How did the Calgary Flames’ top prospects look in Penticton?

Photo credit:Rob Wilton/Vancouver Giants
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
The 2023 edition of the Young Stars Classic is complete, and now attention turns to preparations for main camp. As the dust settles, let’s reflect on the overall performances of some of the Calgary Flames’ top prospects.
Here’s a rundown, in order of where players landed on our annual prospect rankings.

Matt Coronato [2021 first-round pick; 2nd-ranked prospect]

Coronato entered the tournament with a well-honed reputation as a skilled offensive player. Coronato played all three games with Rory Kerins and Samuel Honzek (one game) or Parker Bell (two games). Coronato was pretty quiet against Vancouver – the whole team was – but he settled in nicely against Edmonton and Winnipeg. He was rock-solid overall, and it’ll be interesting to see how he looks at main camp with more developed, polished linemates.

Samuel Honzek [2023 first-round pick; 4th-ranked prospect]

On one hand, Honzek is big, lanky, and uses his size well in protecting the puck. On the other hand, he’s still pretty raw and probably needs to add a bit more physicality to his game. He played a game with Kerins and Coronato, a game with Jaden Lipinski and Adam Klapka, and a game with Lipinski and William Strömgren. He never had a bad game, but he arguably looked best alongside the physicality of Lipinski and Klapka. He needs a bit of polish to his game, but you can see why the Flames were excited to get him in this year’s draft.

Etienne Morin [2023 second-round pick; 5th-ranked (tied) prospect]

With Jeremie Poirier missing the weekend’s games as he recovers from off-season surgery, Morin was leaned on to run the Flames’ top power play unit. He showed some flashes of brilliance in terms of puck distribution, and also showcased his strong skating quite well. He still needs some development to bring those skills to full force at five-on-five, though, and his defensive game was more effective when playing on his strong side (one game with invite Mikael Diotte) than his weak side (two games with Yan Kuznetsov).

Lucas Ciona [2021 sixth-round pick; 11th-ranked prospect]

Can Ciona be an effective pro player as a 20-year-old? The answer, based on four games playing with a mixture of linemates, appears to be yes. Ciona played on the left side of a line involving a mixture of Jaden Lipinski, Adam Klapka, William Strömgren and invitee Nathan Pilling, and consistently used his size and snarl to create some havoc. He may have taken a penalty or two too many, but you can’t say he wasn’t in the thick of things.

Rory Kerins [2020 sixth-round pick; 14th-ranked prospect]

Kerins got the benefit of some good linemates, playing with Honzek for one game and Coronato for all three – Parker Bell was his winger for two games, as well. Kerins didn’t stand out as the best player on his line, but he didn’t drag his linemates down, either. You could be forgiven if you wanted to see a bit more from a centre in that situation from an offensive standpoint, but he did a pretty effective job given the circumstances.

Jaden Lipinski [2023 fourth-round pick; 16th-ranked prospect]

Lipinski was a poor man’s Ciona, and we mean that as a compliment. He won face-offs, used his size and speed to generate hits and chaos in all three zones, and generally seemed to have a strong grasp of his assignment. He played with good linemates – combinations of Ciona, Adam Klapka, Honzek and Strömgren – but he played his part well and helped elevate them at times.

Yan Kuznetsov [2020 second-round pick; 17th-ranked prospect]

Would it have been nice to see a bit more offensive pep from Kuznetsov, especially with Poirier absent? Yes. Was he consistent and effective, particularly in his own end? Also yes. Kuznetsov probably didn’t blow anybody away with his performance, but he was reliable and one of the better players on a very inexperienced defensive group.

Adam Klapka [free agent signing; 18th-ranked prospect]

Klapka was expected to stand out, in part due to his size and in part due to his pro experience. Well, mission accomplished. He moved well, managed the puck well, and really seemed to relish the chances he had to play with good linemates with similar playing styles like Ciona and Lipinski. He scored two goals, both of them game-winners, and probably could’ve scored more than he did.

William Strömgren [2021 second-round pick; 19th-ranked prospect]

It was natural to be curious about whether Strömgren could adapt to the smaller North American ice and different playing style. The sample size in Penticton was only three games, but playing with different linemates in each game, Strömgren looked better and better in each. We’ll see how he does against more experienced opponents with more NHL polish, but he passed this weekend’s test with strong marks.

Parker Bell [2022 fifth-round pick]

Bell had a similar tournament to Kerins, in a few ways. He had good linemates, notably playing two games with Coronato (and Kerins) and one with Strömgren and Ilya Nikolaev. He wasn’t bad and he didn’t stand out as a drag on his linemates or anything like that, but he didn’t really stand out much. He was merely fine, which might not have done much to help Flames brass decide if he should be playing pro this season or should go back to junior for his overage season.

Ilya Nikolaev [2019 third-round pick]

Nikolaev had a really good outing against Edmonton, scoring twice, and he was pretty effective in the other two games. He played two games with AHL signing Mark Duarte and Calgary Hitmen forward Oliver Tulk, and seemed to elevate his line at times.  (His third game was with Strömgren and Bell, and the trio was decent but unspectacular.) We’ll see if Nikolaev can bring the same energy against more seasoned opposition, but his Penticton performances were encouraging.

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