The 2022-23 hockey is officially upon us as the Calgary Flames kick off the season in Penticton at the Young Stars Classic. Flames prospects will play against their counterparts from Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg at the South Okanagan Events Centre starting tonight, Sept. 16 at 8:30 p.m. MT.
Calgary is sending a strong roster with many of their top prospects. This will likely be the majority of Flames fans first chance to see some of these players in action.
Here are the five most intriguing players to watch this weekend.

#49 Jakob Pelletier – 21 Years Old – 5’10″, 180 Pounds – Left Shot – LW

Season
Games Played
Goals
Assists
Points
2019-20 (QMJHL)
57
32
50
82
2020-21 (QMJHL)
28
13
30
43
2021-22 (AHL)
66
27
35
62
Jakob Pelletier should be the best forward for the Flames in the Young Stars Classic. The 2019 first round pick is going to be intriguing to watch this tournament because the majority of Flames fans have not had the opportunity to see Pelletier play since the 2020 bubble World Junior Championship. Pelletier was rock solid in that tournament and showed his character and leadership by consoling his teammates after their devastating loss to the Americans.
Pelletier has a legitimate opportunity to make the Flames this year based off how their roster is constructed as of Sept. 16. That’s why this tournament is so important. Pelletier needs to dominate and show the Flames organization that he is too good to be playing in the AHL. A strong showing in Penticton will give him a head start in showing Flames management and coaches that he is ready to be an NHL player. If he fails to dominate at this tournament, he might put himself behind the 8 ball.
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#72 Jeremie Poirier – 20 Years Old – 6’1″, 190 Pounds – Left Shot – LD

Season
Games Played
Goals
Assists
Points
2019-20 (QMJHL)
64
20
33
53
2020-21 (QMJHL)
33
9
28
37
2021-22 (QMJHL)
67
16
41
57
Jeremie Poirier has the potential to become one of, if not the best defensive prospect in the Flames organization. Poirier has all the tools to become a high-end NHL defenseman. He is a good skater, has great hands, and is a smart offensive player. The key for Poirier will be to work on his defensive game and decision making in his own end. He’ll have some great teachers with the Flames organization in Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love and Flames head coach Darryl Sutter.
I was fortunate enough to watch the scrimmage at Flames rookie development camp this past July. Poirier was by far the best player on the ice among Flames prospects. He separated himself from his competition. He controlled the play, made smart decisions, and showed off his high-end hockey IQ with some dazzling passes through defender’s skates and sticks.
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Poirier has a chance in Penticton to establish himself as the best defensive prospect in the Flames system. It is going to be fascinating to see if he is able to carry his momentum from his Memorial Cup run, and dominance at Flames Development Camp into the Young Stars Classic.

#79 Cole Schwindt – 21 Years Old – 6’2″, 180 Pounds – Right Shot – C/RW

Season
Games Played
Goals
Assists
Points
2019-20 (OHL)
57
28
43
71
2020-21 (AHL)
10
1
1
2
2021-22 (AHL)
72
19
21
40
Cole Schwindt will make his Flames debut in Penticton after being acquired by the Flames in the Tkachuk/Huberdeau/Weegar trade. The right-handed centre played in three NHL games last season with the Florida Panthers when their team was dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
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The reason Schwindt will be fascinating to watch is because Flames fans have not got the chance to watch his games when in the Florida organization. There is an unknown factor to his game that is intriguing. Some draft experts and people connected in the game have suggested that there is the potential for Schwindt to become an NHL player. There is a roster spot open on the Flames third line at right wing. Schwindt could put himself in a good position to make some noise at Flames training camp with a strong performance in Penticton. Could Schwindt be a dark horse candidate to make the Flames? There have been random prospects in the past that got long looks in training camp like Josh Jooris, and Walker Deuhr last season as examples. Could Schwindt be that guy? Playing well in Penticton would be big for him and making a strong first impression with the Flames brass and fans.

#47 Connor Zary – 20 Years Old – 6’0″, 178 Pounds – Left Shot – C/LW

Season
Games Played
Goals
Assists
Points
2019-20 (WHL)
57
38
48
86
2020-21 (AHL)
9
3
4
7
2020-21 (WHL)
15
6
18
24
2021-22 (AHL)
53
13
12
25
Connor Zary had a tough first year as a professional. He started last season by fracturing his ankle in a rookie game against the Edmonton Oilers. That got him off to a tough start, and he wasn’t able to fully recover until later in the season.
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It’s going to be interesting to see how Zary looks at this tournament. He is 100% healthy, and only one of nine first round picks partaking in Young Stars. Zary is going to be expected to be one of Calgary’s best forwards.
This is another player Flames fans have not had the chance to see play on a regular basis. He played with Pelletier in the 2019 World Juniors, but in a lesser role at the bottom of Team Canada’s line up. It’s tough to evaluate Zary from his World Junior performance because he was one of the youngest players on the team.
This is a big developmental year for Zary. Getting off to a good start in Penticton can go a long way in building his confidence for his first fully health season in the AHL.
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#86 Rory Kerins – 20 Years Old – 5’11, 186 Pounds – Left Shot – C/LW

Season
Games Played
Goals
Assists
Points
2018-19 (OHL)
57
9
14
23
2019-20 (OHL)
64
30
29
59
2021-22 (OHL)
67
43
75
118
Rory Kerins is an interesting Flames prospect because he is following a similar path to the best bread man in hockey, Andrew Mangiapane. They are almost identical in stature. They were both sixth round pick by the Calgary Flames. And they both dominated at the OHL level.
The intriguing thing about Kerins, like others on this list, is that we haven’t had the chance to see him play. We know Kerins has skill and offensive flair to his game, but how does he look against better competition and around his peers? Can he continue his rapid development and remain on the same path as Andrew Mangiapane?
Kerins finished the 2021-22 season second in OHL scoring with 118 points in 67 games. He is a skilled forward with high hockey IQ. His skill level can transfer to the NHL. The only knock on his game is that he is currently not a high-end skater. But that is something he can work on with Flames Skating coach, Danielle Fujita.
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I know Flames fans reading this will be up in arms about the omission of Dustin Wolf. The reason why Wolf is not on the list is because we already know he is an elite NHL goalie prospect. There is not an unknown or intriguing part about Wolf for this tournament. We know he is the best goalie in the AHL, we know that he will start the year in Stockton and that he will be the Flames best goalie at the tournament.
Who are some of the prospects you’re most looking forward to seeing this weekend in Penticton? Let us know in the comments section!

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