117Yasin Ehliz
Photo Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: The no-votes and runners up

It’s just about August, and August means no hockey. We’re not far away from hockey coming back, but in the meantime, there is very much no hockey being played.

On top of that, August is the one month of the calendar devoid of any big NHL events. Preseason? No. Postseason? No. Regular season? Absolutely not. Emotional Jarome Iginla retirement ceremonies? Almost. Free agency and trades? Kinda, those are still possibilities, but a lot of the main action has already taken place. And the draft? Absolutely not.

But on that note, we’ve had plenty of time to digest the results of the Flames’ 2018 draft. Not in any truly meaningful way – nobody is playing hockey! – but at least in some kind of way to see what the landscape of the Flames’ cupboards look like nowadays. To that end, welcome to the 2018 edition of FlamesNation’s top 20 prospects!

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Every August, we go through this process: combing through the list of any Calder-eligible Flames player and ranking them all, 1-20. There were 29 potential candidates this year, so nine got left off of the final ranking. This includes six who didn’t get a single vote, and they are as follows:

  • Zach Fischer
  • Josh Healey
  • Ryan Lomberg
  • Mitchell Mattson
  • Mason McDonald
  • Nick Schneider

There shouldn’t really be any surprises among that group: Fischer had kind of a meh season for an overager playing junior; Healey failed to show much in his first professional season, and he had the misfortune of playing a position where so many others readily overshadowed not just him, but everyone else; Lomberg has an extremely limited ceiling; Mattson, two years after being drafted, was still playing in the USHL; and McDonald and Schneider don’t seem likely to crack even Stockton’s lineup any time soon, outside of injuries.

This leaves three players who failed to make the top 20 list, but did get some votes:

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  • Yasin Ehliz
  • Brett Pollock
  • Eetu Tuulola

Ehliz is a newcomer with some intriguing seasons played in Germany, but he’s also already 25. Pollock finally seems to have cracked the AHL, but it took some time, and he still fell just under .5 points per game. And Tuulola, as much as we love his philosophizing and general enthusiasm, is playing in a different hemisphere and not exactly lighting the world on fire there.

(This means all five Flames draft picks from this past June made the top 20 list!)

There are some things I love about this year’s final list. The eight of us – myself, Ryan, Mike, both Christians, Bill, Karim, and Taylor – seemed to have a consensus on tiers, but not on specific rankings. There is a lot of shuffling amidst it all, and it made for some really close battles between prospect rankings, including four instances in which a single point decided who triumphed over whom. So when you’re wondering why in the hell we ranked one prospect over another, it literally might have just come down to one rogue vote! It’s fun.

Though I will say that we all seemed to be in agreement on who the top prospects are, if not the exact order. And I can only speak for myself, but ranking the bottom half was particularly challenging – there are a lot of names in there we just haven’t gotten to see much of (though I suppose you could counter that by saying the Flames seem to have removed some deadweight prospects who simply won’t be going anywhere).

Anyway, be sure to tune in tomorrow for #20 on the list. We’ll be unveiling everyone one August weekday at a time, with #1 coming out on Aug. 29, and our final lists revealed on Aug. 30. Let’s tackle this dead news (barring the typical fun stuff like Noah Hanifin’s eventual contract, and the ever-looming threat of a buyout over the next couple of days) month in style!

  • FL?MES

    Lindstrom doesn’t give much love and I get it. He’s an unflashy, defensive-minded, player. His stat sheet is evidence of this. He looks to be a Backlund 2.0. Players of this type who excel in this role are few and far between. I think his odds of making it are good. Time will tell.

        • The GREAT WW

          Brouwer’s 2X$4.5 remaining is much better than Backlund’s 6X$5.35…..

          Much better; when Backlund gets dropped to the third line playing with third line players he will be even worse than usual…..


        • Baalzamon

          This is the ultimate hot take. Backlund is two years younger than James Neal, has more points over the last three years, and is paid less (and point production is his worst quality).

          But yeah, sure, Backlund has the worst contract on the team (I wouldn’t even say Neal does).

        • Redleader

          I think the extra Centre depth and Prospects centres will give Backlund some extra incentive,that probably echoes through the entire lineup , This will be a fun team to watch.

        • FL?MES

          I am referring to the type of game he plays, not a contract. Players have differing roles on a team. There is nothing wrong with have a few shutdown players on a roster. These guys get paid for intangibles that don’t always show up on stats sheets. This guy’s a dark horse but I’ll put some money on him.

      • Redleader

        He’s utilized as a reliable defensive player like Dube , he’s a pick that hasn’t fallen off the radar yet for me , but so far this average top 12 list looks fairly similar to last year , Jankowski was like number 1 and he made had a nice rookie season in a strange season, I’m looking forward to watching the entire team get back to where they should be . Can’t wait to see the new squad,Neal,Lindholm,Hanifin, Ryan , etc This is Awesome!!

  • Just.Visiting

    I’ll jump in.

    1 Valimaki-Easy to project out on the top pair.
    2 Andersson-Much more confidence at year end than previously. Second pair in due course?
    3 Parsons-A track record of winning in pressure situations before injuries last year. Will be interesting to see how resilient he is.
    4 Dube-I didn’t like the pick at the time, but now see him as a young Backlund. Can see him making the team this year and potentially displacing Frolik on third line, as you can’t teach smart.
    5. Gillies-Big and poised. Hope the coaches are telling him to play big and try to stay off his knees.
    6. Kylington-Wish the Flames had sent him to the WHL so that he would have had a year of possible dominance in junior. He needs to get bigger and stronger. May need to consider a move to forward if he doesn’t take a step up with how he thinks the game.
    7 Mangiapane-Haven’t made my mind up yet whether he’s a bubble player or a solid third liner in due course.
    8 Foo-Loved his determination last spring. Played hard every shift and went to the dirty places.
    9 Ruzicka-Great physical package, but questions about the tool box. Wish he had Phillips’ drive.
    10 Phillips-A great example of why teams should be able to dress one additional player. Great heart.

  • Just.Visiting

    Ooops. For clarity on the Dube comment above, I could see him starting on the fourth line and getting to the third line late in the year. This is an example of the opportunity cost on the roster if Brouwer isn’t bought this summer, as he’ll end up taking a roster spot that should go to someone else in the long term interest of the team.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I will give it a go….

    1. Ras- depends on his improved skating. Has a cannon for a shot and thinks the game at a high level. Always had skill but he has now found the drive.
    2. Valimaki – I admit I know very little about this player but he is highly regarded. He is a born leader which can never be understated.
    3. Mangi – I would be worried if he played with quality linemates while in the show….but he didn’t. He has gotten better at every level and I don’t see that stopping.
    4. Dube- I honestly am not sure that he can score consistently at the NHL level. He has a lot of great attributes that will help him succeed at the NHLin some capacity.
    5. Kjill- Elite skater but has warts in his game.
    6. Phillips- Elite skill and grit in a snack size package. His success depends on whether he can get thicker.
    7. Foo- I like his grit but not fooled by his 2 goals in 4 NHL games.
    8. Gillies- Lots of questions. Can he regain his confidence to battle for back up role?Can he fight off Parsons for starting position?
    9. Parsons- See above
    10. Lindstrom-Backlund lite which is more than fine. He edges out Klimchuk.