmeester trade. He led the Peoria Rivermen back-end in scoring this past season, made the AHL all-star game and played top-4 minutes for the Flames down the stretch and didn’t look terribly out of place. Cundari is mobile, offensively capable and mean. He’s smallish at just 5’10", but weighs over 200 pounds and throws his body around willingly.

If he can adjust to the speed and size of the NHL, Cundari figures to be a useful utility type player on the back-end: someone who can fill in throughout the rotation and chip in on the PP now and then.

7.) Markus Granlund

Although he only recently turned 20, Granlund has two years of pro hockey under his belt already. The Finnish winger/centerman is a creative playmaker who can flash high-end puck skills when given time and space. He finished second on HIFK in scoring this year with 30 points in 50 games, although that was a marginal step back in terms of output for him relative to his rookie season (34 points in 47 games). Granlund has also appeared in two consecutive WJC’s for Finland and finished as one of the tournaments top scorers last January.

Unfortunately, there are also significant question marks when it comes to Granlund’s ability to flourish on North American ice. He’s smallish at 5’10, 175 pounds, not particularly strong or physical and doesn’t have the sort of break away speed usually possessed by diminutive players. Although he’s probably ahead of the curve in terms of thinking the game relative to other 20 year olds thanks to his experience as a pro, he hasn’t spent much time in NA rinks meaning he’ll need to adjust to the smaller ice and more physical game in order to survive.

There’s a chance Granlund will debut for the Abbotsford Heat this year, which will give us a good idea if he’s able to translate things on this side of the pond.

8.) Bill Arnold

A guy who sometimes gets lost in the mix is former 3rd 4th rounder Bill Arnold. A high utility center who is one of the primary players on one of the best college teams in the NCAA (Gaudreau’s Boston College), Arnold has scored 34 goals and 71 points combined in his last two seasons (80 games). Despite being known more as a "two-way" PKer type centerman, Arnold quietly put up the third best NHL equivalence amongst Flames prospects this past year behind only Sven Baertschi and John Gaudreau. He probably won’t be a big time scorer as a pro, but there’s a enough offense in Arnold’s game right now to suggest an NHL-level ceiling.

Arnold is average height (6’0"), but over 210 pounds so he can battle with other big centers and defenders. He moves well for a guy carrying that kind of weight, however, and as mentioned is the sort of forward who can be counted on to take own-zone draws and kill penalties.

Arnold will play out his final season in college and then turn pro in 2014. At 22, he should be very close to a fully formed pro player and it’s then we’ll really begin to see understand if he’s a future NHLer or just a really good college player.

9.) Emile Poirier

Calgary’s second pick in the 2013 draft, Poirier was a bit of a reach according to some consensus scouting outfits, but his results this year are actually pretty encouraging upon close inspection. Like Monahan, Poirier led his team in scoring by a wide margin (70 points, 16 more than 19 year old Tomas Hyka). He also wasn’t reliant on special teams scoring for his output, which is another good sign.

Poirier has good break away speed and and at 6’1" and 185 pounds, has the sort of frame that projects well moving forward. His 32 goals were 12 more than next best on the Olympiques as well, suggesting he has decent finishing ability. 

Poirier came out of nowhere to post his impressive season, jumping from a 15-goal, 40-point rookie before climbing up the club’s depth chart and scoring ranks this season. That lack of history as a high-end prospect is the most concerning factor in projecting Poirier currently, so he’ll need to follow up with another step forward this year to prove his big year wasn’t a fluke.

10.) Max Reinhart

Calgary’s third rounder from 2010 had an incredibly rough rookie season in the AHL this past year, managing just 21 points in 67 games and a team worst -26 rating. A smart, heads up player who can win draws, anticipate plays and pursue the puck relentlessly, Reinhart isn’t the biggest or toughest guy and will probably need to improve his compete level and skating strength/explosiveness to do any damage at the NHL level.

Reinhart’s primary weapon is his high hockey IQ, but it’s clear from last season he needs to take strides in other aspects of his game to be a successful pro. Troy Ward deployed Reinhart in a third line/checking center type role for much of his time on the farm last year and I suspect he suffered through some tough luck as well (his personal SH% in Abbotsford was just 4.9!), but the bottom line is any forward above the 4th line/goon role needs to have some level of offense to make it as a regular in the show.

Reinhart didn’t look terribly out of place during his cup of coffee with the Flames last year, but he’s probably going to spend more time ripening on the vine in Abbotsford this year. If Reinhart can solidify himself as the Heat’s top line scoring center and put a few more points on the board, his future with the organization will look a lot brighter. 

Knocking on the door – Tyler Wotherspoon

A top-4 option for the CHL best Portland winterhawks the last two seasons, Tyler Wotherspoon was also a fixture on the back-end for the recent iteration of the Canadian WJC team. He and 4th overall pick Seth Jones combined to form one of the most fearsome defensive pairings in Canadian junior hockey, managing a cumulative +108 rating, including Wotherspoon’s near league best +62 (only Nic Petan at +68 was better).

Although he probably won’t be a big factor offensively at the next level, Wotherspoon nevertheless managed seven goals in each of the last two seasons with Portland. That said, his real strengths are size (6’2", 205 pounds), relatively good mobility and defensive acumen. Wotherspoon could potentially develop into a solid, 2nd pairing defender in the league – the sort of guy who doesn’t hurt you offensively, but can compliment a more high octane, hig-risk partner by being the stay-at-home conscience.

Wotherspoon will make his pro debut in Abbotsford this season, after which we’ll be able to better gauge how close or far he is from challenging for a spot on the parent club.

Just missed the cut – Mark Jankowski, Ben Hanowski, Ken Agostino, Morgan Klimchuk, Pat Sieloff, Laurent Brossoit, Joni Ortio.


This was a lot harder than it has been in the past. Calgary certainly boasts a much deeper pool of prospective talent than they’ve had in a good long while. A number of their top-10 guys should be knocking on the door in the next two seasons or so, while more than a few outside of this list could push their way into the top-10 with a good season or two.

The Flames still need to collect a few truly high-end offensive talents in order to kickstart the rebuild into high gear, but there’s at least a solid base of hopefuls who could help fill gaps throughout the line-up as they develop.

  • mattyc

    As an Oiler fan, I’m glad the Flames are stocking the cupboards…I like the top 3 prospects here, but I’d put Monahan #1 (even if he doesn’t make the NHL this year, his ceiling is the highest for his overall game). Baertschi loses top spot only because he was mismanaged and didn’t play enough due to injury…he’s still got a very high ceiling offensively…avoiding injury being the key, not to say he’s injury prone, as injuries happen to all NHL’ers except Cogliano, but I’d say a very strong blue chipper. Gaudreau was ranked by Bleacher report as being a top 10 offensive NHL prospect not yet playing, and I really like that site…but his size is absolutely tiny for the NHL…I don’t want to count him out, but I am knocking him down to #3 for that reason.

    I also wouldn’t rank goalies too high, because it takes a LONG time for them to develop and the longer it takes the more likely an injury or some other development lapse interferes with his potential.

    Just my opinion.

    • Actually, it isn’t unfair at all to say Baertschi’s injury prone. He’s had more than his share of concussions over the last two years or so.

      And you forgot to mention Bouwmeester under “players who never get hurt”. πŸ˜‰

      • BurningSensation

        Good call on Bouwmeester. Bertschi may have had some injuries sure, but he hasn’t even played a full season in the NHL…so I’d give it a season or 2 to make a judgement on it.

    • aloudoun

      I dont get the constant upset over Jankowski. Only 6 (2.8%) players from that draft have played any NHL games with Yakapov, Galchenyuk and Grigorenko the only players to play 25 or more games.

      Yes I will admit they should have picked Teravainen but give it some time…

      • Arik

        One: Not upset. I just get tired of fans parroting Feaster et al with the “Jankowski’s a future great!” when he’s clearly mediocre at best at his current level.

        Two: Even if I was “upset”, it wouldn’t be because of NHL games played, it’d be because he’s, well, awful.

        • piscera.infada

          As over the Jankowski debate as I am, I feel like I have to jump in as I take strong exception with you calling him “awful”. The kid is not awful.

          He has been underwhelming to date, and I doubt many people will argue that. I also don’t see many people using Jankowski to prop up Feaster for that very fact – not to mention you would think they would logically use Gilles or Gaudreau for that.

          I really don’t mean any disrespect, but to call an 18 year old (one year removed from his draft) awful is completely capricious, arbitrary, and impulsive.

          • Arik

            Well clearly this is a relative usage of the word. If he’d been taken in the 2nd round, he’d be underwhelming. The 3rd? Passable. In a vaccuum he’s not “awful”, but he doesn’t exist in a vaccuum. He exists in a world where he was a first round pick based on no real quantifiable evidence.

            Point is, 1.8 shots/game in the NCAA for a 1st round forward is decidedly awful play. Awful.

        • Rather than criticize a 17-18 year old because you merely do not agree with the Flames drafting him and/or your favorite player was not chosen why don’t you provide facts on your observations i.e the kids development, your analysis on the kids skills, his potential and upside, areas you are disappointed in given his very early development etc etc.

          I’m guessing you have never seen him play….

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    Whenever I see Wotherspoon play he reminds me of a younger Robyn Regehr. He can get mean in the corners, plays big and smart around his own net and can dish up a decent shot from the point. I see him more plausibly filling the big, stay-at-home D role than Kanzig or Breen.

  • piscera.infada

    That said, I like the ranking of Corban Knight at #5. In fact, if it were my list I’d probably have him at #4 – solely due to the unpredictability of goalie prospects, not to mention prospects in general. I’ve stated here numerous times how much I like the addition of Knight, and he’s probably the closest thing to a sure bet we have right now (Baertschi notwithstanding). Of course, we’ll need to see how he performs in the show, but I fully expect the guy to hit his second line centre projection sooner rather than later. The kid has all the tools to be an awesome two-way guy.

  • RKD

    Let’s go Svengali, I hope he can really produce offensively for the Flames. I might be out to lunch but if he gets a little more edge to his game maybe Gaudreau could be the second coming of Theoren Fleury. The fact that Monahan was as successful as he was on team that was struggling should speak volumes about his game and the type of player he is. Corban Knight will be 23 soon enough, put him in the lineup and see what he can do. I heard he has some strength in the face-off circle. As long as Poirier turns out better than Shinkaruk then we can all breathe a little easier. Cundari is a few years younger than Butler and more physical. Butler and Smith will be looking over their shoulders only to see Cundari in the rear view mirror.

  • Kent..awesome article…I am in agreement with most of your rankings other than I would have rated Poirier and Klimchuk higher based on the quality of the 2013 draft and that they are 1st rounders.

    Based on my observations of Joni Ortio you have him rated correctly at the bottom end of the prospects.

    • Thanks Primo.

      I tend to be pretty skeptical of junior players who don’t put up really outstanding results until they do something at the next level. Years of guys like Matt Pelech and Greg Niemisz have taught me to be dubious of merely good output/performance in the CHL.

      In other words, I’ll rate Klimchuk and Poirier higher if they take a nice step forward this season.

      • BurningSensation

        My take on it is Poirier has a much higher upside …… he just needs to continue to develop …… Klimchuk has solid 3rd liner all over him ….. and I feel bad for Jankowski because as a 3rd rounder people would let him develop without grinding on him …… but as the guy we took instead of Matta ….. that is a different pressure …..

  • BurningSensation

    I thought it would be interesting to directly compare the list Pronman has up with Kent’s, and mine;

    Here’s Pronman’s list;

    1. Sean Monahan
    2. Sven Baertschi
    3. Johnny Gaudreau
    4. Corban Knight
    5. Morgan Klimchuk
    6. Mark Jankowski
    7. Markus Granlund
    8. Jon Gillies
    9. Ben Hanowski
    10. Emile Poirier

    vs. Kent’s

    1. Sven Baertschi
    2. Johnny Gaudreau
    3. Sean Monahan
    4. Jon Gillies
    5. Corban Knight
    6. Mark Cundari
    7. Marcus Granlund
    8. Bill Arnold
    9. Emile Porier
    10. Max Reinhart

    The first thing that stands out is that aside from the order, the top tier of prospects appears to be about the same; Sven, Sean, and Johnny G in some order. I’d say that there is enough consensus and information on those three guys to suggest that they, along with TJ Brodie, are likely to be the nucleus of our ‘core’ moving forward.

    The biggest aberration between the two lists occurs with Pronman’s #5, Morgan Klimchuk. Pronman clearly loves the kid but he doesn’t make Kent’s list at all.

    Corban Knight falls into the same range on both lists, but Pronman sees Knight as having 2nd line upside, something I think that Kent would likely disagree with. However you look at him though, Feaster’s signing of Knight is something of a coup for the Flames org.

    Just outside of Corey’s top 5 (#6) is the second aberration, Mark Jankowski. Many electrons have died in the discussion of Janko lately, but it is definitely heartening that Pronman sees so much upside in him, when it is perfectly clear that Janko is going to be a multi-year project.

    Granlund, Gillies and Poirier make both lists in similar areas, and for good reasons.

    The remaining outliers from both lists are; Hanowski (Corey), Cundari (Kent), Arnold (Kent) and Reinhart (Kent).

    Hanowski looks to have Erik Nystrom type upside as a big, fast, 3rd line winger. Does he really belong in our top 10? Similar questions for Arnold and Reinhart who both appear to be destined for NHL checking roles, and Cundari might be a mid-pair guy who can play the PP, or he might be a bottom pair banger without much size.

    My own list:

    1. Sean Monahan
    2. Sven Baertschi
    3. Johnny G.
    4. Jon Gillies
    5. Corban Knight
    6. Mark Jankowski
    7. Emile Poirier
    8. Morgan Klimchuk
    9. Marcus Granlund
    10. Tyler Wotherspoon

    My top end is the same as the other lists, but I have Monahan at the top because I think his offensive ceiling is currently underrated.

    I have Gillies at #4 because players who flash high end talent early in their careers have higher ceilings. Gillies is also an impressive physical specimen with exciting #1 potential.

    I think Jankowski has a much higher ceiling than Knight, but Knight is clearly much closer to being a pro, and Janko has to prove something before I move into our top 5.

    I like Poirier’s size, speed and touch. VERY excited to track his next season. I lhave him a tad higher than Klimchuk because while their ceilings are similar, I see Poirier’s floor as being higher.

    Granlund lands about the same as both the other lists.

    Finally, I think Wotherspoon has been under appreciated. IMO he’s easily the Flames top D prospect (better than Cundari) and could have a Seabrook like presence when he eventually hits the NHL.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I like the list here Kent. I personally would have put a seperate goalie list together, only because the position is nearly impossible to predict. That said, it’s hard not getting excited about Gilles.

  • flamesburn89

    For me, its this –>

    1) SVEN

    2) Monahan

    3) Johny Hockey

    4) Knight

    5) Gillies

    6) Cundari

    7) Ryan Howse (lol just kidding, its Granlund)

    8) Poirier

    9) Arnold

    10) Wotherspoon

    Honorable mentions –> Maxpower, Brossoit, and Klimchuk

  • flamesburn89

    The cupboards are no longer bare. I like to think of them a little differently; who has a chance to significantly develop this year at the NHL level and those who are next year and beyond. So we have Sven, Knight, Cundari, Max R,And Granlund(who I think the Flames will look at) who will all a significant chance to NHLers this year, the other group who Monahan (9 games and then CHL), Johny hockey, Gilles( 2 more years to develop), janko(3 more years of being abused)Angastino back to the books with hopefully two having a cup of coffee at the end of the season, The Flying Frenchman( next season)and Klimchuk(2 years) back in the CHL and then the AHL guys Witherspoon, big Hank all getting call ups late in the season. Next year almost all of these guys will get a serious look and might all stick if the Flames really follow through and develop their prospects. We should start looking at next years top prospects and think about the wild cards.(This scouting team will be sure to find them)( How many of these scouts are from the Sutter regime? and how many have been Feaster hires?)

  • flamesburn89

    Like many of you I agree it’s too early really to nit pick about Jankowski.

    I do however want to point out something that no one on this post has mentioned just yet and something that should be brought up.

    Jankowski has gone from being 5’10 and like “a buck fiddy(150)” pounds to being nearly 6’4 and like 185 lbs in just 2 years. That kind of rapid physical development in a short time and the fact that his body surprisingly is still growing makes a person very awkward on their feet.

    The PRO: IF he settles into his body and maintains that offensive skill he had at 16/17 years old. There’s plenty to be excited about add that to gaining confidence.

    The CON: If the rapid change in his physical development alters his agility and skill (which can happen) he could easily go from being a top end offensive talent to having to take on a 3rd line role in the NHL (if he makes it).

    • BurningSensation

      The need for Jankowski to get used to his size and frame was mentioned in previous threads. It and his age are big parts of why he is a ‘project’.

      From 16->17 I went from 5’11 to 6’3″, and the change in co-ordination was HUGE. It definitely impacts every area of an athlete’s development.

  • BurningSensation

    I think the organization has a list of their top 10 prospects and I think the Flames would rank theirs like so:


    These are the organizations top ten they value the most. Not which ones are closest to NHL ready. Obviously Cundari and Reinhart, Horak would be on the list.

    They are in the top 15 for sure with Agostino.

    Its tough cause their are still some good ones you would like to add. So much youth with actual potential…

  • McRib

    After looking at everyones Top. 10 interesting to see that Marcus Granlund is so highly regarded. I know there is the argument that he plays against men, but if you compare his stats against Toni Rajala in the Oilers system they seem to be very similar. Toni Rajala put up fairly mediocre numbers in the WHL on a strong Brandon team but then went back to Finland and put up solid numbers similar to Granlund in the SM-liiga. Hopefully Granlund has a smooth transition to North America, but looking at Rajala’s adjustment time needed at the ECHL level even after a year in the WHL makes me think Granlund will need some time to develop in the farm for a couple of season. Hope he stays with Abbostford rather than going back to Finland next year as he has accomplished as much as he can on european ice. Brother had hard time adjusting to NA game he needs to get games in on smaller ice asap. It would be interesting to see where the Oilers have Rajala on their depth charts now that he finished the season out strong in the A compared to Granlund being a Top. 10 consensus in our system. Seem like very similar players to me. Also Rajala’s numbers in the WHL compared to almost the same point per game in the SM-liiga shows how strong Major Junior really is, anyway need to see Granlund on NA ice in a game situation before I’m sold.

  • McRib

    Here is my Top. 15: 1-Monahan 2-Sven 3-Guadreau 4-Poirier 5-Gillies 6-Knight 7-Jankowski 8-Wotherspoon 9-Klimchuk 10-Kulak 11-Reinhart 12-Arnold 13-Cundari 14-Agostino 15-Brossoit

    The fact that I really couldn’t do a Top. 10 just goes to show for me how deep the Flames Prospect System has become easily the deepest since 1987-88 when Theoren Fleury was an after thought (25 years ago).