Diving into the underlying stats of the Calgary Flames’ 2023 draft class

Photo credit:Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds
Ryan Pike
11 months ago
The Calgary Flames made six selections at the 2023 NHL Draft late last month in scenic Nashville. The club added a goaltender, two defencemen and three forwards to their prospect pool. How do these newcomers shape up in terms of their underlying metrics?
Let’s find out!

Samuel Honzek – LW, Vancouver Giants, WHL

18; Calgary’s first round pick (16th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
5v5 P1ShNHLe
Regular season4323335640362613432.25
In 2021-22, his Draft-1 season, Honzek had an NHLe (NHL equivalence, a conversion of scoring in other leagues to estimate NHL production) of 6.19 in the Slovak Extraliga – but that’s a byproduct both of him being a 17-year-old in a men’s league and having a depth role with that team. In his first season in North America, despite missing two months after a pretty serious laceration, he put up really good numbers.
40 primary points (P1) in 43 games is pretty good for a first-year WHLer. Heck, 36 even strength points (5v5 P) in 43 games is pretty good. And 26 even strength primary points (5v5 P1) is also quite nice. When you factor in Honzek’s relative inexperience against high-end junior talent, his performance in his Draft season is quite impressive.
(For comparison’s sake, Parker Bell and Lucas Ciona, both established WHLers, each had NHLes of just below 30 in 2022-23.)

Etienne Morin – D, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL

18; Calgary’s second round pick (48th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
5v5 P1SHNHLe
Regular season6721517247342121325.03
In his Draft-1 season, Morin had a 12.10 NHLe as a 16-year-old in the QMJHL. Totally respectable!
In his Draft season, as a 17-year-old for the vast majority of the season, he doubled his per-game points production. In terms of primary points, he had 47 in 67 games. That’s very good. Was it mostly power play primary points? Yes. More than half of his primary points were on the power play, but that’s to be expected for an offensive-minded blueliner. But his five-on-five production was very strong and it’s hard to really unstate how good his production was offensively. (And he was even better in the playoffs.)
(2021 Flames draft pick Cameron Whynot, who ended up not being signed by the club, had an NHLe of 12.13 in 2022-23, his Draft+2 season.)

Aydar Suniev – LW, Penticton Vees, BCHL

18; Calgary’s third round pick (80th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
5v5 P1SHNHLe
Regular season50454590734740n/a11.81
In Suniev’s Draft-1 season, he spent a chunk of the season at St. Andrew’s College and Thorold, both in Ontario, before heading west to Penticton mid-season. (The Ontario teams played a lot of games in the United States that Suniev couldn’t travel to due to his visa situation.) He had a 7.70 NHLe in the BCHL in less than half a season.
In Suniev’s Draft season, he had 73 primary points in 50 games. He had 40 primary even strength points in 50 games. Yes, he played for the Vees, who were a juggernaut. But he was a massive part of their attack, regularly burying chances and setting up his linemates directly. He wasn’t the guy getting a single puck touch and then racking up secondary assists. He was an offensive driver.
(2022 pick Cade Littler had an NHLe of 8.75 in 2022-23, his Draft+1 season.)

Jaden Lipinski – C, Vancouver Giants, WHL

18; Calgary’s fourth round pick (112th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
5v5 P1SHNHLe
Regular season6619325136352315219.14
In his Draft-1 season, as a WHL rookie, Lipinski’s NHLe was 6.19.
In his Draft season, he basically tripled his previous points-per-game scoring rate. 36 primary points in 66 games indicates that Lipinski is a secondary offensive player for the Giants. More than half of his points were even strength, as he wasn’t a big part of their power play until midway through the season, but secondary assists are a decent chunk of his overall production. (He took the second-most face-offs among Giants players, winning 50.8% of his draws.)

Yegor Yegorov – G, MHK Dynamo Moskva, MHL

17; Calgary’s sixth round pick (176th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
Regular season15786.915
Russian stats are pretty spotty, especially at lower levels, but Yegorov spent his Draft-1 season in MHK Dynamo Moskva’s academy primarily – he did make seven appearances in something Elite Prospect has labelled as the “Russia U18 Finals,” though.
In his Draft season, he was Dynamo’s secondary goaltender and put up respectable numbers, though he played far less than Dynamo’s starter, Rostislav Glushchenko. He made a 14-minute relief appearance in the final Dynamo playoff game, as they were swept out in the second round by Dynamo St. Petersburg. For somebody who (a) seemingly didn’t play very much in his previous season and (b) had never played at the MHL level, in Russia’s version of major junior, .915 in 15 games is perfectly fine.

Axel Hurtig – D, Rögle BK, J20 Nationell

18; Calgary’s seventh round pick (208th overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft
5v5 P1SHNHLe
Regular season34268373473.72
In his Draft-1 season, Hurtig bounced between Sweden’s top under-18 and under-20 leagues. In just 16 under-20 games, he had a 1.98 NHLe.
In his Draft season, Hurtig had a modest 3.72 NHLe – granted, he began the season as a third-pairing defender and worked his way up – but his playoffs, with a small sample size, were pretty impressive. His NHLe remains pretty modest, but… y’know, that’s probably why he was a seventh-rounder.

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