Prospect NHLE Update

It’s another off-day and we’re approximately half-way through the season, so now’s as good a time as any to take a look at the Calgary Flames prospects.

So let’s take a gander at NHL Equivalents (NHLE). Basically, NHLE gives us the ability to compare player production from different leagues by approximating production using data from the past. Granted, it ain’t perfect, but it’s useful for discussion purposes.

Let’s see how everyone stacks up.


In previous years, the Flames had exciting forward prospects. “Unfortunately,” a lot of those players are in the NHL right now…or injured, and a lot of Calgary’s better forward prospects are three-zone players rather than pure snipers. And then there’s Emile Poirier, who’s a sniper who is adjusting to the rigors of an AHL calendar.

PLAYER 13-14 14-15 NOTES
Austin Carroll 20.0 28.8 Over a point-per-game in the Dub, but he’s older than
just about everybody.
Morgan Klimchuk 31.9 27.3 Solid numbers. His dip may partially be due to a slow start
after an injury in Flames camp. Just traded to Brandon.
Mark Jankowski 23.1 25.8 Decent numbers, but a bit deceptive because his totals are coming
(a) in bunches and (b) against the NCAA’s lesser lights. Still projects
as a two-way player.
Emile Poirier 31.7 25.4 Production drop from QMJHL to AHL wasn’t near as big as some
feared. Drives the bus offensively on Baby Flames’ top line.
Michael Ferland 26.0 22.8 He played a bit in the NHL and didn’t look out of place, but Ferland’s
production has translated fairly well from the WHL to the AHL.
Hunter Smith 15.4 20.3 Not a bad up-tick in his draft-plus-one year, though he’s older than a
lot of his draft-year peers.
Bill Arnold 47.8 19.0 NCAA production last season deceptive, but he’s settling into a role.
Sven Baertschi 25.5 18.9 Production in AHL slowing a bit after a hot start.
Ben Hanowski 20.3 16.9 Second-year pro, his production is fairly consistent.
David Wolf 35.5 15.5 A dip in production, but role in AHL much different than in DEL.
Corban Knight 23.2 14.4 Drop is a bit worrying considering his NCAA pedigree.
Bryce van Brabant 18.5 14.0 He’s a complementary player, but his numbers aren’t awful for what he is.
Tim Harrison 4.9 13.8 Sample size is small (and he’s been a healthy scratch), but numbers are decent for his league.
Max Reinhart 34.4 12.0 With highly-drafted guys coming in, has been shifted to a more defensive role.
Turner Elson 2.9 12.0 Doesn’t have NHL-level production.
Garnet Hathaway 17.4 11.3 On an AHL deal, but included here just as a comparable.
Matt Deblouw 5.8 11.2 Struggled last season. Has been “fine” this season by most accounts.
Kenny Agostino 35.0 7.7 Giant drop from NCAA to the AHL for Agostino.
Sam Bennett 39.3 N/A Injured and hasn’t played yet this season.


Lots of interesting things here, as you have players getting adjusted to new leagues (Hickey, Culkin, Ollas Mattsson) and some players regressing a bit production-wise. Rushan Rafikov is excluded because there’s no reliable conversion from the VHL (or the MHL, for that matter).

PLAYER 13-14 14-15 NOTES
Brandon Hickey 5.9 19.1 Sample size in NCAA is a big caution, but he’s producing on a good team.
Ryan Culkin 17.7 18.8 A rare defender whose NHLE actually improves when going to minor pro.
Tyler Wotherspoon 6.8 16.4 He’s been leaned on a bit more on the farm than previously, but working well.
Mark Cundari 13.8 13.8 At this point, he is what he is: an AHLer.
John Gilmour 16.6 13.8 An older player experiencing a slight down-tick.
John Ramage 0.7 13.7 He was not good in the AHL last year, but has improved this season.
Eric Roy 16.4 12.3 An overager in the Dub producing less is a bad, bad sign. I’d be shocked if he was signed at this point.
Keegan Kanzig 3.1 8.4 Production has doubled, from scary-low to just low. Granted, not a point-producing player at any level.
Sena Acolatse 13.9 7.8 He’s been hurt, so his sample size is small. Still: not great. When healthy, he’s another Mark Cundari.
Adam Ollas Mattsson N/A 4.9 He’s been a complementary player on a decent SHL team. At 18.
Patrick Sieloff N/A 3.3 Barely played last year. Just getting his legs under him.
Brett Kulak 21.4 N/A Playing in the ECHL.
  • Skuehler

    Surprised in a dissapointing way by some of the older guys – Baertschi, Agostino, Knight, Reinhart. How much more time and opportunity awaits them in this org? On D, Seiloff and Kulak have to be a little disappointing – thought they looked good at the Penticton tournament.

    On the upside, nice to see Culkin (wow) and Wotherspoon progressing. Also, Carroll seems like a great fit for this org. See him being a Ferland type guy.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Thanks Ryan, good stuff. My Kudos and Cautions (with rest as “who cares”) as based on numbers are:

    1. Kudos (Forward): Carroll, Smith, Klimchuk, even Harrison. Good for Carroll, hope Smith meets potential that Flames saw in him, hope Klimchuk gets 1st line time with Wheat Kings.

    2. Kudos (Defense): Great job to Hickey, Culkin, Wotherspoon who I could ALL see on Flames in future, ALSO to Ollas Mattson and Kanzig…perhaps bottom 3 D-men in NHL. Kanzig maybe the next Chara lol (we can wish).

    3. Cautions (Fwd): Jankowski (will never be #1C), Reinhart (for reasons above), Baertschi (now also known as Mr Trade Bait), Poirier (but not worried as young), Knight (ouch as he is older), Arnold (expected as no more Johnny!), Agostino (wow….what happened).

    4. Cautions (D): Cundari (older), Roy (not pro talent perhaps), Gilmour (sorry to see), Sieloff (mainly due to last year’s lack of play).

  • Craig

    How is Baertschi’s production slowing? He scored two goals in the last game and two games before that he had four assists. He looks to be really finding chemistry with Poirier.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Agreed. I have always said Baertschi is a top 6 player. He has proven that in junior and now proving that in the AHL….first rounders typically are given the opportunity to play top 6 with there NHL teams. Hartley has been reluctant to do this with Sven….

      • Colin.S

        To be fair to Hartley, Baertschi has hardly been pushing the issue in the AHL and NHL this season (at least before his recent 12 games in theAHL). With only 3 points in 14 games in the NHL he wasn’t exactly lighting it up. I know he was exactly getting prime ice time or line mates. But if he is going to play top 6 he should at least make the most of the time he does get and beat up other teams bottom 6. I expect to see him up again before the end of the year and we’ll see what he does with that opportunity.

        • KiLLKiND

          For sure. Not blaming Hartley as he is one heck of a coach! Sven needs to sustain his game in the AHL and needs to work his ass off! Then when he is called up Hartley may give him that top 6 opportunity. If not let’s trade him and get some value…he will never be effective in the bottom 6…that’s not his game!

      • “Hartley has been reluctant to do this with Sven…” Are you kidding? What has Sven done to earn top 6 minutes? Nothing. Hartleydoesn’t give anything away for free. You want top 6 minutes Sven? Earn it.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Yeah, the 2014 draft class isn’t blowing anyone away yet.

    Doesn’t matter though.

    The success or failure of the 2014 draft for the Flames starts and finishes with how well Sam Bennet doest. Everything else is details.

    • EducatedHockeyFan

      Ah; the Oilers drafting philosophy……

      Take your hi first round pick, that you are entitled to , and bomb the rest of the draft.

      It has served them well…..


      • The Last Big Bear

        If you bomb on Central Scouting’s #1 ranked skater, you pretty much have zero chance of making up for it later in the draft.

        If you get an elite first-line centre in the draft, you’ve probably had the best draft of any team in the NHL, even if nobody else pans out.

        The Oilers drafting failed on both counts: they ruined their 1st overall picks, and they found no late-round gems.

        If anything, their sorry tale supports my statement.

        They’d have been far better off making hay with their many, many, top-10 picks, than they woukd be from having drafted a few successful late-round support players to surround their current rotten core.

        If Sam Bennett becomes an elite #1C, this draft was successful. If he busts, this draft will be a failure.

    • EducatedHockeyFan

      Definitely do not agree with your comment!

      The success and failure of a draft is ‘largely’ dependent on your ability to draft unlikely effective players in the later rounds. Drafting successfully at the front end of your draft is for the most part the lesser of the two challenges.

    • SmellOfVictory

      It does matter, and thankfully Hickey looks like a very good defensive prospect. McDonald was a mistake, and Hunter Smith was pretty questionable, in my eyes, but at least some of the later guys picked might outperform their draft position.

      • Parallex

        Can you elaborate on why you say McDonald was a “mistake”? Is it performance related or because he was drafted so early?

        Interested in your response as this is an 18 year old kid who i thought performed very well in Penticton against older kids and his first exposure to pro hockey…..

        • KiLLKiND

          I think drafting Mason was a mistake because of nothing to do with his performance but because we needed to use that pick on a highly talented D. Goalies are hit and miss anyways so taking one in the second round hardly seems like a good idea compared to taking a D who is far more likely to make it to the NHL. Also why take the #2 guy I don’t personally see him becoming an NHL franchise goalie so waste such a good pick?

        • Parallex

          Can’t speak for him but since I share his sentiments…

          McDonald is having a worse draft +1 year then his draft year (plus I think it’s a mistake to draft goalies that high in general and if they felt they just had to draft one they choose him over Demko who had better stats in a higher level of play both last year and this year). Smith… while his 30P isn’t bad it’s also 5th on his team (so his contribution to team offense isn’t that high), considering he is in his draft eligible +2 year and he has such a huge size advantage over his CHL peers I think it’s fair to consider that pick questionable.

          • smith

            I would add that I am not sure why they needed a goalie at all. They had at least one starting goalie and then went out and signed another and gave Ortio a one way contract.

            Gillies is in Providence and may or may not sign this year but there was no particular reason to push him to sign. They had Ortio and the guy they picked up from Edmonton (whose name escapes me and which I cannot be bothered to look up right now) to play in Adirondack.

            Once they let the guy they got from Edmonton go, they picked up a second goalie for Adirondack fairly easily. So it isn’t necessarily that hard to do that.

            The reason, in my mind, that the Mcdonald pick is questionable is because it demonstrates they didn’t have the whole goalie situation thought out in advance. They thought they might have needed a goalie when the drafted, but really, they didn’t and we failed to address an area of true weakness, D or RW, with the pick.

            Nothing to do with Mcdonald really and in fairness, it is way too early to declare him a bust. He just wasn’t what we needed.

          • Canrock 78

            You forgot to mention the Bollig trade; another disaster.

            All 3 of those early picks should have been used on D and RW, but BB BT are so smart that they went off the board with all 3.

            These 3 picks were wasted in a critical year in the rebuild.

            It is a big deal, if this was all BT, then BB should fire him now.


  • Colin.S

    “Sven Baertschi 25.5 18.9 Production in AHL slowing a bit after a hot start”.

    I don’t get this, he started off super slow, 3 points in 10 games. Since being returned to the AHL he has 11 points in 12 games. So if anything it’s the opposite of what is being said there.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Ryan..outstanding update including the format and briefness! of your comments. Hope to see this monthly at a minimum if at all possible.

    I am intrigued with Austin Carroll. Although he is an overage in junior he did not look out of place at the Penticton tournament. He is a diligent worker who uses his big size to his advantage.

    Potentially I see an effective 4th line including Ferland – Arnold – Carroll….bright future for sure!

  • Colin.S

    Nice comparison chart Ryan. Your notes add value to the numbers on each player. I know this is a today snapshot and can change by the end of the year for many players, but the direction of progress tells us a lot.

    I read Carroll, Smith, Hickey, and Wotherspoon are progressing nicely.

    Klimchuk, Jankowski, Poirier, Ferland, and Culkin are maintaining a good level.

    time may become a factor for a couple of other players but I would wait till the end of the season to decide.

  • EducatedHockeyFan

    Mark Jankowski has also improved his faceoff% from last year, 53.9% to 57.2% which is the best on Providence and 2nd in Hockey East.

    With Jankowski, Arnold, and Knight as known faceoff specialist centres in the system, and Monahan improving rapidly, hopefully at least one of the College trio will pan out and help our annually horrible faceoff results!

  • Parallex

    Yeah… 2014 draft looks like mostly bad decisions after the 1st round. Not a particularily good start to the Treliving regime IMO.

    Nice to see Jankowski’s counting stats raising… although it’d be nice to see some more goals along with the apples. I’d like to see him get up to a PPG rate with solid peripherials and anacdotal play reports. If we get all that then he’s likely finally turned a corner and is back on track to be a meaningful NHL’er.

    Since they’re not mentioned here’s a stat update on the ‘tenders (No NHLE for goalies)…

    Joni Ortio: AHL – 2.54GAA/0.915SV%

    Jon Gillies: NCAA – 1.86GAA/0.938SV% (Hope we sign him this offseason)

    Mason McDonald: QMJHL – 3.13GAA/0.900SV%

  • Canrock 78

    I thought for a second I went to oiler nation instead of flames nation with all the bi$?chen and moaning.
    What happened bad beans at the old folks home tonight.

    Both Canadian goalies tonight drafted in the second round 36 and 59, Demko needed hip surgery, hips are important to goalies I think. Obviously he has healed but 5 years from now will it be a problem? All this crap was covered before.

  • the forgotten man

    OT but way too frustrating watching team Canada’s defence corps in the second period…if they are our 6 best then we are doing something wrong in canadian hockey…I have never seen so many ill advised pinches in the Russian zone by our D especially when up 5-1 for gods sake!! Brutal and frankly embarrassing at this level.

  • RexLibris

    I see Rafikov is getting some attention here.

    For what it’s worth, he seemed to be have a nice game. He made some good passes, has a nice shot, more offensively minded than I might have thought.

    Not sure about the defensive side because the Russians almost always seemed to have the puck in the 3rd.

    As another positive, the collapsing rouble makes it unlikely he’ll be too tempted to stay in the KHL any longer than he has to.

  • McRib

    In terms of the Flames blowing the 2014 Draft outside of Sam Bennett I would completely disagree… Most scouts out east are saying Brandon Hickey is one of if not the most intriguing pro prospect in the entire Hockey East (outside of Noah Hanifin of course)… He just got 1G, 1A in a game against the USA National Junior Team… Of all the defensemen taken outside of the first round he is tracking better than anyone… Many are suggesting similarities to TJ Brodie at the same age with plus skating and great offensive tools. If we get a Top. 3 Forward and Top. 4 Defender out of the 2014 Draft that is a very good draft…. Before even mentioning Austin Caroll’s strong play, Hunter Smith’s offensive improvement, etc…

    Boston University’s Coach went on record earlier this year and said of Hickey “He’s going to play in the NHL for a long time. Guy who does everything”… BU fairly recently produced one of the top defenders in the NHL in Kevin Shattenkirk (NHLE +1 of 17.6, Hickey has got him beat so far).. Sure they might know a thing or two about defensive prospects… Honestly outside of Aaron Ekblad, Travis Sanheim & Anthony DeAngelo there really isn’t a defender putting up anything close to Hickey’s NHLE of 17.8. Hickey is looking like a Top. 5 Defender from the 2014 Draft at this point and time.

    • The Last Big Bear

      You won’t see the great Walter White saying something bad about the Hickey pick…….the problem is that we should have 4 Brandon Hickeys picked with our second and third round picks………hi potential D, some of which may make the NHL.

      This wasted year of drafting will cost us……..we can not have BT in charge of another draft.


  • I agree Brandon Hickey might be the sleeper of the Flames recent draft. Nothing but good reports on him.

    On Hunter Smith, though, his underwhelming NHLE might actually be overstating his skill level this year – he’s actually 6th on his team in scoring, behind 4 other forwards and a defensemen.

    The Generals are one of the higher scoring clubs in the OHL and he’s been on less 20% their offense so far. Most respectable offensive prospects are north of 30% and high-end ones are 40% or more. To put it in context, Greg Nemisz hovered around 25% during his junior career.

      • RexLibris

        Smith turns 20 this September and is listed at 6’6″ and 210 lbs.

        If he’s a late bloomer the Steelers will sign him to anchor their offensive line.

        With his size he should be dominating junior.

        • The Last Big Bear

          I went along on this one….size, late bloomer perhaps. But yeah, it’s looking like a bad pick already.

          Here’s hoping that Engelland, Bollig and Smith were due to Burke’s influence and that Treliving has a different view regarding future drafts.

          • smith

            I am sure they are BB picks due to their size and willingness to fight as he said Flames need to get bigger and tougher . Hopefully Smith has some skill and turns out to be a reasonable third line player in a few years.

            I am interested in the defence coming up through the system or should I say a lack of. It is good to see Wotherspoon , Culkin , and Hickey developing. And hopefully Sieloff gets going now after his sickness. However, I hope we don’t have to wait 3 years or more so we can move Engelland out of there sooner.

  • Nick24

    I watched the BU game on TSN a couple days ago, against Union College. I thought Hickey played a pretty strong game over all. He was on the ice for a few bad bounces that counted as minuses for him, but over all I was happy with his game.

    He’s got a real hard shot, that was what impressed me the most. He must of had 3 or 4 shots on goal in the third period, alone.

    His skating didn’t blow me out of the water, mind you this was just one game, but I was very impressed with his physical play. I think he is listed as 6’1, but he’s gotta be bigger.