Meet the Try-Outs

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.

  • McRib

    Jason Fram already has an invite to Flames main camp. Just sign the kid already. Eerily similar production and development path to Mark Giordano. Unlikely that lightning strikes twice, but give it a shot.

    • Parallex

      Yeah, couldn’t hurt. The team could use more defenseman prospects (both quality and quantity). Fram would be a lotto ticket but hey… sometimes you win the lotto right.

  • Byron Bader

    Nice burn pun with regards to Padakin, Ryan. I thought Padakin was drafted by somebody but I guess not. Curious how he looks … his numbers aren’t horrible.

  • McRib

    Brutal news about Pavel Padakin’s KHL team, I agree it will be very interesting to see where he ends up because I doubt he ends up with the Calgary Hitmen as Pavel Karnaukhov could be drafted as high as the second or third round and Radel Fazleev will only improve after being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers this June.

    I think much like Alexander Gogolev a few years ago, a team lacking one of two Europeans will pick him up as he is a worthwhile roster spot, epecially if a team has one of their CHL Import Picks no show.

    Jason Fram is clearly the most intriguing of all of these prospects hope he performs well and earns a contract, although if Austin Carroll is any indication they would prefer to waste a seventh rounder on him in the 2015 Draft (not that I don’t dislike the Carroll acquisition, there was just no need to draft him).

    • Parallex

      Re: Carrol

      Actually they must have liked him enough to “waste” a 7th round pick on him so that they could hold his rights for awhile and seeing if he will develop into something they like without wasting a contract on him right away.

      • SmellOfVictory

        This is a brilliant point…

        I have never really put this idea together until just now, that with so many prospects now in the system, a contract counting towards the 50 maximum may hold more value than a 7th rd pick itself, and picking a player as opposed to signing may be the smarter move from an asset management perspective.

      • McRib

        Hold his rights… They have to sign him this year anyway, they literally only held his rights for the summer and now enter negotiations regardless. Not to mention they already knew that he grew up rooting for the Calgary Flames and had the major inside track.

        Sorry not a big fan of using draft picks on third time entries (especially when first time eligibles, like Andrew Mangiapane of Barrie, Luke Philp of Kootenay or Tyson Barrie of Kelowna are completely passed over or on players like Spencer Watson/Jacob Middleton that went after that pick). Honestly drafting Jason Fram would have made much more sense with that 7th round pick last year, considering they would get a year protection rather than just a few months. It’s interesting of all the major late round steals of the last decade most were passed over initally or fell because of less than ideal size, yet teams still let guys like Andrew Mangiapane go undrafted the first time around. He will cost a team a fourth or fifth rounder next year guaranteed (like Jaedon Descheneau this year), I don’t understand why NHL teams don’t just take a 6th or 7th round flyer on an undersized player every year. Because lets face it when was the last time an elite power forward was found in the 7th round again (a loooong time ago if ever)? Don’t get me wrong I like Austin Carroll as an AHLer, but a 19 year-old with 0.814 PPG is nothing special that’s how many points he should have at his age playing against 16-18 year-olds. Andrew Mangiapane had 0.75 PPG and is two years younger and I can only imagine what his PPG looks like at 19 years-old (possibly leading the OHL in scoring?). NHL Teams have no foresight.

          • seve927

            They had to offer Roy a contract this spring (after 1 year). He refused it, so they still have his rights, but I think they have to offer a contract anyway.

        • seve927

          First, are you certain that Calgary has to sign Caroll this summer. Evidence please. Second, a 7th rounder is, as we all know, a crapshoot. The scouts and powers that be don’t see those players you mentioned as having a better shot at making an impact that Caroll does. As well those players many my see as passing through the draft as they did thus being available if the futre. One makes a choice based on the evidence and their philosophy. Disagree with that you can absolutely.

        • loudogYYC

          They don’t have to sign him, they simply have to offer him a “bonafide” pro contract by July 2015 to keep his rights. I’m not sure exactly what bonafide means in terms of conditions and dollar figure, but the wording is in the CBA. If the player doesn’t accept the deal he simply remains Flames property for another year at which point he would hope to receive a better offer.

          Darren Haynes from the Canadian Press is a master of these little bits of info, find him on twitter.

          • McRib

            I had a couple of friends go through this scenario, a “bonafide” pro contract would basically be whatever offer was good enough to get him to throw away his CHL Education Package (as once you sign a multi-year pro deal it’s worthless), but if we give him a weak one-way AHL deal he is not likely to throw away a $40,000+ CHL Education Package (to make $25,000 in the ECHL or 40,000-50,000 in the AHL), so therefore even though “we have two years to sign him” we really don’t have two years, as he has leverage to choose school over a weak pro offer.

            If the Flames don’t offer him a legitimate two way NHL-AHL Contract he likely goes to School in the CIS (Or NCAA and gives up on Hockey) is a free agent in four years. Hence why I don’t like drafting players that only have their overage season left of CHL, the two year rule is rather worthless in this case.

            Honestly I follow the WHL very closely if you knew how many good overage free agents there are every year that don’t get an NHL offer (and should) you would know how pointless it is to draft third year eligables. Brady Brassart signed with Minnesota with weeks remaining on the season the Flames could have given him an offer all year without wasting an NHL draft pick (Brassart had 22 more points than Carroll did at 19). Joshua Winquist who had 93 points as an overager wasn’t even signed by anyone last year and was only offered a tryout by Edmonton until this summer. CHL overagers capable of playing in the AHL are a dime-a-dozen I don’t get wasting a draft pick on someone whos future is so certain (If you don’t score above 1.0 PPG before your 20 year-old season in the WHL the odds are 99.99% that you are never going to be an NHLer). Mitch Holmberg was not signed by Edmonton until the last month of the season and finished first in WHL scoring with 118 points. Just be proactive and sign the good free agent CHL overagers earlier than everyone else as they are not nearly as in demand as the NCAA free agent market.

      • McRib

        Who cares about our 7th round pick.
        I’m more concerned about our second round picks.

        All eyes on McDonald and Smith.

        Let’s see if BB BT are as smart as they think they are…..

        WW

        • RexLibris

          Ya, however, I care about all things Flames and it’s going to take a lot longer than one camp to see how any player works out. McDonald and Smith might be busts but others my be gems. Only time will tell, there are just too many factors to be able to make predictions on prospects.

        • RexLibris

          All eyes also on:
          – Kanzig
          – Kulak
          – Culkin
          – Roy
          – Ramage and
          – Gilmour

          Flames need to know if any of these mid-late picks from the last couple years have any NHL-level potential.

          Their futures will pretty well decided by this time next year so this will be a very important camp for those attending.

          • piscera.infada

            Gilmour’s still at Providence, no?

            I’m hoping Kulak can carry over the success he had at dev. camp. Both him and Gilmour stood out to me there – quick feet, good vision.

          • re Gilmour…yes still in College along with Janks, Harrison et al..as indicated “for those who can attend” would really wish to see them perform alongside their age-mates…would be great to see them all together to compare, which would also help their development.

          • piscera.infada

            “Their futures will pretty well decided by this time next year”

            Yes on Roy and Ramage. Kanzig, Culkin, Kulak are just starting entry level contracts and Gilmore will still be in college.

          • Comment was more focused on assessing the prospect’s potential/ceiling. While there’s always the opportunity for a prospect to jump up a level or two in their D+3 years or greater…it’s not likely.

            However for the 7 defencemen entering their D+1 and D+2 years this is a huge year where their potential gets pegged, and it gets much harder to change minds and prove potential after this period which is a career-maker or career-breaker.

            As we can see below, just making it to the D+3 year still signed with a contract in hand is an achievement.

            So of the 7 prospects in their D+1 and D+2 years…who will make it to D+3 with anything more than an AHL ceiling e.g. NHL potential?

            2009 draft; D+5 year
            – Cundari

            2010 draft; D+4 year
            – Ramage

            2011 draft; D+3 year
            – Wotherspoon

            2012 draft; D+2 year
            – Kulak, Culkin and Sieloff

            2013 draft: D+1 year
            – Kanzig, Gilmour (eligible in 2011), Roy, Rafikov

  • SmellOfVictory

    Jason Fram is the only one of those guys who’s legitimately interesting to me, and I’m going to be very sad if he doesn’t get signed. Even if he’s not all that impressive, he’s so young that there’s a ton of room for growth.

  • Parallex

    hooray for Fram! If he’s signed he can return to junior and have his contract slide.

    Not only is he coming off a rather impressive season, he’s also a righty.

  • RexLibris

    The Flames have two years to sign a drafted player before that player either re-enters the draft or becomes a free-agent.

    Exceptions are, I believe, made for NCAA players on account of the strict NCAA rules regarding professional/amateur status.

    In the case of Fram, what would have prevented the Flames from having the Heat offer him an AHL contract so that it doesn’t count against the Reserve limit but should he prove himself becomes a quick paper transaction to “purchase” the contract off the Heat and make him Flames property?

    There are a number of ways to bolster a prospect group. Spending a 7th round pick on someone to retain their rights isn’t terrible, but the player should probably be in the “high-upside, wait-and-see” category.

    Players like Sergey Tolchinsky as an example. He passed through the draft two years ago and Carolina signed him as a 19-year old free agent. In his draft year he posted 51 pts in 62 games. Last season he scored 91 pts in 66 games for Sault Ste. Marie.

    • McRib

      “Players like Sergey Tolchinsky as an example. He passed through the draft two years ago and Carolina signed him as a 19-year old free agent. In his draft year he posted 51 pts in 62 games. Last season he scored 91 pts in 66 games for Sault Ste. Marie.”

      Carolina signed him the year he should have been drafted which was last year as an 18 year-old (1995 Birthday). Many OHL Scouts are comparing Andrew Mangiapane to Sergey Tolchinsky last year and is also one of those should have been drafted scenarios. When legitmate first year eligable are being completely passed over I am a fan of taking them over third year overagers that need to make a decison on signing a pro deal that year regardless (of the two year rule), as I mentioned above. I actually wish the Flames would invite more first year eligable draft snubs to these camps (i.e. 1996 Birthdays) like Carolina did with Tolchinsky last year rather than NCAA grads that have been passed over for years.

    • Both vanB and Agostino are in there first year so lets not put them in the same baot. Teams also need AHL players and people who can be called up in a pinch, Knight will likely be that guy, Jooris being moved to RW may be better than we think.

  • RedMan

    Is there any major knock on Fram? He looks intriguing and, although on the smaller side for a D, isn’t too undersized. Have to wonder why he wasn’t picked up by anyone at the draft

  • RedMan

    I think that it is safe to say that Flames fans have much more to be excited about in regards to propect depth when comparing the current crop with recent ones.

    However, all the invites is to me just another sign that the Flames still have a lot of work to do to restock the sutter era derth.

    Still, I am much happier about the outlook then I have been in years.

  • mk

    Forgive me as I am not as astute as some on here but shouldnt we be really excited to have Pavel Padakin in the tryout? Is this young fellow not an exciting prospect? Can he be signed to an AHL deal?

    • SmellOfVictory

      I wouldn’t say “really excited”, but he might be worthwhile to sign to an AHL deal.

      Normally if a forward can’t even score around a point-per-game as a 19 year old in the CHL, he doesn’t project to have a very high offensive ceiling. He does have a cool name, though, and maybe he’d end up being a decent bottom 6 NHLer after a couple of years if he gets signed and we’re lucky.