Calgary Flames

Sunday Census: Goalie prospects, first NHL goals, and unnecessarily early playoff predictions

Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!

David Rittich has been a blessing this season. Finally the Flames are getting some above average goaltending from someone that they developed within their own system. It seems like a regular occurrence for other teams to have a goalie prospect rise quickly through the ranks, and end up making waves in the NHL. Yet the Flames seem to miss out on this, with no real names coming to mind.

Cal Petersen, who started for the Kings two nights ago, is technically their fourth string goaltender behind Jonathan Quick, Peter Budaj, and Jack Campbell. For someone who was never expected to play this season, he has performed quite admirably. After eight games in the NHL, he’s been a bright spot in the Kings’ otherwise dismal season.

Mirroring that for the Flames, who could potentially fill that role should the opportunity present itself? We presented the four current goaltender prospects in the Flames’ system: Jon Gillies, Tyler Parsons, Nick Schneider, and Mason McDonald.

McDonald unfortunately has completely fallen off the Flames’ radar. He currently holds a 7-2-0 record, 2.62 GAA, and a 0.900 SV%, but with the Kansas City Mavericks in the ECHL. It would take a lot of terrible luck for him to even make it back to Stockton. Never say never, but chances are he is out of the Flames’ system next season.

Gillies was originally projected to be the goalie of the future, but has never quite established himself in the NHL or even the AHL for that matter. He currently sits with a 4-7-1 record, 4.44 GAA, and a 0.851 SV%. Yikes.

Schneider has been a pleasant surprise in Stockton this season, with injuries allowing him to play in ten games so far. He has a 6-1-0 record as a starter, and boasts the best statistical numbers on the team.

The leading vote-getter from fans was Parsons. Easily the best goaltender prospect this team has seen in ages, Parsons is the popular choice to jump in and make an immediate impact. His season has been limited so far due to injury, but he clearly has the most upside of any prospect. He most likely will be the team’s #1 down the road, barring any deviations from that plan.

While Parsons would be a phenomenal choice here, I am actually going with Schneider. Never really projected to be a key cog in the Flames’ future, he has surprised at each level he has played in, and he’d fit Petersen’s ascend into the NHL just a little bit better. You never know what could happen, and wouldn’t it be a heck of a story to have him play and succeed in the NHL.

There are a handful of Flames players currently on the roster that have yet to score in the NHL during their young careers. The race is on to see who has the skills to net one first.

While Ryan Lomberg is an inspired choice and has a game that some people love, he isn’t likely going to be sticking around for much longer. He got a few votes, there are others more likely to score before he does.

Oliver Kylington will be sticking around for much longer than originally anticipated, as injuries to Juuso Valimaki and Michael Stone have propelled him onto the third pairing. Always projected to be more of an offensive minded defender (and at times, lapses in his defensive game) he would be a sneaky choice here. He is going to get ample amount of time to attempt to pot his first goal, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get it this season.

Recent call up Andrew Mangiapane will be looking for his first NHL action this season, and is most likely the one player on this list that will be looked to for more offence. Projected to take Lomberg’s spot on the fourth line moving forward, Mangiapane will be reunited with former Stockton linemates Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway. For this reason alone, my money is on Mangiapane getting one before the other options. 39% of fans agree with this, but 44% agree more with someone else.

Rasmus Andersson has made his way into the every day NHLer category, but has yet to net his first career goal. He has played in 23 games this season, but only had one assist to show for it. He has been stellar in terms of his defensive development, but at some point something has to go in on the offensive side. Fans clearly agree with this sentiment, as he takes the slight edge in this poll.

When Hathaway scored against the Dallas Stars, all six players on the ice happened to be Stockton graduates. The Flames have put a ton of time and effort into their prospect system since Brad Treliving has taken over, and it clearly shows. We posed the question, which Stockton Graduate are you most excited about on the current roster? Players like Jankowski and Hathaway were excluded, although they’ve had flashes of play where there was plenty to get excited about.

Dillon Dube was next with 10% of the vote, but of course was assigned to Stockton after the aforementioned Dallas contest. Dube has been tearing it up in two games with Stockton, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he  makes it back to the NHL. Perhaps over time this number would change.

Kylington only snagged 6% of the vote, most likely because of the other defensive prospects currently above him on the depth chart. Andersson has clearly jumped into a ton of fans’ good books this season, and with 36% of the vote, it’s obvious that the excitement around where he projects is huge.

There is only one clear winner here though, from both my choice and the fans choice: Rittich. Somewhat of a question mark during training camp as to who would be Mike Smith‘s backup, within two months Rittich has earned the right to be called the Flames’ starting goaltender. This is not something I thought I would say this season. The quality of his starts, in addition to the quality of saves that he makes, clearly show that Rittich is the real deal (sorry James) and is here to stay.

Probably far too early in the season to start talking about playoff positioning, but hey why not!

The Pacific Division is absolutely dreadful this year. None of the teams have quite lived up to their expectations so far, and the Flames took advantage of this and are slowly building a gap between them and other teams in the playoff race. They currently sit a top the division with games in hand.

Not to discount the season the Flames have had so far, but it hasn’t necessarily been at a “division leading” quality. Because of this, we wanted to know where fans thought it would be the most strategic for the Flames to finish in terms of playoff seeding.

To no one’s surprise, third place and wildcard positions were not overly popular with fans. Perhaps it has just been far too long since home ice advantage has been held by the Flames. The underdog route is undesired.

It really was a two-horse race between first and second in the Pacific. Fans chose first place, with 66% of the vote, but I wholeheartedly disagree with this.

Undeniably, it would be phenomenal for the Flames to win their division, but think of who the team would have to play first. There is a strong chance that teams like the Stars, Wild, Jets, and Avalanche will occupy the two wild card spots, since the Central division has a wealth of stronger teams.

If I am the Flames I would much rather face the likes of the Sharks, Golden Knights, or Oilers on home ice in the first round. There is a better chance the Flames will face a worse team if they finish second in their division, making their path through the playoffs much easier.

Of course, the Flames can easily handle any team though, right? #confidence

Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.

Back to top button