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!
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:
- 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!