FlamesNation Prospect Profile: #3 Jon Gillies

FN3

One year ago, Jon Gillies was the Flames’ best goaltending prospect looking to make his mark in the pros after a spectacular college career. And now… well nothing much has changed. Gillies played just seven games for the Stockton Heat before being shut down for season-ending hip surgery. 

Brad Treliving’s addition of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson means Gillies will get at least another development year at the AHL level. How Gillis does this year will likely dictate what management does on the goaltending front next. If he can dominate on the farm, Gillies will likely displace one of the incumbents on the parent club next year. 

He comes in at #3 on our Top 20 Prospects. Last year, he was #2.

Brief History

Gillies was picked in the third round back in 2012, a towering 6’6″ puckstopper out of the USHL. He jumped right into the starter’s role with the Providence Friars (Mark Jankowski’s team) as a freshman, posting an elite .931 SV%. He never wavered from that performance level, starting a vast majority of the games for providence over his three year career, and always posting a .930 or better save percentage. 

In 2015, Gillies was the main reason the Friars won the NCAA National Championships, where he was named the most valuable player of the tournament. By the end of his college tenure, Gillies had been named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, the Hockey East Goaltending Champion, the NCAA National Rookie of the Year, as well as Team USA’s starter at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Read more: FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Jon Gillies

Recently it came to light that Gillies was playing through injury near the end of his time in college and it was the same, lingering injury that caused him to tap out and get surgery last year. The good news is Gillies should be even better now that he isn’t playing through pain. 

Quotable

Ryan Huska talked to us about Gillies and noted his struggles with chronic pain:

“It was a tough situation for him because he never felt comfortable, right from the beginning portion of the year. That’s why we as an organization decided to get the surgery done sooner than later for him. It’s a tough one for us because he was a guy that we were gonna look to carry a lot of the games for us, but now he’s coming back.

“He’s 100% healthy now and really feeling good about things as well, which will be really good for us. I think having that big, solid goaltender provides your team with a little bit more confidence so they know if they happen to make a mistake we’ve got a guy in there that can bail us out. So I think he’s gonna have that ability and he’s gonna get pushed as well, we’re going to have another good goaltender with us so it’s going to be interesting to see how they both end up developing here.”

Next, Flames Player Development Coach Ray Edwards discussed Gillies’ performance during his cup of coffee in the AHL and what his future might hold:

“Obviously very impressed with the short body of work that we saw in Stockton, and he did that playing in a lot of pain. He was trying to figure out if he could play through it. He put up pretty good numbers in a short sample size playing in a lot of discomfort.

“He wants to play in Calgary. He wants to make the team and he wants to be an NHL goalie as quickly as he can, but there’s a progression to it. He’s only played eight games of pro hockey. There are some building blocks that are still there. I wouldn’t put it by him to come into camp and turn a lot of heads and make people make some tough decisions. He has that ability. He’s an elite goaltender and now that he’s healthy, the sky’s the limit for him.”

What Comes Next?

It’s very simple. 

Jon Gillies needs to stay healthy and play a full year at the AHL level. The team is more or less waiting for him to ascend to the show and become the Flames’ starter, but it’s not going to happen until he makes his mark at the minor league level first.

Johnson and Elliott are set to be Calgary’s crease duo this season but both are on one-year deals. If Gillies can replicate his college success in the AHL, he’ll likely have room and opportunity to take the next step in 2017-18. 

Previously

#20Ryan Culkin #19Linus Lindstrom
#18Morgan Klimchuk #17Mason McDonald
#16Brett Pollock #15Matthew Phillips
#14Dillon Dube #13Emile Poirier
#12Brett Kulak #11Mark Jankowski
#10Brandon Hickey #9Daniel Pribyl
#8Adam Fox #7Tyler Parsons
#6Andrew Mangiapane #5Oliver Kylington
#4Rasmus Andersson
    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      So which year is he gonna make the jump?

      I know he was injured last year, but what makes you think he is the goalie that will take the flames to the cup?

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          Great stats in college but totally unproven at this level. I know he hasn’t had the chance yet but bring in the reigns a bit. Trevor Kidd was supposed to do the same.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Your skin is a little too soft . What I meant was you can’t count on a goalie to win you a cup when he hasn’t even played one NHL game. If that stirs your pot you need to get a little thicker skin

          • The Real Slim Brodie

            And again I’ll go back to mcdavid last year’s Stanley cup champ who had never played a game. He got injured and had a good half season but I don’t see a Stanley Cup!

          • Brent G.

            If Gillies turns into a franchise goalie, he will play a much bigger contributor to the Flames success than McDavid will to the Oilers. That is simply based on the positions they play.

            Having a superstar centre does not guarantee a teams success at all, yet an elite goalie does.

          • OKG

            I’d argue the opposite.

            Take the top centres over the last bunch of years
            Kopitar, Crosby, Datsyuk, Bergeron, Toews, Malkin, H. Sedin, Thornton, Giroux and look at their team success.

            Compare to the team success of top goalies over the last bunch of years:
            Price, Lundqvist, Schneider, Quick, Luongo, Backstrom, Thomas, Holtby, Rask, Miller.

            The goalies are the group that have seen disappointment after disappointment with the nearly sole exception of Quick and his numbers are only average to the point where his status in this group is debated by stat-philes. The other exception is Tim Thomas, and he also happened to play on a team with a stacked forward group (Bergeron/Krejci/Horton/Seguin/Lucic/Marchand) and a solid blue line (Chara/Boychuk/Seidenberg) although Ference was a weak link. I personally think, while Thomas was elite, Chara made Thomas better than he really was.

            All it takes is a decent goalie (Cam Ward, Antii Niemi, Corey Crawford, Osgood), centres can’t get hot the same way. They have to be good.

          • Baalzamon

            Those centers all had better supporting casts than the goalies did though. The point is that Carey Price makes Montreal into a contender almost single-handedly (and Lundqvist does the same for the Rangers). Without him they’re a pretty lousy team. None of those centers you mentioned would have won anything with that team and, say, Karri Ramo in net.

          • The Fall

            You talk like the Oilers did something special to ‘earn’ McDavid. Like all your hard work and effort finally paid off.

            That’s literally like winning the lottery and then bitching that people don’t know how to work for their money.

          • FireScorpion

            Looks like the little caboose had a mad case of jealousy because his team doesn’t have a goaltending prospect as fast as the eye can see that’s worth anything..

            Unless you’re still banking on Brossoit lol which you most likely are. Good luck with that. Green’s not a good color for you

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            As fast as the eye can see? Good one. Year after year Calgary says they found their goalie of the future and then they crap the bed. Can’t see much changing this season .

          • FireScorpion

            You mean like how every summer the Coilers have a new lottery selection and he will turn the franchise to the playoffs but every spring you’re back at the lottery table begging for league handouts like a degenerate welfare patient?
            You seem to disagree with me that you don’t have any goaltending prospects. Enlighten me than? Who is the big up and comer?

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            We don’t need a big up and comer we had Talbot in the prime of his career not some over the hill goalie in Elliot who has always played with a superb defensive team. Any average goalie can excell with a great d in front of them . Everyone here thought that Hillier and Ramo were at least above average right?

            I’ll be interested to see where the blame will lie this year when the goals start going in like last season? Probably blame the goalie again.

          • Stan

            Over the hill? Prime of his career? You clearly don’t realize that Talbot is only 21 months younger then Elliott…lmao.

            But keep drinking the koolaid bud and ignore all the statistics that show that Elliott is the better goalie. It’s not even close.

        • Derzie

          The word “goalie” casts doubt on all predictions. I’m cautiously optimistic but the depth chart ahead of him just got a whole lot better so he is at least 1-2 years away.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    What made you think mcdavid was going to win you the cup last year? Remember that one train? You were on here spouting on every post until you derailed and then you were crying all year because we were rubbing it in your face. Maybe edmonton fans should stay quiet until their team does something other than lose.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    The same reason van traded 3 franchise goalies for very little in return. The team is desperate to put off a rebuild and their core is getting older every year. They hardly gave shinkaruk a chance in the nhl and prefer to trade their assets for reclamation projects.

  • Stan

    I have always been ridiculously high on Gillies. Goalies with his combination of size and athleticism are rare hard to find.

    He is going to blow the doors off this year and force BT to give him NHL starts by the end of the season. Book it.

  • supra steve

    What’s it going to take to get these kids to be honest with the Flames medical staff about the injuries they are playing through? Bennett and Gillies have missed significant time recovering from surgery during the season, when it seems they should have had the surgery and begun recovery during the summer. Hurts the Flames but REALLY hurts the player more, and delays the beginning of their NHL career.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m not sure it’s really a question of honesty. In Gillies’ case, as I understand it at least, it was an injury that could have been played through last season. The Flames decided it was best that they took care of it when they did, instead of waiting. It sounds like it was something they knew about, and Jon had been dealing with as far back as his college days. It seems like this hip surgery is actually quite common-place for goaltenders now, although it can be put off for a relatively substantial amount of time.

      With Bennett, I believe there was some reporting around the time the surgery was scheduled, stating that it was diagnosed that the injury could have healed on it’s own throughout the summer. That didn’t happen, and thus the surgery. Although, I could be completely wrong about that.

      • supra steve

        I have no inside knowledge of either player’s injury. It does seem that Bennett kept his issue quiet, and if he had come clean with the Flames after the draft, the procedure probably would have taken place in the summer and he would have been back on the ice a lot sooner.

        With Gillies, it was a long term nagging injury causing significant pain (if reports are to be believed). It just seems like if he had been completely honest about it, the medical staff would have gone ahead with the fix last summer, because like you said…it’s not uncommon in goaltenders and they should have known it was going to need to be done eventually. Playing with pain hurts performance. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do now that the injury has been repaired.

        • piscera.infada

          No doubt. I would also say many of these players need to be protected from themselves in a lot of this. They see the opportunity to “make it”, perhaps they’re reticent to disclose those injuries if they feel it will hurt their chances short-term. Not necessarily the best course of action, but we know it happens with professional athletes a lot.

          One final thing, is I wonder if Gillies will need the other hip done at some point? I know that common-place as well with that surgery.

          • KiLLKiND

            Gilles most likely had both hips done already. I am having the same surgery in two weeks and my surgeon told me that the 2nd hip usually gets done about 2-4 months after the 1st. I was told also that it is a 4-6 month recovery. Hope that helps and if have any other questions let me know.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Why will we despise him? What has he done? I don’t know a lot about him but he isn’t known for offense . Does he play a style in the mold of regehr?

  • Just.Visiting

    I look forward to seeing how he does this year, as he has a chance to be an elite player.

    I’ve also seen some of the print interviews with Jon over the last several years and have always been very impressed with his intelligence, maturity and poise.

    Hopefully, he’s our Ken Dryden and leads us to our next Cup!

    • Burnward

      You only have to see pictures of his new mask to sense his maturity and heart.

      A good theme amongst the kids, it seems. Building culture through strong people is a heck of a way to ensure a rebuild holds and flourishes.

  • reidja

    In the past 10 years Oiler fans lives have sucked when it comes to cheering for their team. The offseason is literally the only time they can be optimistic about their franchise. So let them have their fun and don’t let them goad you. I have a large amount of pity for that fan base. A pity I have not developed for Canucks fans.

    In my estimation Gillies is the player within the Flames organization, prospect or otherwise, that has the potential to have the largest impact on the future success of the franchise. Goaltenders are always high risk, but I don’t think their are many goaltending prospects in the world right now that are trending toward a higher reward than Gillies appears to be.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I wasn’t comparing the two. I was referring to your comment about him not playing a single game. And rubbing in the fact that you had a stanley cup ring on mcdavid hand before he himself had played a game

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I think mcdavid will most definitely get a stanley cup..but not until he runs away, or the oilers trade him for a never has been never will be as good as tj brodie defenseman

  • OKG

    Personally I think Gillies is overhyped. Not necessarily overrated (he’s a strong goalie prospect) but overhyped (We should be happy if he becomes an NHL 1B backup).

    Also putting GIllies at 3… that puts Shinkaruk at 2 ahead of Kylington and Jankowksi.

    Hah. Okay there FN. We’re all entitled to our opinions. But you guys are way too high on Shinkaruk. 5’10” AHL scoring dynamos in their early twenties… Granlund, Pulkinnen, Tatar, Baertschi. I would love to hear what separates Shinkaruk from that pack… all fine prospects at one point but none ever “elite”. If Shinkaruk even becomes Jiri Hudler it would be a home run for him right now. I don’t dislike him in fact I love watching him play the game but our pool has at least four to six better prospects.