Setting expectations for the 2011 & 2012 Flames draft classes

It’s September, and many junior teams have been in camp for a few weeks. In another week or so, National Hockey League teams will begin their prospect camps and the continent will be overrun with hockey once more.

It’ll be great.

But the opening of camps is a good chance to reflect on the performance of the last few seasons of Flames draft picks. Which picks are doing well? Which are doing poorly? And what are reasonable expectations for their performances this coming season?

Let’s begin with the 2011 and 2012 Draft classes, as they have the most seasons for us to judge! (NHLE calculations from the most recent Hockey Abstract revisions.)

TYLER WOTHERSPOON

Second round selection, 57th overall in 2011.

  • 2011-12: 28 points in 67 games (WHL) – 9.3 NHLE
  • 2012-13: 37 points in 61 games (WHL) – 13.4 NHLE
  • 2013-14: 9 points in 48 games (AHL) – 7.2 NHLE; also 4 points in 14 NHL games
  • 2014-15: 24 points in 61 games (AHL) – 15.2 NHLE; also 0 points in 1 NHL game
  • 2015-16: 10 points in 53 games (AHL) – 7.3 NHLE; also 1 point in 11 NHL games

Wotherspoon was a key player in a good junior program, but his production on the pro level has been a bit all over the place. His game has lacked consistency at times, and it’s been unclear what his specific niche in the AHL is. He’s definitely a good enough player to be in the NHL, but if he has designs of being more than a third pairing guy he’ll need to find his offensive consistency (as he had briefly in 2014-15). If he can put together another 20-or-more-point season, perhaps he could convince the Flames he’s second pairing material.

(Or else he could make himself a pretty interesting piece on the trade market.)

JOHNNY GAUDREAU

Fourth round selection, 104th overall in 2011.

  • 2011-12: 44 points in 44 games (Hockey East) – 30.3 NHLE
  • 2012-13: 51 points in 35 games (Hockey East) – 44.2 NHLE
  • 2013-14: 80 points in 40 games (Hockey East) – 60.7 NHLE; also 1 point in 1 NHL game
  • 2014-15: 64 points in 80 games (NHL) – 65.6 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 78 points in 79 games (NHL) – 81.0 NHLE

I’ve honestly never heard of this guy.

Impressive numbers, though, with year-over-year production improvements in each of his seasons since being drafted.

MARK JANKOWSKI

First round selection, 21st overall in 2012.

  • 2012-13: 18 points in 34 games (Hockey East) – 16.1 NHLE
  • 2013-14: 25 points in 39 games (Hockey East) – 19.4 NHLE
  • 2014-15: 27 points in 37 games (Hockey East) – 22.1 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 40 points in 38 games (Hockey East) – 31.9 NHLE

Jankowski also spent a bit of time in the AHL late last season. He’s modestly improved his production every season, playing on a fairly strong college program in Providence. For the curious, a 31.9 NHLE in the AHL would be 56 points over a full season. Given the typical production dip we’ve seen in most players when they go pro – Wotherspoon dropped by five NHLE points, for example – a more reasonable hope for Jankowski might be 40 points as an AHL newb.

JON GILLIES

Third round selection, 75th overall in 2012.

  • 2012-13: .931 save percentage in 35 games (Hockey East)
  • 2013-14: .931 save percentage in 34 games (Hockey East)
  • 2014-15: .930 save percentage in 39 games (Hockey East)
  • 2015-16: .920 save percentage in 7 games (AHL)

Gillies had three strong seasons in college (on a good team). He had pretty solid numbers in the AHL, battling an injury, with a small sample size. If he can put together a similar performance over a full AHL season, I’d think that would be considered a good start to his pro career.

BRETT KULAK

Fourth round selection, 105th overall in 2012.

  • 2012-13: 44 points in 72 games (WHL) – 13.5 NHLE
  • 2013-14: 60 points in 69 games (WHL) – 19.3 NHLE
  • 2014-15: 30 points in 39 games (ECHL); 13 points in 26 games (AHL); also 0 points in 1 NHL game
  • 2015-16: 17 points in 59 games (AHL) – 11.1 NHLE; also 0 points in 8 NHL games

Like Wotherspoon, Kulak experienced a bit of a dip in production in his first year pro. Heck, he played a good chunk of the season in the ECHL. But he rebounded nicely (in terms of consistency) last season and got some NHL games in out of camp. If he’s not in the NHL this season, the hope will probably be for some continued consistency and a bit of an increase in his offensive production. A 30-point season would probably be reasonable.

RYAN CULKIN

Fifth round selection, 124th overall in 2012.

  • 2012-13: 45 points in 67 games (QMJHL) – 14.3 NHLE
  • 2013-14: 50 points in 65 games (QMJHL) – 16.4 NHLE
  • 2014-15: 18 points in 37 games (AHL) – 18.7 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 8 points in 33 games (ECHL); 2 points in 27 games (AHL)

Culkin bucked the trend, actually increasing his adjusted offensive production in his injury-shortened 2014-15 campaign. His was injured in camp last year and never really got out of the starting blocks, eventually ending up in the ECHL. If he’s healthy again, the expectation is probably a 20-point season in the AHL (if not more) if he wants to stay on the NHL radar.

  • Kensington

    I’ve honestly never heard of this guy.

    Impressive numbers, though, with year-over-year production improvements in each of his seasons since being drafted.

    Yeah he might make it in the bigs.
    Really beyond Gilles (who may be our number one goalie in the next year or two) I don’t hold out much hope for the rest being anything more then third/forth line types at best. Thank God they got lucky drafting that never heard of guy

  • jakethesnail

    I would take Wotherspoon as a third pairing D-man; he is better than the overpaid flotsam and jetsam there now.

    If Jankowski turns out to be a defensive forward with some offense to replace Stajan on the 4th line then I can accept that even though the jovial fatman was ecstatic over his long term project draft pick.

      • freethe flames

        I have been on the wait and see crowd. While I was very impressed with him at the rookie camp two years this years camp he was not as dominate. Other than seeing him there and a few NCAA games I have not seen enough of him.(On TV)(His results with the Heat also have me hopeful) What do you base your strong support of him on? Have you seen him play a lot?

  • Just.Visiting

    I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what Janko can do over an extended camp and exhibition season.

    The ability to see for ourselves how he stacks up against stronger competition should allow for a much more logical assessment of his skills than has been the case to date.

    There was a great article about Jon Gillies in yesterday’s Calgary Herald. I’m really impressed with how well he carries himself and hope that he takes a big step in his development this year.

  • OKG

    I would imagine a 30-40-70 type statline out of Jankowski if he doesn’t miss any AHL games and Huska gives him decent ice time (no guarantee, we do need to spread out ice time to give Pollock some ice time at C).

    The defensemen… too many factors going into their production.. luck, Kylington/Andersson taking PP ice time, system. They just need to focus on the basics – moving the puck efficiently and keeping scoring chances against down. Kulak and Wotherspoon were very strong at this last year. That will be their NHL niche with offense slowly developing with experience. Kulak should lead the trio offensively followed by Culkin.

    This will be Gillies’ Age 22 season, he has to post at least a .926 to even keep pace with Joni Ortio at the same age.

    • freethe flames

      What have you seen in Janko that makes you think he can get to those stats? I am one of the wait and see crowd and am also more hopeful than most about him. But what exactly makes you have such bold predictions about him?

      • OKG

        How is that even bold?

        Radek Faksa had a 68 game pace of 36G 27A 63P and turned 22 in January.

        Jankowski turns 22 before the season starts, in September in fact two or three days from now. He has better vision/passing than Faksa and is otherwise a very similar prospect.

        Know what would actually be “bold”? For me to expect Jankowski to post a stat line like 68GP 32-55-87 – which is what Jiri Hudler did at age 22 in the AHL.

        If anything I am being highly conservative with Jankowski given he is a rookie.