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Photo Credit: Andy Camp/Adirondack Thunder

Prospect wrap-up: ECHL #1

The Adirondack Thunder have wrapped up their season, and are currently in a playoff battle (down 2-0, because of course) to the Manchester Monarchs. With five Flames players on their roster, we’re going to rundown how their seasons went.

Brett Pollock

Brief history

Pollock, drafted in the 2014 second round by the Dallas Stars, has been a very intriguing player. He played a diminished role on the 2013-14 Memorial Cup winning Edmonton Oil Kings, and then took the team over when all the talent left. Pollock completed both his D+1 and D+2 years leading the team in scoring, finishing seven and 13 points respectively ahead of the next best player. The Flames acquired him, along with a second round pick (Dillon Dube) and Jyrki Jokipakka, during his D+2 season in the Kris Russell trade.

His time in Calgary has been less promising. An early scratch from main camp, and a late scratch from Stockton’s camp, he has been plodding along in the ECHL with the Thunder. Let’s see how that went.

2016-17 performance

GP-G-A-P Primary Points 5v5 P1 NHLe
61-15-16-31 24 20 11.67

Well he can produce primary points, that’s nice.

Pollock was mostly steady throughout the year, but the real concern is the drop off in production from the WHL. Although he put up a relatively low NHLe for a D+2 player in 2015-16, I really would not have anticipated he would drop off this much. Not a good sign.

Relative to the team, he was well behind everyone in scoring. Defenceman Stepan Falkovsky finished with more points and more goals than Pollock. Camp invitee Mikkel Aagaard scored eight more points in 22 fewer games. He wasn’t as good as the regulars on the roster, which does not bode well for his future.

Final thoughts

The Flames still have two more years to figure out what Brett Pollock will be, but the early returns aren’t great. You figure that he might get a chance in Stockton next year. A few expiring contracts, a few guys moving up, and he can find a spot. It might not be a significant spot, but it’s a spot.

Pollock has always been an important piece of whatever team he’s been on (he’s currently leading the Thunder in playoff points, if you’re looking for positives). Perhaps he had a rough season, and perhaps he can come back better. The Flames have occasionally found some good luck with ECHL players; maybe he’s next in line. Still a bit too early to tell.

Ryan Culkin

Brief history

Culkin was tabbed one of the QMJHL’s up-and-coming defencemen and earned his spot on the Flames’ draft card in 2012. After a few great seasons in the QMJHL, he joined the then-Adirondack Flames and posted 18 points in 37 games, instantly building hype as one of the Flames’ potential future players.

Then it started falling apart. Two major injuries (shoulder and wrist) cut his first professional season short, and he struggled in his second, only putting up 10 points across 60 games split between the AHL and ECHL. Similar nastiness happened this year. After being a late cut from the Flames training camp roster, he suffered a knee injury early in the season and the struggles continued.

2016-17 performance

League GP-G-A-P Primary points 5v5 P1 NHLe
AHL 19-0-0-0 0 0 0
ECHL 16-1-13-14 9 2 20.09

Culkin doesn’t get a chart because he didn’t spend enough time in either league to draw definitive conclusions, but also because it would’ve been a sad chart.

He’s quite clearly too good for the ECHL, but not good enough for the AHL. A lot of his AHL struggles were due to the fact that he was given scarce usage, only averaging an estimated seven minutes of ice time per night. Culkin was unable to find a spot in the deep Stockton defence, and was relegated to the ECHL instead. Quite unfortunate.

Final thoughts

Culkin’s contract expires this year. We’re probably not going to see him with the Flames again.

The unfortunate fact is that his potential has been ruined by injuries. He clearly isn’t the same player he was in the QMJHL and not the same as he was in his first professional year. But even if he does bounce back, the Flames have added a ton of depth at defence. That’s another roadblock between him and whatever potential he can salvage. A fresh start would probably be best for all involved.

Previously

Mitchell Mattson, Adam Fox, Brandon HickeyRiley Bruce/Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Eetu Tuulola, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Linus Lindstrom, Pavel Karnaukhov/Rushan Rafikov, Tim Harrison