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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.