Photo Credit: Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

What are the Flames getting in Connor Mackey and Colton Poolman?

We had some honest to goodness hockey news on Friday, as the Calgary Flames added a pair of sought-after collegiate defenders in the form of Minnesota State’s Connor Mackey and North Dakota’s Colton Poolman.

But just what are the Flames gaining in these two left shot blueliners, aside from two players who have experience against grown-ass men?

Connor Mackey

Mackey, 23, was a player the Flames had been after for awhile. A USHL standout, he was invited to the Flames’ development camp in 2017 but went to college rather than get lured to go pro. The Flames kept tabs on him, though, which likely gave them an advantage when it came time for him to join an NHL club.

Mackey was Mr. Everything for the Mavericks this season, playing big minutes and acting as the conduit for much of their transition game. He projects as a puck-moving offensive defender at the NHL level – he has the size and puck sense to do it, but it’ll be curious to see if he has the skating to do it at the NHL level.

If nothing else, though, he’s driven and has a record of success. Here’s his last four seasons:

  • 2016-17: USHL Defenseman of the Year, USHL First Team All-Star
  • 2017-18: WCHA All-Rookie Team, team won regular season conference title
  • 2018-19: WCHA Third Team All-Star, team won regular season conference title
  • 2019-20: WCHA First Team All-Star, team won regular season conference title

Colton Poolman

Poolman, 24, is more of a Travis Hamonic/Robyn Regehr style stay at home defender, but he’s smart with the puck and can make decisions quickly. He’s renowned for his character and his ability to play hard minutes without leaking a lot of scoring chances against.

The Grand Forks Herald had a good breakdown of Poolman:

Colton played in all situations for UND this season — top defensive pairing, power play and penalty kill — but made his mark on the defensive side of the puck.

Earlier this week, Poolman was named one of three finalists for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s defenseman of the year award, an honor Tucker won in 2016-17.

Poolman, a finalist for the NCHC’s player of the year award last season, finished his career with 18 goals and 75 points in 146 games. In the last 15 years, only two UND defensemen have finished their careers with more points than Poolman — Nick Mattson (78 from 2011-15) and Chay Genoway (127 from 2006-11). Dillon Simpson matched Poolman’s total of 75.

The Flames defensive depth

With the two signings, here’s a quick snapshot of the Flames’ defensive depth as of now-ish grouped by what side they play:

Under contract for 2020-21

Mark Giordano
Noah Hanifin
Juuso Valimaki
Connor Mackey
Connor Poolman
Carl-Johan Lerby
Rasmus Andersson
Alexander Yelesin

Restricted free agents

Oliver Kylington
Andrew Nielsen

Unrestricted free agents

Derek Forbort
Rinat Valiev
TJ Brodie
Travis Hamonic
Michael Stone
Erik Gustafsson

With Valimaki coming off a major injury, Lerby brand-new to the smaller ice and Kylington at the end of his waiver status – putting his future with the organization under a bit of uncertainty – both Mackey and Poolman probably like their chances of pushing for NHL games sooner rather than later.

Chatting with Pat Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Friday, Flames general manager Brad Treliving praised assistant GM Craig Conroy and scout Billy Powers for their work in getting these deals done. He also teased that the club has a college free agent forward they’re working towards finalizing, so we may have more news coming soon.