Setting Expectations for Mark Jankowski

The NCAA hockey season began yesterday, meaning that the clock is officially ticking on Mark Jankowski.

Who? You remember, he was the Calgary Flames first round pick in 2012 – chosen the year after Sven Baertschi and the year before the rebuild began and the Flames had three picks in 2013.

Well, Jankowski is a senior now, so let’s have a quick chat about what to expect from him.

The Flames drafted Mark Jankowski out of a prep school in Quebec – Stanstead College – in the 2012 Draft. The decision to select a relative unknown over more seasoned and renowned prospects at 21st overall has long dogged the decision-makers at the time – primarily Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod, neither of whom is around the Flames anymore. But Jankowski remains, having decided to go to the NCAA and ply his trade there.

How’s he done so far?

In his freshman year, he had 18 points in 34 games. He was fifth in team scoring, second among freshmen (behind Nick Saracino), and the Friars were a .539 team. They weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible. Jankowski contributed, but he was not the reason the team won games (he had two game-winners and 61 shots, hardly elite numbers). He was also basically still a stick-man; a lanky, tall kid who needed to grow into his body.

By his sophomore year, Jankowski had filled out a bit. He had 25 points in 39 games, second among the team’s sophomore’s behind Saracino, and the Friars were a .641 team. Granted, much of their success was born on the back of their goaltending, but while Jon Gillies kept his team in games they still managed to score key goals at key times. Jankowski had three game-winning goals in 2013-14, and 87 shots.

Last season, in his junior year, Jankowski seemed to take a bit of a step back scoring-wise – or his age group took off a bit. He was sixth on the team in scoring and fourth among juniors – behind Saracino, Noel Acciari and Trevor Mingoia – with 27 points in 37 games. He had three game-winners and 64 shots. He finally filled out a bit and seemed to really enjoy his role on his team, and his progression on face-offs and responsibility as a 200-foot player has earned him praise from his coaching staff. (He was second-best in his conference at the dot.) He was even named to the NCAA playoff all-star team after helping his team win an NCAA championship. (Providence was a .659 team, by the by.)

After that review, let’s put the horse before the cart a bit: he’s going to sign a pro deal with the Calgary Flames after this season. I’m pretty confident of that. Players with less college success have been signed by the team in the past, and few teams are going to pass on a 6’4″, 200-pound center with an NCAA championship under his belt. (The Flames have a bunch of minor-leaguers becoming restricted free agents this summer, so it’s not like they can’t easily make room for Jankowski in Stockton next season.)

Last night, Jankowski opened the 2015-16 NCAA season with a four-point night. He had a goal and three assists against Miami (of Ohio), along with two shots. It’s good start, but here’s what I’d like to see from Jankowski this season: progression.

I’m talking a point-per-game. I’m talking about face-off dominance. I’m talking about taking more shots (ideally 90+ on the season) and playing with the puck more. I’m talking about being a leader on his team. Johnny Gaudreau was a really, really good college player because he was able to be the focal point of Boston College and their success for three years. Jankowski needs to be a focal point more often than not.

If nothing else, Jankowski needs to make the most of this season because it’s probably his last before he goes under the microscope a bit. If/when he signs his entry-level deal (in the year he turns 22), it’ll be a two-year deal. So the Flames will have two years with Jankowski in the minors on a daily basis; poking, prodding and otherwise trying to figure out what they have in this asset. If nothing else, he’ll never have gone through this level of scrutiny before as a hockey player – probably not even in his draft year.

The best way to set up Mark Jankowski for a successful career as a professional hockey player will be having a good final year of college. For his final year to be seen externally as “good,” he’ll need to continue to progress and most importantly, he’ll have to be a difference-maker for Providence College more often than not. In other words: that level of play that he showed in the NCAA playoffs has to be the expectation now.

He had four points last night. That’s a pretty good start. But he has to do that kind of thing with consistency if he’s going to have some momentum coming out of this season.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    From the beginning, I considered Jankowski a poor first round pick, but like it or not he’s a Flames asset. I’ll hope and pray he becomes an everyday NHLer, as much as the next guy. He has NHL size and the tools, let’s see what this final year in college looks like.
    You have me in your corner Mark!

  • supra steve

    As is always the case, it takes years to judge a draft pick, not days or months. If he comes into Calgary and plays at a decent level for a number of years (or is traded for a nice asset), then he was a good pick.

  • OKG

    This pick seemed to one of the factors that got Feaster Fired, but to be fair if you look at some of the other picks that he has made especially deep in the draft he’s done quite well. Hopefully Janko can be another everyday flame in the future and another reason to give Feaster some belated thanks.

    • OKG

      Feaster was not fired for Jankowski:

      1) Ron Sutter, Flames development guy, has said multiple times that Jankowski is progressing well.

      2) Burke would be a huge hypocrite considering all the ACTUALLY bad 1st rounders he’s drafted in his career

      3) It takes 5+ years to ever judge a draft pick.

      4) Drafting is the responsibility of the drafting department, which is still intact. They’re the ones who found Jankowski, and obviously they’re the ones who found Gaudreau, Poirier, Ferland etc.

      If Feaster was fired, it was because

      1) He built a finesse team that didn’t have the rough-n-tough makeup Burke likes

      2) He didn’t have much diligence and it cost him in trades.

      3) His right-hand man Weisbrod was a tool, Burke said as much.

      • OKG

        Not saying it was the sole reason he was fired. The Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet could have crippled the team and were lucky it was matched. For me that was the last straw with Jay.

  • OKG

    I doubt he signs with the flames. If he wanted to he could of already

    He was drafted out of a high school league, then went to University. The kids a free agent at the end of the year.Unless the Flames can manage to get him inked at the conclusion of his NCAA season. But why would he. He can wait until July and sign for whomever he wishes.

    He has the opportunity to pull a “Justin Schultz” and sign an NHL deal that is bonus rich. Getting the entry level max and a real commitment to playing time to reach those bonuses.

    Don’t be surprised if this kid is in Min another NHL city to start next season.

  • OKG

    @ Bob Loblaw, if the Flames make Janko an offer and he chooses not to accept, the Flames would get a compensatory pick – second round, mind you, but still (see s. 8.3 of the CBA). So losing him to another team is not a total loss.

    Lots of guys that scored in Junior aren’t able to translate that to the same level in the NHL. Probably very similar with NCAA scorers (Kariya and JohnnyHockey excepted).

    Accordingly, I would like to see him do better than a point per game in his final year, dominate on the dot, pick up another ten pounds, or so, and become the kind of centre that every team wants and needs on its third and fourth line.

    He’s very, very, unlikely to be a true 1 or 2C in the NHL so maybe he replaces Stajan and/or Backlund down the line. If he can, good. We’ll need players like that at a low cap hit about the same time Matty and Mickis are looking for a new contract.

  • OKG

    I’m not sure on that compensation pick. The Oilers didn’t give up a thing for Schultz. Anaheim had used a second round pick on him.

    If Mark Jankowski had of been drafted while playing NCAA you would be correct Alas it’s the same as Schultz being drafted while in minor junior and then going NCAA. The team loses his rights if not signed by the time the player declares they are not returning to university or graduates. It’s becoming more common.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      I’ll explain it in points (not to be condescending, it’s just the best way I can think of the explain it)

      1. The team that signs the player doesn’t give up the compensatory pick, the NHL awards it (making their be extra picks in rd. 2).

      2. Schultz didn’t qualify for one because he was a 2nd rounder. It’s only 1st round picks that qualify for them.

      3. Calgary would have to extend Janko an ELC offer before he signs elsewhere and Janko would have to refuse for CGY to get the pick.

      4. If CGY got a compensatory pick it would end up being pick. 51 in 2017.