It’s the holiday season! While we wait for the Calgary Flames to resume their post-Christmas schedule (hopefully) on Dec. 27 against the Edmonton Oilers, we felt it was time to see what the club’s prospects could end up becoming.
So, let’s do a quick rundown of the prospects in the Flames’ cupboard and their potential upsides. First up: goaltenders and defenders.
Dustin Wolf 
- Currently: Starting goaltender, Stockton Heat (AHL). He’s among the top statistical performers in that league.
- Upside: Until proven otherwise, Wolf seems like a good bet to make the NHL and push for a starting job (or at least become a very good backup).
Adam Werner 
- Currently: Backup goaltender, Stockton.
- Upside: Werner has been a bit of a tweener over the past few years. It seems like he might top out as a good AHL starter.
Daniil Chechelev 
- Currently: Starting goaltender, Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL).
- Upside: Unclear. Chechelev hasn’t played a ton as a pro, so it’s tough to tell where he’ll top out. Based on early ECHL returns, he seems like he’d be at least an average AHL goalie.
Arsenii Sergeev 
- Currently: Starting goaltender, Tri-City Storm (USHL). He’s the outright statistical leader in all goaltending categories.
- Upside: Unclear. He’s heading to college next season and the players with similar numbers who’ve headed to the NCAA have varied significantly in their college (and pro) performances.
Connor Mackey 
- Currently: First pairing defender, Stockton.
- Upside: Mackey’s shown he can be a rock-solid third pairing defender at the NHL. Given his age, perhaps he has a level beyond that. He probably doesn’t have first pairing upside, though.
Jeremie Poirier 
- Currently: First pairing defender, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL).
- Upside: Poirier has superb offensive instincts and he’s smart enough to skate his way out of trouble most of the time, but his play away from the puck needs a bit of work. His defensive play probably keeps him from NHL first pair upside, but he still projects as a second or third pairing defender (and a power play specialist).
Yan Kuznetsov 
- Currently: Second pairing defender, Saint John.
- Upside: Kuznetsov was a superb shutdown defender in college and he was a rock-solid (but unspectacular) third pairing AHLer. If he can build up his offensive swagger a bit, he could have second pair upside, but his defensive smarts give him a good shot at being (at least) a third pair shutdown type.
Johannes Kinnvall 
- Currently: Season-opening njury reserve.
- Upside: Kinnvall is a hard player to project. He was a really good offensive defender in Sweden but really relied on the power play for his offense. (His defensive zone play was fine, but nothing amazing.) Unless he finds more balance, he’s probably a power play specialist and a third pairing NHLer if he makes it.
Cole Jordan 
- Currently: First pairing defender, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL).
- Upside: Scouts love Jordan’s smarts and his skating. His mobility alone gives him the ability to make things happen in all three zones. He might not have elite skills, but his mobility give him second pairing upside.
Cameron Whynot 
- Currently: First pairing defender, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL).
- Upside: Whynot is a rock-solid all-around defender right now. He’s a little reliant on the power play for offense, which might hold him to a third pairing upside at the NHL level, but it’s still early days.
Ilya Solovyov 
- Currently: Third pairing defender, Stockton.
- Upside: Solovyov was a very reliable third pairing defender in the KHL and he’s been a reliable defender as a rookie in the AHL. It’s reasonable to presume that he could be a perfectly acceptable third pairing NHL defender given a bit more time to develop.
Jake Boltmann 
- Currently: First pairing defender, University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA).
- Upside: Boltmann projected as a shutdown defender coming out of the USHL and didn’t move the needle offensively last season as a college freshman, but he’s found some offense in his game this season. He’s a bit of a longshot for the NHL given his overall output, but he could be a solid two-way third pairing defender if he does make it.
Colton Poolman 
- Currently: Second/third pairing defender, Stockton.
- Upside: Honestly, given his age and his performance in the AHL thus far, being a rock-solid AHL blueliner may be Poolman’s upside. He hasn’t moved the needle a ton at the AHL, but he’s far from a drag on the team.
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