The Calgary Flames have themselves another body for their annual prospect camp, which includes the Young Stars Classic tournament in Penticton, B.C.
The Lethbridge Herald reported yesterday that Burke was headed to Flames camp:
This year, Burke is at training camp with a pedigree, and an NHL camp
invite from the Calgary Flames. He leaves on Sept. 15 for the early days
of NHL tryouts.
Burke went undrafted – again – before Calgary called but he’s heading to
the camp hoping to show he can play with others at that level.
We’ve been able to confirm with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Burke’s junior club, that he will be attending Flames camp.
Burke is coming off a supremely impressive 2015-16 campaign in the Western League, with 109 points pacing him to third in the entire league. His offensive leap, tripling his previous season’s total, was a major factor in the Hurricanes becoming a surprising powerhouse in the Dub after being a punching bag for many years.
Despite his excellent play – and despite being ranked 109th by Central Scouting among North American skaters – Burke didn’t get picked up in the 2016 NHL Draft (in his second year of eligibility). While that’s likely due to his size, as he’s listed generously at 5’10” and 165 pounds by the WHL site, his offensive production is similar to Flames 2015 pick Andrew Mangiapane (who was drafted in his second year of eligibility). Mangiapane is similarly small as Burke, but has absolutely torn up the OHL as a point producer on a very good Barrie Colts team.
Burke was invited to Flames development camp this summer and performed well enough to earn an invite to Penticton. If his play continues to impress, he’s able to be signed as a free agent by the Flames (or any other NHL club) until Lethbridge’s season begins on Sept. 23. Because he’s a 1997 birthday, any entry-level deal signed by Burke would slide for the first season (as he has to go back to junior due to his age), so there wouldn’t be any impact on Calgary’s ability to sign players on PTOs or otherwise add assets during the season. He is, for lack of a better term, found money for the organization.
It was five years ago, but the Flames similarly snapped up an undrafted WHL player in 2011: Turner Elson was invited to development camp, then came to prospect camp and was signed the day before the Red Deer Rebels began their season.
Elson was a low-risk, low-reward pick up at the time. He scored 31 points over 68 games (and, perhaps, more notably, had 124 penalty minutes) the season that got him an invite to Flames camp. Burke isn’t that. If he makes it, he’s much more likely to do so as a contributor.