Revisiting the top 20 Flames prospects

Back in the summer time, the FlamesNation crew sat down and hashed out the rankings of the 20 best Calgary Flames prospects. That was completed back in early September, and we’ve had almost a full hockey season since then and the Flames have acquired a few prospects in the interim. Thus, there’s quite a lot to digest in regards to the composition and performance of the Flames’ young up-and-comers this season.

Let’s check in and see how the organization’s prospects have done this year, shall we?


Our requirement for “what makes somebody a prospect” was fairly simple: Calder Trophy eligibility. From the NHL, here’s the full definition of what makes somebody eligible:

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25
games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of
any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning
in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have
attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible.

In essence, you qualify for our Top 20 Prospects ranking by being:

  • A player on the Flames reserve list (e.g., recent draft pick or signed to an NHL contract)
  • Not yet 26 by September 15, 2015
  • Having played fewer than 25 NHL games in any single preceding season (or fewer than 6 games in any two preceding seasons) [Drew Shore, Markus Granlund and Joni Ortio weren’t eligible last summer because of this provision, nor was Freddie Hamilton after he joined the Flames organization.]


Rank Player Age Team Statline NHLE
1 Sam Bennett 19 Calgary (NHL) 64gp, 15g/17a 42.3
2 Jon Gillies 22 Stockton (AHL) 2-3-1, .920sv n/a
3 Emile Poirier 21 Stockton (AHL) 47gp, 11g/13a 19.8
4 Oliver Kylington 18 Stockton (AHL) 34gp, 4g/5a 10.3
5 Morgan Klimchuk 21 Stockton (AHL) 38gp, 3g/4a 7.1
6 Rasmus Andersson 19 Barrie (OHL) 59gp, 8g/49a 24.9
7 Brandon Hickey 19 Boston University (NCAA) 33gp, 5g/3a 7.3
8 Tyler Wotherspoon 22 Calgary (NHL)
Stockton (AHL)
6gp, 0g/0a
42gp 0g/4a
9 Bill Arnold 23 Stockton (AHL) 36gp, 7g/10a 18.3
10 Mark Jankowski 21 Providence College (NCAA) 34gp, 15g/23a 33.8
11 Kenney Morrison 24 Stockton (AHL) 28gp, 2g/7a 12.5
12 Andrew Mangiapane 19 Barrie (OHL) 53gp, 46g/44a 43.8
13 Ryan Culkin 22 Stockton (AHL)
Adirondack (ECHL)
10gp, 0g/0a
33gp, 0g/8a
14 Kenny Agostino 23 Stockton (AHL) 49gp, 17g/25a 33.2
15 Hunter Smith 20 Stockton (AHL) 38gp, 1g/4a 5.1
16 Mason McDonald 19 Charlottetown (QMJHL) 17-15-3, .896sv n/a
17 Brett Kulak 22 Calgary (NHL)
Stockton (AHL)
6gp, 0g/0a
44gp, 2g/9a
18 Austin Carroll 21 Stockton (AHL) 40gp, 4g/5a 8.7
19 Garnet Hathaway 24 Calgary (NHL)
Stockton (AHL)
4gp, 0g/2a
35gp, 6g/11a
20 Rushan Rafikov 20 Admiral Vladvostok (KHL)
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
HK Ryazan (VHL)
Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
17gp, 0g/2a
16gp, 0g/0a
4gp, 0g/1a
3gp, 0g/0a


Player Age Team Statline NHLE
Riley Bruce 18 North Bay (OHL) 52gp, 1g/10a 5.5
Matt DeBlouw 22 Michigan State (NCAA) 25gp, 7g/7a 16.0
Turner Elson 23 Stockton (AHL) 48gp, 11g/15a 21.0
John Gilmour 22 Providence College (NCAA) 30gp, 9g/14a 23.2
Derek Grant 25 Calgary (NHL)
Stockton (AHL)
9gp, 0g/0a
30gp, 23g/15a
Tim Harrison 22 Colgate (NCAA) 36gp, 8g/9a 9.0
Keegan Kanzig 21 Stockton (AHL)
Calgary (WHL)
1gp, 0g/0a
46gp, 11g/6a
Pavel Karnaukhov 18 Calgary (WHL) 47gp, 12g/18a 14.0
Adam Ollas Mattsson 19 Djurgardens IF (SHL) 22gp, 1g/3a 9.0
Brett Pollock 19 Edmonton (WHL) 65gp, 25g/43a 23.3
Kevin Poulin 25 Stockton (AHL) 10-7-2, .845sv n/a
Nick Schneider 18 Medicine Hat (WHL) 17-24-1, .898sv n/a
Hunter Shinkaruk 21 Stockton (AHL)
Utica (AHL)
5gp, 2g/1a
45gp, 21g/18a
Patrick Sieloff 21 Stockton (AHL) 36gp, 1g/6a 7.5
Bryce van Brabant 24 Stockton (AHL) 46gp, 7g/5a 10.1


  • Sam Bennett is a regular NHL player now, and has quietly become a pretty good one. He’s eighth in rookie scoring.
  • Andrew Mangiapane is a very strong OHL player, and scores a ton. He, Derek Grant and Bennett are the only Flames prospects with NHLEs north of 40.
  • Kenny Agostino and Mark Jankowski are virtually identical statistically when you control for league differences. Hunter Shinkaruk also projects, points-wise, to be part of this “pretty good but not great” cluster.
  • John Gilmour, Rasmus Andersson, Garnet Hathaway, Brett Pollock, Turner Elson and Nick Schneider are also having pretty solid seasons in their various levels.


  • Emile Poirier just hasn’t been great this season. His ticket to the NHL is going to be his offense, and he just hasn’t put it together lately.
  • Morgan Klimchuk hasn’t been amazing offensively, though his defensive play has drawn some nice responses from Stockton regulars. When you account for his style of play and his size, his play away from the puck was always going to be what got him to the NHL. He’s coming along slowly, but steadily.
  • Ryan Culkin was stuck in the ECHL due to the numbers game in Stockton, but he hasn’t really been amazing since getting brought up to the AHL. Heck, he also failed to put up numbers like Brett Kulak did last season in the ECHL: Kulak had 30 points in 39 games with Colorado in 2014-15, well ahead of Culkin this season.
  • Rushan Rafikov probably isn’t a prospect of note anymore, considering he bounced around the KHL and the Russian minor leagues like a bad penny.

Players that won’t be eligible for next season’s Top 20 listing for various reasons: Derek Grant will be 26 and has played too many NHL games; Kevin Poulin will be 26; Sam Bennett and Tyler Wotherspoon have both played too many NHL games.


This coming NHL Draft is going to be pretty important for the Flames. In terms of prospects with point-generating potential – which I’ll generously say is anybody with an NHLE of 20 and above – the Flames have roughly 10 (Bennett, Andersson, Jankowski, Mangiapane, Agostino, Elson, GIlmour, Grant, Pollock and Shinkaruk, and a case can be made for Poirier). Of that group, Bennett and Grant won’t be prospects next season, and everybody else will probably be playing pro hockey, as guys like Andersson, Jankowski, Mangiapane, Gilmour and Pollock are all graduating from junior and college.

To keep the pipeline moving, the Flames desperately need to restock their offensive potential outside of the pro level.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Poirier and Klimchuck are no longer in the top 5……in fact they are no longer in the top 10.

    Megapane and Shinkurak should be in the top 10. Until the Huska effect sets in for them as well….


    • JMK

      Can we just pretend Poirier is having a sophomore slump? Might aswell try optimism after this season. I still think he could be a 2nd/3rd line RW behind the big Finn and Frolik (if not ahead of Frolik). Klimchuk then very solid 3rd line LW with Backlund.

    • Christian Roatis

      This is because Stockton isn’t an AHL farm team it’s actually a hole where promising prospects go to die because of the worst coach to ever stand behind a bench.

      Did I get that right, Walter?

      • Primo

        Shame shame Christian…he is merely expressing his opinion and your sarcasm in my view is inappropriate. You fail to explain the digression in the development of some of our top prospects namely Poirier and Klimchuk. I am also concerned about Elson, Van Braybant amongst others. Does coaching carry any accountability in your view??

        As a FN writer would you like to add some content to your sarcastic post?

        • piscera.infada

          Klimchuk has not regressed. Maybe in “raw” NHLe terms, but he’s in his first year of pro hockey. That’s not regression. Many players take a season (some even two, gasp!) to make that jump.

          • FeyWest

            Yeh I don’t understand why everyone’s thinking Klimchuk has regressed when he’s never played pro hockey in his life?! This makes zero sense to me, and heck even Poirer is only in his 2nd year, pretty small sample size to call it regression in my mind.

        • Baalzamon

          I am also concerned about Elson, Van Braybant

          uh… why? They were both undrafted free agents, and they’ve both progressed EVERY YEAR they’ve played in the Flames’ system.

          Also.. how could you possibly be disappointed in any way with Van Brabant? Did you actually have expectations for him or something?

          • Parallex

            Yeah, I mean who has “concerns” for undrafted amateur free agents?

            On those guys though I think they’re the most likely of the upcoming RFA’s to not receive Q.O. (although I think Elson might get the Carter Bancks option… non-qualified and then signed to an AHL deal).

            In addition to a cap crunch we’re also facing something of a reserve list crunch next year as well with many of our junior league players set to age out out of the CHL. Particularily on D where we’ll have as few as 7 and as many as 9 (Depending on Hickey and Gilmour) players on ELC’s. The Adirondack Thunder may have a pretty impressive blueline next year.

  • KACaribou

    I think you have to give Walter the right to have the opinion that Huska as a development coach, hasn’t been getting the job done for the Flames.

    However more realistically, I think Walter would be better served considering the opinion that the AHL is a very good league and it is a giant step from junior or college to the Flames.

    • wot96

      I’ll give Walter his right to an opinion. Maybe he is right and maybe not.

      Stockton have had goalie issues and the club is quite young compared to other AHL teams. Further, if Huska is being asked to use the same style of play that the Flames use, it may be that is not compatible with the players he has just as that style may not really be compatible with the skill set the actual Flames players have.

      Maybe what is happening is that he is teaching a 200 ft game and the results are being derailed by a young defence and spotty goaltending. Poirier hasn’t shown himself to be a scoring dynamo but if I recall correctly Kent pegged him to be a third line energy guy right out of the gate. On that basis, he’s just fine.

      I think what’s really happening is that Stockton is the place that the inflated hopes and expectations of Flames fans go to deflate. The forwards the Flames drafted or acquired just aren’t the top six/elite forward types that we all wanted them to be. That’s really not on Huska.

      • Baalzamon

        The thing about Poirier, is he’s actually getting more shots than last season. With last season’s shooting %, he’d already have 20 goals.

        Stockton is scoring less often than Adirondack was last year. They also have a younger roster (shocker).

        So. Did Poirier somehow forget how to score? Or is there a more logical explanation?

        • wot96

          Perhaps he is just taking shots from everywhere to pump up his corsi with the result that his percent has fallen.

          Or maybe he will regress to his true percentage somewhere in between last year and this year.

          Was he not hurt earlier this year? I’m always a bit reluctant to write a player off when they have had injury issues, especially when they occur while the player is in a developmental phase. That said, he isn’t necessarily a top six/elite forward. He has elite speed, but after that? I’m just not sure.

    • piscera.infada

      He sure has the right to have that opinion, just as others have the right to have the opinion that his opinion on the matter is incomplete, and thus not a very good opinion.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    The Flames are last in their league and so are the Heat…… Time to revisit our systems maybe?

    At least the Marlies are leading the league…..90 points in 60 games…….

    Something is very wrong with the Flames organization.

    Flush both coaches and start over.


    • freethe flames

      Actually untrue, Stockton is in second last but have games in hand. I looked at the Heat schedule and what a mishmash, weeks were they play once or twice only and mid March though April basically every other day.

      A different way to assess players is how do they play when they get called up. So how have they played since being called up: Nak’s is a sound defender, TSpoon has been sound, Ortio has been good and Hathaway has been sound as well. Kulak after half a season or so in the AHL last year looked sound during his early addition. Granlund was sound as well. Now none this guys have been great but none were expected to be game changers.

      The question is have we sent anyone down to the AHL that we expect to be top 6 forwards? Maybe Poirier and now maybe Shinkaruk; that’s it. Have we surrounded them with guys to make them better? Our veteran forward on the AHL team for the longest time was Colton Orr. Can we say he was their to help our young skilled guys develop? Now they Raymond and he seems to have helped give more depth.

      Grant was having a personal best season and then got hurt in a freak accident. Agostino is having a better season this year than last year. The teams expected starter got hurt after a few games. The big club sent a disgruntled goalie down(this I blame on BH).

      I’m not sure coaching is the problem, it might be but there are a number of other reasons as well. But as I frequently say the farm team is for development and teams like Detroit often let their prospects ripen for 3/4 years and surround them with AHL pros to help in development.

      • piscera.infada

        Having watched a substantial amount of the Heat this year (I accidentally purchased a year-long AHL pass for streaming games), I feel like there have been some things that one can heap some blame on the coach for, but player development and the lack of scoring are not examples. The team isn’t incredibly disciplined and he tends to rely on the rush a lot to create offense (although, I think this is coming from the “Flames system” mandate) are the two biggest culprits.

        The biggest issue I see when I watch Stockton games is just straight-up inexperience. All the teams in their division are largely made up of AHL veterans–players who have played the pro game for years. Now, I wrote in a post a few weeks back, and I can’t remember the numbers exactly, but the Heat have (if I remember correctly) 5 players who have 4 or more years of professional experience (one of those was Nakladal–who was adjusting to the North American game). Of those 5 players, only 3 have played games regularly for the Heat (Nakladal, Johnson, and Stevenson). The rest of the roster has three or fewer years of professional experience. If you look at the rosters of the “great” Troy G Ward teams (although, they were never that great–having made the playoffs twice in four years, and past the first round once), they were heavily ladened with players that were yo-yo-ing between the AHL and the NHL (like, TJ Brodie), and veteran professional AHL players who had some significant time in the NHL (like, Kolanos).

        Now, part of that is on Treliving–it’s very hard to insulate your young prospects when you have nothing to insulate them with. Problem is, you have so many prospects that you want them all to have a fair shot. So what do you really do about it? Bring in some vets, and send some to the ECHL (something you already have to do)? Or, just let them tough it out? Which one’s better for development?

        I tend to agree with your argument though. When players have been called up, they’ve faired quite well with the NHL game. I think a big part of that is this “development” people are eluding to as “failed” (for some reason). It hasn’t. Secondly, some like to bring up the argument that every player has taken a step back. That’s simply not true at all. Poirier has been a notable (and disappointing) case this season, but there’s still time for him to show us something–and in all honestly, he has been better the past 15 or so games. Prospects are going to struggle at times–it’s not always a rocket ship to the moon.

        Gassing a coach (Huska) who has a very solid pedigree of developing players in the WHL (especially defensemen) because the team is riding some pretty horrible percentages this season, is not a pragmatic move. If you want different systems? Then maybe we should be targeting the “play like the Flames” mandate. You want more scoring? Perhaps it’s time to realize this is a team that consistently has shot totals in the high-30s and 40s. It’s been a rough year for the Heat, but to pin-point a perceived step-back by one (albeit an important one) prospect, and then project that on the whole crop of prospects is somewhat insulting, actually.

        • freethe flames

          Thanks for the reply. Someone who has seen them play. I trust your opinion more than mine and more than WW. In my research I read that they are averaging more shots per game than anyone in their division(over 35 a game I read recently) Here’s hoping that we see development and are patient with these prospects. Keep us updated from what you see, you have now become the go to expert on the Heat.

          • Bring Back Brathwaite

            “that’s simply not true at all. Poirier has been a notable (and disappointing) case this season, but there’s still time for him to show us something–and in all honestly, he has been better the past 15 or so games. Prospects are going to struggle at times–it’s not always a rocket ship to the moon.”

            Almost true, nice narrative but Poirier has been garbage the past 15. They’ve been the worst of his year. He has 3 goals in his past two games, but he had 2 points in all of January.

          • piscera.infada

            Fair enough. That was me that said that.

            I didn’t mean points-wise, although that’s entirely reasonable. He’s been playing a much more noticeable game since December. Poirier was very, lackadaisical for the first part of his season–I hardly even noticed him some games. He’s using his speed more consistently, and that’s a big part of his game.

    • Don Draper

      Flush the coaches and start what over?

      Brad and team are still very much in building mode. Full on collecting assets toward the future.

      Klimchuk & Porier could have easily been second round picks in other years, or that year if not for JF. That first round label has set expectations way too high for these guys.

      As for the leafs/ marles comparison- Calder Champions are not indicative of future NHL success. The Senators affiliate won it in 2010/11. Chicago’s has not won the Calder in recent years. Look at past winners its a mix of middling teams on elite team.
      Marner and Nylander aside, most of their prospects are over hyped by the TO media.