Flames Trade Deadline 2015: Top 5 Prospects Ready For the Call

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Much
has been discussed the past couple of weeks about who stays and who goes on
March 2nd, but let’s take a look at the Adirondack players ready to
hop a flight to YYC and never go back.

Let
me start with a disclaimer. First, these are the players I see as the most fit
to become full-time NHLers post-deadline. These are not temporary call-up options or players deserving of a cup of
coffee for solid play. Secondly, for all we know some of these players could no
longer be Flames on Monday, but I’m listing them anyways in the event that
they’re still in organization.

So,
without further ado, here are the top five AHL prospects that are ready for the
“Big Call”:

1. DREW SHORE

GM
Brad Treliving knew what he got when he acquired Shore in early January –
a Corsi Freak (albeit, a
small sample size). In his rookie season with the Florida Panthers, Shore played
43 games and amassed an outstanding 55.5 CF%. In his next season, he played 24
games and had a 51.2 CF%. In the linked article, the author also demonstrates
Shore’s ability to drive possession for his teammates. Of the players he’s
played 100 or more minutes alongside, if you exclude Filip Kuba, Shore
increased their CF% by seven points.

Yeah,
the kid’s pretty darn good. Plus, he’s a right handed center to boot – an asset
the Flames certainly lack on the depth chart.

While
Shore’s size is no doubt a plus, it’s his exceptional hand skills and vision
that allow him play keep away so well. After watching his first 10 games with
Adirondack, it’s not hard to see why his Corsi numbers are so great. His
ability to cycle the puck below the goal line is a sight to see, and it’s not
like he’s doing it against weak competition either. He’s constantly being stacked
up against the opponent’s best defensive pairing.

Unfortunately,
the center position is the least likely to take a hit at the deadline, so
seeing Shore in Calgary again may not happen right away, but that doesn’t mean
he’s not the most NHL-ready player in Adirondack.

2. TYLER WOTHERSPOON

Outside
of Drew Shore, Wotherspoon is the most NHL-ready player in Glens Falls, without
a doubt. Similar to last season, Spoon® started the year on a fairly average
note, not standing out in any one particular area. However, also similar to
last year, he’s become a bulwark in the New Year.

His
progression since last season is astounding. He still plays the same freakishly
air-tight defense he has since Junior, but has added an interesting couple of
elements to his repertoire. The first thing you notice when watching this year’s
version of Wotherspoon is he’s become a good gambler. He takes calculated
chances. Last season, if there was an opportunity to get to a puck before an
opposing forward, he’d back off and play it safe like a good ol’ defensive
defenseman would. This season, he’s a little more apt to take his chances and
try and get to the puck before that forward. More often than not, it works.

Another
difference in his play is he’s added a pinch of offense. Most of the season he’s
played on the second unit PP and has developed a cannon of a shot. In today’s
NHL where dynamic defenders are the first choice for coaches, that only helps
his chances of becoming more than a bottom pairing guy.

However,
unless a miracle happens (or an injury), I just don’t see Wotherspoon sticking
permanently for the remainder of the season. Treliving noted specifically that
they’re looking
to add to the blueline
on Deadline day, so that doesn’t bode well for
Wotherspoon’s promotion. Still, if I’m Treliving, I’d take a serious look at
him before re-signing Diaz in the offseason.

3. JONI ORTIO

When
Turkubot 2.0 had to be helped off the ice last week, I sat in front of my
laptop in a similar manner that Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget sits in front
of his monitor. The anger I felt towards Oilers’ prospect Bogdan Yakimov was
similar to Doctor Claw’s anger towards Inspector Gadget. In case you missed it,
6’5” 232lb Yakimov ran over Ortio, which is why he’s in the infirmary for 6-8
weeks.

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This,
without a doubt, spoiled any plans Brad Treliving had for trading Karri Ramo.

However,
the fact remains that Joni is NHL-ready. We saw it this season when he went on
that incredible (not to mention critical) Pacific division winning streak the
Flames had not long ago. What more can be said about him? If it weren’t for
Ortio, the Adirondack Flames would be in a much much worse place in the
standings than they already are. Ortio can steal games, which is what you need
a goalie to do in today’s NHL.

If
it weren’t for this sudden injury, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ortio would
be a permanent fixture behind Hiller after the deadline. Most of us expected
him to become the Flames backup next season, but I believe he was on pace to be there next week
permanently.

4. SVEN BAERTSCHI

Ah,
our old friend Sven.

Baertschi
is the same Baertschi he’s always been, which is both a gift and a curse.

On
the one hand, Sven has looked ‘okay’ this season in Adirondack. He has his
games where he’s been invisible, but he also has those games where you know he’ll be a guy that will bite the
Flames in the ass if they trade him. Troy Ward always noted that for some
players, it’s easier for them in the NHL because it’s more calculated and not
nearly as sloven as the AHL. Sven is one of these players, which is why he appears
to use the right side of his brain more often in the NHL. In his short time in
Calgary this season, he’s looked like the type of player he’s been asked to be –
energetic, defensively engaged, and, *sigh* truculent.

Now
for the unfortunate side of Sven Baertschi. I have spoken to him on several
occasions and have never once gotten the impression that he feels sorry for
himself or pouts. This is a commonly held misconception about the 22-year-old. But
he is his own worst enemy. He’s extremely hard on himself when the stars don’t align,
which is more often than anyone would like.

It’s
also unfortunate he can’t be effective unless he’s paired with players of a
similar skill set. This is a hurdle that he’s going to have to overcome because
unless you’re Johnny Hockey, you’ll have to start at the bottom and work your
way up. It’s probably his most lamentable attribute because Hartley’s not going
to play him with better players unless he can show something on the bottom
lines. Quite the catch-22.

5. EMILE POIRIER

Here’s
what you should do right now. Sit
back in your chair, take a deep breath and just smile because Emile Poirier is
property of the Calgary Flames. Whether he’s a full-time NHLer on March 2nd
or next season, he’ll be a permanent fixture in the Dome and that thought alone
should give you a nice restful sleep at night.

Emile
Poirier is a Stephen Seagal movie on skates – not always the most visually
pleasing, but he’s full of action.

We
all know about Poirier’s speed. Outside of Paul Byron, he is the fastest man in
the organization. His skating is… unorthodox, to put it lightly, but his style
of play is everything the Calgary Flames are building themselves to be in a
nutshell. He’s a ridiculously skilled shooter, he never takes a shift off let
alone an entire game, he’ll grind it out if the game calls for it, and he’s
more often than not one of the biggest pests on the team. Lately, head coach
Ryan Huska has challenged the Montreal native to focus on the defensive aspects
of the game.

Like
many forwards who come out of the QMJHL, defense takes time to learn. And to be
fair, it did take Emile some time to learn it – like two months, maybe. Now, he
leads the team in plus/minus and is occasionally tasked with second unit PK
duties because of his game breaking speed.

If
a right winger is dealt on Monday, Poirier is certainly a candidate to fill in.
However, the more likely scenario is that Drew Shore plugs in on the right side
since he has some NHL experience playing on wing and is much less likely to
have his development impeded at such a pivotal part of the season.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Nice read on things. Surprised Ferland did not make your list…this kid is NHL ready now and gives Flames a nice combination of strength and skill….regardless Flames have a long list of high level prospects.

    I anticipate some shifting in order to beef up the blue line with some defensive prospects.

    • everton fc

      Ferland is a better “fit” if Glencross is moved. Never forget the #’s he put up in junior. Granted, he was on an amazing line. And he can be streaky. But he adds a dimension, size, strength, grit, Sven can’t.

      Just my opinion, of course. Biased!

      Ferland-Shore/Granlund/Jooris/-Poirier. I’d like to see that line roll for a few games. Ferland can skate. So can Poirier.

      Move Glencross for a legit 5/6 d-man to a club in need of the former whilst heavy on the latter, or see what it takes to pluck Sekera. Things I’d consider, as well, without destroying our rebuild. Byron could be a throw-in.

      I say we hold Ramo. For now. See how he stacks up against Hiller. This, too, should be part of the rebuild, and is. I’ve heard/read Hartley challenges Ramo to be as consistent, as much as he was last evening, in PRACTICE, as he is in real game situations. That’s Hartley. I like it.

      Wolf is not like Ferland. With the right line mates, and some time, Ferland can put up #’s at least as good as Bouma and Jooris are now. Maybe more. He’s more a skilled power-forward in the making, than a plugger, which is what I’d say Wolf is…

      Can’t wait until Austin Carroll is put in the mix. Great pick.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    If Hartley and the Flames really commit to having four NHL quality lines, then Sven could fit in on the 4th line. Although, it seems like they are really trying to go in that direction, which is why we got treated to the AHL line last night.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    PIPE DREAM: If it can be done Bollig and Engelland need to go and make room for guys that are clearly better. I don’t believe Ferland sneaks into the top 5, but he’s a better option than Bollig.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      It may put them in the market for a higher cost rental. But you’re right, Chicago now needs to fill that hole in the line up unless they want to ride someone from their own organization into the playoffs (which may be dicey).

      • Parallex

        Yeah, I think Kane’s injury may be bad news for us… to a team right up against the cap Curtis Glencross’s cheap below market expiring contract looks like rental gold, to a team that suddenly finds itself with 6.5M in LTIR cap space it’s not as great.

        • piscera.infada

          Who’s the better rental winger on the market right now though? I mean, Kane’s cap-hit’s going to be on the books next season, so I’m not sure they can really afford to take on any wingers with term.

          If they really did really like Glencross before this injury, it seems logical that they would really like him more now.

  • piscera.infada

    Really enjoying your articles, Mike. You provide a much-needed in-depth analysis of our prospects and the Adirondack guys.

    Prior to this piece, I did not know exactly how Wotherspoon was progressing, but this sounds really intriguing that he’s developing. At 21, he’s still really young for a D, and I could see his ultimate ceiling of a #3 or #4 D being more realistic than ever before. In an ideal world, we can unload Engellend or Smid this summer for a middling pick or c-level prospect, keep Diaz, and transition Wotherspoon to a bottom-pairing role.

  • piscera.infada

    “Lately, head coach Ryan Huska has challenged the Montreal native to focus on the defensive aspects of the game.”

    – WHY? Flames lost 1-0 games to Minny and Rangers! We need someone to really shine on the offensive side of things when the going gets to grind…Johnny Hockey is being ground down…

    “the more likely scenario is that Drew Shore plugs in on the right side”

    – Again, WHY? One more game and he is on roster and must clear waivers to go back to AHL…4 Assists with Addy? Let him play out the year in Addy and see if he can make the team next year.

    • Burnward

      A little hard bro. He got traded & playing with new line mates & new coach & system. Now if you have been to & watched every game & still have that opinion I would be more concerned. Shouldn’t judge on just 4 assists.

      I thought maybe Wolf would be on this list as well. Him & Ferland looks like they can give us a line that can hit, fight & score. Put Hunter Smith on that line & I would say we have a pretty good defensive line that can blitz the quarterback.

  • Byron Bader

    Agree on all fronts. I’m really excited for all of these guys to become full-time NHLers. Drew Shore looks like a fantastic pick up the more and more I read about him.

  • Parallex

    Glad to see you’re not on the overrating Granlund Bandwagon. I don’t know where his game’ll be a year from now but he’s not “there” yet and I’m a bit annoyed at all his callups. His best asset so far has been his PK and we have better PKers in guys like Byron and Backlund. Offensively I see him most effective riding shotgun to a guy like Bennett, IMO he’s not a creator. And he never wins faceoffs.

    He’s only 22 so he has certain 3rd line center / 2nd line winger upside, but with all our forward depth I’m just baffled at how much confidence Hartley et al have in him.

    BTW… How is Shore on faceoffs?

    • Burnward

      Hmmm. I love Granlund. He’s a silent badass. The faceoffs will come with age/strength probably. But he’s got a great thinking approach to the game and plays it hard down low. I’d have faith in him too.

    • I love Granlund. I think he’s going to be a good player for the Flames. I just think it’s a matter of becoming more comfortable and going through the journey of learning about what he wants to be in the NHL.

      I didn’t put him on the list for that reason. He’s just a toe behind the guys listed.

      Shore is okay at faceoffs. In the NHL he’s about a 47% guy, but takes a TON of faceoffs. In the AHL, he’s slightly higher I would imagine without actually knowing the exact numbers.

  • piscera.infada

    @wot96 @Parallex

    Fair enough, forgot about Jagr–but as was stated, he seems pretty steadfast about staying out East, and I think he’s earned that right, although I don’t know why he wouldn’t consider Chicago.

    I also get the dollar figures, but I’m not sure about leverage. If Chicago’s new-found “leverage” creates the perception of less required return on a player they clearly want (per Freidman and Duhatschek), then they won’t get Glencross. Apparently, Glencross has again expanded his list to include Washington now (another team who apparently “really wants him”), so it’s not like Chicago is the only team with interest. If they want him, they want him and the Kane situation only creates a need for added depth on a team with Cup aspirations.

  • Peplinski's Thunderbird

    Good read Mike..

    Thinking back to draft day 2013, I remember being completely irate when the Flames took Poirier instead of Shinkaruk. I’m happily eating crow now..

  • Peplinski's Thunderbird

    Here are the career AHL stats of the skaters in Mike’s list, sorted by points per game (P/g) in descending order. I added Granlund to the list as well, as i wouldn’t consider him being behind the other names, considering his production, age and consistent overall performance. Great read and analysis Mike, hopefully we will see more of these in the future!

    Player..	Age	Gp	G	A	P	+/-	P/g
    
    Granlund	21	66	31	27	58	9	0.88
    
    Poirier.	20	44	16	18	34	15	0.77
    
    Baertschi	22	107	31	46	77	1	0.72
    
    Shore...	24	144	28	73	101	8	0.70
    
    Wotherspoon	21	94	3	27	30	17	0.32