The past few seasons for the Calgary Flames have been a rollercoaster of a ride. After finally embracing a rebuild and turning to youth in Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames made it back into the playoffs in 2015.
Going into last season expectations were raised, and Calgary struggled, missing the playoffs and finishing 26th overall.
Despite the turmoil, GM Brad Treliving has done a good job of acquiring young talent. They had nine picks in the 2016 draft, including five in the top 100, adding to their prospect depth this summer.
Top 10 Calgary Flames Prospects
1. Matthew Tkachuk – Left Wing
2015-16: London Knights (OHL)
Drafted: Sixth overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Calgary
Tkachuk had a dominant draft year playing his rookie season in the OHL for the powerhouse London Knights. He was a key player in their decisive Memorial Cup Championship run.
Tkachuk has a NHL size body, is an above average skater for his size, and is a smart player at both ends of the ice. He can make plays on his own and is capable of playing with elite players as well. He is highly skilled and can play a nasty, aggressive physical game.
In short, he can play the game any way he needs to win, and be very successful. He could play in the NHL immediately, but likely has one more year in junior before turning pro.
2. Jon Gillies – Goaltender
Ht/Wt: 6-6/ 235
2015-16: Stockton (AHL)
Drafted: 75th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by Calgary
After three successful NCAA seasons with Providence, Gillies made the jump to pro in the AHL and started strong posting two shutouts in his first three games. But he was limited to just seven games all season as a hip injury put him on the shelf.
He will need a full season in the AHL and should be healthy to start the season in Stockton. Gillies is the Flames goalie of the future while Brian Elliott holds his place until he is ready.
3. Hunter Shinkaruk – Left Wing
2015-16: Utica/Stockton (AHL)
Drafted: 24th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by Vancouver
The Calgary native was acquired mid-season in a trade for Markus Granlund. The change of scenery did the speedy winger some good. He ended up playing in seven games for the Flames, seeing time on the top line and posting three points in that time.
If Tkachuk is returned to junior, don’t be surprised if Shinkaruk sticks with the Flames in a top six role this season.
4. Rasmus Andersson – Defence
2015-16: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Drafted: 53rd overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Calgary
Andersson led the OHL in defenceman scoring with 60 points in 64 games last season. He is a strong skater and excels at creating offence and running the power play.
His defensive game is stronger than Oliver Kylington, which is why he ranks higher on this list, but he needs to improve his conditioning to be effective at the pro level, let alone the NHL. The skill is there no question, is the will?
5. Oliver Kylington – Defence
2015-16: Stockton (AHL)
Drafted: 60th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Calgary
The Flames had options with where to send Kylington last year. They decided he was not ready for the NHL, but would have the best coaching in the AHL. Kylington was considered to be a first round pick, but fell to last pick in the second round because of poor decision making and his penchant for creating turnovers.
While the numbers are not impressive, 12 points and a minus -15 in 47 games, as an 18-year-old rookie in the AHL he fared rather well. Kylington will take another two to three years of development in the AHL, but he is an excellent skater and has offensive ability that should project to the NHL if he adds strength and refines his defensive game.
6. Emile Poirier – Right Wing
2015-16: Stockton (AHL)
Drafted: 22nd overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by Calgary
After a strong rookie season in the AHL where Poirier posted 42 points in 55 games, he took a significant step back in his sophomore season. He recorded only 29 points in 60 games and was a minus -14 to boot. Call it the “sophomore slump” if you will, but so long as he is able to rebound. He has the speed, size and shot to be a very effective NHL player.
Poirier was ranked second on this list a year ago and will continue to trend down unless he can establish himself on special teams again and deliver consistent offence at the AHL level.
7. Andrew Mangiapane – Left Wing
2015-16: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Drafted 166th overall in the sixth round of the 2015 draft by Calgary
After consecutive 100+ point seasons in the OHL, the undersized winger needs to show his offence will translate at the pro level. Mangiapane is a quick and shifty skater who is like a water bug on the ice when he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.
He is a possession player that is deadly on the man advantage. His skill, and vision function at such a high speed, that he should translate well at the pro level. The question for him will be can he handle it physically.
8. Mark Jankowski – Center
2015-16: Providence Bruins (HE)
Drafted: 21st overall in the first round of the 2012 draft by Calgary
Widely considered as a reach being picked in the first round, the Flames have been patient with this project and it is time for Jankowski to reward the organization for their faith and patience. It is starting to look like he may never be more than a bottom six NHL player, but his NHL arrival is looking like a certainty and soon.
Jankowski has won a national title in the NCAA and has steadily improved his offensive game and has added strength and some size. He showed well this summer at the Flames development camp and played the final eight games in Stockton last season posting six points. He should see a full year in the AHL before cracking the Flames roster. He looks to be a suitable replacement for Matt Stajan in the near future.
9. Brandon Hickey – Defence
2015-16: Boston University (HE)
Drafted: 64th overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by Calgary
In his sophomore season at Boston U., Hickey saw his point totals reduced by half from 17 points as a rookie to just eight points in 36 games last year. Despite his drop off in production he was named to the Canadian World Junior team, but was disappointing there as well with no points in five games.
While this prospect remains a work in progress, his skating and ability to think the game are his strengths that should project him into a promising pro career. Hickey will return to Boston for his junior year and will need a year or two in the AHL before he is ready to push for a NHL position.
10. Eetu Tuulola – Left Wing
2015-16: HPK (Liiga)
Drafted: 156 overall in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by Calgary
Tuulola is a big pesky power forward who likes to throw hits and has a good quick release of a shot. He made some noise at the U-18 in North Dakota where he won the Gold Medal and scored two goals and four points in seven games. Tuulola was also selected by the Everett Silvertips with the 40th overall selection at the CHL Import Draft and will begin making the adjustment to North America this season.
Tuulola has already left an impression from his play at the Flames development camp where he turned heads with his physical play and offensive skills. Tuulola is sure to be a fan favorite as he plays an aggressive game and he likes to score. His skating has improved significantly in the last year, but still has to improve.
He may also need to lose some weight as he tips the scales well over 200 pounds as an 18-year-old and conditioning may be a problem. Tuulola is a long term project and his ceiling may not be as high as a Milan Lucic, but his floor as a bottom six winger. As a sixth round selection that outstanding value.