Development Camp 2013: Keegan Kanzig



If there’s one draft pick fans were anxious to see at Flames development camp early this month, it was Keegan Kanzig. The third round selection of the Flames in the 2013 Draft is gifted with immense physical size – he’s roughly 6-6 and about 240 pounds – but because he plays for the Victoria Royals, fans don’t know quite as much about him as they do WHL teams that come through Calgary more often.

As a result, a lot of people – including me – relied a bit more on stats and scouting reports to assess the pick than they would otherwise, and there were quite a few players with better offensive and defensive numbers available at Calgary’s pick than Keegan Kanzig.

The fact that the Royals were a lower-tier playoff team and got beat out by the powerhouse Kamloops Blazers in the first round only compounds the mystery surrounding Kanzig. He opened quite a few eyes during the camp’s scrimmages, joining the rush on one end of the ice and using his massive reach to break up offensive plays in his own zone. As somebody who was a bit skeptical of the pick when it was announced – and who admittedly barely saw Victoria this past season – I was really turned around on Kanzig when the week-long camp was over.

I had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Kanzig after one of the sessions. Disclosure: my first reaction when being introduced to him was “Holy moley, you’re big!” Even without skates on, Keegan Kanzig is an absolute wall of humanity. If he can continue to work on his mobility – and his efforts in the scrimmages suggest that he has a good foundation to build upon – he may surprise some people in a few years. He’s definitely got size on his size and, as the old saying goes, you can’t teach size.

Ryan Pike: Are you familiar with Calgary at all?

Keegan Kanzig: I’m from north of Edmonton, so I’ve been to Calgary a few times for a few different reasons. I really like the city. I think it’s a great city and a good organization that’s based out of here, too, and I’m really excited to be drafted by this organization.

Considering you grew up north of Edmonton, who did you cheer for growing up?

Well, obviously when I was a kid, Oilers being closest to home those are the games I was able to go see, and you became a bit of a fan of them. But that changed on draft day. [Chuckles]

Obviously you’re a big physical defenseman. For those who haven’t seen you play, can you describe your game?

I’m a defensive defenseman. Obviously, I have size working on my side, so I try to use that to my advantage and play physical and smart, be smart defensively and able to shut down other lines.

Were you surprised that you were chosen where you were at the draft? You were one of those guys that were all over the place depending on what draft rankings you looked at. Does it boost your confidence knowing that the Flames had such hopes for you that they took you where they did?

Yeah, it was a bit surprising. I didn’t think I’d be going that early, but like I said, I’d like to go to the Flames and…see that they had some confidence in me, it does give me confidence as well and motivation to work hard and work at cracking their line-up.

Flames Development Camp Profiles

  • supra steve

    This selection has confirmed my belief that the Flames scouting dept. does indeed know what they are doing. Perhaps most of us had never heard of Keegan Kanzig but that doesn’t matter because the Flames saw fit to rank him on their draft list, so he has potential. That does not mean he is a sure thing, but it does mean that he is not the “dancing bear” that he was branded as in the moments after his name was called. Best of luck Keegan in the coming years of developement, would like nothing better then to see you make a splash in the NHL pool.

    • The number of junior players with single digit point totals and triple digit PIM’s who become anything more than a tough guy at the NHL level is so miniscule it approaches zero. Kanzig’s current role isn’t as an enforcer in the WHL, but to make it as a pro guys like this usually have to start dropping the gloves more than anything else. Heck, that’s what happened to Matt Pelech once he was picked up by the Sharks – they converted him to pure a tough guy. In 2012-13, he played 58 games, scored 7 points and garnered 238 PIMs on their farm team.

      It would be great if Kanzig took a big step forward in his draft+1 season so that his only notable strength wasn’t just size/reach. If other aspects of his game develop, he could be more than just a tough guy, but right now that’s how he projects.

        • supra steve

          I think the point people are making isn’t that he is a big useless goon. The issue is with lack of production at the junior level (a reflection of overall skill even for the most defensive players). Even the most marginal NHLer typically tears up junior even if they aren’t offensive.

          The link is drawn because people say things like ‘even McGratton got 30 pts each year in junior’ (which is true).

          I don’t think people are trying to paint him as a dancing beat but just use examples of players in the NHL who we perceive as being borderline useless and/or not NHL calibre who STILL racked up points in junior as a reflection of how remote the chances are for a guy like this.

      • supra steve

        Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Hal Gil, John Erskine ( drafted 38th overall after a 9 point, 205 pim season), Adam Mcquaid ( 55th overall as an 18 year old), Mark Frazer, etc.

  • BurningSensation

    1. I’m not sure why Pike omitted acknowledging that Kanzig got absolutely schooled by a lightning-fast Gaudreau streaking into the offensive zone, causing the lovely gentleman to my right in the stands to pronounce, “well, that was inevitable.” Even if you consider Kanzig was not likely, in a development camp scrimmage situation, “allowed” to crush such a player against the boards on the rush, I’m skeptical that he would have been able to due to lack of speed.

    2. While I’m equally as skeptical that Kanzig has up-to-snuff skating abilities, I will give him this: he has better vertical than any player I’ve ever witnessed doing simple drills, which makes him THE MOST ADORABLE.


    • SmellOfVictory

      I thought this comment read a little differently when the title of “most adorable” was bestowed on a player. I haven’t seen you comment in a while, WI. Haha

  • beloch

    After all the build-up that was an oddly truncated interview. What happened? Did Johnny G jump on Kanzig’s back and start asking you, “Who run Bartertown”?

  • MC Hockey

    KEEGAN GET YOU! NO MAKE FUN KEEGAN! OOOGAA OOGAAAAHH! Sorry a caveman took over my keyboard!

    This guy fits in the Jankowski category meaning those crazy Flames took him higher than perhaps was warranted but give him a chance already!

  • BurningSensation

    i have a buddy who is a whl scout, his opinion is KRIPPLA KANZIG is a great kid with alot of qualities coaches love, his skating isnt completely brutal and he has the athletic abilities to great improve his skill set in time. possibly be a shutdown dman if foot speed improves.

      • MC Hockey

        Old coach of mine is an asst for the royals. Lives him. Said he is athletic, intelligent and extremely coachable. Played entirely in a shutdown role versus the other teams top lines last year as a 17 year old and received no pp time. The kid has a lot of work to do but if he doesn’t make it, it won’t be from lack of effort.

  • everton fc

    I remembered posting something a long while back about Kanzig being someone we might want to look at in the draft, due to his size. See below. Hope I’m sage! (Called our Eric Roy, as well. Not bad, hey?!)

    Edit | Reply #60 everton fc April 29 2013, 11:12PM +1 0 props Feaster – “Team’s Needs: size and grit, centers, physical presence on blueline, accelerating “physical development of younger players.”

    He doesn’t draft size and grit. One can argue Seiloff has grit. Not sure if Wotherspoon does.

    He ripped the defence. Is Gio part of the problem back there?

    A couple of long shot draft pick “hopes” (I think all are draft eligible). Note I’m looking at size/grit, for the most pary, though not all fit that bill. And I really like Roy and Verrier. These are guys who may be around for a while. But I feel we’ll draft more “U.S.”

    Eric Roy – Defence/Brandon Jerome Verrier – RW/Drummondville Adam Chapman – Centre/Gatineau Austin Carroll – RW/Victoria Max Domi – Centre/London Kerby Rychel – LW/Windsor Darnell Nurse – Defence/Sault Ste. Marie (Not sure he’s draft eligible) Connor Crisp – Centre/Erie Tyler Yaworski – Defence/Brandon Keegan Kanzig – Defence/Victoria (Not sure he’s draft eligible)

  • everton fc

    I attended the first scrimmage of the development camp, sitting between a couple of guys who had been at all of the sessions.

    In the first period of that first scrimmage, Kanzig did two things that surprised me. First, he skated much better than I had anticipated (have not seen him play WHL) demonstrating more speed and agility that belies a ‘man’ of his size. Secondly, he followed up the play and actually had a decent scoring chance, one that was stymied by a solid defensive play by Corban Knight coming back.

    The guys that I sat with indicated that Kanzig had been a surprise to them during the drills portion of the camp, particularly with his skating and his ability to finish his checks without hammering someone into the boards.

    I, for one, am going to follow this young mans CHL development closely, anticipating that he will have a pro impact. Whether that impact is at the NHL level is the unanswered question.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I saw KANZIG in the Saturday scrimmage game and I was was impressed, mainly because my expectations of him were so low. His skating is below average, but not terriable. Overall, he played a lot of minutes and did not look out of place. He pinched in twice and was never caught out of position. I also noticed that the oposing wingers did everything they could to avoid his side of the ice.

    If its true and this guy has good to great athletic ability then this Flames project might work out. I really wonder how much he’s grown in the past 24 months (12 to 18″ and 40 to 80 lbs maybe?). I don’t care how athletic a guy is, that kind of physical change would be really hard for a guy to maintain any athletic integrity. Anyway, I now find this player as a very intriguing.

    Ps. KEEGAN KANZIG all caps says it all.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Generally, when a player (or any person, for that matter) sees a sudden burst of ridiculous growth, they’re underweight for a long time afterwards. Kanzig is extremely physically developed for a young guy (240 pounds!!!), so I doubt he had any kind of significant growth spurt recently.

      I could be wrong, but that’s just the way it seems to me. Guys who suddenly shoot up 12-18 inches generally look more like Jankowski. A giraffe (or maybe a llama…).

      • Captain Ron

        You are right. He has been a physical specimen for awhile. He jumped right from midget to the WHL.

        Age 16
        Height 196
        Weight 100
        Years I have participated in my sport
        Current club or school team Fort Saskatchewan Midget AAA Rangers
        Coach Levi Lypka
        Position Defence
        Other games I have participated in
        Alberta Cup 2010
        Alberta Winter Games 2008-cross country skiing
        My most recent athletic or artistic accomplishments in my sport or discipline
        Year Full name of competition/event Placing
        2010 Alberta Cup 1st
        My goals for the games
        I hope to leave the Games with a gold medal earned by the U16 Team Alberta male hockey team.
        My personal best result in my event
        The best result I’ve had as a hockey player is winning the Alberta Cup while playing on the Northwest Sharks.
        What will I bring to the Halifax 2011 Canada Games? I will bring…
        I will bring my best effort and top level of play to do all that I can to help Team Alberta be successful.
        My personal role model
        Nicklas Lidstrom is a good role model because, as he’s shown through his experience in the NHL, even in high pressure situations he has the ability to stay calm and make the right decisions.
        Other information that could be of interest to the media
        In the off season I like to mountain bike and spend time doing other outdoor sports to keep healthy.

  • McRib

    Watching Keegan Kanzig as a 16 year-old he fought the toughest player (twice) to come out of the ‘dub in five years or more (Darren Kramer) and more than held his own. He would have had twice as many PIMs this season, but he had a hard time getting a fight in the second half. The reason I don’t mind this pick is worse case he could be a fighter at the AHL level and an occasional call-up.

    Every year three or four big no offence defenseman get drafted out of the WHL. This year Kanzig was one along with Mason Geertsen, Mitch Wheaton and Marc McNulty. Of all of them Keegan Kanzig is by far the biggest and by far the toughest. If any one of them pans out as a fighter its Kanzig and I think more teams other than just the Flames realized that. That’s why we had to get him in the third round.

    The two’s games I watched Victoria last season Kanzig had zero opportunity to produce offensively. Watching him at dev. camp he made a couple solid pinches. Which makes me think maybe if his coaches let him this season he could chip in once and awhile offensively. Its very unlikely he is ever going to be much more than a fighter, but of all the big no offensive defenseman drafted each season he is the most likeable in awhile. Skating also seems to have improved significantly since mid-season but still needs work. The kid also seems to be fairly intelligent which is rare for these type of players, the fact that he recognizes why he is here and what he needs to work on speaks volumes to his potential. Forget Zdeno Chara and think…. Hal Gill!!

    • McRib

      I agree with the possible Hal Gill but much meaner. The kid is also very committed to fitness as witnessed at camp. Some other players playing in the league who had comparable offensive stats as a 17 year old are;
      Sheldon Souray, Clayton Stoner, Keith Aulie, Mark Fistric, Robin Regehr, Matt Carkner, Jarred Tinordi, Andrew Alberts, Kent Huskins ( not the pims), Matt Greene, Hal Gill(not the pims) and Theo Peckham. That’s just guys in the league now. It takes the exceptionally huge guys like Aulie, Tinordi and Gil a little longer to develop so we will need to take the same approach with Kanzig.

      • McRib

        Lol Kanzig is already a better skater than Aulie will ever be.

        Also, every one of the players you mentioned was better than Kanzig in his draft year (even Aulie!!!!). Just saying.

        • McRib

          Even though we have pasted scouting reports that said Kanzig played against the other team’s top line and never saw pp time, let’s just compare offensive numbers with all these better players in their 17 year old season.
          Souray – 9 points
          Stoner – 16 points
          Keith Aulie, who you said doesn’t skate as well as Kanzig and is nowhere near as tough – 9 points and was a regular in Tampa last year.
          Regehr – 14 points.
          Carkner – 6 points
          Tinordi – 9 points in USHL
          Alberts – 14 points in USHL
          Huskins – 10 points
          Gill – 3 points
          Peckham – 10 points

          Were these guys really better?
          JUST SAYING

      • beloch

        nhle’s of the guys you listed:

        stoner: 10.8
        tinordi: 7.1
        alberts: 5.3
        huskins: 9.6
        greene: 9.0
        gill: 16.4
        peckham: 5.5
        souray: 5.3
        aulie: 3.4
        fistric: 4.1
        regehr: 5.3
        carkner: 7.4

        kanzig: 2.5

        7 of those guys have been replacement level their entire career, 3 of those guys far outpaced kanzig and 2 of those guys played the majority of their effective career in a different era. there’s no one there that you listed that works as a comparable that provides a good outlook on his potential career.

          • supra steve

            ushl is .25. whl is .30. tinordi played 25 games and got 9 points, whereas kanzig played 70 and got 7. carkner’s draft year gave us that result. aulie was the 6th dman on the 4th worst team in the league.

        • McRib

          Did anyone else even watch Keegan Kanzig this season?!?!?! The dude wasn’t allowed to cross the offensive Blue Line… For all intensive purposes he was the only defender most shifts as partner Joe Hicketts basically was a fourth forward (Why Hicketts is not a forward is beyond me? If he ever wants to play past Junior he will have to change positions).

          Kanzig’s NHLE really doesn’t bother me at this point, as he had more pinches in two games at developmental camp then he did all of last season.

          Having played against Keith Aulie in Midget AAA still cannot get over how he made it?!?! Remember watching him in Brandon. Where they were hoping he would develop a two-way game his draft year. He got second unit PP time most games and only put up nine points (two more points than Kanzig). Aulie had more offensive opportunity in one game than Kanzig did all of his draft year. After that they decided to turn Aulie into a “shutdown defender”.

          Keegan Kanzig is a better skater at this point and is massive compared to the lanky Aulie. I’m not saying Kanzig is going to be anything more than a 5-6 defender at best, more likely an occasional call-up, but if Aulie can reach the show Kanzig can absolutely get there. The dude is 6’7″ – 241!!! Already 24 Pounds heavier than a six year older Keith Aulie.

  • beloch

    Supposedly, the odds of a third-round pick playing in the NHL for >200 games is ~12%.

    That’s not very good (albeit probably higher than the odds of any first or second rounder picked by the Flames in the last decade!). By the third round of the draft, the available players are largely faceless names known primarily by their stat-sheets. You really need to look for players who are underachieving. Any player who has made decent use of their gifts and circumstances who is still available by this point in the draft likely has zero chance of being an NHL’er! Any kind of extreme statistical outlier is worth a bet. In short, outside of the first two rounds, picking “project” players is probably the way to go unless you’re hard-up for mediocre fourth-line bench-warmers.

    Not many players Kanzig’s size have made the NHL, largely because there aren’t many players who are Kanzig’s size period! Full stop. The kid is *huge*! He is, undeniably, an outlier. There is also evidence that his counting stats are suppressed. He’s a self-identified “defensive” player who, despite his young age, has been deployed in a shut-down role on a poor team against top competition with zero power-play time. That sounds like “underachieving” to me!

    The fact that this thread didn’t start with a picture of a coke-machine is already progress!

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    I’ve seen Keegan play many times over the past couple years. For most of t time I would have been completely incredulous if you told me he would be drafted at all, let alone in e third round. However, he came on at the end of the season, stepping up when we got decimated by injuries. He was dominant in a very exciting playoff series with Kamloops, playing smart defensively, dishing out punishing checks and even scoring a goal. While my buddies and I spent much of e year heckling him, I’d go as far as saying he was the most improved Royal. Keep an eye on Joe Hicketts, another Royals dman who was just named to Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tourney.

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    I feel as though we have pretty much covered both sides of the Kanzig Janko conversation. I guess time will be our only judge. I was thinking an interesting next topic might be “players that got away.”. Who have been the best players that the Flames have drafted or had in camp that went on to be successful elsewhere.

  • supra steve

    Robert Lang was at camp one year I think. Marc Savard was discarded cause he didn’t get along with the coach (Greg Gilbert), who was fired shortly thereafter. Doug Gilmour, enough said.

  • supra steve

    Was Anderson here on a tryout? Any speculation on who might come in on hockey ops side that Shanahan was up for? Burke would certainly make for some interesting discussion online…:)

    • supra steve

      nope, the Flames drafted Anderson in the 3rd round in 1999. They didn’t sign him, so he re-entered the draft, and was picked by Chicago. He then (after a few unimpressive seasons with the Hawks) left for Florida, where he suddenly and for seemingly no reason whatsoever became awesome.

      Speaking of players ending up in Florida… Scott Gomez signed with the Panthers.

  • McRib

    Anyway Keegan Kanzig is a huge project I recognized that. But watching him last year of all the “no offensive big defensive projects” to come through the WHL every year. Kanzig has gotta be the only one in the last decade or so. Where I couldn’t get over the kids size every time he stepped on the ice!! Honestly he is 247 Pounds and still filling out… How is he not 30???

    He has a lot to work on, but he isn’t huge for the WHL, he is huge compared to NHLers!!! I’m not betting against him thats for sure, at least worst case he ends up as a serviceable fighter/tough guy.