With the WJC going on, the focus of the hockey world is all on the prospects. Similarly, we here at FlamesNation are following suit. In case you missed it (was there something important going on yesterday?), we re-ranked our top twenty prospects from the summer.
Now, we’re going to pull the curtains back a bit and reveal some of our thinking and impressions about the Flames’ farm crop. It’s our first roundtable in a while, so we’re getting in the spirit of the (hockey) season and discussing the future.
1. Which prospects were your biggest risers/fallers and why?
Ari: I just wanna preface this by saying I’m still somewhat blown away from
how difficult it is to compile these things. Some prospects fell in my
rankings that I honestly didn’t mean for them to, it’s just… some
other guys are really good, you know? Or show more potential. Lists are
Anyway. This is difficult, so I’m gonna
cheap out on this question, but Adam Fox is someone who has really
surprised me with how well he’s doing right now. I’m a little
disappointed in Hunter Shinkaruk’s showings so far, but that’s unfair to
him; he’s doing well in the AHL and it’s not like he was given much of a
chance during his NHL callup.
rose for obvious reasons (I should hope) while David Rittich is doing
more than I thought he’d be able to in the A. I was hoping for more out
of Daniel Pribyl, but it’s still early yet.
Kent Wilson: I’d say the biggest riser for me is Morgan Klimchuk. He needed to
take a big step forward this season to prove he was still a prospect of
note and he’s done that so far.
might be Brandon Hickey. He was starting to look like almost a top five prospect for the Flames last year but he has gotten off to a slow start
this season and was even bumped from his team’s top pairing for a time.
Moving backwards in your draft +3 season isn’t usually a good sign.
Ryan Pike: I’m higher on Matt Phillips, Adam Fox and Mark Jankowski than I was in
the summer, primarily based upon their successes so far this season. On
the flip side, I’m colder on Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier and Ryan
Culkin, in part because it seems like they’re all getting lapped by
Christian R: My biggest riser was Mark Jankowski, though maybe not in big ranking
jump, but in my opinion of him. Coming out of college and into this
season I saw him as a career AHLer type, maybe fringe NHLer if the
Flames really pressed the issue. However, his smooth transition into the
pro ranks and the skills he showed during his brief stint with the
flames – chief among them being faceoff ability – made me believe there
might be a brighter future for 77 than I gave him credit for. He could
turn into a very useful bottom six centreman, relied upon for his faceoff
ability but also capable of pushing the play and contributing 30 points
or so on a yearly basis. A modern day Paul Gaustad if you will.
Similarly, Emile Poirier tumbled down my list and my view of him. His
inability to become a key member of a very strong Stockton Heat offence,
despite this being his third AHL season, has caused my souring of him
to peak – or would it be, valley? He’s hardly a legitimate prospect at
this point in my mind, and that’s unfortunate. I’d say Poirier and
Jankowski have completely flip flopped in my mind since the last time we
did these rankings.
Christian T: I would have to say that Morgan Klimchuk is my biggest riser, seeing as I didn’t even consider him in the initial rankings but gave him a top 10 spot in this go around. As for sinkers, I soured on Daniel Pribyl. Perhaps I set my expectations too high for him, but he has been all-around underwhelming so far this season.
2. Who was your biggest surprise in the first half of the season? Who do you expect more out of in the second half of the season?
Ari: Fox. I thought he’d be good, but I didn’t think he’d be 16-points-in-11-games, tied-for-seventh-in-NCAA-defencemen-scoring
good. And that’s while having played seven or eight games fewer than
everybody above him. He’s a freshman. What the hell.
for someone I expect more out of in the second half of the season, I’m
still a believer in Emile Poirier. His scoring rate is okay, not great.
He also has the second most shots on the Heat. Something’s gotta give.
Kent Wilson: Adam Fox put together some incredible results to
kick off the year in Harvard. I really liked the pick when it was made,
but I didn’t quite expect him to start out this well this soon in
As mentioned above, I’d like to see
Hickey become his team’s go-to defender in the second part of the
season. I’d also like to see Eetu Tuulola get more ice time and put
together better results for Everett.
Ryan Pike: I had high hopes for Fox but I didn’t expect him to grab the ball and
run with it as much as he has for Harvard thus far. I’m hoping to see
more out of Brandon Hickey in the remainder of his season.
Christian R: Rasmus Andersson was my biggest surprise, without a doubt. Especially
after starting the year in a sheltered, third pairing role, I didn’t
foresee this type of offensive contribution. I realize offence is his
bread and butter, but given the circumstances, I’m very pleasantly
surprised to see what he made of them.
As for wanting more out of someone, I’d love to see Jon Gillies bounce
back from an uneven first half and reclaim the net his own. Since
injuring his finger earlier on in the season, he hasn’t been the same
dynamic goaltender we’ve seen since he was drafted. I definitely think
he has it in him, I just hope that can transfer into results in light of
a surging – and seemingly impenetrable – David Rittich in the Stockton
Christian T: It’s Tkachuk for me. I knew he was good, but I would’ve never guessed he would be this good this young. If we’re talking about non-NHL prospects, I guess I would go with the (mostly) consensus pick and say Adam Fox.
For the second half, I would like to see Hunter Shinkaruk be able to force his way onto the big team. I really liked what I saw from him last season, but I was slightly discouraged by the few games he played in the NHL. As long as he doesn’t Baertschi himself and under-perform in the AHL, he should be golden.
3. Which of our fine young pups at the WJC will you be watching most?
Ari: Oliver Kylington. I wanted that dude
at 15th overall in 2015. The Flames got him at 60th. He’s playing his
second professional year in North America and he’s still eligible to
play in the WJC. That’s exciting. He’s exciting. And he’s probably the
closest out of all of the Flames prospects to making the NHL, too.
Kent Wilson: Adam Fox and Tyler Parsons for team America
are at the top of my list. I’ll be very interested to see Oliver
Kylington play against his peers, particularly since he’s been competing
against grown men since he was 17 years old.
Ryan Pike: I’ll have my attention primarily on Fox and Dillon Dube.
Christian R: Without a doubt that pup has to be Oliver Kylington. After getting
unfathomably snubbed from the Swedish team last year, the dynamic
blueliner – with a season and change of pro hockey under his belt –
should surely dominate. He hasn’t played against peers of his age group
basically since he was 15, so the expectation he emerges as one of the
top defenceman in this tournament isn’t outrageous – I would suggest
it’s mandatory if we’re to keep considering him an elite prospect. I
trust he’ll fulfill the prophecy, nonetheless.
On a lesser note, I’m curious to see if Canada keeps Dillon Dube in the
primary role he filled all through selection camp, and if so, what he
does with that. He hasn’t played much this season so it’s been tough to
fairly evaluate his progression in his D+1 year.
Christian T: I’ll most likely be seeing a whole lot of Dube, but I’m not going to miss a chance to watch Oliver Kylington do Oliver Kylington things.