This & That: 5 Thoughts On The Baby Flames

It’s that time of the season where BOTH teams are ramping up for a playoff push. Never thought I’d say that again. Feels good, man.

This week, there are a whole bunch of story lines surrounding the Adirondack Flames, so I dove into a few topics to briefly discuss some of the more interesting tidbits Flames fans should know about.

BILL ARNOLD (AKA MIKAEL BACKLUND 2.0)

If
there’s one thing Adirondack followers now know for certain, it’s that Bill
Arnold can stand on his own without Johnny Hockey. In fact, I’d go as far as to
say that the Needham, Massachusetts native will be the best Flames pick from
that 2010 draft.

How
impressive has Arnold’s rookie season been? Before he bummed up his shoulder
and ended up missing nearly two months (16 games), he was either the leading or
second-leading scorer having played in every game up until that point. Since
returning from injury, he’s collected six points in nine games. And while
points are cute and all, Arnold’s true artifice comes from his defensive
abilities.

If
you ever get the chance to watch him, you’ll think you’re watching Mikael
Backlund. I’m not just saying that because Backlund is the Flames’
defensive-forward guru and fans are familiar with him – I’m saying that because
of the similarities in everything from skating and stick-handling to demeanour and
placidity under pressure. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Arnold’s
about as easy to knock off the puck as it is to tip a cow.

Arnold’s
probably not NHL-ready this season, but when/if Matt Stajan or Backlund get injured
next season, look for Arnold to get the call. He will be an NHL player.

KENNY “ALL-IN-ONE” AGOSTINO

I
don’t think expectations were ever very high for Kenny Agostino, which is a
good thing. But it’s also kind of surprising given he was one of the guys the
Flames got for the greatest player in franchise history.

It’s
been a reasonably successful season for the rookie pro. He has 29 points in 54
games, which is about par for a guy fresh out of college. For comparison sake,
last season Ben Hanowski had 31 points in 55 games, Corban Knight had 44 points
in 70 games, Josh Jooris had 27 points in 73 games, and this season, Bill
Arnold has 27 points in 48 games. Agostino’s essentially where he should be as
a scoring forward right out of the college ranks.

However,
we just might be smack dab in the middle of witnessing him “get it.” Here’s what
I mean: in the last 16 games, he’s added 17 points. In March (so far) he’s put
up 12 points in his last 10 games, including a seven game scoring streak where
he 10 points over that stretch. He’s arguably been the best Flames forward this
month.

Agostino
is one of those players who is a jack of all trades and a master of none. He
can score, skate, play physical, hold it down defensively, but isn’t great in
any one of those areas. It could come with time that he develops into a
specialist of some sort, but this season Flames fans should just be satisfied
with what he’s accomplished. Next season, we’ll see if he can pull a Josh
Jooris (who is basically the poster boy for the “Always Earned, Never Given”
mantra).

One
thing Agostino has going against him, however, is that he’s a left winger in a
left wing-heavy organization, so he’s really going to have to find a niche and
shine in order to get some organizational recognition.

PLAYOFF HOPES

The
Baby Flames are by no means a power house this season, but are still in the mix
for a playoff berth in the seventh or eighth seed. Here are the facts:

  • The
    Flames have 13 games remaining. Seven of those games are at the Glens Falls
    Civic Center while six are on the road.
  • The
    Flames are on pace for 84 points which would put them in the eighth seed, one
    point ahead of the Toronto Marlies and Chicago Wolves.
  • Currently,
    they’re holding down the eighth spot and have two games in hand on the ninth
    place Hamilton Bulldogs and two games in hand on the seventh place Milwaukee
    Admirals.
  • The
    Flames are currently at 70 points. The teams nipping at their heels are the
    Hamilton Bulldogs with 70 points, the Toronto Marlies with 69 points and the
    Chicago Wolves with 69 points.
  • The
    Flames’ Magic Number is sitting at 26.
  • In
    their remaining 13 games, the Flames are set to play eight teams currently in a
    playoff spot. Ouch.

So
the good news is they’re in the mix and they have a good sum of games in hand
on those ahead and behind of them. The bad news, really, is that last bullet
point. They play eight playoff teams in their remaining 13 games. Even worse
news than that is of those eight games against playoff teams, eight of them are
against teams you could consider elite.

PATRICK SIELOFF, THE FORWARD?

Without
getting into sweeping generalizations about the 2012 draft, I’m starting to
become a little concerned about Patrick Sieloff’s trajectory. I understand he’s
only 20 years old and has had an injury-riddled career, so expectations should
be curbed.

It’s
unfortunate that Sieloff was one of many by-products churned
out of Feaster’s hype machine
by saying things like, “we feel that Patrick
could be here [in Calgary] as a seventh defenseman.” At this point, that
proclamation is so far from the truth, Feaster is probably pinching the bridge
of his nose in rue.

What’s
more troubling is it seems his future as a defenseman is in question. In fact,
it’s starting to look more and more like if he wants a future in hockey at all,
it might have to be as a forward. In an intermission radio interview with Ryan
Huska last week, the head coach mentioned Brian Burke’s inclination to have his
Humvee-like prospect switch to the wing. What!?

Let
me help you comprehend this.

There
were rumours back at the 2012 draft table where Feaster and company were going
to take Sieloff with the 21st overall pick if Mark Jankowski was drafted
before they could grab him. That’s how highly Flames’ management thought of
this kid at the time.

Now
he’s likely to become a big, physical crash-and-bang grinder, and that’s fine.
But there’s a bit of a dilemma in that. Do you want to push him to the wing at 20
years of age where he’s still young enough to learn to play forward? Or do you
wait it out, be patient, and see if he can turn into a legitimate defenseman since
he’s still young?

If
you’ve exhausted all other options and feel like you need to salvage him, then
put him on the wing. I don’t feel like they’ve exhausted all their options. On
the other hand, I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to watch Sieloff play
defense most of the time. He’s really not that good at it, but let’s at least
wait a couple of full seasons to see what he can become before making him a
fourth-line grinder.

What
develops on the Sieloff front is something we should all be keeping tabs on.

GOALTENDING SINCE ORTIO’S INJURY

We
all miss Turkubot 2.0. How can you not? He’s been Adirondack’s backbone all
season.

So
you’d think the team would be doomed in his absence, right?

Surprisingly,
that hasn’t been the case. Since Ortio’s injury, the Flames have gone 6-4-2-1.
Not good, not bad. As far as goals for and against, the Flames have allowed 46
goals and have scored 45. That’s only a -1 goal differential. Hardly enough to
blame Thiessen or Carr. It seems as though the real problem is the lack of offense.

While goaltending
hasn’t been a huge issue, if I were to speculate, I’d say the lack of offense
is probably due to a greater concentration on defense. The team knew Ortio
would bail them out time and time again, so they could freewheel on offense a
little more. With Thiessen (or Carr) holding down the paint, there may be an
inclination to help him out a bit more and sacrifice some scoring.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Agree on the nice post. I too think very highly of Arnold and Agostino and feel they’ll be here sooner than later. Arnold as a Backlund 2.0 sounds great, as that opens up the possibility of trading Backlund for a top D if so desired. I’m also thinking Granlund could probably fill that role too, so a few extra pieces available if we get into some significant trades.

      Not sure what to make of Sielof. Love the perspective and can’t disagree from what I’ve seen, though it seems a bit early to be giving up on him at defence.

      Goalies have been adequate, and of course offence would be suffering as the call-ups have decimated the team. So really still being competitive is a big positive.

  • Great article!

    I like Arnold as well…strong on face-offs and special teams. I see this kid being a 3rd/4th line centre on the Flames for a very long time.

    I was disappointed to read your update on Selloff. I believe the year off from injury has really hurt this kid’s development. Regardless when the organization is suggesting he change positions at such a young age that is not a good sign for him. This combined with the lack of development with Jankowski proves the huge mistake made by Feaster.Weisbrod at the draft table…I’m still pulling for both of the kids as they are still young enough…..but….

  • piscera.infada

    Good to hear some positivity on Agostino. I’ve always liked what he brings, so it’s nice to see him finally having some success.

    Arnold as well. That kid is great, and I wouldn’t be cutting bait with him any time soon. I also think he has a little more offense to him than it appears on surface. Something about Johnny must have rubbed off on him.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Sven now has 5goals and 5assists in 9 games and is a plus six. Do you think utica is letting him play his game? His ten points would account for almost 1/4 of the adirondack flames offence since he left.but is also shooting at 27.8 percent is this sustainable? I hate to say it because i was a fan for along time but remain a die hard flame fan…but i hope sven cools down or we may have lost this trade…hoping we get something great in this deep draft…go flames go

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      I used to live in alberta and now i live in enemy territory with canuckleheads all around…i just cant stand hearing them talk about sven some of them know so little about hockey that they actually think they drafted him it just shows how much more the average flames fan knows than bandwagon canucks fans

      • mk

        I’m here with you – grew up on in Wild Rose country and now I’m working in the self-styled “best place on Earth” (have you seen this sign on the highway?). I’m not looking forward to Sven making the Canucks big team & hearing the smug jerks here drooling over his talent. Ugh. Not to mention Burrows stupid grin.

        Good to hear the Baby Flames are in the mix – we’re a long way from the old farm teams that were hopeless. Or simply powered by career AHLers that were in town for a season or two.

        • The Real Slim Brodie

          Barons alberta boy..near lethbridge…now im in merritt bc country music capital of the wooorld lol or how about kamloops tournament capital of the wooorld. Vancouver must be the riot capital of the wooorld. Sometime i miss the prairies and the conversation with true hockey fans instead of smug canucks fans who think a cup as the millionaires actually counts as a Stanley cup..all the real men were probabley at war

    • Derzie

      There is no doubt we lost the trade. Sven is a player that was not appreciated by Burke & Hartley. He’ll do fine under someone who lets him play. We’ll find out what the 2nd gets us in 3-5 years.

      • Can’t believe some of the comments on this board “no doubt we lost this trade.” You have made that proclamation a month after the trade and before the Flames have even drafted the player in return? What do you say we wait to see what (if anything) Sven does in the NHL and who the Flames draft before you choose a winner. This trade needs to be rated in five years once all the pieces have fallen into place.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          Yup here we go again. Sven this Sven that, bad Burke & Hartley. The kid said he was not going to sign with us, we either trade him or he was going home. From the other 29 General Managers in the league, the best offer was a 2nd rounder, who happened to be the Canucks who are a little skimpy in the prospect cupboards. If anyone else thinks there were better offers out there, I’d like to here them & their source.I was at the games he played here in Calgary & watched him, he did not do anything special. He did not show the wow factor as a rookie the way Gaudreau has or Monahan. Jooris & Colboune (who congratulations won the Humanitarian award for the team) & Granlund have shown more in the games with Calgary. He obviously wasn’t special in the AHL, I don’t recall him being selected as an AHL all-star or play in the AHL All star game. I would rather focus on who we have & wants to be here.

    • SmellOfVictory

      He was also producing really well before the trade; IIRC he was the Baby Flames’ leading scorer.

      re: Sieloff: never saw why he got so much hype. People just gushed about him when the only thing that really seemed to stand out about his play was the ability to hit hard.

      • SmellOfVictory

        I agree, his ability to hit hard in open ice was his main feature. Like a Phaneuf without the offence. So much for all those who used him as a defense of the Janko pick.

        The strange thing is, Seiloff never seemed to fit that mold of skill, speed, and IQ Feaster and Wisebrod were after. It’s like he was there to balance the size scales. As we’ve seen with Smith, Bollig and Engelland, size for the sake of size is ALWAYS a BAD idea.

        When you consider the half dozen consensus players left on the board in order to take Janko and Seiloff, it’s kind of sickening.

        • The Real Slim Brodie

          Who’s this Smith you’ve already written off? And last I’ve seen Bollig and Engelland are fulfilling their roles with the Flames just fine. Thanks.

        • Purple Hazze

          The definition of consensus is agreement on a single (player). Having half a dozen consensus players on the board by definition is impossible, unless of course it’s consensus of you and a few others that think the same…

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      I really could care less and have moved on. Whether we lose the trade or not is now irrelevant. We can’t go back. I agree hopefully we get a good player with our new pick.

      As for Sven with Utica, not surprised, in fact I’d be disappointed if he didn’t have some good initial numbers. At 27.8% Shooting Percent of course it’s not sustainable, even half that would be way above average, but possible. If you take it at half that’s 5pts in 9games, in the AHL, with a new team he desperately needs to impress before his whole career goes South. Nothing special. And what stats are relating to the rest of his play? Hmmm.

      Nothing to see here, but good for him. Hope he can move forward with the Canucks or whatever other team claims him off waivers next Fall.

      • The Real Slim Brodie

        1) So even when Sven scores, they don’t count? Bob, is that you?

        2) Figure it out. First, look at all of Calgary’s prospects with that last name and then go from there. Re: Bollig and Engelland – no, they’re not. You’re welcome.

        3) Only a jackass knows exactly the point someone is trying to make and then nitpicks their grammar. Which is all the worse because my use of the term is correct. There were half a dozen different players who were universally (“consensus”) rated higher than Janko by every scouting publication on the planet. So now you look stupid as well as being a jackass. Congratulations.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Feaster gave himself 10 years to be proven wrong…he has 7 left and jankowski has to be better than the entire draft wow bold predictions were fraudsters fortey

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Mark Jankowski, C, Providence Friars (Hockey East) 
    Drafted 1st round, 21st overall, 2012

    As the junior season progressed for Mark Jankowski, he continued to improve and increase his productivity. Since January, Jankowski has recorded eleven out of his 23 points, and fired more than half of his 61 shots on goal during the second half of the season.

    The Dundas, Ontario native recorded a career best .73 points-per-game average this season compared to his sophomore and freshman years, where he posted a .64 and a .53 average respectively. Jankowski has demonstrated a gradual improvement over the course of three seasons at Providence, scoring 66 points in 106 regular season games. Jankowski has the skillset to be a game changer and based on the momentum he has created heading into tournament play, he could also play an important role for the Friars.

    Found on hockeys future website

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Mark Jankowski, C, Providence Friars (Hockey East) 
    Drafted 1st round, 21st overall, 2012

    As the junior season progressed for Mark Jankowski, he continued to improve and increase his productivity. Since January, Jankowski has recorded eleven out of his 23 points, and fired more than half of his 61 shots on goal during the second half of the season.

    The Dundas, Ontario native recorded a career best .73 points-per-game average this season compared to his sophomore and freshman years, where he posted a .64 and a .53 average respectively. Jankowski has demonstrated a gradual improvement over the course of three seasons at Providence, scoring 66 points in 106 regular season games. Jankowski has the skillset to be a game changer and based on the momentum he has created heading into tournament play, he could also play an important role for the Friars.

    Hockeyfuture.com

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’m not overly high on sieloff but he’s got two more years before we even need to ask ourselves if he’s a player.

    Jankowski… He is already a player and the idea that he isn’t progressing is a myth. He has a Tanguay type disposition where he’s a bit too prone to passing when he should be using that pretty wrist shot of his, but that’s just offense and with players to whom offense comes so naturally it’s defense that we usually worry about. Well Mark’s a great defender and a beast on faceoffs, while being a sweet skater and a huge body.

    So please, just because Sieloff isn’t great, don’t lump Jankowski in.

    Also, Kulak and Culkin are both from the 2012 draft class. No mention of Kulak?