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Where will Calgary Flames prospects be playing in 2023-24?

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Photo credit:Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
The hockey world is a big, big place, and the Calgary Flames have young players set to play in virtually every corner of it. The Flames’ 2023 draft class featured players playing in British Columbia, Quebec, Russia and Sweden, and they join a prospect pool playing all over the place.
Here’s a brief snapshot of where you can see Flames prospects playing in the fall.

Minor pro

For the second consecutive season, the Flames’ pro prospects will be playing either in the American Hockey League with the Calgary Wranglers or in the ECHL with the Rapid City Rush.
The Wranglers are coming off a season where they finished first overall in the regular season.

Major junior

The Flames loaded up on major junior talent in the NHL Draft last week.
First-rounder Samuel Honzek and fourth-rounder Jaden Lipinski play for the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants. Honzek is expected to be their captain this coming season, and the team should be fairly decent. Unfortunately, they have no visit to Calgary this season – the WHL’s schedule rotates divisions through to minimize league-wide travel.
However, 2022 sixth-rounder Parker Bell and the Tri-City Americans are headed to Calgary this year. (They visit the Hitmen on Jan. 14.) Bell quietly put together a really strong 2022-23 season and projects as another Lucas Ciona-style big-bodied two-way player.
Second-rounder Etienne Morin is set to return to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats, the same team that produced Jakob Pelletier.
Finally, 2022 seventh-rounder Cade Littler has changed plans a bit. Originally, he was set to attend Minnesota State Mankato this coming season, but he decommitted after they changed coaches. He’ll play in the United States Hockey League with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders for 2023-24 and head to the University of North Dakota in 2024-25.

College

The Flames will have four prospects playing in the NCAA in 2023-24:
  • Third-rounder Aydar Suniev is headed to the University of Massachusetts, the same school that produced Cale Makar.
  • In the same conference is sophomore goaltender Arsenii Sergeev at the University of Connecticut, another Russian-born player that took a similar route as Suniev – he came over in his mid-teens from Russia, played prep school hockey, and eventually found himself drafted by the Flames late in the 2021 NHL Draft.
  • Over in the Big 10 conference, blueliner Jake Boltmann is returning for his junior season. A two-time member of the conference’s all-academic team, Boltmann projects as a shutdown defender at the pro level.
  • Finally, 2019 fifth-rounder Josh Nodler is headed back to college as a fifth-year (redshirt) senior for this coming season. After spending three years at Michigan State and a season at UMass, he’s headed to Bowling Green State to complete his college career. Nodler had a tough season at UMass, ending up as a fairly frequent healthy scratch, so time will tell if he can jumpstart his hockey career at Bowling Green.

Europe

Finally, three Flames prospects are playing in Europe.
Seventh-rounder Axel Hurtig is headed back to Rögle BK’s junior team in the J20 Nationell circuit. His game grew significantly over the past season and, with the strong possibility that teammate Tom Willander moves up to the SHL full-time, there’s a big opportunity for Hurtig to take on a bigger role on Rögle’s junior blueline.
Update: Hurtig was selected by the Calgary Hitmen in the CHL Import Draft and is expected to play in the WHL following his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.
Over in Russia, sixth-rounder Yegor Yegorov has already begun training camp with the Major Hockey League’s MHK Dynamo Moskva. (The MHL is Russia’s main junior league.) Yegorov was the second most-used junior netminder for Dynamo in 2022-23 and showed promise, and the challenge will be for him to earn more of the net in the coming season as last season’s starter (Rostislav Glushchenko) has signed in minor-pro.
Finally, 2022 second-rounder Topi Ronni is back with Tappara Tampere in Finland’s Liiga for the coming season. Tappara had a spectacular season in 2022-23, winning the U20 SM-sarja, Liiga and Champions League crowns. Ronni split his season between Liiga and junior and will be attempting to become an everyday pro player in his 19-year-old season.

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