Merry Christmas to all of our readers. Hopefully, you asked Santa for FlamesNation to review their 2018 top 20 prospects list, specifically prospects 20-11. If you did that, well I have some good news for you.
#20: Martin Pospisil, C, Sioux City Musketeers, USHL
Why he was #20: In the fourth round of any draft, there are very few selections that can really shock you, but Martin Pospisil was a bit of a surprise. While he did have some decent scoring numbers, his 253 penalty minutes overshadowed his actual points production by a mile. He somehow occupied the spaces of both goon and playmaker, but it was never really clear which he was. He cracked the list, but barely.
How has he done so far? If the real Pospisil has emerged, it’s an exciting one. Pospisil picked up a point in every one of his first 16 games of the season, leads the USHL in scoring, and didn’t even need to drop his mean streak to do so, just rein it in. His college ambitions are unfortunately dashed for the time being, but that just opens up an opportunity for him to go pro at the end of the season.
Higher or lower? FlamesNation writers unanimously ranked Pospisil higher than 20. It’s hard to argue otherwise.
#19: Demetrious Koumontzis, LW, Arizona State Sun Devils, NCAA (Independent)
Why he was #19: While he was one of the better Minnesota high school players, Koumontzis was quite clearly going to be a long term project for the Flames, so you can’t really rank a player who is three or four years away from the pros ahead of players who are one or two years away.
How has he done so far? He’s been fine. It’s hard to ask for more from a true freshman playing for an upstart hockey program than a point every other game. Not special, not struggling. Just fine.
Higher or lower? About the same. Only three writers said they’d move him up in the rankings, while the others five kept Koumontzis at 19. He hasn’t really distinguished himself from the rest of the prospect pack, so he’ll stay put for the time being.
#18: Mathias Emilio Pettersen, RW, Denver Pioneers, NCAA (NCHC)
Why he was #18: A YouTube sensation when he was 10, the Flames drafted Pettersen after a pretty productive although not overwhelming USHL career. Like Koumontzis, he was also going to take some years to blossom.
How has he done so far? MEP has been exceptional, and could arguably be another year away from the pros. Although he’s cooled off in recent weeks, leading your team and landing sixth among freshmen nationwide in scoring is extremely promising. We’ll have to see if he keeps it up throughout the year, but so far, so good.
Higher or lower? Can you say anything but higher?
#17: Filip Sveningsson, LW/RW, IK Oskarshamn, Allsvenskan
Why he was #17: He had a pretty stellar performance in Sweden’s U20 Superelit, leading HV71’s team to a U20 title and also making some brief SHL appearances. Sveningsson is a prospect who is climbing the career ladder, faster than some prospects do, albeit across the ocean.
How has he done so far? Although a recent hiccup sent him straight down (now #40), Sveningsson led the Allsvenskan in scoring for a brief period of time. Among U20 players in the league, he’s tied for first in scoring although having played fewer games than the man he’s tied with. For a 19-year-old to lead a respectable men’s league in scoring is quite ridiculous.
Higher or lower? Unanimously higher. Hopefully his upcoming World Juniors can boost his stock even more.
#16: Milos Roman, C, Vancouver Giants, WHL
Why he was #16: Roman had some pretty interesting numbers (10 goals, 32 points in 39 games played) for a kid unfamiliar with the North American game. However, the picture was incomplete as he missed just under half of the season with an injury and certainly needed an adjustment period.
How has he done so far? He’s shown a bit more consistency and development from last season. Although he began the year slow, he quickly made up for lost time and became the Giants’ offensive leader before departing for Slovakia’s WJC camp.
Higher or lower? While he’s been better than last season, he’s not really blowing the doors down. All but one FN writer chose to keep him in place at #16.
#15: Dmitry Zavgorodniy, LW/C, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL
Why he was #15: The Johnny Gaudreau-sized Zavgorodniy came to North America and finished fourth in scoring on a consistently good Oceanic team. A younger, already productive player with room to grow at the minimal cost of a seventh round pick? That’s cause for some (tempered) excitement.
How has he done so far? If we were doing an actual 1-20 ranking instead of simply reviewing our old decisions, Zavgorodniy might find himself in the top 10 just for how he’s been playing the first half of this season. He’s put up numbers at 5v5, on the powerplay, and on the penalty kill. The real kicker is that he’s been doing it away from superstar in the making Alexis Lafreniere, with the two only sharing ice time on the powerplay. Zavgorodniy also helped Russia defeat the QMJHL and win their series against the CHL, arguably the team’s best player for the series.
Higher or lower? Duh.
#14: D’Artagnan Joly, RW/C, Rimouski Oceanic
Why he was #14: Although injured for the opening few games of the year, Joly returned to lead the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in points per game scoring, becoming a key cog of their offence.
How has he done so far? His 2018-19 has been turbulent, to say the least. With Baie-Comeau, he found himself in the doghouse, publicly called out by his coach/GM for not fitting the mold. Joly cited long-standing disagreements as the reason for a trade request, which sent him to the Victoriaville Tigres. Before he could even play a game for them, he was flipped to the Oceanic, where he hopes to get his game off the ground again in the new year.
Higher or lower? It’s certainly not all his fault, but Joly has fallen on some writers’ lists, although a few kept him where he was. He’s going to have to work his tail off to get back into the prospect conversation.
#13: Adam Ruzicka, C, Sarnia Sting, OHL
Why he was #13: Ruzicka joined the 30-30 club last season, but struggled with consistency and being effective on his own. Although there was certainly some promise, we felt that we needed to see a bit more.
How has he done so far? Well, he’s been more consistent, but he’s also lost the scoring edge that made him an intriguing prospect in his draft +1 year. He’s been the heart of Sarnia’s powerplay, but has struggled to be productive in other aspects of the game. Although the Sting are certainly not as good as they were in 2017-18, Ruzicka was given the spotlight and has struggled so far.
Higher or lower? Unanimously lower. Ruzicka is moving into “forgettable” territory and may struggle to get a contract at the end of his CHL career. Perhaps being the captain for Slovakia at the upcoming WJC sparks something. For his sake, hopefully.
#12: Linus Lindstrom, C, Skelleftea, SHL
Why he was #12: Lindstrom had just wrapped up his second year of professional hockey heading into the summer rankings. The kid hadn’t become a monster, but he was developing as a reliable defensive centre who could be one big breakout season away from a North American professional job.
How has he done so far? Extremely par for the course, which is bad for a developing 20-year-old. Perhaps a bit of bad luck is to blame – it’s hard for anyone at any level to get regular playing time and go 20 games in a row without getting a point – but he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to play in the top six and has found himself stuck on the fourth line again. The season isn’t over yet, and he did finally pick up his second point of the season this week, but it’s hard to see Lindstrom break out this year given the way he’s played.
Higher or lower? Unanimously lower.
#11: Glenn Gawdin, C/RW, Stockton Heat, AHL
Why he was #11: Having been unable to pick up an ELC from the St. Louis Blues, the team that had drafted him, and having been passed over in his second draft, Gawdin came into the 2017-18 WHL season to prove the doubters wrong. He did so by picking up 125 points in 67 games, helping lead the Broncos to the Memorial Cup.
How has he done so far? Gawdin has begun to familiarize himself with his pro hockey surroundings, finding a niche as a goalscorer on Stockton’s powerplay. He’s been reliable and slightly productive, which is a pretty fair return for a player they didn’t have to use any assets on.
Higher or lower? All but two writers thought that Gawdin should remain at #11, but those two cancelled each other out with their votes, so Gawdin stays at #11.