Revisiting FlamesNation’s 2023 Flames top prospect rankings

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
Friends, every off-season, in an effort to provide some fun summer content and to provide a deep-dive into the Calgary Flames’ prospect pool, we compile our annual top prospect rankings. It’s an exercise that we find pretty fun, as we get to debate among ourselves and shine a spotlight on some promising young player.
And every year, without fail, a prospect or two make us all seem very, very foolish with our rankings.
With the benefit of hindsight, let’s look back at our summer top 20 rankings and see how everybody’s doing.
The top 20 prospects (according to us)
  • [1] G Dustin Wolf
  • [2] F Matt Coronato
  • [3] F Jakob Pelletier
  • [4] F Samuel Honzek
  • [T5] D Etienne Morin
  • [T5] D Jeremie Poirier
  • [T5] F Connor Zary
  • [8] D Ilya Solovyov
  • [9] F Cole Schwindt
  • [10] F Topi Rönni
  • [11] F Lucas Ciona
  • [12] F Ben Jones
  • [13] F Aydar Suniev
  • [14] F Rory Kerins
  • [15] G Arsenii Sergeev
  • [16] F Jaden Lipinski
  • [17] D Yan Kuznetsov
  • [18] F Adam Klapka
  • [19] F William Strömgren
  • [20] F Emilio Pettersen
Getting votes but not cracking the top 20 were F Martin Pospisil, F Parker Bell and D Axel Hurtig.
Eligible but not getting votes were D Jake Boltmann, G Daniil Chechelev, F/D Demetrios Koumontzis, F Cade Lttler, D Brady Lyle, F Ilya Nikolaev and G Yegor Yegorov.

Man, were we wrong about Martin Pospisil

Let’s call a spade a spade: we whiffed on Pospisil big-time. That’s our bad. I had him 19th on my ballot, and here’s why: every year, I heard from scouts and people around hockey that I respect and trust “Man, Pospisil would be great if he could just stay healthy long enough to put a full season together.” And every year… his injury luck caught up to him and he missed a big chunk of time. And every year, his runway to establish himself as a top-flight NHL prospect was getting shorter and shorter.
But let’s give him the credit he deserves: he’s stayed healthy, and I can’t think of a Flames player in recent memory that’s taken advantage of the opportunity that was given to him. He was impactful enough in his AHL stint that Trent Cull felt he was ready for a shot, and he’s absolutely delivered.
You can understand why we weren’t higher on him. And we can understand why he’s made us look so silly for ranking him so low over the summer. Well done, young man.

Half of the Flames’ best prospects have dealt with injuries

What do Jakob Pelletier, Samuel Honzek and Jeremie Poirier have in common? Well, they’re all players that earned themselves spots high atop our rankings with their performances prior to this season. And they’re exciting, talented young players. But Pelletier (shoulder), Honzek (abdominal injury) and Poirier (laceration) have missed months due to in-game injuries suffered during the NHL pre-season or early in the AHL season.
As a result, we haven’t seen much of these three this season. We’re hesitant to really declare anything about their performances because the sample size just hasn’t been there. Honzek’s just reaching the 20 game mark in the WHL this week.

Trending up, trending down

Based on performances to date this season, who are we expecting to see climb up (or drop down) the rankings this off-season?
Trending up: Yegor Yegorov, Parker Bell, Adam Klapka
Trending down: Topi Rönni, Etienne Morin, Lucas Ciona
In particular, keep an eye on Yegorov. He’s been superb in Russia’s top junior league and he just turned 18 in August. We’re very curious to see what he can do in pro hockey, whenever he gets a shot. And among the “down” crew, Ciona’s adapting to a checking role and the offence hasn’t translated quite as consistently as some had hoped, while Morin is a guy who many project as a future power play quarterback… but despite oodles of shots this season, his team just hasn’t put the puck in the next as consistently as hoped and so his stats are a bit worse for wear.

Slotting in the new acquistions

Finally, the Flames added a pair of prospects in the Elias Lindholm trade with Vancouver: blueliners Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo. While we don’t officially adjust the rankings mid-season – we intend the summer rankings to be a snapshot in time, after all – I’ve thought about where I would place those two players, roughly, among the Flames’ prospect pool.
Broadly speaking, I’d place Brzustewicz around 9th or 10th, while Jurmo would be somewhere in the mid-to-late teens. Figuring out their exact placement would also involve a complete re-ranking, which we’re not doing, but that’s approximately where I see them fitting right now.
Which Flames prospects are you most excited about? Who do you think will top our rankings in the summer? Let us know in the comments!
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