How Are The Prospects Doing?

The Calgary Flames are pushing for a playoff spot. Down in the American Hockey League, the Adirondack Flames are doing the same thing. But there’s a bunch of other players in the Flames organization who are also toiling away, working towards (eventual) NHL opportunities.

So on this sleepy Sunday, how are the Flames (non-pro) prospects doing? (European prospects exempted because they both already finished their seasons.)

CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

SAM BENNETT – KINGSTON FRONTENACS

You may have heard of this kid. He’s 18. Spent majority of the season in Calgary rehabbing an injured shoulder. He’s played 9 games with Kingston. He’s got 21 points, including 11 goals. He’s doing well, and helping Kingston (who’ve already clinched a playoff spot) potentially move up a bit in the standings. Bennett’s doing well.

HUNTER SMITH – OSHAWA GENERALS

By coincidence, Oshawa plays Kingston tonight for the first time since Bennett returned to the OHL. Smith has had a decent season himself, with 48 points (and 22 goals) in 56 games. I’d be concerned about his penalty minutes, though: he’s got 115 PIMs this season, including 80 that aren’t related to fights. I mean, he’s big and uses his size, but that’s more than a penalty per game. Oshawa’s clinched their division, by the way.

MASON McDONALD – CHARLOTTETOWN ISLANDERS

The Islanders have clinched a playoff spot but their placement is unclear in the mess that is the QMJHL standings. However, McDonald has quietly been one of that league’s top netminders – his .906 save percentage is third in the league – and he’s played more games than all but three Q goaltenders.

AUSTIN CARROLL – VICTORIA ROYALS

If you asked me what I’d hoped an over-age season would look like for a junior player, it’d be Carroll’s year. He leads Victoria with 76 points in 67 games and he’s the straw that stirs the drink for them. They’ve clinched a playoff spot, too. Like Smith, I’m a bit concerned about his discipline though – 122 PIMs this season, including three fights.

MORGAN KLIMCHUK – BRANDON WHEAT KINGS

The Wheaties have already clinched their division. Klimchuk has had a good season, with 73 points (and 32 goals) in 57 games. He’s only got 22 penalty minutes, which seems to indicate that he’s (a) not worse than the players he’s against and (b) disciplined. He’ll be a pro next season, most definitely.

ERIC ROY – BRANDON WHEAT KINGS

Roy has had a decent over-age season on Brandon’s second pairing, with 43 points (5 goals) in 63 games. He’s not blowing the doors off, so to speak, but he’s not a tire-fire, either. He’s simply not an exceptional junior player right now.

KEEGAN KANZIG – CALGARY HITMEN

Kanzig is fairly typical of a big Calgary Flames prospect. His scoring isn’t amazing – 22 points (3 goals) in 66 games – but he sure does take penalties and fight a lot. He’s got 164 penalty minutes and is third in the WHL with 14 fighting majors. Interpret that as you care to. Calgary will be in the playoffs, and has clinched a spot.

COLLEGE

MATTHEW DEBLOUW – MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Deblouw had a rough sophomore season, playing fourth line minutes and getting bumped out of the line-up quite a bit. He’s been a lot better this season, putting up 13 points in 34 games and contributing 3 game-winning goals. His face-off numbers are down from last season (49%), but he’s been strong late in the season. He’s probably not a prospect of note, but he’s definitely recovered from that awful last season. And hey, he’s a seventh rounder, so expectations (and investment) is low. Michigan State begins the playoffs next weekend.

TIM HARRISON – COLGATE RAIDERS

Harrison had 10 points in 35 games for the Raiders, and continues to be a role guy for his team. He’s big, he hits guys and he occasionally takes penalties. He’s not an offensive powerhouse, but he’s still added three game-winning goals, so at least he picks his spots. Colgate has advanced to the second round of the ECAC playoffs.

MARK JANKOWSKI – PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

The Big Jankowski has had a decent year, with 23 points in 32 games. He’s gone through stretches when he’s barely scored, and stretches where he’s scored in bunches. He’s a good face-off guy, and his coach praised his play in last night’s game with New Hampshire. The Friars play again tonight in the deciding game of their opening-round series.

JOHN GILMOUR – PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

Gilmour recently returned from an injury. He amassed 11 points in 25 games this season, which isn’t bad for a late-round college defenseman. He’s fine. He was second star in PC’s win against New Hampshire yesterday.

JON GILLIES – PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS

Gillies has had another strong college season, passing the 100-game mark in his conference and continuing to have a save percentage around the .930 mark. He continues to be one of the best collegiate goaltenders in the nation. Keep an eye on the Friars, because as soon as their season is over, he could go pro. Maybe.

BRANDON HICKEY – BOSTON UNIVERSITY TERRIERS

Two years younger than Gilmour, Hickey is already off to a strong start to his college career with a strong Boston University squad. He has 15 points in 35 games thus far, largely playing second-pairing minutes. BU has advanced to the next round of the Hockey East playoffs. I wouldn’t be shocked if they went far.

  • beloch

    Bennett missed most of the season in rehab, had the carrot of playing in the NHL dangled in front of him, and was finally sent down to the toughest league he’s played in (to date) right in the middle of the playoff drive. He has responded by absolutely torching the OHL to an even greater degree than last year. No sulking. No slow starts. Bennett simply decided he had something to prove and went about proving it. It’s now clear Bennett has, in addition to great talent, great character.

    If Bennett hadn’t had a bad shoulder, he’d be playing for the Flames right now. His NHLE from last season was 39.3 and he had a great camp even if you ignore the fact he was playing injured. With 21 points in 9 games (I believe that does include last night), Bennett’s NHLE is now 57.4. This is based on a small sample, but it’s also 9 games in which Bennett had every right to start a bit slow! I will be gobsmacked if Bennett doesn’t make the team out of camp next season.

    As for the Stockton Scorch (man it would have been lame if they’d called them the Heat!)… They’re going to get a nice infusion of talent next season. The competition for NHL call-ups is going to be bonkers.

  • Derzie

    Bennett and Gillies for sure will make the NHL! Klimchuk possibly after plenty of AHL seasoning. McDonald and Hickey too early to say. Carroll as a 4th line checker in due time..nice size, speed and strong work ethic.

    I’m not ready to write-off Jankowski at this point in time..hoping he can be a 3rd line centre after some AHL seasoning.

    I don’t believe Kanzig and Smith have NHL speed along with the rest who will not make it….

    • beloch

      The Flames likely have two top six centres in Monahan and Bennett, as well as a third line shut-down centre in Backlund. The oldest of these three, Backlund, is still just 25 and has half a decade of his prime ahead of him. Jankowski would have to beat out Stajan, Jooris, Granlund, Reinhart and Bill Arnold for the fourth line centre job, which is a pretty tall order. The Flames are going to have one hell of a centre corps once Bennett is fully adjusted to the NHL!

      Given that Jankowski clearly isn’t as ready as the other options the Flames have, my bet is he’ll continue in college until he’s finished his degree and then spend a couple seasons in the AHL. He’s likely going to be a late bloomer like Colborne if he makes it into the NHL.

          • everton fc

            This pick may have spelled doom for Feaster, as it was crystal-clear we lacked organizational depth on the back-end.

            Unless the strategy was to have a plethora of forwards, particularly centers, to use as trade-bait to sure-up our defence. Which I think is highly doubtful, not to mention madness.

          • Scary Gary

            Most fans fail to mention that in that draft Feaster was able to obtain a 2nd rounder (Sieloff)…remember Darryl Sutter gave all of those away…IMO I would still take my chances on a couple of 20 year olds (Janko/Sieloff) and develop them properly and hope they turn out to be top level prospects than an injury prone Maata!

        • smith

          I gave Smith the benefit of the doubt. I got why he was picked and maybe he had been overlooked and was prime for a breakout. It’s clear though, he’s not an NHL’er. Given his age and his size, Smith should be an aboslute dominant force in junior. I see him as a 3rd liner at best in the AHL.

        • beloch

          Smith is 19, so there’s plenty of time for him to learn a little discipline. His point generation is good. If he can translate that success to the AHL and take fewer penalties, he’ll be a keeper.

          Kanzig is both older and far, far huger than most WHL competition, so I’d have liked to see a little bit more offence from him. Then again, he’s almost tripled his point generation since last season, so that’s at least something. The AHL is going to be the real test for him.

          • Scary Gary

            Thanks for answering my question…I also like both prospects but my concern remains the skating. Prospects over 6’5″ rarely make the NHL primarily because of skating issues….I personally hope those guys can make it in specific roles that are needed to balance a winning team….

  • Scary Gary

    No need to rush Jankowski. Maybe he pans out maybe he doesn’t but with the center depth the Flames have they can wait develop him properly and make him earn it.

  • RKD

    Bennett will not only be an NHLer, he will be a great player. I like Caroll, I saw some highlights of him and Smith and they were playing like power forwards with skilled hands. If Janko can find some consistency to his game and he’s good at face-offs then might have a shot. Klimchuk came to us in the Iggy deal, if Agostino and Hanowski are going to toil in the AHL then I would like to see Morgan playing as an NHL player. Keep working and developing these guys, I would not have a problem if they drafted a d-man this summer. Still want to see Wotherspoon be a full-time d-man next season.

    • Rockmorton65

      I like Caroll and Smith too. Caroll was solid in camp last fall and his skating looked great and his size and sandpaper were not out of place. I think Smith still needs to work on his skating but he has made good progress this year; I think his training camp experience was a positive thing as he had 11 goals in his first 13(?) games this year.

  • beloch

    That’s right folks;we have some amazing young players on our team but the talent pipeline has dried up since BB/BT arrived……

    Sure we may have a highly ranked player fall into our laps in the first round, but the days of drafting beauties like Brodie and Gaudreau in the 4th round etc. are behind us.
    If you want to see how that turns out you just have to look a few hours north…..

    We will be good for a few years but the long range outlook is bleak.

    Can’t wait for this years draft day, or as I like to call it: the day BB/BT show the rest of the league how much smarter than everyone else they are!!!

    WW

    • Canrock 78

      Do you have any skills to back up your complaining or is just chronic complaining? We have enough smaller skilled guys from previous drafts. Taking one year for some functional toughness is not a bad thing. If they use a tape measure again this year I will be concerned as well. Bob Hartley speaks of how the game has gotten faster I hope Bt is listening. I won’t be able to handle you bitching for 3 months until the draft, make a list of the guys you think we should draft and why so we can monitor you picks.

    • Canrock 78

      You really need some new material Wally. Your hate for BT clogs up every discussion. Your comparables are 2, 3 or 4 years out of their draft year versus less than one year for BT’s draft class. What do you say we give it a few years and allow these 18 year olds time to develop. If in three or four years, the prospects aren’t panning out, come back and complain.

      • Derzie

        People do not like the truth if it is negative. Do you really believe that we are improving under BT/BB? As time passes our prospects that we are picking are more Sutter-like. WW is right. Hate the message, not the messenger.

        • Rockmorton65

          But its not the truth. Thats the thing. I think this team is where its at because of BT. Its well documented that he is very aggressive, but disciplined in trying to improve this team. His “earned, never given” philosophy is what could very easily get us into the playoffs. There is no way in Hell that a team under Feaster or Sutter would be where this team is. Holy crap, give him more than a year to brand him a failure.

    • Rockmorton65

      Wally, Wally, Wally. I’m still waiting for a response to a post from over a month ago, asking you to name, specifically – a current, available GM that you think would do a better job than Treliving.

      It’s interesting how you spout this drivel, and when asked to back it up, nothing but crickets. Until 4-5 posts later when you say the exact same thing.

      • Rockmorton65

        Roland McKeown is a star?

        The same Roland McKeown that BT passed over in the draft so he could pick McDonald at 34……?

        I guess he thought McKeown would still be there at #54…………what a puts!

        It’s not like we needed a “star” D-man at last years draft or anything………

        WW

        • smith

          Just because he is a top defenceman on his junior team doesn’t mean he will be a sure fire NHL player. His numbers are actually going down so maybe his development has stalled? Hickey was taken later and looks to be developing quite nicely against much older competition.

          • Parallex

            I too like the Hickey pick.

            Problem is we should have had 4 players like Hickey with our 4 picks in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds.

            Not: McDonald, Smith and Bollig.

            WW

          • everton fc

            I tend to agree. Especially on Bollig. And I’d take Carroll any day over Smith. Carroll was a real steal. He’ll get every “opp” to play here, too. Another Ferland.

            And I still say we sign Eric Roy. It’s not like we are over-flowing with defencive prospects on the farm; Roy’s not putting up the goals he did last season, but he’s playing well, and played well in Penticton. He deserves a look, as we need defencemen. If he can put on some muscle, he, too, may prove a steal.

          • Scary Gary

            feel free to go back as far as you want; you won’t find WW saying anything bad about Hickey; in fact you will find other references to the fact we should have drafted 4 Hickeys…

            Nice try though…..and yes; WW for GM would be an upgrade!

            WW

          • xploD

            You can only have so many good prospects that are so similar. We have the following smooth-skating puck moving defensemen in our system right now:

            On the team:
            Gio
            Brodie
            Russell

            On the AHL squad:

            Wotherspoon
            Culkin
            Kulak

            In the NCAA:

            Hickey
            Gilmour

            You can probably add Jason Fram to that list very soon, who happens to also be that elusive right-hander.

            So what do we have for players like Hunter Smith? A right-handed power forward with some smooth hands? The closest might be Garnet Hathaway, who’s about 4 inches shorter which is a pretty big difference in terms of intimidation value.

            Goaltenders? Why wouldn’t you rather have one of the better goaltending prospects rather than hope a late rounder pans out? Right now the only goaltending prospects we have are Ortio and Gillies, and Ortio will probably be in the NHL next year. It’s always good to not put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to goalies, so having two more in the system who may but may not pan out is always a safe bet.

            Lastly, Bollig. Say what you will about his actual gameplay, but he fills a lot of niches for the Flames that might just be worth the #85 overall pick that he was traded for (Hickey was ~#64). He’s a better player than McGrattan, so they could afford to waive Big Ern. He’s a smart player coming from a championship level organization who’s been a good veteran to have around and he could be helping groom Ferland for the same role someday. You need veterans for rookies to learn from, and while I’m not always the biggest fan of when Hartley plays him, I’m also not privy to all that he contributes on the ice as a vocal presence.

          • Scary Gary

            Wow; thats all we have for D in our system???!

            This really proves my point; we should have drafted 4 D, because if we are lucky/good maybe 2 of them make the show.

            WW

          • Scary Gary

            No, I don’t believe it’s even half the D in the system.

            And no, D isn’t the only need in the system. FTR we drafted 2 D in 2014… 4 D in 2013 and 3 more in 2012. 3-4 more in 2015 would be good.

  • jdthor

    The Friars just lost. I wonder if Gilles makes the decision to go pro and if he does where does he go? I assume we’re gonna ride Ramo and Hiller but he’d be a nice addition on the farm.

  • Canrock 78

    Jankowski has barely improved his numbers from last year. This was the year he was supposed to take a major step forward. Unless his career hits a complete 180, this guy doesn’t look like he’ll amount to much more than an AHLer.

    • Scary Gary

      There was no one more against the Janko pick than myself. However, the team was now stuck with him, may as well hope he pans out.

      That said, it’s now abunduntly clear Janko will never amount to an NHL’er, let alone the best from that draft after 10 years.

      Amazing that people still defend him. You had Sven who has proven he’s a p/pg player in the AHL and NHL pre-season and a 0.5 p/pg player in the NHL while largely playing with nobodies on the 4th line for 8 min/night and half the board dumps on him. But Janko, he’s got the goods. Sure. Janko couldn’t even survive in the AHL right now.

      All I can think of is how amazing Maatta would look in the line-up right now. Pierre McQuire’s plea for Calgary to take him will ring in ears for a long time.

  • xploD

    Feaster was a pompous buffoon who almost cost us Monahan with his arrogance. He was also a terrible trader.

    However, I was a fan of his draft philosophy: IQ, speed, skill (in no particular order). Size came after that; if you had those 3 things AND size, perfect! But you had to be able to skate, think and move the puck first.

    The Flames need to go back to that. BB can’t acknowledge that the game has changed. I hope his influence fades quickly and permanently.

    I’ve given BB’s influence the blame on signings like Bollig and Engelland and picks in the draft like Smith while letting BT slide on them. BT was still new, he had to acquiesce to the big, bad boss, etc. This, of course, is all pure speculation on my part. Speculation and hope and wishful thinking.

    I also understand that the team wanted to put a little bit of size back into the system as well. They’ve done it poorly, but I get the motivation.

    Now though, this is firmly BT’s team. From here on out his picks and signings are his picks and signings alone and he gets no more leeway, no more excuses, no more blame on Burke. I expect a lot better than Bollig, Engelland and Smith. I hope hte game hasn’t passed him by as well.

    I expect skill, skating and IQ this summer. Anything else is a failure.

  • Scary Gary

    Everyone is talking about Feasters drafting but I thought it was John Weisbrod, now the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Canucks, that oversaw this area.

  • smith

    Not opposed to BT but not at all sure what he is suppose to have done to improve this team. So far he seems at best adequate. Bad draft, some bad signings some decent little trades.

    So far would take Feaster in preference. Better drafting, good signings, weak trades and crazy talk.

  • Avalain

    I went to the Hitmen game on Sunday and watched Kanzig closely. I’m not exactly a pro hockey scout but here’s my take on him for those people who don’t get around to watching him.

    My first impression of him is that he’s generally quite defensively sound. He was never really caught out of position. I did see him get beat once because he wasn’t fast enough and I saw him leave a man free in the slot once (nothing came from either of those mistakes). Other than that he was potentially one of the most consistent defencemen in terms of defence. He seemed to be the top choice for the PK. So, I’d say these are the good things.

    As for the not-so-good things, I saw a few issues. First of all, he’s quite chippy. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of his penalties are from slashing. Basically, if he’s battling along the boards for too long he just starts to hack at stuff. Second, you know those people who always want the puck? That’s not him. He seems like he doesn’t want the puck to ever be anywhere near him. I guess that’s not a terrible thing for a defenceman to want but it seems like he tries to dump it out too early sometimes. Finally, his offence. The last time I watched him I had a really hard time figuring out why his points are so low. Part way through this one I maybe started to figure it out. Not all of it is his fault, really. He gets basically no power play time and the forwards seem to randomly struggle to make something happen whenever he’s on the ice. That being said, every stretch pass that I saw him make was never received. He either missed the pass entirely or the forward simply couldn’t corral the puck. He doesn’t come in to pinch which is likely a result of his foot speed. He also seems to only be part of a cycle in the offensive zone very rarely.

  • xploD

    Its a HELL of a lot easier to tell someone to play with more discipline or tone it down then it is tell someone to be more aggressive and feisty so I’m not worried at all..