5 Prospects We Need To See In Calgary This Season

The Calgary Flames are dead-last in the National Hockey League. At this point, it’s probably time to start thinking about the future. In order to figure out the future, the Flames probably need to do what they have in previous years when the wheels fell off their season: bring some kids up and try them out.

With that in mind, here are five prospects that we need to see in a Flames jersey this season for evaluation purposes at the NHL level. (Or merely to keep the “always earned, never given” mantra alive in the organization.) The list is based on a combination of players that deserve to get a look and players that probably need to get a look.

OLIVER KYLINGTON

Who: Calgary’s 2nd round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. Currently playing with the AHL’s Stockton Heat (as an 18-year-old).

Why: Let’s be honest here, Kylington’s probably the most exciting Flames prospect currently playing professional hockey. He’s a dynamic offensive player and his skating is already NHL level. His biggest issue to begin this season is his play away from the puck wasn’t amazing (yet). The good news is that he’s reportedly improving, and if he continues to put the work in and improve, it’d be nice for them to reward him with an NHL stint.

When: The combination of Calgary carrying a lot of NHL bodies on one-way deals (that are too pricey to bury in the AHL) means that until the Flames trade away defenders – probably at the deadline – there’s no spot for Kylington. The better news is this gives Kylington more time to percolate in the minors before he gets a test at the NHL level.

FREDDIE HAMILTON

Who: Originally drafted by San Jose in the 2010 Draft, Freddie is Dougie Hamilton’s big brother. The Flames acquired him for basically nothing – a conditional seventh round pick – from Colorado in early October. He’s presently with the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

Why: By all accounts Freddie was “okay” in San Jose and Colorado, but hardly world-beating. He played well enough for both teams to trade him away. But the right-shooting winger has been really good for Stockton this season, and it’d be nice to reward him with a brief stint in the show for his efforts.

When: If Hamilton keeps up his current level of play, whenever a right-winger gets injured they might as well bring him up and try him out. Ideally he should probably slot in on the third line, so if a spot there opens up he could be a fit.

GARNET HATHAWAY

Who: A college free agent originally recruited by the Flames in the spring of 2014, Hathaway converted an AHL deal into an NHL entry-level contract and is currently with the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

Why: During his two seasons in the AHL, Hathaway’s been a model of consistency. He’s not a huge offensive contributor, but he’s been a reliable complementary player in Stockton and has a skill-set that could translate well to the NHL – a physical, rugged, right-shooting bottom-six forward. It’d be nice to reward his consistency.

When: Hathaway’s the kind of player you call up after the trade deadline, when you have the ability to expand the roster and try out complementary players at the NHL level.

TURNER ELSON

Who: A junior free agent originally recruited by the Flames in the spring of 2012. He’s currently with the Stockton Heat.

Why: This product of the Red Deer Rebels has steadily progressed as a pro: winning an ECHL Kelly Cup Championship with the Alaska Aces, then playing a key bottom-six and leadership role with the Baby Flames in Adirondack last season, and was named an alternate captain with the Heat for this season. Elson’s been quietly good and he continues to play a simple, smart bottom-six game.

When: Elson’s less restricted in what he can do than Hathaway, so he can be used basically anywhere in the bottom-six. That said, he doesn’t have the size or physicality of Hathaway, nor does he have high-end offensive upside. But if there’s a need for a two-way player due to injury, he could fit.

MARK JANKOWSKI

Who: Calgary’s first round selection in the 2012 NHL Draft. He’s presently a senior with the Providence College Friars of the NCAA.

Why: To be honest? Jankowski’s the prospect in the entire organization that has lots of interest within the organization but they know the least about as a pro. He’s 21. He’s wicked-tall. He’s been good in college. They need to know what he is, and honestly, allowing him to burn the first year of his entry-level deal out of college on a couple NHL games could be a nice way to entice him to sign a deal. Oh, and you know how after the trade deadline NHL teams get four “regular” recalls from the AHL? Well, bringing in a college player doesn’t burn one of those recalls, so your team gets a free extra player.

When: This all depends on how Providence College does in the NCAA playoffs. NCAA regionals are March 25-27. Barring an epic collapse, the defending NCAA champions will be there. But the Frozen Four semi-finals are April 7 and the final is April 9. If Providence gets knocked out before the finals, Jankowski will have time to sign and join Calgary in Minnesota for the season finale. (And if they get bounced the regionals, he’ll have a couple weeks in the bigs.) If not, he’ll miss his chance.

  • allowing him to burn the first year of his entry-level deal out of college on a couple NHL games could be a nice way to entice him to sign a deal

    If the Flames need to entice a Jankowski to sign a deal here we are in a lot of trouble.

    Baertschi gets us a second last year, getting a free second if Janko doesn’t sign, sounds like as good of a deal as any.

    Let’s think of ways to entice him not to sign.

    • SmellOfVictory

      His production until this season has been less-than-inspiring, but I’d be extremely happy if he panned out as an NHLer. He’s got that underdog vibe to him.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I too would like to have a look at Jankowski. If he’s decent at faceoffs, knows how to use his size to his advantage but not take dumb penalties, and is a responsible two-way player in a bottom six role, he’s just the kind of player the Flames need to avoid being pushed around by the bigger teams.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      Last checked his faceoff wins were down this year (not that being over 50% is good). I don’t see any reason why Jankowski should play for the Flames this season. None of it makes sense. Bill Arnold is the player you are describing, call him up.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I don’t agree with one of those suggestions.

    Hamilton is a career minor leaguer.

    Zero reason to rush Kylington.

    Jankowski is so far away from the NHL right now it’s pointless.

    Hathaway and Elson – we already have better versions in Bouma and Jooris and I’d also put Grant ahead of them.

    No offense intended, but this list seems like it was created just for the sake of creating it.

    • piscera.infada

      I agree with you whole-heartedly. If we’re talking about extended looks at prospects it begins and ends with Granlund getting a long, long look with the big club at both centre and wing.

      Then Agostino because I’ve always thought he is a bit of a dark horse. People love to pile on him because “he was part of a dreadful Iggy package”. The guy has an intriguing skillset and I still believe he has a good ceiling as a middle-sixer with this franchise. People love to drone on and on about “good character” and “leadership”. Well my friends, thats Agostino by all accounts.

      Then, I think you give Poirier some time. I understand he hasn’t had the start everyone was looking for, but we know his pedigree, we know he has some offensive flair, and we know he’s a natural right winger (even though he shoots left). Who knows, maybe some time in the bigs gets him going a bit.

      Also, if we’re doing it: just give Ortio some damn starts in the NHL once he finds his game. Honestly, he’s not going to resign at this rate, so might as well give him a shot to rebuild whatever faith he has in the organization, and whatever faith the organization has in him. It’s time.

      I also think you have to give Arnold a taste, simply because everything you hear about him is positive. You don’t want him getting the wrong impression of his place in the organization. And frankly, I think he’s earned something.

      Also, if you’re not going to do anything with Wotherspoon, might as well just package him up and move him out.

      Nakladal also deserves substantial NHL time. He’s a UFA at the end of the year, so again, why not give him a chance to show what he’s actually made of–although, I assume he’s the first one up, the second Russell is gone.

      • The Real Slim Brodie

        Once again, I think you’re spot on. Your points on Ortio, Wotherspoon, and Nakladal also make a lot of sense. In a year where the Flames are unlikely to make the playoffs, the team should be looking to further develop players and properly manage their assets.

        I really don’t get why Nakladal hasn’t even played in the NHL yet. He’s apparently been the best d-man on the farm in a year where the big club’s D has really struggled. At the very least, worth giving him a shot as he’s a UFA.

      • The Real Slim Brodie

        Arnold, Agostino, Poirier need/deserve to be brought up for extended looks. Arnold is the only guy off the top line in the NCAA to not be playing in the NHL. He was more consistent than Hayes and played his way to being an NHL callup last season. Injury derailed that chance.

        Agostino had the best finish to a season of any baby Flames player last year. Again he is leading the Flames. Poirier needs top 9 minute in the NHL to get a proper read.

        Nakladal is the first call up, but TGH he will never get any games unless both Russell and Smid are not playing. Kulak only got playing time because both Brodie and Smid were layed up.

    • everton fc

      Hamilton comment just your opinion. He is producing.

      Agree on Kylington.

      Jankowski is closer than you think.

      Hathaway and Elson would be excellent call-ups…Buoma is months away from returning. Jooris is a tireless worker but is not producing. He lacks size for 4th line duty.

    • BurningSensation

      Hamilton may be a career minor leaguer, but that just means he’s been marinated in the minors – something good teams do.

      It isn’t ‘rushing’ Kyllington if he’s actually ready.

      Jankowski wowed at camp, has the age, size and speed to play, and is about to embark on his pro-career. Giving him a look-see at this point is just prudent.

      Giving Hathaway and Nelson looks is more about rewarding them for being good soldiers than kick starting their NHL carers. Still, it fits with the teams philosophy, and it may wven lead to one of them being dealt somewhere for an asset.

  • OKG

    Agreed on Elson, Hathaway, and Jankowski.

    Firmly disagree with Kylington unless he genuinely starts dominating. Culkin needs to be ahead of him in terms of callups, same with Kulak. Favoritism for Kylington because of potential makes no sense to me. Let him develop at his pace, don’t give him a false sense of “being close” if he isn’t. Bad for his development, would remind me of Sven’s emergency call up making him complacent long-term.

    Neutral on Freddie Hamilton.

  • Craig

    Kulak was very decent when he was up with the big club, I think he deserves a shot, same with Nakladal. But the only way it makes sense for prospects to come up to the big club, is if we ship out some veterans. I have a hard time seeing that happening before the trade deadline as Hartley is going to preach all in until the team is mathematically eliminated.

    In my opinion, this season is about as close to lost as you can get and we should bring up a few kids that are on the bubble and give them minutes. Granlund, Arnold, Grant. Leave the kids that need to develop more in the A for the season, Kylington, Poirier etc. they need consistency in coaching.

  • RKD

    I would like to see Kulak up again, give Nakladal a shot. I am interested in seeing what Poirier and Agostino can bring. Ditto for guys like Janko, Smith and Caroll.