Every Monday calgaryflames.com comes out with an update on flames prospects in the CHL, USHL,NCAA,ECHL and European leagues. We do have a lot of offensive promise in the pipelines on the way up in those levels. Prospects though are a hard commodity to project as you can tell since we have about as many 1st round selections playing in the NHL as we do in the AHL. Here I will give you what I believe are our best prospects through out the systems. I will not be choosing any players with NHL action.
Andrew Mangiapane He is known to be another pint sized forward but listed at 5-10 190lbs on the Heats website he towers over some of the players he is compared to in the system like Johnny Hockey and Matthew Phillups. He had a great junior career with 210 points in his last 127 games. He has continued his great offensive numbers into pro recording 20 goals and 4th in points on the Heat in his rookie year. This year he was tearing it up flanking Jankowski but he hasn't slowed up since Janks recall with 21 points in 15 games. Trailing only AHL vet Chris Bourque for the AHL lead in points. His points are what catches your eye but he is a blue collar worker who in the NHL if his offensive ability is limited could still provide you with energy in a bottom six role. I expect him to see some time with the Flames this year with injuries and become a full time NHL'r as soon as next season, being a great candidate to replace a guy like Versteeg.
Dillon Dube Dillon had a long look at training camp this year being one of the last cuts and he deserved it. He showed his skill and ability to think the game in pre season and without great linemates. An injury filled season last year slowed is development but looked good at the World Juniors and will be counted on to be a leader this year. He plays a solid two way game and his vision of the ice is already big league ready. I am sure he will need a year or two in the AHL but expect him to be playing a role with the Flames before to long.
Matthew Phillips How does one not look at his size and wonder since most cheerleaders would like to have his physique but it does not stop him from being an offensive force. He also plays much bigger than he is. Already being a 50g scorer in the WHL last year he has 41 points in only 24 games. 4th in the WHL behind the trio of Swift Current Broncos. He is proving people wrong every day about how good he can be. A man with a driving force like that with obvious abundant amount of skill, where is his ceiling? Only time will tell but the thought of him flanking Johnny Hockey has me envisioning defencemen's underwear all over the ice.
Adam Ruzicka The first person on this list over 6ft tall. Also the biggest anomaly. He only came over to North America as a 17yr old but is now one of the leading scores in the OHL with 33points in 23 games. A big boy at 6-4 and 202lbs with offensive ability he is more a traditional prospect. He needs to work on his all around game before he has a shot at the show. I predict more of a Jankowski timeline than lets say a Monahon. A big body with skill is always on a wish list of every team.
Juuso Valimaki A very confident young man who had aspirations of making the Flames this year. High hopes for a d-men who normally take much longer than forwards to make the NHL. In his first training camp he did not disappoint though. Fitting in the group of some of our older prospects like Kylington and Andersson. In Junior he is dominating being over a point per game from the backend and that is hard in any league. His all around game is very solid. Like any young d-man he needs some time to figure out his own zone better and to get stronger to deal with men. With the log jam on our backend without a few trades or him being better than anyone expected it will be a few years before we see him patrolling the Flames blue line on a regular basis.
Adam Fox Like any highly hyped college player I expect him to take the CBA loop hole and become a free agent like many others have in the last few years but for now he is a great Flames prospect. His offensive instinct relies on smart play as much as ability. A stat many don't have much respect for but he was a +19 last year while being over a point per game player. To me that says he isn't letting his offence get in the way of his defence. This year he is once again a point per game player with 7 assists in 7 games. If he signs with the Flames I think once again we would need to make a few trades on the back end before we see him in a Flames jersey but he could be ready as soon as next year as I find college d-men can make the jump to the NHL a little better than CHL defencemen.
Tyler Parson Another really good option for our goaltender of the future did nothing but impress in his Junior career. Winning anything and pretty much everything he could have. Even last year after a bit of a rough start he still ended up with .925 save pct. So this years slow start hasn't put any dampers on his projection but he does need to find a way to improve on his 3.40gaa and his .905 save pct. While not great numbers they have been improving over the last bit. He needs to find another level in his game to be able to leap frog Gillies and Rittich in the quest to be our "next" goalie.
Overall I believe our prospects are much better than they have been since, well i can remember. We will need to find a way to clear up some space on the D side in the future for some of these prospects. After what we have given up in last few years with Hamilton and Hamonic I think we will get as much back if not more when we trade either current d-men or prospects on the back end. Our forwards have great offensive ability and much higher upside than we did lets say 3-4years ago when our cupboards where dry of offensive youth.