In 2016-17, seven players who are either current Calgary Flames, signed to a contract with the team, or have their signing rights owned by the team scored 20 goals this season. This includes NHL stars like Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan, stud prospects Dillon Dube and Matthew Phillips, AHL standouts Mark Jankowski and Andrew Mangiapane, and Stepan Falkovsky, 6’7″, seventh round pick defenceman.
The least expected player to hit that offensive milestone, Falkovsky has been an intriguing figure throughout this season, especially after he went on a goal-scoring spree. Could he be found money?
If there’s a guy who has truly flown under the radar, it’s ironically the gigantic Falkovsky. The Flames wanted to pick him in the 2015 draft, but they simply didn’t have any footage on him to justify that choice, as he played in the not-so-esteemed second division of Belorussian hockey and less so esteemed junior division of Russian Hockey. Somehow, the Ottawa 67s knew enough to spend a first round pick in the CHL import draft on him.
In Ottawa, he had a very successful season, scoring 32 points in 58 games and finishing in a tie for first on the team for defenceman scoring. Now with enough footage, the Flames selected him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft.
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Falkovsky’s home was on the powerplay. With the cannon he has, it’s a perfect fit. He’s the point man for Adirondack, and it paid off immensely.
Can you guess when he started scoring goals?
It’s kind of random and rare for a defenceman to score in high volumes, even more so when their goal total doubles their assist total. How did Falkovsky hit this milestone?
The answer is quite simple. Falkovsky’s goal explosion was mostly because he followed conventional hockey advice: shoot more.
The more he shot, the more pucks went in the net. How about that?
Now, it’s unlikely that Falkovsky will be shooting 15% for the rest of his career. If I remember correctly, at one point he hit a shooting percentage of 25%. Compare those to the 7.96 SH% he had last year in the OHL. No one can sustain those percentages, but if he continues to rip off three or four shots per game, he has a great chance of turning into something at the pro level.
There are still steps to take, but his offensive output is promising. If that can translate to the AHL next year, he’ll be golden.
With perhaps Tyler Wotherspoon and Kenney Morrison heading out, Brett Kulak and maybe either Rasmus Andersson or Oliver Kylington moving up, there’s a spot for Falkovsky with the Stockton Heat. He’ll have to battle with Keegan Kanzig, Kayle Doetzel, and Josh Healey for positioning, but based on what we know about Falkovsky, he should have the edge.
That’s the immediate future. It’s a little too early to tell right now, but I could see Falkovsky make a name for himself as a 5/6 in the future. He’s young, has size, a nasty shot, and powerplay skills. These questions won’t be resolved until next year, but you have to feel optimistic about the guy.