4 Calgary Flames storylines to follow at the Young Stars Classic

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
In the grand scheme of things, the 2023 Young Stars Classic probably won’t be the be-all, end-all of anybody’s hockey career. At worst, we’ll see the Calgary Flames play three games against prospects from the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers and life will go on as it always has.
But there are four storylines to follow that could give the tournament a bit more importance for some Flames players.

Parker Bell’s quest for an entry-level contract

The Flames selected Parker Bell in the fifth round of the 2022 NHL Draft. At the time, the Flames were high on his potential, noting he was raw and hadn’t really been exposed to high-end training before. If he could add some bulk onto his 6’4″ frame, there was a lot of growth potential there.
In his Draft+1 season, Bell had 25 goals and 64 points in 55 games with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans and he played a pair of games with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers, registering an assist. Bell’s entering his 20-year-old season – he turns 20 on Sept. 26 – and he’s either headed back to the WHL as an overager… or he’s going pro.
There’s not a lot at stake for a lot of players in Penticton, but a strong weekend could possibly earn Bell an entry-level contract.

Young forwards battle for Wranglers depth spots

Between players on NHL contracts and players on AHL contracts, the Flames are heading into training camp with 30 forwards under contract. Obviously, they can’t carry 30 forwards between the Flames and Wranglers, so some players will sit… and some players will be headed to South Dakota to play for the Rapid City Rush.
Last season, Lucas Feuk (on an AHL deal), Ilya Nikolaev and Rory Kerins (on entry-level deals) spent most of their seasons with Rapid City. While playing in Rapid City gives young players some important developmental reps, the talent level in the ECHL isn’t quite where the AHL’s is… and playing in South Dakota may not be as helpful for prospects as playing in Calgary in the same building as the NHL club.
Again, nothing against Rapid City, but the depth forward spots on the Wranglers roster will be at a premium and hotly contested. A strong performance in Penticton could go a long way towards locking down a spot in the AHL.

How do the Hitmen kids look?

Two Calgary Hitmen players are coming to Penticton with the Flames: forward Oliver Tulk and defender Tyson Galloway.
Tulk was eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft (in his first year of elgibility) but wasn’t selected despite posting 24 goals and 60 points in 68 games. Yes, he’s not big, listed at 5’9″ and 174 pounds. But he’s a right shot forward and reliably generated chances and points for the Hitmen last season.
Galloway was selected by St. Louis back in 2021, but he didn’t end up getting signed and he was passed over as a re-entry player in the 2023 NHL Draft. He’s entering his overage season in the Dub. His offensive numbers been solid (but not spectacular) in the WHL – he had three goals and 29 points last season – but he’s got size (6’4″, 205 pounds) and knows how to use it.
Let’s see if either of these local products can stand out.

Do any of the goalies stand out?

Last year, the Flames had Dustin Wolf at prospect camp – at the time, the reigning AHL goaltender of the year. Understandably, all conversations about goaltending began and ended with Wolf.
This year, the Flames have three completely new faces coming to Penticton in goal: Jari Kykkanen, Connor Murphy and Matt Radomsky. Kykkanen turned 19 last month and has gone through the NHL Draft twice. Murphy and Radomsky each joined the Wranglers late last season after four seasons in college.
On paper, the NHL goaltending tandem looks to be Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar. The AHL tandem seems to be Dustin Wolf and Oscar Dansk. It seems likely that Murphy and Radomsky will be headed to Rapid City at some point (barring any trades)… but either of them could work themselves more definitively into the Wranglers’ plans with a good camp.
What players and storylines will you be focusing on during the Young Stars Classic? Let us know in the comments!

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