What are the Calgary Flames’ needs ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft?
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
The Calgary Flames have three selections at the 2022 NHL Draft. Over the past week, we’ve delved into the club’s prospect depth at the three main positions in an attempt to determine where their most pressing needs lie.
Here’s more or less what we figured out.
At this point, goaltending doesn’t seem like a pressing organizational need. Dustin Wolf is the club’s heir apparent, and until Dan Vladar moves on it seems like Wolf’s gig will be to dominate the AHL. Beyond Wolf, Arsenii Sergeev was excellent in the USHL this past season and his next challenge will be to develop into a strong collegiate goaltender, so he’s probably 3-4 years away from being an NHL option (if he becomes one).
It seems probable given the few picks that the Flames have available that they skip on taking a goaltender this year (and then aim to take one late in 2023).
The Flames are pretty lean in terms of defenders who can jump into the NHL and be decent in the short-term. Connor Mackey could probably become a third pairing defender tomorrow and be passable, at worst. He might not have sky-high ceiling, but his work ethic and skill-set will ensure he remains adequate at the least.
The X-factor for the Flames system is Juuso Valimaki. He was not a particularly remarkable AHL blueliner. But he’s still got the skills that made him a first round pick back in 2017. But does he have the confidence and/or mobility remaining to really utilize those skills? If he can come to camp looking anywhere close to where he was prior to his injuries, he could easily get back into the mix.
The Flames probably could use more defenders in their system. Beyond Mackey and Valimaki, the Flames have some promising players – Jeremie Poirier and Yan Kuznetsov come to mind – but nobody that looks like they could be an NHLer anytime soon.
In terms of potential impact forwards, Matt Coronato has potential but is a bit of a question mark. When he signs, he probably goes right to the NHL and they’ll see how he goes. Based upon his progress thus far with Harvard, he’ll probably be just fine, but he’s a bit of a question mark in terms of how he’ll translate to the pros.
Behind him, Adam Ruzicka, Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary look to be in line for NHL shots and all three should be decent-to-good depth contributors. Pelletier arguably has the most upside of the trio, likely because his skill set will allow him to play in a lot of different game situations. Walker Duehr could be just fine as a fourth liner, but seems doubtful to progress past that – he’s got a great motor, but his skills are somewhat limited.
Rory Kerins and Jack Beck have both shown promise in the OHL, but neither has played enough pro hockey yet to be able to guess how their success will be able to translate quite yet.
The Flames could probably use more forwards in their system. Coronato is the only potential “high level” impact forward in the system, and he’s far from a sure thing. (Scouts we chat with suggest he might end up as a good second or third line scorer rather than a top line guy, which is still pretty valuable.) But the Flames system simply needs guys that can score. A lot of them.
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