Josh Nodler is aiming for hockey’s next level

Over the past few seasons, the Calgary Flames have focused on American high school and collegiate players. In particular, they’ve gone hard after players from the United States Hockey League. In the fifth round of the 2019 NHL Draft, they selected Michigan product Josh Nodler of the USHL’s Fargo Force.

Unlike fellow Flames picks Jakob Pelletier, Ilya Nikolayev and Dustin Wolf, Nodler wasn’t in attendance at Rogers Arena for the NHL Draft. Instead, he found out about his selection via a phone call from the Flames and a delayed reaction from family members watching on television.

“I was watching at home back in the suburbs of Detroit with my whole family, and my friends and my girlfriend and we were all watching,” said Nodler between sessions at Flames development camp. “And I got the call from Calgary and I stepped outside and they told me I was a part of the organization. And obviously I was just swept with joy and I was super-thrilled, and I heard a few screams from inside from my parents watching the TV, so that’s when I kinda knew. It was very exciting.”

A product of Oak Park, a Detroit suburb, Nodler came up playing minor hockey in the local area, including stints with the Honeybaked program’s bantam and U16 teams. He spent the 2018-19 season relatively far from home, in North Dakota, plying his trade for the USHL’s Fargo Force. He finished the season 11th among his age group in scoring in the circuit, and was one of 25 USHLers drafted in the 2019 NHL Draft. Only the Western Hockey League had a better haul.

“It’s very exciting and I think the USHL is going in a very good direction,” said Nodler. “They’ve been producing a lot of good players and it’s a very tough schedule and it pushes you to get better each and every day, so I think that’s kind of the baseline reason why they’re sending so many more people. It’s a great thing to see.”

Now, Nodler is headed back closer to home. He’ll be playing with the Michigan State Spartans – 20 minutes down the road from his hometown – alongside fellow Flames pick Mitchell Mattson. He’ll also be able to pursue his passions for math and computer science.

“There’s a lot of different things that kinda drew me to Michigan State,” said Nodler. “Number one, you can get a good education. The coaches and facilities are first class. Everything about it just drew me towards it. It’s close to home for friends and family to come see, so that was a huge thing, too. I think it’s the right spot for me to keep developing, and work on my development each and every day to get to the next level.”

Heading into his freshman year in the NCAA, Nodler has a pretty clear long-term goal in mind. But he’s trying to keep his focus on the short-term and build towards being ready to make the jump to hockey’s highest level before too long.

“Well ultimately the goal is to make it to the NHL and hopefully be a Calgary Flame one day,” said Nodler. “But I know I have a long ways to go, so I just want to take it kinda year by year and day by day and keep getting better each and every day, and take what I learned at this camp and this season to my freshman season and hopefully keep improving to make it to the next level.”

  • Skylardog

    Any thoughts on moving Hanifin? It appears we are at a stalemate with everyone else. A package deal with Frolik and something coming back to help up front, and a cap dump?


  • freethe flames

    This mornings article is about Noodle’s; he was fine at the development camp. He looked solid and did not look out of place; let’s see how he develops.

    • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

      He was outstanding at the Ivan Hlinka in Edmonton. Super solid pick by the Flames here. I follow the USHL fairly closely and Fargo’s coach is super old school and doesn’t play young guys a ton, so most feel that Nodler would have scored even more on another club with a more offensive system, considering he was close to a PPG already is saying something. Really, really liking this pick.

  • freethe flames

    I posted this on another thread but thought it might bare further discussion:
    I am wondering if the Flames and Stone are considering him going on LTIR? I can see the excitement of getting ready for the playoffs as clouding both parties judgement about his health(think about how many guys play with significant injuries). With the light of day might this be the answer?

  • freethe flames

    Another thought that we could discuss is the the Labanc contract; talk about a sweet deal for SJ for this year. He is betting on himself big time. But it does show the point that some players will sign for less than the market suggests.

    • idbr

      I had to look twice when I saw the number. He put up 56 points last year. One million sounds really low to me. I guess Mangi and Bennett should be making league minimum if using this as a comparable. Tkachuk maybe two million… One can dream.

    • Budgie

      Lablanc would have looked good in a Calgary uniform. From the development camp is Stockton going to be replenished? Could be a younger and truly a development team but when you throw young guys out with older pros they can get beaten up and hurt bad. Nodler wasn’t mentioned as a standout prior, who do you think could step up to the next level from the Development Camp? Popisil and Koumontzis?

    • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

      Someone definitely should have offered sheeted Labanc. Instead of going for just big name players, teams should focus on under the radar players like this. If you signed him for long term for $4.5-6 Million long term SJ couldn’t have matched it

    • freethe flames

      An untrue statement. My very first post was about Noodles(although it is buried about 1/2 way down). My comment was he did not loo out of place at development camp b/c that is all I can assess him on. I see you did not make any contribution about him either.

      • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

        Josh Nodler was fantastic at the Ivan Hlinka, I was there in person for four of USAs games. He had 7 Points in 5 GP and was very relentless in traffic, like a dog on a bone. He’s super strong for his size and battles so hard for loose pucks, never quits. He’s got a lot of Hockey IQ and see’s smart passing plays in traffic as well. The thing that caused him to fall is he is only seen as an “average skater” which I kind of disagree on, but to be honest I thought his skating looked even improved at development camp. If he adds another step he’ll be a homerun and I think he’ll step in and be an immediate impact player for MSU this year as a Freshaman. Great kid off the ice apparently as well, relentless worker off the ice.