The summer is over and the 2018-19 hockey calendar has begun! The Calgary Flames have started the process of evaluating their organization and whittling down their roster to a lean, mean 23-man unit. The first step: prospect camp.
This year’s prospect camp features 18 Flames prospects, plus eight players that aren’t on the team’s reserve list. Here’s a quick rundown on the players in camp on tryout invites.
G Shane Farkas
The backup goaltender of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks last season, Farkas is likely to inherit the starting gig this season from the departed Cole Kehler, who aged out of junior. Farkas is 18 and went unclaimed through the recent NHL Draft despite having a respectable .913 save percentage. He’s a long shot for any type of contract right now due to his age and lack of junior experience, but a good performance might get him on the radar for next year’s draft.
D Jake Christiansen
A left-shot defender from the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, Christiansen had 31 points in 72 games last season. He has three full WHL seasons under his belt, but he wasn’t ranked by Central Scouting and went through the draft unclaimed. He’s a long-shot for a contract.
D Igor Merezhko
A potential contender for an AHL contract for a few reasons, Merezhko is a big-bodied product of Kharkov, Ukraine with three full WHL seasons under his belt. Merezhko had 33 points in 71 games last season for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, but now he’s both 20 years old and a CHL import – taking up both an overage spot and an import spot as what junior hockey peeps call “a two-spotter.”
The Hurricanes have three other 1998-born players in camp – teams can dress a maximum of three – and two other imports of a maximum of two, including New Jersey Devils goaltending prospect Akira Schmid, so it appears the Hurricanes are prepared for him to go pro. If Merezhko has a good showing, he could earn himself a depth job in Stockton (or Kansas City).
D Adam Ollas Mattsson
Once thought to be a potential late-blooming prospect, the 22-year-old Ollas Mattsson is no longer on the Flames’ reserve list after the club declined to sign the 2014 draft pick back in June. But he’s back on another one-year AHL contract, hoping to generate more than the zero points in 14 games he saw last year due to a lingering injury.
D Brayden Pachal
Ranked 200th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, this Prince Albert Raiders defender was a long-shot to get drafted and was ultimately overlooked. But he’s had three solid WHL seasons and is slated to become the Raiders’ captain this season. He’s a bit of a long-shot to get an NHL deal, but a good camp could get him on the radar of a few NHL clubs for next season when he’s eligible to go pro.
D Merrick Rippon
It was a bit of a surprise when Rippon, the 85th ranked North American skater, wasn’t drafted back in June. The Ottawa product has just one OHL campaign under his belt, but he looked pretty good. He’s a bit of a long-shot for a contract, but based on his age the Flames could sign him before the OHL season begins and his deal could slide twice, so there’s an outside chance he could earn a deal with a great camp.
F Jordan Ernst
A teammate (and occasional linemate) of Adam Ruzicka with the Sarnia Sting, Ernst is 21 and looking for a pro gig somewhere as he’s aged out of major junior. He had 54 points in 68 games as an overage player. He might be worth an AHL deal to see if his offense was a product of his size or his talent level, and the Flames probably have the ability to try him out as a depth body in Stockton or a regular rotation forward in Kansas City. Along with Merezhko, he’s probably the player with the best realistic shot at a job with a good camp.
F Mike McMurtry
McMurtry might be the depth player Flames fans know the least about, despite the fact that he was actually pretty clutch for Stockton down the stretch. He’s 26 and from the Ottawa suburb of Greely. He’s heading into his third pro season after spending time with the Texas Stars and splitting last year between Stockton (18 points in 33 games) and Kansas City (33 points in 31 games). He already has an AHL contract for next season and so there’s not much up for grabs for him, but he’ll be the oldest player in camp and so it’s reasonable to expect him to stand out a little bit.