2015 Development Camp: Mark Jankowski

It’s unusual for a first round selection to be under the radar, but somehow, Mark Jankowski has seemingly achieved that designation. The Calgary Flames’ controversial first round selection in 2012 – the year the team traded down to gain a second round pick and then grabbed Jankowski ahead of guys like Olli Maatta – Jankowski’s selection was reacted to rather pensively by the fan-base. The declarations of then-general manager Jay Feaster (and assistant GM John Weisbrod) that Jankowski would be a Joe Nieuwendyk-esque player and seen as the draft’s best player in 10 years didn’t reduce the sting, especially when Maatta became an NHL regular in short order.

But here we are, three years later, and after a pair of drafts that have seen the Flames put Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett in the National Hockey League (and the playoffs), and the progression of players like Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris and Markus Granlund through the pro ranks, the pressure seems to be off Jankowski’s shoulders a bit. He is now what he probably should’ve been seen as when selected: a project pick.

But he’s a project pick that’s progressing as you would hope a player of his ilk would at this point, even if he doesn’t score a ton.

“I think I took a lot of good steps this year,” said Jankowski, reflecting on his junior year at Providence College following an on-ice session at development camp. “I think as the season went on I kept playing better and better, and I think I played my best hockey at the end of the year in the tournament, in the Frozen Four, when it mattered the most. I think that’s an important thing. When it counted, I think I stepped up. I think that’s a really good sign. I think, like I said, I made some really good steps this year.”

The Providence College crew get their NCAA Championship rings in August. Jankowski noted that the championship win stands alongside being drafted as his two biggest hockey moments so far. He hopes to build upon last season when he returns for a fourth and final year at college.

“I’m going to back to P.C., senior year, get my degree,” shared Jankowski, who notes he has seven classes left to go. “Have a good year at Providence. We’ll have a target on our back from day one, National Champions, so that’ll be a good test. I think that it’ll be really good, playing a lot of key roles, be the top guy and everything. I’m looking forward to this year a lot.”

It’s been a few years, but undoubtedly Jankowski has heard the discussions regarding his progression and NHL future. Heck, as a player plying his trade for an east coast college, there’s no way he hasn’t probably heard some snickering and comparisons to Olli Maatta in hockey circles. For his part, Jankowski seems relaxed, and undeterred by the comparisons to other players.

“I’m not really trying to look at anything else,” said Jankowski. “Everyone’s different, everyone develops at their own pace, so I’m like I said, from day one every day you’re trying to get a little bit better no matter what you do: in the way you eat, how you sleep, how you train, how you practice. Every day I’m just trying to get a little bit better and tune out everything else and worry about myself.”

For Flames followers hoping that Jankowski turns out to be as good as he was advertised in 2012 – or even harbouring more modest hopes that he’ll be a rock-solid pro – this past season was a step in the right direction. Jankowski was named a tournament all-star in the Frozen Four, and was a key two-way contributor during Providence’s march to a championship.

“That was a great personal goal,” said Jankowski of his all-star selection. “Like I said, as the season went on, playing better and better, and played my best hockey at the end there. That was a good personal goal. Obviously the ultimate goal, winning the championship there, that was the ultimate thing. I didn’t even know i won the other thing until my friend’s dad actually told me. He texted me and said ‘congrats on the award,’ and I said ‘what award?'”

To his credit, Jankowski seems well-aware of what he wants to improve upon. He praised Providence’s coaching staff for tutoring him in attention-to-detail in the defensive end, but noted he wants to add more to the offensive side to his game and be more of a catalyst on the ice. He had a career year with 27 points in 37 games last season, but you would imagine he’d like to see a point total north of 30 as a senior. He’s already discussed his role as a senior with head coach Nate Leaman.

“I’ve talked to him a little bit after the season ended and a little bit in the summer,” said Jankowski. “I think I’m going to be a top guy, someone he can rely on in all situations – penalty kill, power play, down by a goal late in the game, up by a goal protecting the lead late in the game. I just want to play a lot of minutes and be a key contributing factor offensively and defensively.”

Mark Jankowski was drafted as a lanky, unknown teenager from a Quebec prep school. Now he’s seen as an emerging leader on a good college team, a strong defensive player with unknown offensive upside, and an effective face-off man in his circuit. Now weighing around 198 pounds, Jankowski has grown into his body, too.

Absolutely none of these things guarantee that he’ll become a good professional hockey player, and at this point comparisons to Olli Maatta should be thrown out the window because the horses are out of the proverbial barn… and the guys that let those horses out have long departed from the Flames organization. But considering the traits that the Flames have seemingly coveted in recent drafts and free agency periods – size, hockey sense, and the ability to play a smart 200-foot game and win face-offs – Mark Jankowski could become a useful player in the mold of somebody like Joe Colborne.

Anything beyond that should probably be viewed as a big bonus, and it’ll probably be another couple years before we have any idea of what kind of professional he is (or even what he could be).

  • The GREAT Walter White

    FFS! The kid is 20 years old, has good size & is doing pretty good amongst some pretty decent prospects the Flames have accumulated. Cant we quit pigeon holing this kid & just let him finish his last year in College & let him turn pro? He’s a good prospect, that’s it. Not one pro game behind him yet but we do know that after 4 years of school, he will be intelligent & mature by the time he gets his first pro game under his belt.

    Yes, Wolf is absolutely right, it was a horrible decision to take him in the 1st round. Haven’t we all learned players drop, look at Barzal. I think we could have had Maata & Janko in the 2nd round, but again that’s hindsight & speculation. Feaster lost his job & this was one of the reasons. I think Burke liked a lot of things Feaster did & struggled with dismissing him. Wiesbrod being removed was an automatic. Feaster took bad advise from those he needed to rely on underneath him in this situation & the ROR fiasco. He lost his job. End of story, lets try not taking this out on the kid. He just might be a player.

  • JohnyR

    People are hating on a young, 6’3″, near 200lb prospect with hands good instincts??? Who cares where he was drafted or who went after him. He’s trending nicely while learning to play the full ice. Most fans had a huge Svenrection and he played 1 zone. If Janko tops at a 3rd line shut down guy well that’s exactly what we’ll need in 4-5 years and would be 100% worth that 1st round pick.

  • BurningSensation

    The summer heat is getting to all you guys. Jankowski has been drafted, he is in the system, some think he is developing well, he may or may not play in the NHL, GET OVER IT!

    On another note:

    Hockey’s Future picked the top 10 prospects…was before this year’s draft.

    Sam Bennett is ranked 4th and Draisaitl is ranked 9th!!!

    Flames got the BPA despite oilers picking before them!

    And Bennett already has 11 game of playoff experience over Draisaitl! WELL DONE FLAMES! (even though we got Bennett because the oilers made a dumb seletion)

    coiler trolls will definitely trash this one.

  • RCN

    Hayzeus Khrist fella’s! Jankowsi = Getzlaf/Kopitar??!! Take two puffs & pass it to the left. At this point, I’ll be happy if he’s a Joe Colborne/David Steckel. I mean, I’m not writing him off completely just yet, bud he’s not tracking as an NHLer to this point. Him becoming a 3/4 defensive specialist C would be a win.

    • RedMan

      We have now officially hit the slow season. I’d be surprised if we hear anything on Gio until September.

      On Janko… bottom line is he is looking more like an NHLer now than he did on draft day, but the jury is still out.

      You can’t really project how he will be just yet, but this year should be pivotal. He will definitely go pro at some point. Janko obviously stood out at development camp, and that is a good sign.. It means he is probably where he should be development wise. He has the skill and the tools, he still needs time to mature a little bit…

      Even with the kind of success that Johnny hockey had in College nobody was sure if he could make the leap.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    Most of you geniuses who are cutting up Mark are the same ones who LOVE that non scoring “possession” beast Mikael.

    I am here to tell you that Janko WILL play in the NHL for a very long time in any teams middle 9.

    He has what hockey people look for: Skill, Size, Skating, Sense and Shot. He just needs to add some strength and experience to become a very good player.

    The Flames will sign him at the end of the season and he will then play in Stockton at the end of the year and be in the NHL for a couple of games at the end of the 2015/16 season to see where he is. Then most of a year in Stockton before moving up full time.

    Some of you are pissed because of Maata and Teravainen, but you need to grow up and understand that once you get past those first few picks the draft is a crap shoot anyway.

    Plenty of first liners never even get drafted, (Giordano, St Louis) and even more 1st rounders never even play. (Nemicz, Bartschi, Erixon, Irving, Pelech, Chucko, and these are Flames first rounders from just the 2000’s).

    • clib542

      For a guy with “skill, size, skating, sense, and shot” he does an impressive job of not scoring.

      If you have those things, you should probably score. So either I’m missing something or you are.

      It doesn’t matter if he’s being tasked with defensive responsibility, he’s getting to the point in his college career where he’s going to have to put up points, full stop. Anything short of that will signal limited upside.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Alexandre Daigle scored 137 points in 53 games in junior.. we all know how that movie ended.

        There is a reason scouts don’t look at points to assess talent anymore.

          • OKG

            You really think every single Flames scout did not take multiple looks at their eventual first round draft pick?

            You really think Tod Button and the relevant regional scout didn’t see him play many, many times?

            When Weisbrod got explicit permission from ownership to draft a project center out of high school(when the Flames were clearly trying to make the playoffs and not in an apparent position to be taking a project), you think it was based on one viewing?

            Just how stupid do people think the Flames organization is? This is the same organization that over the same timespan that brought you guys like Jiri Hudler, Kris Russell, Jon Gillies, Ryan Culkin, Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, Josh Jooris, and Morgan Klimchuk.

            Feaster/Weisbrod got fired for getting poor value in trades and probably for the ROR fiasco. Even then, what did the organization do? Did they fire them based on one quick review? Or did they bring in Burke to evaluate them for multiple weeks before making his decision?

          • OKG

            Actually, he was drafted that high because there were other teams that were going to pick him in the first round. Otherwise, he would have been a slightly off the board second round pick.

          • OKG

            Why would the organization that gave them permission to draft Jankowski knowing the development time, fire them for the decision to Jankowki, and then decide to hang on to Jankowski and see what happens, and then hire a GM who goes to Jankowski and tells him that “even though we’ve drafted a center the last two years, doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about you”?

            Does that make any sense to you?

          • Parallex

            They traded down for a additional pick.. he was ranked in the top 50/60. There probably was a good chance that he could go late in the first round.

            Kylington dropping to 60th from top 20 is a prime example of how picks outside of the top 10 usually can be taken anywhere. Look at Bostons first round picks this year.

            We all know he was an off the board pick, a project. I’m just not ready to call him a bust after 3 years in College.. where he’s actually won a championship and was named to the Frozen four all star team with Jack Eichel. Call me crazy.

            Its a conspiracy WW!

          • The GREAT Walter White

            Other teams were asking Feaster about trading up in the draft; it is quite a stretch to think they wanted to move up to pick Jankowski…..

            WW

        • Parallex

          616 NHL games played and 327 points over a career that spanned a decade?

          Daigle was not a “bust” he didn’t live up to the advance hype but he had a respectable NHL career. He was scouted at the time… no one just looked at his QMJHL stats and nothing else. Busts are your career AHL guys or guys that have a year or two in the show and then quickly fade away. I almost feel bad for Daigle… guy had a longer career then most and still get’s called a bust.

          • OKG

            Well, by your definition, Rico Fata or Pat Falloon were not busts either.

            Daigle was a generational talent. He did not live up to expectations, full stop. His partying and overall sense of entitlement was what killed his career.. I wouldn’t feel bad for him.

          • Parallex

            With regards to Falloon, correct he was not a bust. Fata however IMO is a bust… he never established himself as a NHL’er having played only close to 1 full season predominantly at the NHL level. I never said Daigle “lived up to expectations” he obviously did not… I just don’t think expectations should be what defines someone as a bust or not. He made the NHL and played a lot of games in it. Daigle is not Fata.

  • OKG

    I haven’t totally written Jankowski off (what’s the rush in declaring him a bust, anyway?) – but I also think comparisons to Van Der Gulik are fair. We have no idea what Jankowski might become.

    That’s what I love about him. He’s the only prospect I can think of that would generate 110+ comments in July essentially just for existing. He’s so polarizing that people even hate him for being so polarizing. It’s amazing.

    Even if he doesn’t pan out at the NHL level, he’s still given Flames fans 3 years of entertainment in the form of chat room debates. I hope he becomes a perennial 100+ point C, just to screw with us.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    Backlund was picked 24th in a first round (we originally had the 18th, but traded down to get a second rounder). He is a 3rd liner and Flames Nation darling even though he is nearly as bad at producing offense as Paul Byron is. Oh, that’s right he’s another darling of FN. Hmmm…

    What is the difference between Backlund and Jankowski?

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Well if we are being serious

        -300 NHL games
        -Production at lower levels (high school doesn’t count)
        -3+ years meaningful pro hockey at a young age prior to coming to North America
        -International experience

        • OKG

          – Yes, Backlund’s pro hockey experience helped make him more NHL ready. There was never any claim that Jankowski was NHL ready when he was drafted, in fact he’s still about a year away from it and possibly more. That’s the development part of “drafting and development” though.

          – Backlund’s NHLe in the WHL of 25 doesn’t exactly blow away Jankowski’s NHLe in the NCAA of 23. Backlund did not tear up major junior two years after his draft.

          – Like I said, 5 years. if Jankowski takes the expected step forward this year, he could easily have 300 NHL games by the time he’s 26, and this time on teams with actual center depth, whereas Backlund got his roster spot just for playing the position.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          In 2007 we traded down from 18 to 24 and picked Backlund and John Negrin in the 3rd with what we got for the 18th overall.

          In 2012 we traded down from 14 to 21 and picked Jankowski and Sieloff in the second with what we got for the 14th overall.

          See any similarities there?

    • OKG

      Backlund is our #3 center for the 2017 and 2018 Cup Runs
      Jankowski is our #3 center for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 cup runs.

      We can’t just trade Backs.

      (I say that tongue in cheek, we’re not the Oilers where we just guaruntee dynasties. LOL OIilers)

  • schevvy

    Wait…how did this turn into a hating on Backlund thread?

    First of all…nobody hates Jankowski. I guarantee everyone on this site would be thrilled if turned into something. However you can’t just ignore the facts about him.

    He had a great Frozen 4 and had a great development camp. That’s awesome news and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. But you can’t just ignore the previous 3 years of evidence in order to prove that Jankowski will be an NHLer. That David Van der Gulik comparison, even though it sounds harsh, is a very good comparable. Hell, I guarantee there are far worse comparables out there for Jankowski…at least Van der Gulik played a few NHL games.

    What will end up happening is Jankowski will finish his senior year at Providence, he’ll get signed to an ELC and play at least a couple years in Stockton. Maybe…MAYBE he will be NHL ready by then. But to consider someone who averaged 0.73 PPG and 1.7 SPG in his junior season a sure-fire NHLer is completely ridiculous.

    and btw…there are many ways to be a fan, the majority of the people commenting on FN are Flames fans. Just because someone doesn’t think Jankowski is going to be an NHLer doesn’t mean that they aren’t a fan. So please stop throwing out accusations like “He’s not a true fan!”. It’s childish and dumb

    • OKG

      I’m not “hating” on Backlund by comparing Jankowski to him. The opposite, people are pointing out that they were similar as prospects and Backlund turned out pretty damn rock solid for a late first rounder.

          • schevvy

            yeah that’s fair, I remember Poirier being a reach as well. I think the reason there’s so much debate/hate on the Jankowski pick was Feaster running his mouth afterwards. If Feaster said nothing, there wouldn’t be 140 comments and counting on a development camp article. It still wouldn’t have been a great pick, but it would be far less controversial.

            God I’m happy Feaster is gone. I didn’t mind some of the things he did but anytime he talked it was cringe worthy

          • Parallex

            K, this is false

            Poirier had an NHLE that suggested he could go in the first, and Bob McKenzie even used the phrase “not as surprising [as Jankowski reach]” in the live broadcast of the draft.

            He was listed as #46 by TSN, higher by others.

          • OKG

            And Craig Button had Jankowski ranked #14, RLR had him ranked 28th.

            It’s easy to pick and choose convenient arguments.

            Janko was a surprise because Calgary was neither rebuilding or contending and wasn’t in a typical position to take a project pick. But it turned out that we were rebuilding and it just wasn’t “official” yet. It was official the next year when we picked Poirier, so of course it wasn’t surprising.

            Also go look back at the draft profiles:

            http://thehockeywriters.com/mark-jankowski-the-next-ones-nhl-2012-draft-prospect-profile-the-wild-card/

            http://thehockeywriters.com/emile-poirier-the-next-ones-2013-nhl-draft-prospect-profile/

            It’s pretty clear that both guys were reach picks. In both cases the team thought another team was interested (Poirier – Montreal@25, Jankowski – New Jersey@29) and felt the reward outweighed the risk.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    Also, don’t forget “pedigree”.
    Jankowski’s Grandfather played in the NHL for 18 years and his uncle is a Hall of Famer.
    If you don’t think that pedigree is useful, then just look at how many kids of NHL players are now in the NHL.

  • Section205

    I don’t know why anyone would rush to judge the kid. Everyone knew it would be 4 or 5 years of development before they know what they have. He was almost a full year younger than his peers. He was basically Monahan’s age, who was drafted a year later. He was also very unique physically, and had not followed the traditional path.

    I don’t mind the pick. Flames traded down and added Sieloff to our prospect pool. Then they swung for the fences with a high risk/reward pick in the latter first round, as opposed to low risk/reward picks that had been made for many years.

    I think it was a good experiment and I like the committment to develop a player like this through college.

    Fair for some to temper expectations based on his early stats in college. But I see no value in dumping on him, like many commenters and writers have over the years.

    Baertschi was off the charts in his draft+1 year. That didn’t help any.

    And I like the underdog story. So I will root for him to beat the odds.

    As far as stats goes… We have all read analysts from every walk of life who say one thing in year 1, then something totally different in year 2 or 3. So many variables that it is often foolish to make outlandish statements based on poor mathematical models.

    • clib542

      Let’s say Jankowski was born a week later.. would be eligible for the 2013 draft. Take his first year of college into consideration. He doesn’t go in the first round.

      Age has nothing to do with it. Draft position has nothing to do with it. If he hits the 200 NHL game milestone, it will be a miracle.

      • Section205

        Based on your comments so far, I am not really interested in arguing with you, specifically.

        I took a look at last #21 picks in 10 yrs prior to Jankowski. Most are nothing special, except Tuuka Rask (God forbid anyone pick a goalie at that spot… gasp!), and then there is Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan…

        Born Dec 91 and drafted in 2010 (turning 19). Played 1 year Notre Dame 17 pts in 37 GP. Drafted by Detroit #21 overall (you were saying…?). Noted, at the time, for two-way defensive play.

        2 more years at Notre Dame. College career (3 seasons) 64 points in 114GP. Plays AHL Grand Rapids for 1.5 seasons and has 56 points in 110 GP (Plus regrettable incident in teletubby outfit). So far in NHL he looks pretty good (60 points in 123GP)

        Jankowski born Sep 94 drafted in 2012 (turning 18). Freshman season 18 pts in 34GP at Providence. First 3 seasons in College 70 points in 120GP (edit: plus NCAA championship and Frozen Four All Star Selection)

        • clib542

          Sheahan has decent shooting stats, something Jankowski doesnt.

          1st year – 2.6
          2nd year – 2.5
          3rd year – 3.2

          All numbers Jankowski hasn’t hit. If Jankowski can get to 3 shots per game, then I’ll say there’s a chance.

  • Eric Nystrom is to the 2002 Draft as Mark Jankowski could be to the 2012 Draft. The difference is that Nystrom wasn’t obviously taken instead of someone who’s immediately achieved more in the NHL, and that nobody from the club touted Nystrom as the best player in the draft in X years.

  • RedMan

    all things point to Janko becoming a #1/2 elite center, except for those things that don’t. Otherwise he will clearly make it.

    but then the high school thing, but that’s offset by the pedigree thing.

    but he is taller than lots of guys who didn’t make the NHL, so there’s that. his blood type, is is O+?

    i’m just trying to make sense of all this.