The Calgary Flames have a great roster. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm are all exceptional hockey players. The problem is a simple one. Depth. The Flames haven’t had enough depth to surpass the competition.
The Flames do have a stocked farm system and it won’t be long before several of these prospects are in the NHL providing secondary help.
But, let’s take a look at who are the top ten prospects in their system.
2018-19 Top 10 Calgary Flames Prospects
1. Juuso Välimäki, D, Calgary Flames (NHL)/Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/205 lbs
Drafted: 16th overall in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
The Finnish defenseman has a lot of promise. He’s got a ton of upside and can be the number one defenseman in Calgary in the future. But, he’s got a lot of work to do. This past season, he’s showed to be a bit inconsistent. He spent some time early on in the 2018-19 season playing for the Flames when Travis Hamonic was on Injured Reserve. He was sent back down to the Stockton Heat when Hamonic was healthy, but he wasn’t too impressive in his short stint. But, Välimäki did play in a few more games for Calgary down the stretch and played in a couple of playoff games for the Flames. All-in-all, Välimäki is a special defenseman. He had his highs and lows with Calgary this season, but at some point, the highs are going to be much greater than the lows. Flames fans just need to stay patient.
If you look at the stats, you will see that Välimäki was more effective in the AHL than in the NHL. He suited up for the Stockton Heat in 20 games. In his stint with Stockton, he tallied 4 goals and 10 assists. Not too shabby. When he was playing in the NHL with Calgary, he played in 24 regular season games. Per Hockey-Reference.com, he recorded 1 goal, 2 assists, 12 PIM, 3.6 S%, 15:29 ATOI, 21 hits, 43 blocks, 9 TKs, 14 GVs and a 49.8 CF%. His stats in Calgary weren’t too bad, but his possession numbers should have been better given his average time on ice.
Valimaki reminds me a lot of former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s great in transition. Has a nasty wrist shot and could be a true asset on both ends of the ice. He’s going to be an elite defenseman, but the name of the game is patience. Don’t rush him. He’ll produce over time.
2. Oliver Kylington, D, Calgary Flames (NHL)/Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/185 lbs
Drafted: 60th overall in the 2015 draft by the Calgary Flames
Oliver Kylington has been a fun prospect to watch over time. He’s not going to blow you away in the offensive zone, but everything that Kylington does will lead to scoring chances. He’s very much a strong two-way defenseman. His positioning is quite good. He’s great at going zone-to-zone with the puck. Kylington reminds me of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott and Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen. He’s got the speed and transition play of Jensen, but he also has the passing and vision of Dermott.
Last season, Kylington split his time between Stockton and Calgary. When he was up in Calgary, he suited up in 38 games for the Flames and posted a CF% of 48.6. Unfortunately, he didn’t play that many minutes. His ATOI was very low and should be much higher given some of the Flames defensive struggles last season.
3. Adam Ruzicka, C/W, Sarnia Sting (OHL)/Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
HT/WT: 6-4/203 lbs
Drafted: 109th in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
Ruzicka is a talented power forward. He’s got great size and elite puck-handling. The Slovakian national could be the next Jiri Hudler.
In his play last season with the Sarnia Sting and the Sudbury Wolves (both of the OHL), he showed that he was well-worth the mid-round selection in the 2017 draft. He played in a combined 65 games and tallied 35 goals and 43 assists. While those numbers are pretty impressive, you normally hope that over-agers become even more dominant than the youngsters in the CHL. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
His play has been more consistent and he hasn’t become overpowering. That’s a small concern, but I wouldn’t be too worried long-term. Ruzicka is still far from playing in the NHL and he’ll likely spend next season in Stockton. Perhaps, Stockton Heat head coach Cail MacLean can mold Ruzicka into an even more lethal forward.
4. Milos Roman, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/192 lbs
Drafted: 122nd in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
Roman is another talented Slovakian forward that is part of the Calgary Flames farm system. His play is a tad inconsistent. There are sequences where he’s dominant. He’ll create scoring chances left and right. He’ll use his beautiful slap shot and wrist shot whenever possible. But, sometimes, his vision fails him. He’ll creep into high traffic situations with the puck and attempt to dart through, but often that doesn’t work out to his advantage. He’ll cough up the puck. If Roman can be a bit more cautious in high traffic situations, he’ll see his offensive production go up.
Last season, Roman played in 59 regular season games for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He managed to muster up 27 goals and 33 assists. But, his offensive production wasn’t nearly the same in the playoffs. In 22 playoff games for the Giants, he tallied 4 goals and 8 assists. If Roman is looking to make a splash in the NHL down the road, he needs to be more consistent. At the moment, there are too many red flags.
5. Dillon Dubé, C/LW, Calgary Flames (NHL)/Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 5-11/183 lbs
Drafted: 56th overall in the 2016 draft by the Calgary Flames
Dillon Dubé has looked stellar in the AHL and in the WHL. He’s over-powering with his speed. He can burn his opposition left and right. Plus, he’s an exceptional playmaker.
Unfortunately, he had a tough time during his first call up to the NHL last season. In 25 games with the Flames last season, he tallied 1 goal and 4 assists. It’s not great, but you also have to keep in mind that he was playing 10 minutes per night. If you extrapolated his totals and figured that he might play 16-17 minutes a night regularly, you’d get a more realistic point total for Dubé.
Plus, he wasn’t a slouch in the AHL last season. In 37 games with the Stockton Heat, he managed to tally 15 goals and 24 assists. Those are outstanding numbers for Dubé. It’s clear that the transition from the WHL to AHL has gone well for Dubé. Now, he just needs more time at the NHL level to truly show off his skill set.
6. Martin Pospisil, C, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/183 lbs
Drafted: 105th overall in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
It’s clear that the Calgary Flames love Slovakian forwards. Earlier I brought about Adam Ruzicka and Milos Roman. This time around, we take a look at Martin Pospisil.
Pospisil is very much a power forward, but he hasn’t yet grown into his role. He needs to beef up and add some muscle to truly become a power forward. EliteProspects has him weighing in at 183 lbs. The goal should be for him to get as close as possible to 200 lbs.
When he’s on the ice, he’s proven to be a natural goal scorer. He loves to go right to the net and look for the optimal scoring chance to put his USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers on the board.
This past season, he played in 44 games with the Musketeers, recording 16 goals and 47 assists. Musketeers fans saw a huge improvement in Pospisil’s shooting last season. The season prior, he played in 49 games and scored 9 goals. Perhaps, next season, he’ll continue to develop his shooting and reach the 20 goal plateau.
7. Dmitry Zavgorodniy, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
HT/WT: 5-9/174 lbs
Drafted: 198th overall in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
When you watch the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic play, you generally are watching Alexis LaFreniere and not normally tuning in to watch Omsk, Russia native, Dmitry Zavgorodniy. But, Zavgorodniy has proven to fans that he’s worth watching.
In one of his first exhibition games with Flames, he played against the Edmonton Oilers and had a stellar goal on Oilers’ goalie prospect Oliver Rodrigue. In that short clip, you can see just how talented Zavgorodniy is. His puck handling is superb and his speed is electric. He’s very much like Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman and New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux. Great speed and puck handling and he knows how to use both of the skills at the same time to deliver goal after goal.
Last season with the Oceanic, he proved to Quebecers that he’s got some raw talent. In 67 games, he managed to record 28 goals and 36 assists.
8. Artyom Zagidulin, G, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/176 lbs
Artyom Zagidulin is a butterfly goaltender. He hardly uses his blocker and loves to stride from left to right in order to shut down his opponents. It’s been highly effective in Russia, but it might not translate so well to the NHL. When it comes to players in the NHL, forwards are capable of lifting the puck up and picking their corners. If Zagidulin doesn’t become more of a hybrid goaltender, he might not succeed in the NHL.
Even though Zagidulin will need to become more a hybrid net-minder to have success in North America, he was still highly productive in Russia last season. In 25 games played, he posted a 1.96 GAA and a .924 SV%. In addition, he appeared in 4 playoff games for Metallurg and put up an impressive 1.70 GAA and a .928 SV%.
9. Tyler Parsons, G, Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-1/190 lbs
Drafted: 54th overall in the 2016 draft by the Calgary Flames
For a while, Flames fans thought that the next Calgary Flames number one goaltender was Tyler Parsons. But, things have changed. Parsons has been rather inconsistent since his last days in the OHL with the London Knights.
Parsons was an outstanding net-minder for the Knights. He played three seasons in London, Ontario and in two out of those three seasons he had managed to post a GAA under 2.38. Unfortunately, his GAA has been significantly higher in the ECHL and in the AHL.
Parsons will need to make significant improvements to his game in order to make it to the NHL. If he doesn’t, he could be a career AHLer.
10. Filip Sveningsson, LW/RW, IK Oskarshamn (SHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/181 lbs
Drafted: 202nd overall in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
Filip Sveningsson could be a gem. He’s got exceptional vision, knows how to pick his corners, and has a cannon of a shot. He’s also great at reading his opponents and identifying the right time to poke check or make an interception. The only drawback is speed and skating. Sveningsson needs to get faster if he figures to make an impact in the NHL.
While Sveningsson does need to work his skating, he did have a solid season for IK Oskarshamn of the SHL. The 19-year-old appeared in 43 games and managed to muster up 15 goals and 12 assists.
He’ll be playing for IK Oskarshamn for another season and once that season is over, he’ll be free to sign with the Flames. If Sveningsson does sign with the Flames, he’ll likely spend some time down in Stockton. Time down in Stockton with MacLean might be just what Sveningsson needs to get his game ready for the NHL.