Another week has flown by and we’ve seen a lot of hockey. Admittedly, some of it has been bad – much of the bad being played by the National Hockey League team in the Calgary Flames organization.
But there are some players in the Flames organization playing quite well right now. So let’s talk about them for a bit to brighten this place up amidst all the doom and gloom of a 1-5-0 Flames start.
Ranked 2nd amongst Flames prospects this summer, Gillies has played twice – Stockton is quite idle much of the time. He got a shutout and then gave up a bunch of goals, but he’s still got a .909 save percentage in a small sample size. Keep an eye on him, he’s pretty good, and I’m interested in seeing how he settles out once his “I’m a pro now!” jitters settle out.
Ranked 10th in the summer, Jankowski has been the subject of much consternation since being drafted in the first round back in 2012 – rather than the Flames picking Olli Maatta or any other number of available players. But he’s a college senior now, and quietly he’s leapt out of the gate with seven points in three games. Granted, one of those games was against Holy Cross – the Washington Generals of the NCAA. But hey, if the hope was he’d take a step forward as a senior, so far he has.
Since my tirade about his usage in the KHL, Rafikov has been reassigned by Lokomotiv to the team he spent last season with, HK Ryazan in the VHL – the Supreme Hockey League, the KHL’s minor league affiliate. It’s not amazing hockey – maybe ECHL level – but at least he’s playing pro. And just playing games, period.
This Calgary Hitmen forward drafted by the Flames this summer has five points in nine games. He’s not knocking the cover off the ball, and he’s missed a game here or there with injuries, but he’s shown some grit here and there and some poise with the puck. He scored a gorgeous goal last week against Moose Jaw, then tried to spark his team in the third of a one-sided Moose Jaw win with a fight.
Good and bad for Calgary’s most recent signing this week. The Medicine Hat Tigers brought in 20-year-old goalie Austin Lotz, formerly of the Everett Silvertips. On one hand: Lotz will get lots of starts, which might be bad for Schenider’s development. On the other hand: Lotz is a proven veteran in the WHL and is a great person for an 18-year-old to learn from, which was probably the point of bringing him in. Schneider has just two wins in six appearances this season, so it seems like a good move for everyone involved.
Another late-round pick who, like Rafikov, probably isn’t a prospect of note anymore, Deblouw has two points in four games with Michigan State so far. He’s a senior and has been used almost exclusively on the right wing of the Spartans’ second line. I strongly doubt he gets a contract offer at this point given his lack of production at the NCAA level to-date, but he’s at least showing some progression after a tough sophomore season and an uneven junior year.
STOCKTON PLAYS TONIGHT
The AHL affiliate of the Flames, the Stockton Heat, are down in Texas on a road trip. They play the Texas Stars, Dallas’ farm club, tonight beginning at 6:30pm MT. You can listen live on the Stockton Heat site. (The interface is pretty good.)