What to look for at Flames development camp

Let’s be brutally honest here: nobody is going to win a job with the Calgary Flames based on their performance over a four day period in early July. But for players looking to make an impression, the Flames’ annual development camp at Winsport can be a great way to generate some positive momentum.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on at Winsport this weekend.

The schedule

Fitness testing was on Wednesday, followed by four days of on-ice sessions.

  • Thursday: on-ice evaluations at 9 a.m. (Group A) and 10:30 a.m. (Group B).
  • Friday: skill development sessions at 9 a.m. (Group B) and 10:30 a.m. (Group A).
  • Saturday: skill development sessions at 9 a.m. (Group A) and 10:30 a.m. (Group B).
  • Sunday: controlled scrimmage at 9 a.m.

(Parking at Winsport can be a bit of an adventure, so be sure to show up early – especially for Sunday’s scrimmage.)

The bulk of the camp is conducted off-ice and consists of team building and life skills. The on-ice portions are almost exclusively drills to help players develop specific skills that the Flames want them to focus on. Sunday is the exception, a scrimmage where the usually cycle through different in-game situations.

The scrimmage is arguably the only time where it seems fair to judge players, given that they’ve been on the ice for three days already and have likely shaken some of their off-season rust off. It’s also the closest thing to a hockey game most of the players have played in months, and more fair to judge than sometimes monotonous skating and puck-handling drills.

Players to watch

It’s the first camp with the Flames organization for a lot of players: 2019 draft picks Jakob Pelletier, Lucas Feuk, Josh Nodler and Dustin Wolf, Canadian university signing Luke Philp, Russian free agents Alexander Yelesin and Artyom Zagidulin, Swedish signing Carl-Johan Lerby, and former Leafs prospect Andrew Nielsen.

Since they don’t come to training camp in September, this is the only chance to see the European prospects – Feuk, Lerby, Linus Lindstrom and Filip Sveningsson – and the college kids (Nodler, Mitchell Mattson, Demetrious Koumontzis and Emilio Pettersen) live.

With no players with NHL experience at this camp, the interesting thing to watch for is to see if some of the players thought to be the team’s top prospects stand out among the team’s larger crop.

Among the goaltenders, Tyler Parsons is thought to be the one with the most North American pedigree. After a couple rough seasons, can he take a step towards solidifying himself as the team’s goaltender of the future? Or will Zagidulin make a big impression as he takes his first steps into North American hockey?

The blueline group in attendance lacks the star power we typically see, as Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington have functionally graduated. Can Nielsen, the most experienced pro in camp, stand out? Or will one of the Europeans – Lerby or Yelesin – draw the most attention?

Up front, everyone will be excited to see Pelletier, the most recent first round pick (and the only first rounder in the entire camp). But keep your eyes out for…

  • Pettersen, fresh off a strong freshman year with the University of Denver.
  • Martin Pospisil, who was one of the USHL’s top scorers last season.
  • Milos Roman, who was a big part of the Vancouver Giants’ run to the WHL Finals.
  • Sveningsson, who was the top junior-aged player in the Swedish secondary league and helped his team win a promotion to the SHL.
  • Matthew Phillips, the smallest man in camp but one of the most tenacious offensive players in the system.

This is arguably the least star-studded development camp the Flames have held in years. But despite that – and maybe even because of that – it could be one of the most interesting in terms of seeing which players distinguish themselves from the pack.

  • freethe flames

    Anyone going today? What about the scrimmage; my schedule has changed and I will make the scrimmage on Sunday. I think this will make it 6 in a row. I might go tomorrow. We will see; let them get some rust off.

  • Baalzamon

    Or will one of the Europeans – Lerby or Yelesin – draw the most attention?

    Don’t forget Johannes Kinnvall. He probably deserves about as much attention as Lerby (or at least nearly as much).

  • Fat Tony

    Anyone else interested in Eetu Tuulola? I remember the flames drafting him a few years back and he impressed in this very development camp, had a small stint in north american hockey and went back overseas. He played with grown ass men over there and I’m intrigued to see if he makes the jump back over this way.

    • freethe flames

      ET’s first development camp really got us excited as he stood out in the scrimmage. His story excites us and he has the physical tools to play at this level; big, strong, skates well enough, loves to shoot the puck; all those things we could use but he has not stood out in the last couple of camps. But yes i am interested in seeing him back in NA. He and all the older guys should stand out the next few days as they are men with pro experience.

    • I read recently that E.T. was doing very well in mens A League hockey in Sweden I think. He is playing a mans game, using his shot, and standing out. I was under the impression that he will be returning to N. America, and maybe as soon as rookie camp this coming fall.

  • MDG1600

    I am most curious about Wolf. I feel he could be a steal in the 7th round. It would seem he was seriously over looked because he is “only” 6′ tall when the trend is for goalies that are 6’4″ or taller. Apparently nobody noticed that Jordan Binnington was only 6′ 1″.

  • freethe flames

    3 signings of note this morning:
    Charot to Montreal at$3.5m (1 less landing place for TJ)
    Ceci at $4.5m
    Kerfoot at $3.5m( might set a value for Ferland)

  • Off the wall

    I’m rooting for the lil’ Smurf Phillips!
    Dmitri Zavgorodniy, I understand
    was quite good last time. I wonder how he’s going to look this go-around.

    At least some will get a chance to see Pelletier, and his dog- on- a- bone tenacity. Should be fun!

    I wish I could see them first- hand, but ya know 1300km away..

  • withachance


    Kadri rejected a trade to Calgary when Dubas came to him with the initial trade. Package involved Brodie and probably Jankowski too.

    Probably rejected due to his beef with Gio

    • everton fc

      Way too much for Kadri. Thankfully, this deal didn’t happen, but this would have been more of a Feaster deal, than a BT deal. Crazy.

      He probably rejected the move because of the tax difference between Calgary and Denver. Many would if they had the choice, sad to say.

      As for the camp, looking forward to hearing about:

      Wolf/Parsons/Zagidulin/Rifalk; Phillips/Philp/Pelletier/Pospisil/Tuulola/Feuk/Sveningson/Ruzicka; Lerby/Yelesin/Kinvall/van de Leest/Oynebuchi

      Should be an interesting couple of days. I hope I can get there, tomorrow.

    • Baalzamon

      The worry seems to be that his game won’t translate to the next level. In the WHL he’s able to keep up with the play so he can be in position to make the save (or at least close enough that his athleticism can make up the difference). When the game gets faster, he might have trouble keeping up, and his lack of height might start being a problem.

      That’s my understanding of the justification, anyway. It still seems pretty dumb that the best goalie in the WHL had to wait until the seventh round, especially considering a lot of the guys who went ahead of him.

  • cberg

    Here today. On-ice evaluations quite different than I’ve seen previously. Each player has a wrist band chip and gets checked in for each drill when ready to go. Combination of forward and backward skating with and without puck, also utilizing in-drill stop light system to direct them around pilots either right or left. Very interesting.

  • Off the wall

    Unrelated- I’ve watched the Victoria Royals for years and I can’t believe Griffin Outhouse hasn’t been signed by a NHL team yet. He was incredible for 4 season’s with the Royals.

    Outhouse has gone on to record a 114-60-11-4 with a 2.77 goals against average and .917 save percentage in four seasons with the Royals.
    Griffen Outhouse broke countless records for the Royals, and remains the winningest goalie in the club’s franchise history. Yet because he’s 6’0 , 185 lbs he’s not getting much attention from NHL scouts.

    Perhaps the Binnington effect 6’1, 175 lbs, will start changing the Scouting on these goalies?

  • cberg

    Many guys very good in second group, plus a couple others in the first. Pelletier extremely quick, Ruzicka like poetry in motion and both Yelesin and Leroy looked good. Many of the invites bigger guys, and nobody out of place.

    Looking forward to more Saturday and then the scrimmage.

    • freethe flames

      I missed the first group but watched the second group. Here’s what I got from the experience; got an idea of sizes. Pelletier looked like a giant compared to Phillips. Ruzika is a big guy who has all the skill set required to be a player; the question will be is can he play at the next level. The skating drills(which is all they did today) gives you an idea who can skate fast. has good edges, quick reaction time and can puck handle. Most of the guys looked good; I liked Yelesins’ edge work and reaction time on most of the drills I saw. The other Euro D also looked fine. The only guy who looked out of place and I hate to say it was Luke Phillip the kid out of USports his skating looked below the average of the other guys.

      What else did I see? BT on his phone a lot.

  • The Iggy complex

    Jeremy McKenna is an interesting last minute invite. Pelletier line mate (right wing) on Moncton. Was an overager but still had a pretty good year