The hockey world is a quiet place in mid-August, but it’s about to start getting a lot louder. The start of rookie camps is just around the corner, with players reporting in the first week of September to participate in rookie tournaments scattered across the continent.
For the seventh consecutive non-lockout year, the Calgary Flames will be participating in the Young Stars Classic Tournament in scenic Penticton, British Columbia. The tournament exists as a showcase for the existing prospects of the participating organizations, as well as a chance for players on tryouts to make an impression. But with a few weeks remaining before the event, which young Flames can we expect to see at the event?
Generally speaking, the Flames have been pretty consistent on how many players they bring to the three-game, four-day event in recent years. Last fall they brought four goaltenders, nine defensemen and 16 forwards, all falling within the reported eligibility requirements of having played 100 pro games or fewer.
The Flames took four goalies last year. This year, expect the same four: Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald, Tyler Parsons and Nick Schneider are probably destined for the event.
There are five blueliners that are essentially locks: Rasmus Andersson, Kayle Doetzel, Josh Healey, Adam Ollas Mattsson and Juuso Valimaki. All are North American players with contracts within the Flames system. They’ll probably bring three or four tryout players to fill out their roster.
Here’s a brief projection of the left/right shot balance.
Valimaki – Andersson
Healey – Doetzel
Ollas Mattsson – TBD
TBD – TBD
The projected forward group is arguably the most star-studded, featuring a big free agent add, three 2017 NHL Draft picks and two WHL standouts. The names to expect to see are Mark Jankowski, Spencer Foo, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Brett Pollock, Hunter Smith, Austin Carroll, Matthew Phillips, Adam Ruzicka, Zach Fischer and D’Artagnan Joly. With the Flames taking 16 forwards a year ago, expect four or five tryouts.
Here’s how the group could shake out – and immediately start feeling sorry for Joly or Phillips, who seem to be the odd guys out of that top six forward group.
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Foo
Ruzicka – Dube – Joly
Pollock – Phillips – Smith
Carroll – TBD – Fischer
TBD – TBD – TBD
The Flames had a lot of tryout players at development camp, and aside from the college players it seems likely that some (if not most) of these walk-ons will return in Penticton.
- D Sam Ruopp (Prince George, WHL)
- F Samuel Dove-McFalls (Rimouski, QMJHL)
- F Brad Morrison (Vancouver, WHL)
- F Mark Rassell (Medicine Hat, WHL)
- F Glenn Gawdin (Swift Current, WHL)
- F Ben Hawerchuk (Erie, OHL)
The tryout group is fairly lean on blueliners, so expect one or two surprise names when the Young Stars roster is set in early September.
Probably not going
There are a few prominent prospects that are technically eligible for the tournament but, for various reasons, are probably not going to Penticton.
- F Matthew Tkachuk – he’s an NHL regular now
- F Daniel Pribyl & G David Rittich – they have played too many pro games
- F Pavel Karnaukhov, F Linus Lindstrom, F Eetu Tuulola & F Filip Sveningsson – the European seasons are about to begin, or will have already begun
- F Mitchell Mattson & D Adam Fox – their school years will have begun and they’re not able to jet off to B.C. for a semi-pro tournament