Starting tomorrow, for the next month, we’ll be covering the Flames’ top 20 prospects, as ranked by all of us here at FlamesNation. We each submitted a list of who we think are the Flames’ top 20 kids – those who still count as NHL rookies, and in essence, are still eligible to win the Calder Trophy – and formed an aggregate list based on all of our opinions.
Are we experts? Well, maybe amateur ones; we’re nerds who pay a lot of attention. But there are plenty of people out there who know more than we do, so we either saw what they already had to say, or talked to them ourselves for further insight on the hopes for the Flames’ future.
The top 20 kicks off tomorrow morning, and will run until just before Labour Day weekend. In the meantime, let’s take a look at those who found themselves on the outside looking in.
Teams accrue a lot of prospects over the years, but it’s just a matter of fact that not all of them will be good. As such, a number of them weren’t placed in anyone’s top 20s:
- D Riley Bruce
- LW Austin Carroll
- C Matthew DeBlouw
- RW Tim Harrison
- D Keegan Kanzig
- LW Pavel Karnaukhov
- C Mitchell Mattson
- D Rushan Rafikov
- G David Rittich
- G Nick Schneider
- RW Hunter Smith
Most players on this list are later round guys, and ones nobody would likely have high expectations of in the first place. Bruce, Carroll, DeBlouw, Harrison, and Rafikov all fit this parameter, as do Rittich and Schneider as undrafted players.
A note on DeBlouw: the Flames have until Aug. 15 to sign him, or else he becomes a free agent. He scored 17 points in 28 games as a senior in the NCAA; free agency seems to be beckoning. As for Rafikov, we really haven’t even seen him at all outside of the World Juniors in 2015…
Fifth rounders maybe should have a bit higher expectations, but with Karnaukhov choosing to go overseas, chances are we won’t see too much of him further out, either. Mattson does have the shiny newness of a 2016 draft pick, but his inability to score at the USHL level thus far sees him left off.
That leaves Kanzig and Smith, two guys who could barely score in junior who were perhaps selected a little higher in the draft than they should have been.
Some votes here and there
When you’re reaching as far down as 20, it can get pretty difficult to form a consensus. At this point, we’re splitting hairs between guys who, if we’re being honest with ourselves, aren’t that likely to make it to the NHL; so a couple of prospects did get some stray votes tossed their way. They were:
- Adam Ollas Mattsson
- Kenney Morrison
- Stepan Falkovsky
- John Gilmour
- Eetu Tuulola
I think my bias for Tuulola has (or is at least, becoming) obvious, so I’ll fess up to being one of the people who voted for him in the later numbers.
Tuulola is actually the only forward of this group; the rest are defenders. Everyone here is either a late round pick or undrafted, further pointing towards lesser expectations.
Guys like Ollas Mattsson, Falkovsky, and Tuulola are little-seen by us. Morrison has only been in the organization for a year, and didn’t have quite the year that was maybe expected. And Gilmour is in the same situation as DeBlouw: the Flames have until Aug. 15 to sign him, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
Garnet Hathaway came in 21st place in our rankings.
Brad Treliving recently named Hathaway as one of the players he’s expecting to make some noise at camp. So why, then, is he so low on our rankings? He put together a decent enough AHL campaign, and even made his NHL debut this past season, putting up some points.
He likely ended up lower because he made a decent debut in a fourth line role, and that’s probably his ceiling. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but the idea of a player with more potential – even if he never actually plays an NHL game in his life – is much more exciting, which resulted in players ranked ahead of him.
Who beat him out? We’ll see when number 20 comes at you tomorrow!