Nine Flames prospects possibly going pro in 2018-19

The 2017-18 hockey season is winding down in a lot of leagues and it’s a bit natural to let our collective mind drift to 2018-19. Next season carries with it a bit of excitement, as there are several prominent Calgary Flames prospects potentially turning pro in the fall.

Here’s a quick snapshot at the nine Flames prospects that could be going pro.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Definitely going pro

G Nick Schneider

Schneider is currently playing his overage year with the Calgary Hitmen, burning the first year of his entry-level deal. He’ll be 21 next season and aging out of junior, and presumably he ends up in Kansas City of the ECHL due to the goaltender logjam the Flames are working themselves through.

C Glenn Gawdin

Gawdin was signed in the fall, but since he’s an overager in junior (with Swift Current) he’s burning the first year of his deal this season. Like Schneider, he’ll be 21 next season and a pro by default. The current WHL leading scorer will get a good shot in Stockton, which is lean on both right-shooting forwards and strong two-way centers.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

RW Zach Fischer

Fischer was drafted by the Flames last June and so they hold onto his NHL rights for two years. He’ll be 21 next season and so he’ll have to go pro, but the Flames don’t necessarily need to sign him to a deal yet. He could go the Adam Ollas Mattsson route and sign an American Hockey League deal to suss out if he’s good enough for the real thing.

Almost definitely going pro

D Juuso Valimaki

By virtue of his October 1998 birthday, Valimaki will be 19 next season based on his “CBA age” (age on Sept. 15) but 20 according to the Canadian Hockey League’s agreements with the AHL and NHL. As such, he’ll be able to play in the WHL or the AHL. Based on his strong performances with Tri-City this season, he seems a safe bet to head to Stockton.

C/RW Matthew Phillips

Phillips will burn the first year of his entry-level contract regardless of where he plays next season. He’ll be 20, so he’ll either be an overager in the Dub or a rookie in the AHL. Considering he’s scored over 100 points this season – and could hit 50 goals for the second year in a row – it seems an inevitability that he’ll go pro.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

C/LW Dillon Dube

Dube’s in the same situation as Phillips. He’ll be in the first year of his entry-level deal either way. He’ll be 20 and seems a safe bet to be in Stockton next season given his status as a two-time World Junior medalist and WHL star.

Potentially going pro

D Adam Fox

Fox is in an interesting situation. He’s finishing up his sophomore NCAA season this month and unless he leaves school early the Flames retain his rights through Aug. 15 of his senior year. But Harvard’s not a stellar team this season and looks to lose some key players after this year – among them starting goaltender Merrick Madsen and star player Ryan Donato – and it’ll be a challenge for their incoming freshmen to fill the void.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

There’s very little Fox has left to achieve at the college level, and it’ll be difficult for the Crimson to challenge for an NCAA crown before his collegiate career ends. He could sign as early as next week depending how Harvard does in their conference tournament and given there’s always a little bit of anxiety about high-end college players signing, the Flames might be happy to get him under contract promptly.

RW Eetu Tuulola

After one season in the WHL Tuulola was brought back to Finland by his parent club, HPK. He’s performed well there, hinting he might be able to be a steady pro contributor. He has a contract with HPK through 2019-20, but because there’s a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association the possibility exists that the Flames could sign him and effectively buy out the remainder of his contract. The Flames retain his rights through Jun. 1, 2020, so there’s no huge rush to sign him if he’s getting regular reps with HPK.

C Linus Lindstrom

Lindstrom’s finishing off his second full pro season with Skelleftea AIK and his contractual status is a bit unclear right now. He hasn’t scored a ton, but has played in a secondary role because he’s a teenager learning the pro game. Like with Tuulola, the Flames retain Lindstrom’s rights through Jun. 1, 2020 and there’s a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Swedish Ice Hockey Association. The Flames don’t have a ton of natural centers in their system and, given Lindstrom’s experience and success relative to his age in Sweden, he could be a fit in Stockton.

  • supra steve

    “There’s very little Fox has left to achieve at the college level.”

    I assume that Fox will soon have 2 years schooling toward his degree, with 2 years left to complete a Harvard education? Could be argued that he has much left to achieve.

    • Jobu

      While I understand the value of finishing education, I’m honestly confused by those that feel athletes need to do it before their athletic careers. If hockey doesn’t work out now there’s plenty of time to change careers after. Or is there some factor Jobu is missing?

      • Atomic Clown

        He already has 2 years of education under his belt. I believe post secondary institures only allow a very limited time within which you have to finish your degree. If Fox waits until after hes done with hockey, or even until he knows he doesnt have a for sure career in the NHL, those two years will be wasted.

        Given how much depth the flames have in the RH dman department, its tough to say what Fox will do, or should do.

        • Burnward

          Sign that max rookie contract and have some fun. Get that moneys while you can. Might fall down a flight of stairs and bust the knee tomorrow.

          If they gots millions on the table you take it.

    • DMac

      Not unlike Kenney Agostino, who went to Yale, I don’t begrudge a player of this calibre completing an Ivy League education before embarking on his professional hockey career. Yes, there is always that overhanging possibility of him choosing to become a free agent on August 15 of his graduation year, but with the talent now in the Flames pipeline, Calgary would still present a very attractive place to play. If he stays and graduates, he will demonstrate the same intelligence off the ice as he displays on it.

  • PrairieStew

    Stajan, Stewart, Glass, Bartkowski, Prout, Hrivik, Gadzic all UFA’s that should not be offerred contracts. Rfa’s Hunter Smith and Austin Carroll should be cut loose. There’s your 9. Given that Gawdin is already counting in the 50 contracts, you are already one spot to the good before you have to decide on Golobueuf and Wotherspoon on the back end and the 3 2014 first rounders at forward ( Shink, Klim, Poirier).

    • SeanCharles

      I agree with your assessment as all those players could be cut loose and we wouldn’t be losing much. I think Golobuef, Wotherspoon and Klimchuk will be retained with the possibility of Hrivik. I think it’s the end of the line for Smith, Carroll, Shinkaruk and Poirier however.

      I know some will say we should keep Poirier and Shinkaruk but I think given our abundance of promising LH forwards like Mangiapane, Dube and Klimchuk who have all surpassed the former 2 it seems less likely.

  • PrairieStew

    Fox stays in college. 3 established RD plus Andersson in front of him. If the Flames move Stone in the offseason though, he might consider it. Almost too many goalies at this point. One of Rittich and Gilles will back up in Calgary; while the other splits the net with Parsons in the AHL. Mcdonald and Schneider in KC ? Enough net for everyone ?

    • Korcan

      Imo Andersson is definitely in Calgary next fall. He’s going to be too good for the A (can be argued he already is) and the Flames won’t want to stunt his development by keeping him there any longer. He’s ready. I also think Stone gets traded this summer (for 2018 picks?) to clear out a spot for him.

      • FLT

        Totally agree on Andersson. I hope Stone gets traded for picks, but my guess is it won’t happen. I think he was signed on the belief that the Flames need a big, strong defender to play against bigger teams like Anaheim, LA, etc., and I think that belief still exists.

  • Korcan

    I would like to see Dube have a year of development in the AHL, but would not be surprised to see him in Calgary (playing on Backlund’s wing?). The kid is really good. I think he, Mangiapane, Andersson, and Wotherspoon (If he doesn’t walk) are best bets to make opening day roster (goodbye Brauwer, Stajan, Stone, and Bartkowski).

    • McRib

      Dube is a great skater I think we could use his speed on the big club. I don’t mind if that isn’t the case and he spends time in the AHL, but he’ll push hard as he did this past preseason.

  • Atomic Clown

    Out of the things that are absolutely necessary, Andersson needs to play in the NHL next season. Parsons needs to be the de factory number 1 in Stockton. Dube, Phillips and Valimaki need to be in regulars in Stockton as well.

  • Stu Cazz

    Like Korcan I believe Dube will make the team next year. This kid reads the ice exceptionally well, has NHL skill and will never see the AHL…..Stone is not going anywhere…Brodie is a key trade chip for a skilled NHL forward.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Why do people piss all over Stone? He’s pretty good, amazing shot, mobile, righty, big body, can play tough. He’s not being deployed on the ice properly, that’s another discussion, but I think Stoney is an asset. They should look to sell Hamonic and /orBrodie this off season in exchange for picks or top wingers.

    • Cfan in Van

      Yeah, he’s not that mobile. His shot is hard, but rarely used properly (hitting the net). He’s OK (not great), and definitely adds a physical aspect that they don’t have in abundance. But he makes too much and can be replaced by a younger/cheaper/better potential prospect.
      There’s such a jam in Defence, they need to purge.

      • McRib

        Michael Stone has two goals, doesn’t matter how good of a shot he has two goals isn’t good enough. You know who also has a good shot AHL Skills Competition Hardest Shot Winner Ramsus Anderson (102 mph). Not to mention Stone is not mobile at all and is constantly behind plays, because he just plays it safe he doesn’t have many glaring errors, but watch his game closely he has periods of play where he just gets hemmed in his own zone because he can’t get to pucks fast enough to make a breakout outlet. Rasmus Andersson is ready and it also sends a message to Fox who we still must sign that when he is ready we’ll make room.

    • The Doctor

      Phillips is really tiny though. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen him play in the WHL and he’s great there — I’m a fan — but it’s gonna be really tough for him to make the NHL, when you look at how Mangiapane’s lack of size and strength seems to negatively affect his ability to transition his AHL success to the NHL.

      • FL?MES

        Mangiapane plays a rough and tumble style that is different from Gaudreau, for example. If Phillips plays smart he’ll be fine.

        They should sit some of the smaller guys down and watch old footage of Fluery. It was absolutely amazing watching that guy roll off checks while at the same time punishing the odd guy into the end boards. I don’t think I ever seen anyone better at it than Theo.

        • The Doctor

          Fleury was tough for a small guy. Some small guys can have a lot of lower body strength, and that can make a big difference — Marty St. Louis was like that.

        • McRib

          Yeah, Mangiapane plays right in contested areas, whereas Phillips plays around them in space more like Gaudreau. Once Mangiapane adds more core strength this summer he’ll be able to take his game to the next level as he is still young, but Phillips is a different type of player.

      • Cfan in Van

        It’s true. I’ve seen him play a lot. He’s very small. If he can turn himself into a little built nugget, he’d be better off, but right now he weighs nothing.
        A great talent though, I hope he succeeds.

      • cberg

        FN commentators have definitely seized upon this Mangiapanne’s size has held him back, blah, blah, blah… I am not sure that has been the case. I think he’s looked very solid when he played, definitely way better than 3-4 guys currently on the Flames. I believe he’s not different than Anderson on Stockton. The Flames have made their choices and are not willing to bring him up this season outside of injury replacement.

  • Greg

    That’s a good looking crop of graduates!

    But I’m a little concerned that there’s almost nothing in the pipe behind them, and very few picks in the first 3 rounds for the next 2 years.

    Nothing to worry about for the next few years, but we could definitely having a gap in prospects in a few years.

    • cberg

      BT has been very proactive in signing un-drafted UFAs, like Rittich and Gawdin, so if that continues and they can find a gem or two we’ll be just fine. Having Rittich seeming to make it, after similar stories for Jooris and of course Giordano gives them a pretty good story for potential candidates. Gawdin and Foo are the latest two on the cusp. Gotta keep that up.

  • buts

    We have depth on D. This summer BT has to get some scoring and picks. Trading a top 4 D as well as maybe Stone will make room for Anderson and allow a Wotherspoon or Kylington or Valimaki to play. It’s maximizing your assets which what makes a good GM. Doing the above and getting a good coach should be BT’s plan.

        • McRib

          Rasmus Anderssons statistics to this point for the last three or four years consistently suggest he has first pairing upside if you look at historical comparables. Just look at Charlie McAvoy in Boston, Andersson has always had as good or slightly better numbers. In today’s NHL Andersson should easily be a second pairing defender with PP Quarterback potential and he certainly could top out as a first pairing defender.

  • Mickey O

    There is going to be a problem come the Seattle expansion draft in 2020. The same sweetheart rules apply that Vegas got. That’s 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie with 1st and 2nd year pros exempt. We’re going to lose a key piece, and that blows chunks.

    • The GREAT WW

      Simple really; get another “Engelland” on the team, and have Seattle pick him.
      A player local to Seattle that they pick for sentimental reasons.
      Just got to do a little homework……


      • BendingCorners

        All first and second year professionals (includes AHL) are exempt. Basically anybody who signs their first NHL/AHL contract this summer is exempt. Anybody already signed and playing is not. I don’t think Vegas picked any AHLers though, so they aren’t worth worrying over.
        It is unlikely that the Flames will have nine forwards good enough to worry about, but they might have four defensemen that they want to protect and might have to make a deal to avoid losing one. Draft picks or something similar to Seattle in exchange for “expansion draft considerations”.
        As RockMorton noted, two years is forever so BT will have plenty of time to get ready.

    • Rockmorton65

      It’s two offseasons away. I think they will make a move or two to minimize the hit. Makes no sense to be worrying about it now. So much can change between now & then.

        • Rockmorton65

          There’s no way anyone can know exactly what the roster is going to look like in two years. And there’s certainly no reason for us, as fans, to worry about it now. It would be a good problem to have, if the Flames had more than seven forwards or three defencemen they wanted to protect. It’s a moot point right now. The fact that the Flames don’t currently have any no move clauses bodes well for them. That, combined the number of contracts expiring around that time, give them a ton of flexibility.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Phillips is an interesting prospect. He really struggled in the AHL in his short time. He needs to pack on some muscle which is probably going to be tough. I can see him being a Cliff Ronning PP specialist type player. Johnny has 3 inches and 20 lbs on him… Which is scary. I think he has a better chance than Yamamoto of being an impact player.

    Dube intrigues me, he has a Barzal type engine and composure but I am not sure if his offense translates to the NHL level. My concern is that he is another Lazar and not much more offensively. The scouting report on Lazar is that he has an excellent shot but if that is true we have not seen it in a game…maybe practice. I am the most excited about Ras for next year, my concern is that they won’t free up space for him to start next season.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    i Like Flames D Rookies, Fox ,Phat,Valimaki and Kylington, But what we have seen this season with Smith down how bad this Bubble team really is, would not be shock if Gio, Hammy, Tj, or a Core Forward is moved on Draft Day for Rw/ Picks,

  • WillyWonka

    we need to rush players from JR to NHL, so we can develop players like the mighty Oilers. they have developed some real stars… just look at Hall, Eberle, Schultz, Dubnyk,

  • freethe flames

    Hopefully the Heat make the playoffs and some of these guys get some pro experience before next year. It will help their development and the Flames assessment.