2020 has been a strange year on many fronts, and of course that bleeds through into the hockey world. Typically, the quiet portion of the hockey calendar is August. This year we had the playoffs begin in that month.
But following an October edition of the NHL Draft and some free agency, things are quieting down a bit and so we’ve made November our prospect rankings month here at FlamesNation for 2020. (Maybe next year it’ll be in the summer again.)
The procedure is rather simple: we made a list of the Calder Trophy eligible players in the Calgary Flames system and each of us ranked them from 1 to 20. Based on everyone’s votes we created a consensus list, and from there we talked to our friends throughout the hockey world to learn a bit more about each player and their chances to move along to hockey’s highest level.
We had 33 players eligible for inclusion on the countdown. Nine players received zero votes on any of our ballots. Traditionally, at least one of the unranked players have a monster season after we leave them off the countdown – last year it was Glenn Gawdin and Luke Philp. Here are the nine contenders to make us look very foolish.
A fourth rounder in 2019, Feuk has bounced around so far in his two post-draft seasons. So far, he’s played for Sodertalje (in Allsvenskan and Superelit) and AIK (in Allsvenskan and Superelit). He’s a really good junior player (37 points in 31 games post-draft), but hasn’t really grabbed a foothold in the pros yet (three points in 35 games post-draft). That said, he’s 19 and the Flames have until June 2023 to make a decision on signing him.
His last name is pronounced “Folk,” by the way.
A sixth rounder in 2020, Kerins scored 30 goals for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in his draft year. One of the younger players in the draft as an April 2002 birthday, he’s still super raw and it’ll become clearer what he is after another season of development.
If you want to learn more about Kerins, there’s a nice write-up on his game at OHL Prospects.
A free agent signing a year and change ago, Kirkland was a 2014 pick by Nashville but wasn’t qualified as a restricted free agent following his entry level contract. The Flames signed him and he had a pretty solid first season in Stockton, basically acting as an all-situations glue guy. It’s unclear if he’s got any NHL upside, but he’s become a key puzzle piece on the farm.
A fourth rounder in 2014, Koumontzis is heading into his junior year with the suddenly prestigious Arizona State University Sun Devils. He’s got size and some nice tools, but he hasn’t moved the needle a ton offensively at the NCAA level quite yet.
A free agent signing out of Sweden, Lerby spent 2019-20 with Malmo playing for Rasmus Andersson’s dad. He’s been a consistent offensive contributor in Sweden, but the big question is how he’ll translate as a left shot defender in a system that already has Connor Mackey and Colton Poolman. (There’s only so much ice time to go around, after all.)
All due respect, but perhaps the least impressive prospect in the pipeline is this fifth rounder from 2016. Since being drafted, he’s spent two seasons in the USHL and two in the NCAA, amassing one assist in college and being a frequent healthy scratch.
Arguably the most underrated player in the system is this two-way centre for Michigan State, a fifth round pick by the Flames in 2019. He was invited to USA Hockey’s World Junior evaluation camp and by all accounts he was rock-solid for the Spartans as a freshman. The offensive production just hasn’t materialized quite yet (but he was a good USHL scorer, so the potential is still there).
Drafted as an overager by the Flames in the seventh round in 2020, Solovyov is big and scored quite a bit in the OHL as a 19-year-old. He’s able to play a regular shift in the KHL at 20, which is impressive, but his lack of KHL offense leads to some questions about how his OHL production could translate to the pro level in North America. That said, he’s a seventh rounder, so expectations aren’t exactly sky high.
If you want to learn more about Solovyov, there’s a nice write-up on his game at OHL Prospects.
A free agent signing from Russia, Zagidulin had a ton of wins for Stockton last season as the team’s 1B goaltender behind Jon Gillies. Zagidulin had rather unimpressive stats overall compared to Gillies, but he was the goaltender that could be more relied upon for big saves in close games. The hope is after a season transitioning to a new league and country, Zagidulin can take a step in 2020-21 and improve those numbers a bit.