Setting expectations for the 2014 Flames draft class

As we approach the onset of the 2016-17 Calgary Flames season, we’re looking back at recent NHL Draft classes and making assessments, prognostications, and trying to set expectations for their coming seasons in a reasonable way. We’ve already gone through the remaining Flames prospects from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NHL Drafts.

Now, onto the 2014 NHL Draft class! (NHLE calculations from the most recent Hockey Abstract revisions.)

SAM BENNETT

First round selection, fourth overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: 24 points in 11 games (OHL) – 57.3 NHLE; also 1 point in 1 NHL game
  • 2015-16: 36 points in 77 games (NHL) – 38.3 NHLE

(Draft year NHLE was 41.9.) Admittedly, it’s hard not to be impressed by Bennett’s performance thus far. He’s produced fairly well while playing (a) his first year pro, which typically craters a scorer’s numbers, (b) partially at center, a rough position to learn at the NHL level as a rookie, and (c) on a line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik for a good chunk of the season, who usually face the opposition’s best players.

Bennett’s production this season probably depends on how he’s used and how the lines shake out after camp. If he’s at center, if the team has the ability to give his line some high ground (as in: there’s a good tough minutes line that can help out) he should be in good shape. If he’s on the wing, depending on who he’s playing with he should be in good shape. Considering he’s in the last year of his entry-level deal, he’ll be motivated. I think a 40-point year would be a good start, and anything in the realm of 50 points should be considered a really good year for him.

MASON McDONALD

Second round selection, 34th overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: .906 save percentage in 56 games (QMJHL)
  • 2015-16: .902 save percentage in 39 games (QMJHL)

(Draft year save percentage was .900.) McDonald has been a consistent netminder over the past few seasons, in that his game has some big ebbs and flows that need to be smoothed out a bit. Considering he’s playing behind Jon Gillies and David Rittich most likely in the minor-pro system, he’ll probably start off in the ECHL. Given his draft pedigree (and appearance at the World Juniors), the expectations for him are probably to be one of the ECHL’s best goalies if he ends up there.

While he’ll be given a bit of time to adjust, if he doesn’t distinguish himself at that level there might be some serious questions about his pro future.

HUNTER SMITH

Second round selection, 54th overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: 49 points in 57 games (OHL) – 22.6 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 8 points in 54 games (AHL) – 5.7 NHLE

(Draft year NHLE was 16.4.) Smith was drafted as an overager (he had been through the draft once already) and was a big-bodied forward on a deep team. His numbers as a pro player took a bit of a dip and so far he’s been a big-bodied depth forward. If nothing else, the hope is that he increases his production somewhat this season. But also consider that there are a lot of good prospects going pro this season on the wings – such as Daniel Pribyl, Brett Pollock and Andrew Mangiapane – and it might be tough for Smith to eke out more than bottom six ice time, which will make it tough for him to increase his production very much.

BRANDON HICKEY

Third round selection, 64th overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: 17 points in 41 games (Hockey East) – 12.6 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 8 points in 36 games (Hockey East) – 6.7 NHLE

Drafted out of the AJHL (for which there are no generally accepted NHLE conversions), Hickey had a great freshman year in the NCAA. With Boston University losing Jack Eichel for 2015-16 a lot of players’ numbers suffered, and Hickey’s offense dried up a bit. A return to the teens (in terms of points) would be a nice return to offensive form, while hitting the 20-point mark may mean he’s ready to go pro.

ADAM OLLAS MATTSSON

Sixth round selection, 175th overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: 2 points in 34 games (SHL) – 2.4 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 4 points in 22 games (SHL) – 7.5 NHLE

Ollas Mattsson has quietly been plugging away in the Swedish Hockey League to little-to-no fanfare. He’s big and plays a stay-at-home style of game, so you wouldn’t expect him to really put up a ton of offense. That said, he’s quietly increased his role, ice time and production for Djurgardens. He’s already scored a goal in Champions League play this season, but we’ll see if that translate into SHL regular season play.

The Flames have until June 1, 2018 to sign him, otherwise they lose his rights.

AUSTIN CARROLL

Seventh round selection, 184th overall in 2014.

  • 2014-15: 77 points in 69 games (WHL) – 24.7 NHLE
  • 2015-16: 13 points in 53 games (AHL) – 9.5 NHLE

(Draft year NHLE was 18.0.) Much like Hunter Smith, Carroll was a big body drafted in his overage year (he had gone through the draft already) who put up numbers on a pretty good junior team. As with Smith, his numbers crashed as he went pro last season. Like Smith, it’ll be difficult for him to increase his production given the level of competition for top six minutes on the wings in Stockton.

      • Kensington

        Um 6.7 nhle and 7.5 nhle doesn’t get me to excited. I do hope one or more of the rest make a splash but so far real long shots at best. This group is still young and has some time to show promise.

      • Baalzamon

        2014 was Treliving’s first draft. But, he had only been on the job for like a month, at most. There’s such a stark difference between the 2014 draft and the 2015 and 2016 classes that you have to wonder how much he actually had to do with it.

        Nevertheless. That first offseason with the new GM was a little… less than encouraging.

        • KACaribou

          He’s done okay, but nothing remarkable. I wish people would quit giving him a pass on everything. If nothing else Tree has been lucky as hell, getting Bennett drop into his lap at four and Tkachuk at 6; not to mention Hamilton who I suspect went to Calgary because Chia was in Edmonton.

          • BurningSensation

            Maybe we are judging by different standards here, but I’d suggest he’s done a lot more than ‘ok’ this offseason.

            Treliving’s ‘to do list’ for the offseason looked something like this;

            – Rebuild the RW

            – Fix the league’s worst goaltending

            – Maneuver at the draft to get one of the three big wingers (Laine, Puljujarvi, Tkachuck)

            – Free up cash by moving a bad contract from the bottom of the D (Widemam, Engelland, Smid)

            – Sign Monahan

            – Sign Gaudreau

            So far off that list he has;

            – Brought in Brouwer, Chiasson, and Pribyll at RW to replace a broken Hudler,, and the departing ‘Big Local’ Joe Colborne

            – Released; Ramo, Hiller, Backstrom and Ortio, bringing in; Elliott, Johnson, and Riddich – each of whom has stats far superior to the guy they are replacing.

            – After some draft day brinkmanship Treliving pulled his trade offer and got Tkachuk anyway (seriously, this was dark sorcery, Jedi mind tricks type stuff)

            – hasnt solved the $ on D issue yet

            – signed Monahan to a solid fair deal

            – still working on Gaudreau

            Compare the two major roster fixes he just did (RW and G) to how Chiarelli has handled the issue of his team’s defense corps,and you can see that Treliving had a wicked good offseason.

          • KACaribou

            Every fool is suckered into believing off-season moves make us the best team in the league.

            Your quote “Brought in Brouwer, Chaisson and Pribyll” is pretty laughable – like it was Gordie Howe, Mike Bossy and Rocket Richard!

            That’s just Jedi thinking though I guess.

          • BurningSensation

            Well I haven’t said anywhere that we are the ‘best in the league'(and to my knowledge nobody else here has either) so you can keep your strawman.

            Brouwer is a legit top 6 winger, Chiasson a young bottom 6 winger with upside, and Pribyll a prospect who dominated in a league of adults overseas.

            Given these three are replacing Hudler, Colborne, and Jooris, that looks like a nice upgrade to me, especially when Hudler got moved for value despite being broken.

            Did Treliving land a Gordie Howe? No, but that isn’t the standard we are judging him on. (though if Pribyll ever puts up a 40-40 line…)

            What he did do was address two screaming team needs (RW, G), by bringing in 6(!) new players.
            By any calculation that is a successful offseason.

          • OKG

            Brouwer is not a legit top 6 winger. He’s a PP specialist 3rd line grinder. The winger equivalent of Anton Babchuk.

            P.S. does anyone know to remove content from a quoted post? I don’t want to quote the whole thing.

          • T&A4Flames

            Actually, Brouwer is a legit top 9 player that has a proven track record of being able to play with legit top 6 talent…..and a pp specialist and grinder.

          • Greatsave

            Haven’t had time to complete my research on Brouwer and his past performance with first-line talents, but so far from what I’ve seen he’s more of a middle-six player at even-strength. Although he can play some limited top-line minutes, he needs some offensive-zone-heavy deployment in order not to be a drain on the top line’s offensive output.

          • freethe flames

            Which means he is likely better suited to play with Bennett as it is likely he will get oZ starts at the beginning of the season and there would be nothing wrong with that. Still leaves one to wonder who will play on the RW with Johnny and Monny.

          • Baalzamon

            Let’s not go overboard here… Brouwer is about a million times the player Babchuk was. Brouwer at least is a legitimate NHLer. Babchuk was not.

            Use the HTML blockquote tag to quote parts of posts. Copy the text, put it inside blockquote tags and you’re good.

          • BurningSensation

            If I said Brouwer was a bad 1st line RW, an average 2nd liner, and a better than average third liner, would that clarify things?

            He’s a useful veteran player, with all the ‘intangibles’ that coaches and GMs love, and at a position where the team was a moonscape for signs of life. .

            And if he had stopped there, I’d have been mildly dissapointed, (and buying stock in Emile Poirier making the team), but he also added; Pribyll, and Chiasson. Neither bet would have fixed the RW alone, but by adding all three, Treliving got depth as well as quality.

            And that is without even mentioning the job he did fixing the goaltending.

            Once Johnny signs (and he will) it will go from being a very good offseason, to one of the best.

          • OKG

            I would call him a below average 2nd liner, and an average 3rd liner with some PP ability.

            Let’s not go overboard here… Brouwer is about a million times the player Babchuk was. Brouwer at least is a legitimate NHLer. Babchuk was not.

            I think you’re going overboard. Babchuk was a 16:03 minute guy in the playoffs on the 2006 Stanley Cup Champs. That’s more minutes than Brouwer played on the 2010 Blackhawks.

            P.P.S now what’s the tag I use to write “xy wrote:”?

          • Baalzamon

            I think you’re going overboard. Babchuk was a 16:03 minute guy in the playoffs on the 2006 Stanley Cup Champs. That’s more minutes than Brouwer played on the 2010 Blackhawks.

            Sixteen minutes per game for a defenseman is basically the equivalent of ten per game for a forward.

            P.P.S now what’s the tag I use to write “xy wrote:”?

            b as in “bold”

  • OKG

    Bennett has to hit 60 points this year. He just has to. Too good for me to set any expectations of mediocrity.

    McDonald is a better goalie prospect than his numbers in the Q might suggest.

    Hickey and Ollas Mattsson are good defensemen, they need more time but the NHL potential is there.

    Caroll and Smith don’t look like NHLers to me, but there’s always a small chance you get a Patrick Maroon type contributor.

  • Joe Flames

    Like this?

    Use the HTML blockquote tag to quote parts of posts. Copy the text, put it inside block quote tags and you’re good.

    Thanks, I wondered how to do that too.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I know all the Flame fans think that Calgary is ” the place” to play. But with the new building and McDavid Edmonton is becoming a true destination for players.
    You thought you were in the mix for Lucic and got Brouwer. You wanted Bishop and got Elliot, you were sure Versteeg was signing in Calgary and he chose Edmonton.
    The only reason Hamilton is in Calgary is because Sweeney is an idiot in Boston and took less from the Flames in a trade.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Take it easy everyone.

      It’s an Oilers fan’s ‘most wonderful time of the year’ in September. The games are not underway yet and the stench of the last Oilers season has nearly past. It’s been 10 years that we see and hear comments like this, Nothing new to see here.

      By the way and just so your clear, this is trolling. So when Flames fans return the favour on ON, try to keep the furious indignation to a minimum.

    • wot96

      I don’t know where you get your information from. Perhaps you just assume that what the Oilers’ fan base wants is what the Calgary fan base wants but it isn’t.

      Not sure that Calgary was ever “in the mix” for Lucic. Now, if you mean that Calgary made inquiries to see what he would cost, perhaps. If you mean Calgary engaged in a bidding war for his services, I think not. Calgary had limited FA dollars to spend and may well have spent more of them than they should have on Brouwer.

      With Bishop, you seem to think we are in some way disappointed with Elliot. Maybe – just maybe – he isn’t as good as Bishop. But is he $4m this year and maybe for the foreseeable future, worse? Doubtful. It’s not disappointment you sense, it is relief that Treliving didn’t blow his financial brains out on a player that would have meant we couldn’t patch the RW position and would have meant not signing some of the existing talent, like maybe that Monahan kid.

      Lastly, it is entirely unclear that it was Sweeney that was the idiot. Ever consider it was Boston’s ownership that decided they weren’t going to deal with Chia? Billionaires sometimes make decisions that aren’t purely financially motivated – because they can (see Edwards, M, regarding his move to London to get space after a relationship issue).

      Do I accept that Edmonton offered more for Hamilton? Sure. Just demonstrates that even people that know nothing about the city don’t want to have anything to do with Edmonton as an organization. Enjoy the new arena

    • Baalzamon

      You thought you were in the mix for Lucic…

      No we didn’t. The name that came up here most often was Okposo. Brouwer even came up in discussions more than Lucic did. Also, there’s this thing called the salary cap. What evidence is there that the Flames had any interest in bringing in a six million dollar contract? None whatsoever.

      Have fun with that contract. Would it interest you to know Lucic already started declining three years ago?

      You wanted Bishop and got Elliot

      Elliott’s name was brought up in the discussion during the season (I believe by piscera.infada but I’m not sure). We all loved the idea until we realized there really wasn’t any reason for St. Louis to make the trade becase 1) Elliott was so good and 2) he was so cheap. But they did, because apparently Elliott wanted out.

      BTW Oil fan… chew on this.

      you were sure Versteeg was signing in Calgary and he chose Edmonton.

      It was brought up as a reasonable possibility in one article, once. I don’t think anyone even mentioned it outside that article, ever (except you). There’s also no evidence that Calgary even tried to sign Versteeg. There is the small matter of, you know, cap space. That’s kind of a thing.

      Bottom line is, Versteeg chose a contract in Switzerland over a tryout with Edmonton. Or did you conveniently forget that? You seem to do that a lot.

      The only reason Hamilton is in Calgary is because Sweeney is an idiot in Boston and took less from the Flames in a trade.

      If Edmonton had offered more they would have gotten the player. You want to know what I think happened? Boston valued the 15th overall more than the 16th overall. The earlier second rounder wasn’t enough to tip the scales.

      Also, Chiarelli panicking and sending the same package to New York for Reinhart? Pure comic genius. I still laugh about that one.

      • Primo

        Flames and other teams would not touch Versteeg…he has chronic hip issues following major surgery as confirmed by the insurance companies not wanting to insure this guy…..loserville Oilers thought otherwise……they now have another Ferance contract on the books….

  • Hockeyfan

    Ok 97, the way i see it, i hope the oil have a fantastic PK, you gonna need it! I hope the oil can score this year, you gonna need it! I hope the oil can defend this year, you gonna need it!
    The oil have been horrendous for a decade now, all gonna change? Nope, still no scoring, lack of D, sub par goalie. Too bad buildings can’t play hockey.
    PS: Dammit Tre, sign JG!