Scouting Gillies, Jankowski, and Gilmour


BU #12 Yasin Cissé screens PC #32 Jon Gillies
– pic via D. Mahoney


Providence College seems to be very much a team on the rise in both its conference and the nation, and a large part of the reason, as you might expect, is that the Calgary Flames’ prospects currently populating the roster have been excellent to this point.

All three of Jon Gillies, Mark Jankowski, and John Gilmour have been early producers for a team that’s started the year 4-0-1, including posting strong results against some clubs that were expected to be among the best in the country. This past weekend, for example, I saw them take on No. 3 Miami at home and they more or less controlled play for the majority of the weekend.

In all, they won 3-2 in overtime on Friday and skated to a 4-all tie the next night, but on the balance one coach was happy with his team’s performance, and the other was more or less not.


Let’s start at the very beginning, I guess, and talk about the guy upon whom the Friars are going to rely for just about everything this season: Gillies, the wunderkind netminder and, obviously, Flames third-round pick. His numbers last season sparkled at 2.08/.931 behind a team that was frankly not all that good. So far this year, they’re even better at 1.71/.950, and that’s after a not-great weekend against one of the best teams in the country.

It should be noted, first, that “not-so-great” is relative. He still posted a 2.85/.921 line on the weekend. Second, the reason he was not-so-great appears to be that he was perhaps hampered by an injury.

“One thing that people are missing is that he didn’t play against AIC and missed about four or five days of practice, so he was a little rusty when he came back this week,” said coach Nate Leaman after the 4-4 tie, in which Gillies stopped 37 of 41. “I’m not making an excuse or anything like that, but one thing people are missing is that we’ve played against excellent goaltenders. … He’s played well against them, and we’ve scored against good goaltenders. I think that’s a positive.

Obviously these numbers are ludicrous, but it seems as though he’s probably good enough to keep them at least somewhat near the current level. More to the point, though, this Providence team is dramatically improved from last year, at least in the two games I saw this weekend. They have the puck a lot more, they’re scoring more, they’re not letting everyone they play get to the goalmouth on every possession. That’s not going to hurt Gillies if they keep it up obviously.

"I fully realize Jon is going to get a lot of press, and it’s well deserved," Leaman said. "But we have a team. Coming into the weekend, we were leading the nation in scoring. Jon can’t score. We have a team, and we like our team. The thing I like most about our team is that I see a lot of areas of improvement. I feel like if we work hard, and we take it one day at a time, I see a lot of areas that we can keep getting better and better. I like the step that a lot of our [second-year players] are taking.”

There is also the save at the very beginning of this video, which he made in Saturday’s game, and which might be the best one of his career to date. And that’s saying something.


Then there’s the matter of the Flames’ first-round pick from last year’s draft. He, too, posted a highlight-reel play this weekend, scoring this goal in the second period of Friday’s game.

There was, as I’m sure you can imagine, something of a stunned silence in the pressbox in the immediate aftermath.

“It’s a big-time player making a big-time play,” Leaman said. “That goal’s a difference-maker, and they have a difference-maker in their No. 7 (undrafted destroyer of worlds and devourer of minutes Austin Czarnik, who’s started the year 3-8-11 in just six games). He did that to us last year, Czarnik, on their sheet in overtime. That was a great play by Mark.”

That goal was his fourth of the season in as many games (he was held off the scoresheet the next night but now stands at 4-1-5 in five contests), and it seems that Leaman has seen a big change in the way he’s approaching the game.

“It’s good to see him have more confidence with the puck and want the puck,” the coach said. “After the first period, he wasn’t moving his feet very much and I talked to him about trying to get your feet going. That [scoring play] was his first shift that period and he kind of had his feet going, and it was a pretty nice play.”

Pretty nice, yes. The problem with Jankowski last season was that he was very much a player who shied away from contact, or what you’d call “the hard areas” of the ice, and that’s still evident in his game today, albeit to a far lesser extent. He benefited, in that way, by being placed on the wing — where there’s less contact and less responsibility — but this season he’s been centering the Friars’ second line, and that kind of thing is a lot less avoidable.

“I think he’s the type of player where last year he probably stayed on the perimeter quite a bit, and this year he’s stronger, and I think when you add strength, it adds confidence to your game,” Leaman said. “I think he has confidence, I think he wants the puck more, and I think he wants to go to the net more.”

Going to the net more is certainly happening, and that’s reflected in his shot totals. Through five games, he has 14 shots on net, good for 2.8 a night. Not necessarily where you want elite talents — which, as a first-round pick, is what he’s supposed to be — but it’s also a full shot per game better than the 1.79 he finished with last year. Johnny Gaudreau, just as a means of comparison, put the puck on net 4.02 times per game last year, and is so far at 4.4 in give games this year. (Doesn’t hurt, either, that Jankowski is currently shooting 28.6 percent, compared to Gaudreau’s more-sustainable 13.6.)

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Jankowski only just turned 19 in September.

“We were kind of giggling before the game,” Leaman said. “He’s still I think our second-youngest player and I don’t know this, but if I took a snapshot across college hockey, I would stay he’s still probably in the lower 20 percent of age. It may be even lower than that. You’ve still got to remember he’s a pretty young guy and he came in from a level that usually Division 1 guys don’t come from. He made a pretty big jump.”

He still has a long way to go before he’s anything resembling dominant, but this is a very strong start to the season against some very good teams. Minnesota State and Miami are both projected to win their conferences. Jankowski had three points in four games against them.


John Gilmour was a little bit of a surprise to me to be drafted at all last season, but he looked pretty good both nights. He had four shots on goal in the game, which isn’t bad for a defenseman, and finished with two assists on the first night of the weekend series.

That, added to his 2-1-3 total from the first game of the season in which the Friars deconstructed Minnesota State 5-1, gives him a point-a-game total as well. Leaman didn’t have much to say about Gilmour in particular on either night, but you can go ahead and lump him in with that second-year class that’s taking a big step forward in the early goings here.

  • NHL93

    I liked the Gilmour pick last year, however didn’t realize at the time he was passed up once already in the draft. I watched Providence a lot last season, and Gilmour’s was a name that came up quite often.

    As for Gillies he does it all. I’m a goalie coach, and he must be a dream to work with. He’s big, athletic, and most importantly smart. My knock on him last year was I thought his footwork was a little clumsy and inefficient (Brossoit has similar issues as a big goalie). It looks like Gillies has tightened that this year in what I’ve seen so far this year. He also isn’t sitting on the goaline quite as much.

  • McRib

    “….I would stay he’s (Mark Jankowski) still probably in the lower 20 percent of age. It may be even lower than that. You’ve still got to remember he’s a pretty young guy….”

    Of the 253+ Players in Hockey East currently only 10 players (not including goaltenders) in the league are younger than Jankowski. Meaning he is in the Bottom 3.95% for age. Not to mention only four of those are forwards (Tyler Kelleher, Blaine Byron, Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cagelosi) and only Scott Savage (BC) and Blaine Byron (Maine) have as many points both at five (no one has more goals).

    When you also consider that Mark Jankowski is a very late bloomer (probably a year or two behind his age physically in that sense) and is at least 15-20+ pounds underdeveloped you get a understanding of where this kids ceiling should be adjusted to for comparables.

    I’m not saying this kid is a homerun legitimate first line centre quite yet, but I have a hard time believing he doesn’t end up as a serviceable second/third line type. Look at Max Pacioretty as a comparable, because he played in the USHL and was a late birthday Jankowksi would have already been a Junior (Third year in NCAA) as Pacioretty was just a Freshman and their points are already comparable thus far this season and Jankowski has a year to spare

      • McRib

        I’m clearly bored, so here is more perspective… Haha.

        In the entire NCAA (HE, NCHC, ECAC & B1G 10) only 42 players (not including goaltenders) are younger than Mark Jankowski (14 of them are on Minnesota, Michigan & Boston College). So therefore of an estimated 874 players in College Hockey only 4.80% are younger than him. Interesting note: Hockey East is without a doubt the oldest conference (Mark Janowski would be the youngest player on Northeastern, BU, Notre Dame, Merrimack, and Vermont).

        Only Hudson Fashing (8) & Taylor Cammarata (6) for Minnesota currently have more points than Mark Jankowski playing as mention on stacked lines and only four others have as many points as him (JT Compher, Trevor Moore, Scott Savage and Blaine Byron) period. No one in the entire NCAA has as many goals (4) for his age.

        I think people really under estimate how many kids nowadays do a year or two in the USHL before going to NCAA. As you can see it is becoming increasingly more and more rare for a player to go straight from High School Hockey to the NCAA. Of all the Top Prospect from last years draft that played in either Minn or NE High School / Prep last year only three players went straight to College without USHL, USNTDP, or EJHL experience. One is Grant Besse (a 1994 Birthday) the second is Anthony Florentino (Mark Jankowski’s Teammate) and Ryan Segalla.

  • Love these college reports. As the Flames have looked heavily at US college its nice to have some eyes on their prospects. When I have watched Janko I have seen glimpses of promise but I do not know if he will ever be able to sustain it and develop into the strong two way centre with lots of offensive upside that we had hoped. I wonder if he ahs any chance of making the CAnadian team. I think not but glad he is off to a good start.

    You can sort of see where this team might be headed in the future. At the very least we are beginning to stockpile some assets.

    With Russell putting in some good minutes I wonder Nation’s thoughts on this guy. I didn’t see game last night but by all accounts he has looked pretty good.

    • beloch

      I had to look twice too. I’m shocked his headline wasn’t “Providence college coach says Flames star prospect ‘can’t score’!”.

      I kid.

      Seriously though, it’s good to see Gillies pick up where he left off and Jankowski take a step forward. Perhaps Jankowski’s sh% is not sustainable, but hopefully a hot scoring streak will give him the confidence and hunger to replicate that streak later this season without as much voodoo on his side.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Definite improvement, just what we all wanted. Janko is a guy who’s going to have to play all 4 years before even thinking about cracking an NHL roster. Most likely 1 (if not 2) season in the AHL as well. ‘Raw’ doesn’t even begin to describe him.

    That means he should make the Flames in time for the 2018 season and probably not be ready for top 6 duty (assuming 2 years acclimating to the NHL) until 2020! Assuming he works out, that’s an 8 year development curve. He’ll have just turned 26 by the time he hits his potential.

  • BurningSensation


    I think you overestimate things a little. I could see him doing 3years of college and a year in the AHL, which puts him on the team at 22, in a rookie role, and 23 as a real player.

    Regardless, it’s just nice to see the kid making his first benchmark ‘jump’. Let’s hope he keeps improving!

  • SmellOfVictory

    In that save not only did he make the play with his glove…. he seemed to be swiping at the puck with his stick also… unless I am totally misreading it… it looks like quite the feat of coordination and positiioning

  • BurningSensation

    “There was, as I’m sure you can imagine, something of a stunned silence in the pressbox in the immediate aftermath.”

    I hope all that ‘stunned silence’ tastes like crow for Lambert.

  • BurningSensation

    I have been watching the stats and reading the local write ups of all the college kids and we seem to have a good group. How many become NHL players is still yet to be determined. What we have right now is hope for our prospects, something that has been lacking for quite a while.
    If one of the Providence kids becomes a solid NHl and one from BC is also a star then we are way ahead of the trend.

    It seems like all three of last years firsts rounders have the potential Monahan is doing a great job, Poirier is ripping it up in the Q and Klimchuk is developing well,

  • Not to take anything away from Jankowski, because that was a nice move, but look at how the defence decided to play that. There won’t be many NHL defensemen inexplicably flopping on the ice and letting him walk right in. Unless you’re playing the Oilers, that is.