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Flames after NCAA free agent Justin Kloos

As NCAA seasons end, the signings trickle in. The Flames have already dipped their toe in the water with Josh Healey, and they should be signing Brandon Hickey soon, but here’s another name to add to the list: Justin Kloos.

Kloos has had a successful career to this point. He won Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award, given to the best high school player, for a season where he scored 81 points in 25 games. He was second in USHL scoring in 2012-13, finished top five in scoring at the University of Minnesota all four years, and finished first in his junior year. Throughout all four years, Kloos has scored 150 points in 155 games. That’s pretty good.

Kloos ticks a few boxes the Flames are looking for. He’s a right-shooting forward who fits in the 20-23 age group. He’s naturally a centre, but can definitely play the wing. Scouts talk about his hockey skill, speed, and  Some will be glad to know that this isn’t a truculence signing, as Kloos is only 5’9″, 178 lbs.

The problem is that he’s kind of on the old side for a prospect, aged 23. He’ll be 24 by the time next season gets into the swing of things. Kloos was a 2012 draft eligible, and an older one at that (November 30th). At an older age, his NHL success probability is generally lower.

But perhaps that’s not what the Flames are looking for in this signing. Kloos falls into the age group of many of the Feaster-era picks: 21-24 year olds, first time draft eligibles between the years 2011-2013, or signings/acquisitions from that age group (not necessarily acquired by Feaster). This suggests to me that they’re underwhelmed or planning to move on from those players.

The forwards that fit into that age group are Austin Carroll, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Jankowski, Morgan Klimchuk, Ryan Lomberg, Emile Poirier, Daniel Pribyl, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Hunter Smith. Of those, only Garnet Hathaway has played over 20 games in the NHL. There’s a lot of duds in that list, and a few trending downwards. Only one of these guys (ironically, Hathaway) will have their contract expire this season. If they sign Kloos, he provides competition for next year when a lot of these guys will be out of a contract.

  • Connor McDaigle

    I can see Poirier being given to the Habs at some point after the Expansion draft. I agree, there’s a few more that will play out their final year, perhaps even in the ECHL.

    • loudogYYC

      Poirier seems to be in an unfortunate spot right now, so if he can bounce back and get back to hockey, it would make sense that he does it in MTL.
      I’d rather just have Bouma in the AHL next season if he doesn’t get traded or picked in the expansion draft. His buyout would cost the Flames cap $666K in 2018 and $766K in 2019. Burying him in the minors would cost $1.25M against the cap only for next season and then he’s done.

  • McRib

    “This suggests to me that they’re underwhelmed or planning to move on from those players.”

    Every new regime in history has been underwhelmed by the past regimes prospect cupboard, I just hope the Flames don’t undervalue a couple of those talented players (Jankowski, Klimchuk) like a Paul Byron in the past.

    • cjc

      “I just hope the Flames don’t undervalue a couple of those talented players (Jankowski, Klimchuk)”

      The problem is that they still don’t quite know what they have in Jankowski and Klimchuk. Those two have 1 NHL game between them. Jankowski might be the Heat’s leading scorer, but his output is still pretty pedestrian for a 22 year-old in the AHL. Klimchuk started white hot this year and has merely been okay since. The guy they are looking to sign put up better numbers than Jankowski in college.

      • McRib

        Jankowski isn’t an average 22 year old though. He is an extreme late bloomer and still has 10-15 pounds of muscle to gain. He is way behind the curve for an average 22 year old.

  • Parallex

    Works for me. Guys like this… they’re lotto tickets. Now I wouldn’t go put the mortgage money on lotto tickets but picking up a few guys like this strikes me as a better investment then signing Matt Frattin types to populate the farm.

  • C Watson

    Don’t really know anything about this Justin Kloos guy but I already feel sorry for him if he signs with the Flames. He will be destined to play in Stockton where all forward prospects under Ryan Huska sink into obscurity. Even the defensemen have a hard time graduating. That being said I don’t think the Flames are yet ready to move on from the likes of Ryan Lomberg, Shinkaruk, Jankowski, Hathaway and Pribyl. The rest, probably.

    • cjc

      I don’t mean to defend Huska, because honestly I don’t think anyone here except perhaps Christian has watched enough Heat hockey to pass judgement. However, the failure of these picks to graduate to the NHL speaks to two issues. First, under Treliving, the Flames have routinely gone with veteran forwards and defense to fill out their depth. When youth have been called up, they often watch from the sidelines. The second issue: maybe these players just aren’t all that good.