The annual Young Stars Classic Tournament kicks off on Friday in scenic Penticton, British Columbia. The event brings together the National Hockey League’s four Western Canadian clubs in a battle of their youngest and most promising non-college/non-European prospects.
Now that all the rosters have been announced, how do the Flames compare to the teams from Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg?
Lots of interesting connections here: the Flames have an NCAA champion goalie (Gillies) and a Memorial Cup goalie (Parsons). Ellis was Gillies’ backup with Providence College for two seasons. Demko was selected after McDonald in the 2014 NHL Draft.
In terms of pedigree, Calgary and Vancouver probably have the advantage here.
Every team is an interesting mix on the blueline. The Flames and Oilers each have nine defenders, Vancouver has 11 and Winnipeg has seven – and each team plays three games, so it’ll be interesting to see how they get rotated.
Names to watch: Kylington (Calgary), Niemelainen (Edmonton), Juolevi (Vancouver) and Green and Stanley (Winnipeg). Heck, Rubins is pretty solid, too.
Chase de Leo
The Flames are taking the most forwards out of any of the teams, and Winnipeg is taking the least. The Jets crew is pretty good on paper, boasting Connor, Lemieux, Roslovic and Spacek. The Oilers boast Puljujarvi and Benson, while the Canucks have an interesting mix of secondary prospects but nobody to the level of the other teams. The Flames stack up well, with Tkachuk, Jankowski and a bunch of interesting WHL products like Pollock, Klimchuk, Dube and Phillips.
|Puljujarvi (2016)||Juolevi (2016)||Connor (2015)
Jankowski, having finished college, is by far the oldest previous first rounder at the tournament. The Flames and Jets each have three past firsts, while Edmonton and Vancouver each have one apiece. Winnipeg won’t have Patrik Laine, who’ll be at the World Cup of Hockey, but the other three teams have their firsts from this June’s draft going.
Bigs (Players 6’4″ or Taller)
The Flames are bringing as many big bodies as the other three teams put together. Deep down, it’s a Brian Burke team. Interestingly, their size is distributed throughout the line-up – a couple of big goalies, a few big defensemen and a few big forwards. No other team has big goalies, while the remaining “bigs” are a mix of defenders and forwards on the other teams, but not to the degree they are with Calgary’s roster.
Smalls (Players Shorter Than 5’10”)
|Descheneau (5’9″)||Stecher (5’8″)
The Flames continue to love their tiny guys – Andrew Mangiapane and Brayden Burke just missed the size cut-off – and bring three with them. The Canucks have five, Edmonton has one, and Winnipeg is devoid of tiny guys.
Despite having the most big bodies by a wide margin, the Flames seem to also value small, skilled guys.