FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Turner Elson

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Red Deer Rebels organization, Turner Elson has put in a solid four years of professional service to the Calgary Flames. Over that time, he’s played just about everywhere possible: graduating from the WHL, playing in the AHL, winning a championship after being demoted to the ECHL, securing an AHL spot, and finally, getting in his first NHL game (and his first NHL point to go with it).

It’s been quite the ride for Elson, and since winning the Kelly Cup with the Alaska Aces, he’s been a pretty consistent player. But is that enough?

Season summary

The 2014-15 season was Elson’s first full year playing in the AHL. He scored 30 points over 59 games. This season, Elson matched those 30 points, but over 63 games with the Stockton Heat: a couple fewer goals, a few more assists, same number of points, four more games played. At 23 years old, he’s now put together two remarkably consistent back-to-back seasons offensively.

Elson was fifth on the Heat in scoring, with just one more point than Emile Poirier in three more games played. (This excludes Hunter Shinkaruk, who came to the team late; if you include his totals, Elson was sixth in team scoring.) He had 159 shots on net throughout the year: about 2.5 per game, and fourth on the Heat.

In the NHL, Elson played just one game: a meaningless season finale against the Minnesota Wild. He was the last of several Flames prospective forwards to be called up, and in his game, he played 14:54 – sixth out of all Flames forwards in ice time. He received no powerplay time, but 2:59 of his ice time was on the penalty kill as the Flames’ fourth-most used forward.

Elson had no shots on net in his one game. He threw two hits and picked up an assist, and that was it. His most common linemates were Johnny Gaudreau and Drew Shore (and Sean Monahan, before he got injured early on). He finished a 5v5 18.75% CF player, the worst on the Flames that particular game.

Impact on team

Elson was one of the Heat’s more effective players at generating offence. He had a shooting percentage of 8.8%, which was roughly the amount Poirier shot at, and a bit more accurate than guys like Freddie Hamilton and Drew Shore, but well behind Kenny Agostino, Shinkaruk, and Derek Grant (the top offensive weapons the Heat had at their disposal). His shooting percentage dropped from the 2014-15 season, so it’s entirely possible he might have deserved more goals than he actually ended up with.

Still, this points more towards problems with the Heat’s lack of depth than it does to any prowess Elson may hold. Being one of the top scorers on your team is great; having only 30 points to get there, a little less so. Him being one of the Heat’s more frequent shooters is a good personal sign for him, though.

In the intangibles department, Elson wore an ‘A’ for the Heat all season, and was one of the younger players to do so. His style of game is very much that of the typical fourth liner with strong leadership qualities: hard hitting, physical, penalty killing, probably not a star but everything you love about solid depth players on the roster. There’s something to be said for that, particularly when wondering just what his ceiling may be.

What comes next?

A restricted free agent, Elson is in need of a new contract, and there’s no guarantee the Flames qualify him. What he offers to the table is pretty good, but not particularly unique, especially not where the Flames are concerned: they have plenty of fourth line options in both the NHL and minors who do much of what Elson does.

Then again, how many of them have worn a letter for their team? With strong defensive play and consistent offensive numbers, Elson might just be worth bringing back, though it’s likely his best case scenario ceiling is that of a fourth liner in the NHL, should he be able to make it that far.

There are worse things to be, though. Elson will only be 24 years old to start next season, and he’s pushed his way through juniors and the minors to have success. The Heat had a disappointing season overall, but with Elson recognizing that, he might be a good guy to keep around – particularly as he doesn’t seem to be someone about to rest on non-existent laurels any time soon.

  • CofRed4Life

    I think he deserves a qualifying offer, but nothing more. He’s done well, but like you said, we have a lot of 4th line options available. The only reason I wouldn’t qualify him is if we were pushing the 50 contact limit. Still, I like the kid.

  • Slowmo

    Here’s the thing we will have players on a ATO and I think or hope they are more skilled than what we have in the A right now we only have so many contracts we can hand out. We will have a couple coming in this yr like Bryce Hickey Gilmore Kanzig the Russian I’m not sure if he is able to play a couple more yrs in the W but We for sure will have Mang coming in and Pollack and a few more I’m sure so I don’t think we will resign him he hasn’t showed enough to use up a very important contract and I think that goes with a few more that need to be resigned. If Rasmus shows Good this camp then I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t turn him pro but being a second yr with the junior’s then he might go back. To stop all this long winded reply lets just say we have to be stingy.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Being consistent isn’t enough, if you’re consistently just below replacement-level.

    Every year there are plenty of veterans left sitting by the phone on July 2, many of whom will play for cheap.

    Unless a guy is going to be significantly better and cheaper than a Scott Gomez or Dainius Zubrus or whoever, there not much point in having him on an NHL contract.

  • Stu Cazz

    A real heart and soul kid, tireless worker with strong leadership skills…not sure that is enough given the young talent Flames have coming but I like this kid and hope he can secure a contract…

    • freethe flames

      Organizations need young men like him to play in the AHL. 2 years of 30 points makes him an AHL vet and quit frankly teams need those guys but his contract needs to reflect that he is an AHL player not an NHL prospect.

  • Oil City Roller

    I just came by to see if you guys were getting any article more exciting than ours. Apparently not. Man the hockey scene is boring this time of year when you don’t have a pony in the show. Oh well, there always gods old fashioned ribbing to pass the time.

    Johnny Goudrea amassed many bills but he has neither the skills nor the inclination to pay said bills. This in spite of the unreasonable interest rate associated with the aforementioned unpaid bills! HaHa!

  • freethe flames

    I see that at Jet’s nation that they are profiling possible second round picks. (I am sure it’s on some other sites as well) Is anyone else reading them? I find some of it enlightening especially considering we have 3 seconds, 4 if we stretch it to 65. However many of the guys they have hi-lighted so far have not made my short list of players I think the Flames are looking at. I am sure at some point the FN writers will tackle the first round but my question (hope) is that they will do some sort of round table discussion of who they think the Flames should take outside the traditional 1st rounder; which has been beaten to death. BPA and that appears to be Nylander.