Whenever Calgary Flames development camp comes around, I’m of two minds. On one hand, it can be a really fun event as it’s a chance to see the Flames prospects together at the same time. And unlike during previous regimes, often development camp in recent years has been a time of optimism.
On the other hand, development camp is hockey in July. Many of the players at the event are hitting the ice for maybe the first or second time since they hung up the skates in the spring. Guys are rusty and there’s not a ton at stake.
That said, a strong performance at development camp could go a long way towards ensuring future employment in the case of six players – one draft selection and five players in on tryouts.
C Sam Dove-McFalls (#89, Team Gelinas)
Originally selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft – selected before Flames picks Pavel Karnaukhov (unsigned), Andrew Mangiapane (signed) and Riley Bruce (unsigned) – Dove-McFalls served as an alternate captain for the Saint John Sea Dogs for three seasons and played a big role on their march to a QMJHL Championship and Memorial Cup appearance last season.
Why wasn’t he signed? Well, the Flyers organization is deeper than it was two years ago and he probably projects as a bottom six checker type, somewhat akin to a smaller Hunter Smith. He was traded from Saint John to Rimouski at the QMJHL Draft for a 2020 first round pick, so at the very least he appears to still have some cache in that league.
RW Zach Fischer (#48, Team Gelinas)
The Flames’ fifth round selection in last month’s NHL Draft, Fischer exploded offensively last season with Medicine Hat and turned a lot of heads. His game is basically a mixture of that Ryan Lomberg/Garnet Hathaway agitator type, except he managed to convert that into some fairly impressive scoring numbers last year. He’s 20 and could play pro or go back to junior this season.
C Glenn Gawdin (#80, Team Conroy)
In Western Hockey League circles, Gawdin is what’s known as “a good hand.” He’s a versatile player, able to play on the wing or down the middle, and can play in all situations. He’s got size, but he’s not a big lug, and he’s got skill, but he’s not tiny. He was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2015 but not signed, perhaps because he was always a good WHLer but never became dominant as he got older as you would hope he would.
Gawdin to me is a shoe in pro because he can play the game anyway you want him to. Just a question of how his offensive game develops.
— Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin) July 2, 2017
C Brad Morrison (#84, Team Gelinas)
Drafted by the New York Rangers in 2015 but not signed, Morrison is another guy with a productive resume and solid reputation from the WHL. A veteran of four full seasons already with the Prince George Cougars – with 0.72 points per game in that span – he wasn’t signed by the Rangers. He was traded to the Vancouver Giants in the offseason as teams began to shuffle overagers around. He’s an offensively talented player, but not quite dominant and his defensive game is still a work in progress.
LW Mark Rassell (#50, Team Gelinas)
A teammate (and linemate) of Fischer on the Medicine Hat Tigers, Rassell saw his offensive production double last season from the year prior. It wasn’t quite enough to get him drafted, but it gets him an invite to this camp. My curiosity would be to see whether Rassell was an offense generator last year or if he merely mopped up after other teammates had gotten the puck to the scoring areas by crashing the net.
D Sam Ruopp (#98, Team Conroy)
The lone 21-year-old invite from the WHL, Ruopp will be heading to a new league this coming season after spending the past four seasons with Prince George – the last three as captain. Drafted in 2015 by Columbus but not signed, Ruopp is a big (6’4″) stay-at-home defender whose production has remained steady the past three seasons: between 24 and 26 points. He’s a rock-solid defensive defender, which won’t get him on many highlight reels, but probably generates some nice scout feedback that percolates in NHL front offices when it’s time to fill out the minor league rosters.