What we learned at the prospect scrimmage

That it is but a snapshot of what we hope is to come. You can’t make serious impressions or judgements based off of what is essentially a particularly hardcore game of shinny – but you can have a lot of fun with it.

Camp invitees go hard

Not that any of these guys are guaranteed a job, but when you come in to a camp as a free agent, you’ve gotta work to try to change that status just a little more than the other guys. So it makes sense guys with the unusual names would have stood out a little more than the presumed suspects.

Chief among these players, from my vantage point rinkside, was Sheldon Rempal. Dennis Kravchenko and Spencer Foo were up there as well, but Rempal absolutely crushed it. He stood out to me more than most – even more than a player like, say, Matthew Tkachuk – but it’s what he had to do as an invitee.

That doesn’t mean he’s made it, but it should hopefully mean this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.

Defence has a bright future

At this rate, Oliver Kylington is going to be in the NHL sooner rather than later. His skating is phenomenal; his brain matches up with it and the heart was present. He was all over the ice, and it’s a genuine thrill to see all the best parts of him come together. Brandon Hickey had a similar impressive showing as well, and Adam Fox is an exciting player in the same sort of vein.

Adam Ollas-Mattsson stood out as one of the better big guys. He doesn’t have the size of a Keegan Kanzig, but he’s still pretty big himself – and has that extra mobility to go with it without losing any of the physicality. (Not defence, but in the same line of thinking: you could see Hunter Smith trying to engage much more physically through the scrimmage, including a rather notable sort of self-knockout in the corner, but he doesn’t look to be on the same level.)

I liked Rasmus Andersson from the bit I saw from him – including a pretty solid drive forward at one point – but let’s remember he’s going into his first year of being a pro. Kylington may have taken the more dramatic step forward in their draft+1 years, though – but he also played at a much higher level.

The second round is good

Tyler Parsons may have been the most impressive goalie of the day, while Dillon Dube cemented himself as one of the top forwards of the scrimmage. It’s one thing to see these guys drafted in the second round; it’s another when you watch them play up close for the first time and say, “Oh. I get it. That’s why.”

Dube is seriously going to be one to watch next WHL season. He hasn’t even turned 18 yet and he was outplaying most of the guys on the ice. The skill level was more than there, and a fully healthy season from him could see a fair share of question marks as to just how he almost fell to the third round.

(On similar note, fellow small local boy Matthew Phillips is very noticeably tiny, but watching him dart through players a foot taller than him to get a shot on net was an absolute delight.)

Eetu Tuulola is justifying his status as early fan favourite

I’ve loved Eetu Tuulola pretty much since he was drafted. It didn’t matter that English isn’t his first language, he’s a great interview already. When asked where he was planning to play next year, he mentioned North America could happen, saying he might even play in the NHL, because “everything is possible in this life.”

Boom. Instantly smitten.

Which is why this scrimmage was so great – because it helped justify that love even further. Tuulola was a bull and a goal-scoring machine with a hell of a shot. He clearly wants to play in North America – coming overseas to your draft alone expresses as much – and hopefully he’ll make the jump to Everett to get further acclimated with the ice here.

Because he’s been a Flame for all of two weeks, and he’s already got the love of the people. “Every day playing hockey is great,” he told Craig Conroy, via Wes Gilbertson for Postmedia.

Big body. Plays physical. Loves to score. Potential pest. Quote machine. God, you’ve gotta hope he makes it.

  • freethe flames

    What I learned from the scrimmage yesterday was why it is so important to move one of Wideman or Engs prior to the season and why Smid needs to be on the LTIR for the season. The depth and potential in our D prospects must be developed this year. With our veteran defensive core of Gio, TJ, and Hamilton our top 3 is very solid add to that JJ and we have 4 NHL defencemen. Wides and Eng’s remain NHL defenders but they are 5-7 defenders that’s it. We have IMO two young defenders who look ready in Spoon and Kulak and need to be in the NHL to prove their value. Pushing them in no particular order are Culkin, Morrison, Kylington, Andersson and Ollas-Mattson(I was very impressed with his overall game yesterday and think he needs to be in NA this year); all of whom could be ready for the NHL within the next two seasons and all bring different elements to the position.

    Hickey has one more season in the NCAA and then likely one season in the aHL and he looks ready. Fox will be available in 3-4 years.

    While I am a big fan of resigning Nakdaddy I can see why the Flames may be hesitant to do so. However he is a RHD who could readily IMO replace Wides.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Time to pump the brakes.

      The Flames will not move from 3 establish D vets, in favour of rookies. Although I would love to see it happen where these 3 guys are concerned.

      • freethe flames

        I’m not sure you are following me, first I don’t think Smid is going to play LTIR. I did not say move both wides and Engs(at least I don’t think I did) but I don’t think it’s in the best interest in playing either of them top 4 nor together as 5/6; so one of them has to go. I can’t see sitting $3m Engs or over $5m Wides as something BT would like.

  • spx03

    Comparing yesterday’s scrimmage to previous years, the skill & speed were quite evident, which is very exciting.

    I was very impressed with the pairing of Fox & Hickey, both very mobile, 2-way defensemen, albeit Hickey does not take the chances that Fox did. Ollas-Mattson also solid, and also showed off a couple really creative moves in his own zone.

    Kylington was impressive, his speed allowed him to make up for most of his defensive mistakes. He needs to learn to distribute the puck once he turns on the jets though. On multiple occasions he made good moves coming through the neutral zone but just turned it over when he ran into trouble.

  • Burnward

    After much research I have found the ultimate Finnish forward analytic.

    If the vowel to consonant ratio is greater than or equal to one…you’re doing alright.

    Saku Koivu: 5/4

    Teemu Selanne: 6/6

    Eetu Tuulola: 7/4!!!!

    Unfortunately, Jesse Puljujarvi has far too many consonants.


  • Backburner

    Sounds like Rasmuss Andersson still hasn’t improved his conditioning much.

    Brad Treliving called him out on it.

    If he’s this good now, he’s going to be amazing when he actually get’s into shape!!

    • everton fc

      Didn’t BT call him out again, at this camp? Or did I misinterpret that?

      Not much typed here about Pollock – how did he look? Ditto the invitees – how did Bowles, Burke, Rempal, Foo, Kravchenko and Healy look? All on Team 4, with Parsons in net. Seems Parsons was the best goalie in camp – did these invitees help him?

      • freethe flames

        Two years in a row he has been called out at development camp, last year he responded and starred at the prospect tournament; hopefully he gets the message.

        Pollock looked okay nothing special but nothing horrible either. I did not notice Bowles at all. Foo had some good moments and I liked his effort away from the puck. Parsons was very good. I recall a couple of good shifts from both Burke and Kravchnko but nothing that made me say wow. Others seemed to like Rempal but again he did not catch my eye.

        I’m sure others have different views but for me the guys I was most impressed with were Ollas-Mattson; I liked him at camp last year but I noticed a more confident player this year especially in joining the offence. He does not have the speed of a Kylington but I sure liked his defensive positioning and his decision making of when to step into the play. The one thing he has over the other top D prospects is size; he is big man.

        Like everyone else Tuuola impressed me not only with his goals but his ability to protect the puck. Basically he kept the puck whenever he wanted to. I also loved his attitude. A couple of shifts after scoring his goal against Parsons; he skated by Parsons and had a good chuckle and it seemed Parsons had a laugh as well. I’m hoping he decides to play in NA this year.

        Both Tkachuk and Janko were good but did not dominate as much as I expected. Last year Janko was special at development camp this year he was solid. Now in saying this I’m not trying to be overly critical. This was one scrimmage. We will get a much better look at them in the young prospects tournie and training camp. I heard Janko say he will be back in Calgary for August to train with the local pro’s; this speaks volumes about his commitment to be ready.

  • Baalzamon

    So let’s talk World Juniors… for no reason. The following are the current prospects eligible for the tournament:

    Canada: Dube, Phillips; USA: Tkachuk, Parsons, Fox, Mattson; Sweden: Kylington, Lindstrom; Finland: Tuulola; Russia: Karnaukhov

    Dube and Phillips are long shots for Canada; we always have a deep talent pool, and Hockey Canada employs a bizarre selection process to boot. Dube has the better shot of the two, most likely. Tkachuk, Parsons, and Fox should all be locks for team USA if available (although I suppose I’m not totally sure about Parsons, but I can’t think of anyone better who isn’t too old). Kylington should be a lock for Sweden, but that was also true last year so who really knows. Tuulola should have a good shot at Finland, though, especially if he has a good season.