It’s the holiday season! While we wait for the Calgary Flames to resume their post-Christmas schedule (hopefully) on Dec. 30 against the Seattle Kraken, we felt it was time to see what the club’s prospects could end up becoming.
So, let’s do a quick rundown of the prospects in the Flames’ cupboard and their potential upsides. Now, we take a look at the forwards.

Forwards

Jakob Pelletier [20]
  • Currently: First line winger, Stockton Heat (AHL)
  • Upside: Pelletier might not quite have the size to be a first line NHLer. (People have been wrong about size before, though.) But he’s good at everything. He plays in every situation. He’s been really good and improved in every level he’s played in. He seems like a pretty good bet to be a reliable, versatile middle-six forward who can play in every situation.
Connor Zary [20]
  • Currently: Second/third line centre, Stockton
  • Upside: Zary’s not quite as well-rounded as Pelletier, but he’s possibly got a bit more offensive upside (and he’s slightly bigger). But Zary is another guy that touches all situations and is just an impressive, smart player. He another good bet to be a middle six forward.
Matt Coronato [19]
  • Currently: First line winger, Harvard University Crimson (NCAA)
  • Upside: Coronato is a goal-scoring machine who plays in all situations for Harvard. He’s not a big dude which, again, might limit him a little bit, but he’s another good contender to be a middle six forward with some offensive upside.
William Strömgren [18]
  • Currently: Second line winger, Rögle BK (J20 Nationell)
  • Upside: Strömgren, thus far, hasn’t been a dominating player offensively in Swedish junior. But he’s a player that his coaching staff trusts to use in all situations, especially in defensive situations in close games. Unless he finds another offensive gear (and he’s young so he still might) he may be “limited” to being a third liner, but he’s the type of player that can play all over the place because of his smarts and consistency.
Emil Heineman [20]
  • Currently: Third line winger, Leksands IF (SHL)
  • Upside: Heineman has been a really reliable secondary player for Leksands so far. He chips in key goals here and there, he plays in all situations and is pretty consistent. The worst thing you could say about him is he’s not a difference-maker, but he’s 20 and still has time. He projects as a solid all-around third line player right now.
Jack Beck [18]
  • Currently: Injured, but usually first line winger, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
  • Upside: He’s missed a bunch of time, so the post-draft sample size for Beck is a bit small. But he’s a smart, smallish, offensive-minded forward. His size probably holds him back, and we need to see a bit more from him away from the puck, but his offensive instincts will at least give him a chance to be a third liner who can chip in occasional goals.
Cole Huckins [19]
  • Currently: First line centre/winger, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
  • Upside: The best thing about Huckins, right now, is he’s not bad at anything. The worst thing about him is he’s not great at anything. Right now, based on that, he seems like he tops out as a perfectly useful bottom six forward.
Rory Kerins [19]
  • Currently: First line wing, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
  • Upside: The bad news is Kerins isn’t huge. But he’s been awesome for the Greyhounds this season, and he’s emerged as one of the top offensive players in that league. He seems like he’s got a decent shot at being a third line player, but he might have a higher developmental ceiling than that.
Adam Ruzicka [22]
  • Currently: Fourth line centre, Calgary Flames (NHL) as injury replacement, otherwise first line centre, Stockton
  • Upside: Ruzicka has size and smarts. He might not quite have high-level NHL skill, but he’s been great in the AHL and has looked right at home in Calgary’s fourth line during his recall. He might have third line upside.
Emilio Pettersen [21]
  • Currently: Utility winger, Stockton (sorta bounces around lines)
  • Upside: Pettersen’s bounced around a lot this season, and the challenge for him right now is he’s been put with various pairs of forwards and he hasn’t managed to elevate his linemates. He probably still has third line upside, but his stock has diminished a bit this season.
Matthew Phillips [23]
  • Currently: First line winger, Stockton
  • Upside: Phillips definitely has NHL upside, and he’s been an excellent AHL forward. But his size limits him probably to bottom six NHL upside.
Glenn Gawdin [24]
  • Currently: First line centre, Stockton
  • Upside: Gawdin has been excellent in the AHL and is the type of player that can play in every situation. But the challenge is, based on his NHL appearances, he might not have needle-moving skill at that level. He seems like he can hack it on the fourth line, but he might have challenges higher in the rotation.
Martin Pospisil [22]
  • Currently: Second/third line winger, Stockton
  • Upside: The good news is Pospisil has size, smarts, and plays a physical game that should translate into NHL bottom-six work. The downside is he’s got the worst injury luck, and he desperately needs to build some call-up momentum by staying healthy.
Ryan Francis [20]
  • Currently: Second line centre, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
  • Upside: He’s not huge and he didn’t move the needle a ton during a brief Stockton stint, but Francis is a smart, fast, offensive-minded forward. He’ll need time to adjust to the pros next season, but he could work his way into the third line mix eventually.
Luke Philp [26]
  • Currently: Second/third line centre, Stockton
  • Upside: Philp has been a fairly reliable scorer at the AHL level, but his age and lack of size probably limit his NHL upside to the bottom six (or fourth line).
Josh Nodler [20]
  • Currently: First line centre, Michigan State University Spartans (NCAA)
  • Upside: Nodler’s a whip-smart two-way college forward. He hasn’t been a dominant offensive player, which probably limits his NHL aspirations, but he could be a useful bottom six forward.
Ilya Nikolaev [20]
  • Currently: First line centre, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
  • Upside: Nikolaev has been a really good junior player for Tri-City. He’s played Russian pro and was fine in a two-way role, but not a huge difference-maker. He probably still projects as a reliable bottom six forward.
Dmitry Zavgorodniy [21]
  • Currently: Second line winger, HC Sochi (KHL)
  • Upside: Zavgorodniy has speed and smarts, but lacks size. Through a season and a half in the AHL, he hasn’t really stood out.
Walker Duehr [24]
  • Currently: Second/third line winger, Stockton
  • Upside: Duehr played on the Flames’ fourth line briefly and was fine in one game. He might top out at that level, though.
Eetu Tuulola [23]
  • Currently: Second/third line winger, Stockton
  • Upside: Tuulola has an NHL-level shot. Unfortunately, he’s been pretty inconsistent at the AHL level thus far. Unless he finds consistency, he might top out as a fourth line call-up.
Lucas Ciona [18]
  • Currently: 2nd line winger, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
  • Upside: Ciona hasn’t been a huge difference-maker offensively for Seattle, but he’s big and rugged. He might have fourth line upside.
Justin Kirkland [25]
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  • Currently: Utility winger, Stockton
  • Upside: Kirkland would be a decent fill-in fourth liner, but he likely tops out there given his age.
Lucas Feuk [20]
  • Currently: Middle six winger, Väsby IK HK (Hockeyettan)
  • Upside: Feuk likely tops out as an AHL player.
Mitchell Mattson [23]
  • Currently: Fourth line centre/extra forward, Michigan State
  • Upside: Mattson likely tops out as an AHL player.
Demetrios Koumontzis [21]
  • Currently: Utility forward, Arizona State University Sun Devils (NCAA)
  • Upside: Koumontzis likely tops out as an AHL player.

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