How does the Calgary Flames’ under-25 depth look after the draft and free agency?
Photo credit:Angela Burger/Calgary Wranglers
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
The National Hockey League’s annual silly season, spanning the draft and free agency, has largely settled down. After all that hubbub, the Calgary Flames have approximately 32 players on their reserve list who have yet to turn 25. Considering the importance of young, productive, cap-friendly players in today’s NHL, let’s dig into their positional depth among that under-25 crowd.
Let’s dive in!
The Flames have one everyday forward who has yet to turn 25: Dillon Dube. Dube plays all three forward positions and has progressed through the stages you usually hope to see young forwards to through: promising AHLer, good AHLer, AHLer pushing for NHL duty, NHL call-up pushing for a regular roster spot and, finally, NHL regular. The biggest knock against Dube isn’t really his fault: the Flames’ coaches have tried him in a bunch of different roles, and he has yet to really hone in on his “thing” that makes him a special NHLer. He turns 25 in two weeks.
Adam Ruzicka (24) spent all of last season on the NHL roster, but because of the club’s centre (and wing) depth he didn’t play all the time. He dressed just 44 times, but he had 20 points despite having no clear spot on the team to really call his own. He’s getting there, but based on his size and mobility he probably projects as a centre at the NHL level rather than as a winger.
Behind Ruzicka, knocking on the door for NHL duty, are Jakob Pelletier (22), Matt Coronato (20), Ben Jones (24) and Connor Zary (21). Pelletier is exactly where you hope a third-year pro would be: he’s had a lot of AHL success and looked good in 25 NHL appearances. Coronato looked good in his one NHL game and during the World Championships. Jones had a sneaky-good AHL season in 2022-23 and since he’s a centre he might have the inside track to a call-up. Zary can play all over the place – he’s very Dube-esque – and he was really consistent, and occasionally really good, in the AHL last season.
A slight notch below the prior group are Cole Schwindt (22), Adam Klapka (22), Emilio Pettersen (23) and Martin Pospisil (23). All four of these gents are working on their consistency, but they’ve all been really good AHLers at times. Schwindt and Klapka had good playoffs for the Wranglers, and Klapka has the benefit of being ginormous.
Four forwards have yet to play a full AHL season and are question marks right now: William Stromgren (20), Rory Kerins (21), Ilya Nikolaev (22) and Lucas Ciona (20). Seven others are still unsigned: Parker Bell (19), Samuel Honzek (18), Jaden Lipinski (18), Cade Littler (19), Josh Nodler (22), Topi Ronni (19) and Aydar Suniev (18). Nodler’s heading into his fifth year of college and probably won’t factor into the Flames’ plans. Of the remaining players, Honzek may be the closest to making an impact at the pro level.
The Flames have zero under-25 blueliners on their NHL roster.
In the AHL, Jeremie Poirier (21) is probably the closest to pushing for a call-up. Yan Kuznetsov (21), Ilya Solovyov (22) and Brady Lyle (24) are all a bit behind him, though Solovyov took big strides in 2022-23 and could be an option this season.
On the amateur side, Etienne Morin (18) and Axel Hurtig (18) were just drafted and will need some time, while Jake Boltmann (21) is headed back to college for his junior year.
We’ve written enough about Dustin Wolf (22). He’s been his league’s top goaltender for four consecutive seasons and was the AHL’s MVP last season. He’s good.
Behind Wolf, there are projects. Daniil Chechelev (22) has spent a couple seasons in the ECHL and it’s unclear where he slots in for the 2023-24 campaign. Arsenii Sergeev (20) had a very nice freshman season in college and will be UConn’s starter this coming season. Yegor Yegorov (17) is super young and raw and needs games; he’ll be vying to be MHK Dynamo Moskva’s starter this coming season.
The Flames have arguably much more under-25 depth among their forward ranks than anywhere else, though you can argue their forward depth is clustered along the wings quite a bit.
What do you think of the Flames’ under-25 players? What areas do they need to shore up in their prospect pipeline? Let us know in the comments!
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