With the 2019 NHL Draft and development camp firmly in the rear-view mirror, the Calgary Flames’ players and prospects have returned home to train for the summer. But soon the hockey season will begin – European and junior pre-seasons begin in August.
Here’s our first part of a look at where you can find Flames’ prospects in the 2019-20 season, starting off with the Canadian Hockey League.
The third of three Flames fourth round picks in the 2018 NHL Draft – they traded into the round to grab him – Roman is an import player from Slovakia heading into his third WHL season with the Vancouver Giants. He’ll have the rare distinction of being an NHL draftee and a two-spotter – he takes up an overager spot and an import spot.
The reasoning for the Flames’ declining to sign Roman seems to be primarily numbers-based. A profile on the Flames site by George Johnson suggests that the Flames simply didn’t want to have a ton of rookies in Stockton. Here’s Ron Sutter, one of the team’s player development gurus:
This season, he’ll be counted upon heavily. Towards the end of the year, I talked to Barclay (Parneta), the general manager there, said they wanted him back, as both an underage and a Euro, which is unusual. For us, when you look at the depth we have in front of him – signing Luke Philp, Pospisil … it’s hard to have a bunch of young guys all fighting for ice time in the American League.
The Giants should be pretty good – they added a few interesting pieces this summer – but Roman will get a chance to be a focal point as one of their overagers. He’s missed time due to injury and World Junior camps the past few seasons, so a strong full season could be a nice stepping stone for his pro career.
Last season, Wolf took over as the starter for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. He was really good, emerging as one of the top netminders in the Dub and ending up named a conference All-Star. In 2019-20, he’ll be the starter once again and potentially could be part of a Silvertips team a bit lean on offensive firepower that has to win by committee.
There’s also a decent chance Wolf could be representing the United States at the World Juniors, which would be huge for his development and profile.
The Flames’ top pick in last month’s draft, Pelletier is obviously headed back to junior for the upcomign season. He’ll suit up for a Moncton Wildcats team that has lost a few key bodies – including top scorer Jeremy McKenna – but has gained Edmonton Oilers goaltending prospect Olivier Rodrigue between the pipes.
Pelletier and Minnesota Wild prospect Alexander Khovanov will be heavily relied-upon for offense. While Pelletier isn’t on Hockey Canada’s summer camp roster, there’s a good chance he can muscle his way into the World Juniors conversation with a strong start to his season.
A product of Russia, Zavgorodniy is headed back to the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic for a third North American season. He’ll be part of what could be one of the more exciting junior teams in Canada, as the Oceanic have uber-prospect Alexis Lafreniere on their roster – he’s the presumptive top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and he’s just great.
But beyond Lafreniere, Zavgorodniy will be a huge part of Rimouski’s offensive attack and he’ll get a ton of ice time. He’ll also likely be in the mix for Russia’s World Junior roster – he missed the cut last year, but Russia typically takes mostly 19-year-olds so it wasn’t completely off-base that he didn’t get chosen.
The Flames will have zero Ontario Hockey League prospects this season, as Adam Ruzicka has signed his pro deal and will be going pro barring anything unforeseen in camp.