Five Calgary Flames prospects trending down at mid-season

Photo credit:Provided by the Stockton Heat
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
There are a lot of young players in the Calgary Flames system. Some improve. Some don’t. But as we approach the middle of the 2021-22 hockey calendar, five prospects are standing out for how much they haven’t taken a step forward so far this season.
Here’s a rundown of five Flames prospects hoping for a stronger finish to their seasons.

Connor Zary

Calgary’s first-round pick in 2020, Zary’s more a victim of bad luck and circumstance than a player whose stock is tanking. Zary broke his foot blocking a shot in a prospect camp game and didn’t get cleared to play until mid-November. He had no training camp and is arguably still catching up to his teammates in that sense. He’s finally getting some points, though, so perhaps he’s rounding into form. Zary was our 2nd-ranked prospect in the off-season ranking.

Emilio Pettersen

A sixth-round pick back in 2018, Pettersen was a really good USHL prospect who became a really good NCAA player and went pro a couple seasons ago. After putting up pretty good offensive numbers as an AHL rookie last season – he was just under a half-a-point per-game pace – he’s been quite quiet this season. Some of that has been the emergence of folks like Walker Duehr and Jakob Pelletier pushing him down the rotation and relegating him to a bottom six role (and occasional healthy scratches), but Eetu Tuulola has more goals than Pettersen and Tuulola plays less often. Pettersen was our 11th-ranked prospect in the off-season ranking.

Yan Kuznetsov

A 19-year-old who was a second-round pick in 2020, Kuznetsov went pro this season initially after signing with the Flames after his sophomore college season at Connecticut. He’s been solid if unspectacular with the Heat, playing in a third pairing rotation with Colton Poolman and Ilya Solovyov. Kuznetsov projects as a shutdown defender, but his offensive output was arguably less than expected. The Flames took advantage of a chance to send him to the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, this season’s Memorial Cup host, where he’ll have a bigger role and get a chance to play a lengthy playoff run and possibly build up some swagger with the puck. Kuznetsov was our 15th-ranked prospect in the off-season ranking.

Johannes Kinnvall

Like Zary, Kinnvall’s a bit of a bad luck case here. A free agent signing out of Sweden, Kinnvall has built up a reputation in his pro career as being a superb offensive talent whose defensive game is… well, it’s alright. But he projects as a right shot power play specialist, and teams all need one of those, right? He came over from Sweden this season for training camp, and promptly suffered what the team termed as a “significant” injury in the first prospect camp game. Hopefully Kinnvall gets a chance to get some games in during the latter stages of the season. Kinnvall was our 17th-ranked prospect in the off-season ranking.

Dmitry Zavgorodniy

A seventh-round pick back in 2018, Zavgorodniy was a superb player in the Q. He was small, fast and smart, sort of a Russian version of Andrew Mangiapane. But in parts of two seasons with Stockton, Zavgorodniy has been thoroughly ordinary. Again, like, Pettersen, part of that does fall on where he fits into the rotation – it’s hard to be impressive on an AHL team’s fourth line – but he hasn’t done quite enough to force the issue. Zavgorodniy’s headed to Russia to play out the KHL season and he’s still under contract to the Flames, so he’ll be back. But he’ll need a strong finish to show the Flames what he’s capable of as a pro. Zavgorodniy was unranked in the off-season prospect ranking.

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