FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects: a retrospective

Our annual prospect rankings are complete for 2020. It’s the sixth consecutive year we’ve done a Top 20 list of Calgary Flames prospects and given that this tenure overlaps significantly with Brad Treliving’s time as general manager, it seems prudent to take a trip down memory lane.

Here’s a quick rundown of the prospect rankings we’ve done since Treliving was hired as GM in April 2014.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

(Players in bold played enough NHL games the following season to use up their Calder Trophy eligibility and graduated from the list.)

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
1st Valimaki Valimaki Valimaki Parsons Tkachuk Bennett Monahan
2nd Zary Dube Andersson Andersson Shinkaruk Gillies Gaudreau
3rd Pelletier Pelletier Mangiapane Valimaki Gillies E. Poirier Baertschi
4th Mackey
Phillips Dube Fox Andersson Kylington Granlund
5th Pettersen Kylington Kylington Kylington Klimchuk E. Poirier
6th Pettersen Sveningsson Foo Jankowski Mangiapane Andersson Gillies
7th Zavgorodniy Zavgorodniy Phillips Foo Parsons Hickey Arnold
8th Gawdin Ruzicka Parsons Dube Fox Wotherspoon Klimchuk
9th Phillips Yelesin Gillies Mangiapane Pribyl Arnold Ortio
10th J. Poirier Pospisil Klimchuk Klimchuk Hickey Jankowski Reinhart
11th Ruzicka Nikolayev Gawdin Gillies Jankowski Morrison Wotherspoon
12th Kuznetsov Parsons Lindstrom Phillips Kulak Mangiapane Kulak
13th Nikolayev Tuulola Ruzicka Shinkaruk E. Poirier Culkin Agostino
14th Kinnvall Wolf Joly Rittich Dube Agostino Jankowski
15th Tuulola Koumontzis Zavgorodniy E. Poirier Phillips Smith Culkin
16th Philp Zagidulin Roman Ruzicka Pollock McDonald
17th Pospisil Lerby Sveningsson Tuulola McDonald Kulak
18th Francis Lindstrom Pettersen Pribyl Klimchuk Carroll
19th Yelesin Nodler Koumontzis Ollas Mattsson Lindstrom Hathaway
20th Parsons Feuk Pospisil Lomberg Culkin Rafikov

Note: In 2014 we did a Flames 15 prior to the NHL Draft, which morphed into our Top 20 the following season with tweaked eligibility requirements.

Man, that 2014 group drops off pretty quickly, eh? This is the prospect group that Treliving inherited. Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau obviously have become cornerstone pieces. Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Morgan Klimchuk and Brett Kulak were converted via trade into Rasmus Andersson, Hunter Shinkaruk, Andrew Nielsen, Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina – of which only Andersson remains. Everyone else on the list left the the organization for no return. (Honestly, the 2015 list isn’t all that better either.)

Valimaki obviously seems like the strongest contender to graduate from the 2020 list.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Beyond the improved depth in the organization, it’s interesting to see some trends:

  • The most recent first round pick always debuts in the top three: Bennett and Tkachuk at 1, Zary at 2, and Valimaki at 3.
  • Collectively, we have tended to get sucked into the hype of free agent signings: Hey there, Kenney Morrison (11th, 2015), Daniel Pribyl (9th, 2016), Spencer Foo (7th, 2017), David Rittich (14th, 2017), Glenn Gawdin (11th, 2018), Alexander Yelesin (9th, 2019), Artyom Zagidulin (16th, 2019), Carl-Johan Lerby (17th, 2019), Connor Mackey (T4th, 2020), and Johannes Kinnvall (14th, 2020). Rittich is arguably the only one of these signings that immediately met (or even exceeded) expectations.
  • Of course, there’s a lengthy trend of these signings falling in the rankings in their second year on the list – most recently Yelesin, Zagidulin and Lerby. Gawdin rebounded in his third year, though. Keep an eye on Mackey and Kinnvall over the next 10-12 months.
  • We’ve been all over the place on goalies. Let’s use Jon Gillies as an example: 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 9th and then aged off the list. Those are some big swings. Tyler Parsons – 7th, 1st, 8th, 12th, 20th – has taken similar swings. Dustin Wolf seems to be off to a similarly eventful start, jumping into the top five in his second ranking.

What trends do you see across the past seven rankings? Sound off in the comments, then join us on Friday as we close out the 2020 prospect rankings with a discussion of how our various panelists came up with their individual rankings.