Brayden Burke is coming to Flames prospect camp

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.

  • FlamesRock

    As a huge Lethbridge Hurricanes fan and someone who has seen Burke play a lot I think he could be a top 6 NHL player in a few years. He has a ton of skill but needs to tryst his own shot a little more rather than looking for the pass.

    • BurningSensation

      Its the ‘Enmax Centre’ now, but yes, thats where they play.

      Also, this Burke kid could be a surprise. The Hurricanes were kind of a ‘home for lost boys’, and he succeeded with them with little fanfare outside of the local area.

  • StarkRaving

    I saw a little bit of Burke last season, and I watched him at dev camp. He’s very skilled, but not really strong in puck battles.

    He’s a smallish LHS LW/C, which is not going to fill any holes the Flames have on their depth chart. That said, I think he’d be worth signing to an ELC. Let him play in the WHL for another season, then turn him into an AHL project.

    As an aside, I really like that the Flames cleaned house in Stockton. It makes room for guys like Burke.

  • StarkRaving

    I saw a little bit of Burke last season, and I watched him at dev camp. He’s very skilled, but not really strong in puck battles.

    He’s a smallish LHS LW/C, which is not going to fill any holes the Flames have on their depth chart. That said, I think he’d be worth signing to an ELC. Let him play in the WHL for another season, then turn him into an AHL project.

    As an aside, I really like that the Flames cleaned house in Stockton. It makes room for guys like Burke.

      • FlamesRock

        I think it is a combination of his being smallish and that he had such a career year last year that scouts aren’t sure he can keep it up. He was injured for much of the previous season.

      • Well for starters, he’s really small- a few pounds lighter than Mangiapane when he was drafted. He’s also an overager, so that tends to turn scouts off. His production was top 15 CHL wise, so it’s really anyone’s guess why he didn’t warrant at least a 6/7th round pick. Drafting is really weird.

          • Max Jones isn’t bad. He gets about 3 less minutes of 5v5 TOI than his teammates and almost no powerplay time, and still puts up a decent amount of points (primary points too). I wouldn’t take a gamble on him in the first round (his DEV projections are poor), but I think he’s top 100.

            But you’re right. Being 6’3″, he was considered an easy first rounder.

        • jakethesnail

          Nope, not an overager at the last draft.

          From Hockey writers on Top Ranked Undrafted Prospects:

          “Burke has one more year of WHL action and surely has a chip on his shoulder to take further strides in his game. He should be a serious candidate to lead the WHL in scoring in 2016-17 and will be very hard for all 30 teams to pass on again in 2017. Burke undoubtedly has the talent to have a professional hockey career.”

          Burke is looking to impress the Flames or at least tweak the interest of the other teams who have players at the Young Stars tournament so he would have an ECL before his final year at Lethbridge.

          • He was overaged. To be eligible for an NHL draft, you have to be 18 by September 15th of the draft year. Burke was born January 1st, 1997, so he was eligible for the 2015 draft. The 2016 draft was his draft + 1.

            He is eligible for two more WHL seasons because the WHL defines age starting at January 1st. Technically, Burke -despite being 20 for most of the year- will be in his age 19 season this upcoming year because he was born in 1997. 2017-18 will be his age 20 season. If he was born a day earlier, he would only be eligible for one more WHL season.

  • Greatsave

    Seeing as how the Flames only have 42 contracts on the books, well below the limit of 50, and with a whole slew (12 RFAs, 6 UFAs) of them expiring next summer, I too wonder why they haven’t signed this kid yet. And why seemingly no other team has shown interest in him.

  • McRib

    Two of my best friends growing up won a Memorial Cup with Spokane in 2008 and therefore I watched those Spokane teams incredibly close for three years. I mention it because back then Drayson Bowman, Mitch Wahl, Jared Cowen, Dustin Tokarski, Justin Faulk were getting all the hype, but whenever I watched them play I always came away so impressed with an undrafted forward by the name of Tyler Johnson (ironically Jared Spurgeon was the next best prospect on those teams with just as little hype, I mean he had such little hype the Islanders passed after drafting)…. Everyone knows who Johnson is now, but back then he never got an ounce of credit, because he was so underdeveloped.

    Everyone always pointed to someone else for the majority of their success those years, but I always felt that Johnson had an elite Hockey IQ and was the primary reason they were successful, especially in later seasons following Memorial Cup. Burke reminds me a lot of Johnson and despite being underdeveloped right now at this time, history has a weird way of rewarding teams who take a shot on uber intelligent and highly skilled forwards. Brayden Burke will get stronger and when he does he will still be the same player that scored 109 points in only his second year in the WHL.

    Even today people still try to tell me Giorgio Estephan is Lethbridge’s best prospect and all I do is think back to those Spokane days. The moment Brayden Burke arrived halfway through 2014-2015 Lethbridge started to turn things around, going from league laughing stock to almost winning the Eastern Division in only a years time. Brayden Burke was ranked 78th by Red Line Report in 2016, 211th in 2015. I just hope the Flames don’t let Brayden Burke slip through their hands again like they did Johnson (once a Flames Development Camp invite). On a related note Lethbridge Defender Andrew Nielsen is the most underrated NHL Prospect in the WHL, these two (Burke, Nielsen) took that WHL franchise on their backs out of the doldrums of the league in just one year, impressive.