15Matthew Phillips
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Looking back at five years of Flames prospect rankings

We’ve just completed our annual @Calgary Flames prospect rankings here at FlamesNation. Since August is typically the quietest month for hockey news, it’s a nice time to take stock of the prospect pool. Now that the exercise is over, we can navel-gaze a bit on how this year’s list stacks up with prior editions – and see what we can learn from them.

Rankings at a glance

Here are the past five summers worth of rankings:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
1 Juuso
Valimaki
Juuso
Valimaki
Tyler
Parsons
Matthew
Tkachuk
Sam
Bennett
2 Dillon
Dube
Rasmus
Andersson
Rasmus
Andersson
Hunter
Shinkaruk
Jon
Gillies
3 Jakob
Pelletier
Andrew
Mangiapane
Juuso
Valimaki
Jon
Gillies
Emile
Poirier
4 Matthew
Phillips
Dillon
Dube
Adam
Fox
Rasmus
Andersson
Oliver
Kylington
5 Emilio
Pettersen
Oliver
Kylington
Oliver
Kylington
Oliver
Kylington
Morgan
Klimchuk
6 Filip
Sveningsson
Spencer
Foo
Mark
Jankowski
Andrew
Mangiapane
Rasmus
Andersson
7 Dmitry
Zavgorodniy
Matthew
Phillips
Spencer
Foo
Tyler
Parsons
Brandon
Hickey
8 Adam
Ruzicka
Tyler
Parsons
Dillon
Dube
Adam
Fox
Tyler
Wotherspoon
9 Alexander
Yelesin
Jon
Gillies
Andrew
Mangiapane
Daniel
Pribyl
Bill
Arnold
10 Martin
Pospisil
Morgan
Klimchuk
Morgan
Klimchuk
Brandon
Hickey
Mark
Jankowski
11 Ilya
Nikolayev
Glenn
Gawdin
Jon
Gillies
Mark
Jankowski
Kenney
Morrison
12 Tyler
Parsons
Linus
Lindstrom
Matthew
Phillips
Brett
Kulak
Andrew
Mangiapane
13 Eetu
Tuulola
Adam
Ruzicka
Hunter
Shinkaruk
Emile
Poirier
Ryan
Culkin
14 Dustin
Wolf
D’Artagnan
Joly
David
Rittich
Dillon
Dube
Kenny
Agostino
15 Demetrios
Koumontzis
Dmitry
Zavgorodniy
Emile
Poirier
Matthew
Phillips
Hunter
Smith
16 Artyom
Zagidulin
Milos
Roman
Adam
Ruzicka
Brett
Pollock
Mason
McDonald
17 Carl-Johan
Lerby
Filip
Sveningsson
Eetu
Tuulola
Mason
McDonald
Brett
Kulak
18 Linus
Lindstrom
Emilio
Pettersen
Daniel
Pribyl
Morgan
Klimchuk
Austin
Carroll
19 Josh
Nodler
Demetrios
Koumontzis
Adam
Ollas Mattsson
Linus
Lindstrom
Garnet
Hathaway
20 Lucas
Feuk
Martin
Pospisil
Ryan
Lomberg
Ryan
Culkin
Rushan
Rafikov

Things have come a long way since Bill Arnold was a Top 10 prospect in the organization.

Players that linger (and drop)

There’s a trend that you can probably see pretty clearly: if you’re a “top prospect” that slides down the rankings, even as new draft classes and their shiny new toys emerge, you’re probably not actually a top prospect.

Case(s) in point: @Jon Gillies, @Emile Poirier and @Hunter Shinkaruk. Gillies debuted at 2nd in this sample (he was 9th in 2013 and 5th in 2014, too) and then started to slide; he dropped to 3rd, then 11th, clawed back to 9th in 2018 and fell off the list entirely this year. Poirier went 3rd, 13th and 15th before he left the organization, and Shinkaruk went from 2nd to 15th to gone. A much better trajectory is starting in the middle and climbing, ala Dillon Dube or Andrew Mangiapane.

The most resilient prospect we’ve seen is @Oliver Kylington, who was 4th, 5th, 5th, 5th and then graduated by virtue of playing too many NHL games to be considered a rookie anymore. Shiny new toys entered the organization, but Kylington’s performances continued to stack up well against them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Let’s look at graduations

As mentioned, we use Calder Trophy eligibility to determine who counts as a prospect. Once somebody’s too old or has played too many NHL games, they can’t make the list. Being too old is “ageing out,” while playing a lot of NHL games is a graduation.

Here’s each rankings’ graduating class and their last ranking on the list:

  • 2015: Bennett (1), Wotherspoon (8), Hathaway (19)
  • 2016: Tkachuk (1), Kulak (12)
  • 2017: Jankowski (6), Rittich (14)
  • 2018: Andersson (2), Mangiapane (3), Kylington (5) (Valimaki and Dube just missed the games played cut-off, and had they not been injured both would’ve graduated.)

The interesting thing here is the team has gotten some contributions from all over the place, notably the graduations of Hathaway (a grinder), Kulak (a depth defender) and Rittich (at the time the backup goalie). Progression into an NHL depth role is still, in fact, progression.

Who is the most likely prospect to graduate this year? With Valimaki out with an injury, it seems like Dube is the obvious candidate. But my dark horse is Matthew Phillips, who has quietly and consistently nudged his way up the rankings every season.


  • freethe flames

    So our early first rounders are NHLer’s, some of our mid 1st rounders are NHLer’s and a handful of guys drafted in the second round are nhler’s, a few guys from later rounds have made the show as have a few FA. I wonder who will be the surprises from this year.

    • wot96

      So actually, three first rounders, and three second rounders made the nhl over four drafts (15 – 18) with another first rounder and second rounder just missing the cut on the basis of not enough games played due to injury, which excludes Janks as a first rounder from a prior draft. Plus a bunch of late round picks that have stuck, or look like they will.

      That’s actually really good drafting. Lucky, no doubt, but really good. It’s easy to swing and miss on any round that isn’t “a deep draft”.

  • Off the wall

    We badly need RW, right handed shooters. My dark horse also is Matthew Phillips. He’s gradually making his way up the ladder as far as prospects go.

    He might be a Smurf (TM) but he’s one tough one!
    Pospisil is my next prospect to root for!

    • Albertabeef

      I don’t see Matty as a “dark horse”, this year. With Matty I don’t see a question of “if”, just “when”. My dark horse bet goes on R2-E2 this fall.

  • VernonViper

    So the annual flames charity golf
    Tournament takes place today. Meanwhile Tkachuk just posted a picture of himself on social media boating in the Missouri Ozarks. Anyone else getting nervous about this ? Mangi I hear is asking for 2.0 million per. Tre get to work!!!

  • VernonViper

    Terrible news folks. Clayton Keller just signed his contract. 7.15 million per. Ready for this. Last year he only got 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points!!!!!!! Tkachuk and family are licking there chops right now.