Penticton could be important for five Flames prospects

The annual Young Stars Tournament begins today in Penticton. After a busy summer for the Calgary Flames, it’s a nice way to ease into training camp because it doesn’t involve much in the way of stakes. Nobody gets cut based on the camp. The winners don’t get a trophy. There’s no parade, either.

But despite the low stakes, the three games that the Flames play could be pretty important for the futures of a handful of players that will be representing the team at the event.

MIKKEL AAGAARD

A soon-to-be 21-year-old product of Denmark, Aagaard came over to North America in 2014-15 via the import draft and put up 96 points in 123 OHL games. He’s not exactly gigantic, so you can discount his age a bit in those numbers. Now he’s homeless, having aged out of the OHL as a 1995 birthday. Could he find a home in the Flames system? He’s a center, something the organization doesn’t have a ton of at the minor-pro level.

BRAYDEN BURKE

As somebody that watches a lot of WHL hockey, I’m a big fan of Burke. He’s a 1997 birthday and despite still being draft-eligible, he can be signed by any NHL team prior to the beginning of the WHL season on Sept. 22. He’s an insanely gifted scorer and puck distributor. If he can have a good tournament, the Flames might want to tie him down with a contract before he heads back to Lethbridge.

RYAN CULKIN

Culkin had a rough season last year. He got hurt. He got demoted to the ECHL. He floundered there for a bit before waking up and figuring his game out. Considering that he was very close to an NHL call-up, a strong tournament could show the Flames braintrust that he’s still a good blueliner (and potentially put him back into the mix for a job). If he’s all that and a bag of chips, he should be a very noticeable player at this event. If he’s not, perhaps he falls completely off the radar.

STEPAN FALKOVSKY

The homeless player probably won’t go back to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s due to being an overager AND an import, and few teams ever devote a roster spot to somebody like him. He also didn’t get a job in Europe, so he’ll end up… somewhere. Where he plays is anybody’s guess. Is he good enough for an AHL deal? Maybe he goes to the ECHL? Falkovsky can answer the questions with a good showing in Penticton.

MORGAN KLIMCHUK

Klimchuk had a rough time transitioning from the WHL to the AHL last year, and didn’t score all that much. But he seemed to figure things out by the end of the year and became a reliable AHL body. Against junior kids and first-year pros, you’d hope an older, wiser Klimchuk can turn some heads and build some confidence as he heads into his sophomore season as a pro.