The Calgary Flames announced their rookie camp roster yesterday, and eight names probably stood out on that list for casual observers – because nobody knew a lick about ’em.
Eight players – a goaltender, three blueliners and four forwards – are attending camp on try-outs. Seven of them have no deals of any kind in place for 2014-15.
Here’s a quick rundown on who the heck these guys are.
G MATT MANCINA
The 12th-ranked North American goaltender in this year’s draft by NHL’s Central Scouting, Mancina was the back-up goaltender on the OHL Championship-winning Guelph Storm last season. He attended Hockey Canada’s U18 goalie camp in Calgary in the spring, so the Flames have seen a bit of him in-person. He played 28 games in the regular season (and 2 in the playoffs), and sat on the bench for the entirety of the Memorial Cup. He’s a 1996 birthday and his starting goalie is Justin Nichols, a 1995 birthday, so most likely the Storm will start transitioning towards using him more this season. He’s a project, but his numbers (in limited duty) were pretty good with Guelph. Many of the independent draft guides praised him, but did note he didn’t play much.
D CARL NEILL
A gigantic human being (6’3″, 215), Neill was ranked 187th among North American skaters at the mid-way point of this season by Central Scouting, then fell off a bit and ended up not getting drafted. As you’d expect for a fella his size, the knock on him was his skating. He put up 22 points in 65 games for the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix, but he was also -31. Now, plus/minus isn’t the best stat, but that’s probably not a good sign. He turned 18 just before the draft, so if he can refine his skating, he may turn into something. The draft guides I perused either didn’t mention him at all, or criticized his decision-making and skating.
D CURTIS GEDIG
22 years old, Gedig was drafted out of the BCHL by the New Jersey Devils in 2009. He went to the NCAA, where he spent four years with the Ohio State Buckeyes, including serving as team captain. He didn’t sign a deal with the Devils and is now a free agent. His numbers were decent for the NCAA, particularly given that Ohio State isn’t a collegiate powerhouse. He’s probably hoping for an ECHL or AHL gig.
D JASON FRAM
19 years old, Fram went through the NHL Draft twice and didn’t get chosen. That’s a shame, because he’s been pretty quietly productive for a Spokane Chiefs team that doesn’t get a lot of attention in WHL circles. He had 51 assists this past season, which is pretty crazy considering he played 72 games and a massive up-tick from his previous season. He was pretty good at development camp by all accounts, and he’s probably hoping to get some traction towards a job after this season. He’ll be eligible for an over-age year in the Dub in 2015-16, but his numbers should garner him some NHL (or AHL at least) attention.
F BRANDON MAGEE
One of three members of the Victoria Royals at the camp (along with teammates Keegan Kanzig and Austin Carroll), Magee isn’t big. He’s 5’8″ and 185 pounds, but he’s been scoring at around a point-per-game pace for the past two seasons for the Royals, while also serving as an alternate captain. He’s headed into his over-age season in the WHL.
F GARNET HATHAWAY
The only try-out player with a contract for next season, Hathaway signed an AHL deal with the Flames organization last season after finishing up his senior year with Brown University. He’s 22 and had decent offensive numbers for his conference. He’s 6’2″, 210 pounds and was a depth guy in the last handful of games for Abbotsford.
F PAVEL PADAKIN
A beloved local product of the Calgary Hitmen, Padakin is a Ukrainian 20-year-old who’s a free agent right now because his KHL team’s arena burnt down. He signed a deal with Donesk Donbass, but Donesk’s arena was burnt down in the midst of the crisis in Ukraine. As a result, he’s looking for work. He’s scored the teddy bear-launching goal in the last two Teddy Bear Toss games, but otherwise he’s a secondary scorer for the Hitmen. I have no idea where he’s playing this season, as he’s both an import (WHL teams get two) and an over-ager (WHL teams get three), and rarely do teams burn both of those spots on one guy.
F BRENDAN BELL
Another big fella (6’2″, 210), Bell was the captain for the Ottawa 67s last season. He and Sean Monahan were teammates, as he came over from Barrie in a trade mid-way through the 2012-13 season. His offensive production was decent last season, but not quite what you’d hope for from a 19-year-old with NHL ambitions. He’ll likely return to the 67s for his over-age year.