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Handicapping Calgary Flames prospect signings

The Calgary Flames are into the meat of their 2021-22 season, but before too long they’ll need to start thinking about the future. Several prospects are eligible be signed or have their draft rights lapsing in the coming years.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Flames’ prospects, which ones are likely to be signed, and roughly when.

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Upcoming business

The Flames have until June 1 to sign Ryan Francis and Rory Kerins. Francis is a superb QMJHL scorer and Kerins is among the top OHL point producers. It seems probable that we’ll hear about deals for these two gentlemen sometime after March 1, the date teams can sign deals that begin the following season. It’s unclear if either will become pro players of note, but they’ve likely done enough to earn entry level deals.

Mitchell Mattson is in his senior year with Michigan State. He’s never managed to carve out a real niche in college and he remains a fringe NCAA body as a frequent healthy scratch, so it seems very unlikely that the Flames sign him prior to the August 15 deadline for collegiate signings. Arizona State forward Demetrios Koumontzis is a more reliable college player, but also seems like a longshot to receive an ELC.

End of the 2022-23 season

Six players have their draft rights lapse as of June 1, 2023: Jack Beck (Ottawa, OHL), Lucas Ciona (Seattle, WHL), Cameron Whynot (Halifax, QMJHL), Cole Huckins (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL), Cole Jordan (Moose Jaw, WHL) and Lucas Feuk (Sweden).

The obvious “yes” is Beck, who was off to a superb start to the OHL season before getting sidelined with an injury. The obvious “no” is Feuk, who’s bounced back and forth between various levels of Swedish hockey without finding a clear foothold or role.

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College forward Josh Nodler (Michigan State) has his rights lapse as of Aug. 15, 2023. Nodler has emerged as a really good hand for the Spartans, so he seems like a decent depth signing as (at least) a two-way AHL forward.

End of the 2023-24 season

Two players have their rights expire at the end of the 2023-24 season: Emil Heineman (June 1) and Jake Boltmann (Aug. 15). Heineman has been a really solid player in Sweden and probably gets signed well before 2024. Boltmann projects as a shutdown defender, but he’s showed some offensive promise in college this season. He seems likely to at least play his junior year in 2022-23, but his scoring touch gives him a decent shot at an ELC.

End of the 2024-25 season

Two players have their rights expire at the end of the 2024-25 season: William Strömgren (June 1) and Matthew Coronato (Aug. 15). It’s too early to tell what happens with Strömgren – he’s been superb in Swedish junior so far, though – but it seems like a safe bet that Coronato signs after his first or second year of college, well before this deadline.

End of the 2025-26 season

College-bound goalie Arsenii Sergeev has his rights lapse in awhile: Aug. 15 of the year he leaves college, which could be as late as 2026. He’s been excellent in the USHL, so maybe he doesn’t last the full four years in college.

In theory, whenever

Since there’s no transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, goalie Daniil Chechelev and forward Ilya Nikolaev theoretically have their rights held by the Flames indefinitely. Chechelev is already playing pro (in the ECHL) while Nikolaev likely goes pro next season, so it seems fairly likely that one or both of them sign in the next couple of seasons. (Or they both head back to Europe and the Flames hold onto their rights forever.) Nikolaev has been quite good in the USHL, so he seems like a contender for an AHL deal for 2022-23, if nothing else.