After a very very long break, the majority of the Flames’ prospect pool will finally get going this Sunday as the Stockton Heat take on the Toronto Marlies. This will be the first matchup ever between the two clubs, and promises to be a good one.
The Flames organization is in a unique position this season. They have the opportunity to have both their AHL and NHL clubs playing in the same city, and with the ongoing pandemic, have the ability to easily call-up or send down players with relative ease. This is something teams like Toronto have used to their advantage for years now, and is something the Flames will be hoping to make the most of.
The Heat this season have a very big roster, and will need to move some pieces around in order to get everyone playing and to fit under league requirements. With teams only allowed to ice 18 skaters and two goalies, it will be a challenge to get everyone regular playing time while keeping enough bodies around to cover for injuries or COVID-19 absences.
Here is how the roster shapes up so far based on data from EliteProspects in alphabetical order.
|Colton Beck (LW/C) (Try-out)||Giorgio Estephan (C)||Alex Gallant (C/LW)|
|Rory Kerins (C/LW) (Try-out)||Justin Kirkland (LW/RW)||Mathias Emilio Pettersen (C)|
|Matthew Phillips (C/RW)||Luke Philp (C/RW)||Martin Pospisil (C/RW)|
|Adam Ruzicka (C/W)||Mark Simpson (C/LW)||Eetu Tuulola (RW)|
|Connor Zary (C)||Dmitri Zavgorodny (C/W)|
On top of that, the Flames currently have Buddy Robinson, Glenn Gawdin, Zac Rinaldo, Byron Froese, and Brett Ritchie who have been called up or sent down since the season began for the Flames. Expect them in and out of the lineup regularly throughout the season. Read our piece about why Glenn Gawdin should spend more time with the Flames this season here.
On the other side, the Flames have three forwards that may only be with the team for a short time. Because there has been no confirmation of an OHL season to this point, the Flames have brought Rory Kerins to Stockton on a try-out basis. Kerins put up 59 points in 64 games with the Soo Greyhounds last season. At 18 years of age and just 5’10”, he will probably need to fill out a bit before the Flames will start looking at him for the big club. That said, the underlying numbers are good, and playing professional hockey (should he make the team) would be huge for his development.
The team has also brought Connor Zary to Stockton as there is no agreement for the WHL’s British Columbia clubs. Zary was excellent for Team Canada at the World Juniors, and has already signed his entry-level contract with the Flames, making him eligible to play for the big club as he waits to hear back on the WHL’s future.
Finally, the Flames have brought Colton Beck to camp on a PTO. Having spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild, Beck was left unsigned in the off-season. Last season, the 30 year old put up 11 points in 47 games. He was likely brought in to add some maturity and age to a very young Heat group. The Heat only have one other player aged 30 or older, Michael Stone.
Among their own draft picks, the Flames have a number looking to take another step forward. This includes Friend of the Blog Matthew Phillips, who, aside from Glenn Gawdin, is probably the most NHL ready forward in the group. He will be looking to take on more of a leadership role this season and prove that he is ready for active duty with the big club.
Aside from him, the Heat have Dmitri Zavgorodny, Eetu Tuulola, and Martin Pospisil who all played on loan stints in Europe during the pandemic. They also have Mathias Emilio Pettersen, Luke Philp, and Adam Ruzicka who did not but will be looking to take another step in their development. Pettersen will be playing in his first season with the Heat, while Ruzicka and Philp will be looking to add to their totals from last year.
Returning from last season are Alex Gallant and Justin Kirkland, both of whom will be looking to make a bigger impact this season. Kirkland finished the season with 28 points and 44 penalty minutes in 53 games last season. A former third round pick of the Nashville Predators, Kirkland will be looking to take another step forward and show that he can be a difference-maker on the ice. Gallant meanwhile had eight points and 102 penalty minutes in 43 games, and will bring a physical presence to a Heat team loaded with smaller players.
The Heat also have two new forwards, Giorgio Estephan and Mark Simpson. Estephan signed an AHL-ECHL deal recently, and was initially expected remain with the Kansas City Mavericks. However, he has recently been called up to play for the Heat, and will join the team after his quarantine. That said, the former WHLer has a lot of offensive promise. He currently has 22 points in 22 games in the ECHL this season. Simpson meanwhile is a product of the University of New Brunswick, where he put up 21 points in 24 games last season.
The Heat currently have ten defencemen on their roster, with Connor Mackey and Oliver Kylington on the Flames’ taxi squad for the time being. Here is the Heat’s defense in alphabetical order by left and right handedness
|Left hand shot||Right hand shot|
|Rob Hamilton||Greg Moro|
|Noah King||Alex Petrovic|
|Carl-Johan Lerby||Michael Stone|
|Zachary Leslie||Koletrane Wilson|
|Colton Poolman||Alexander Yelesin|
The Heat defense boasts a number of returnees from last season, including veterans Rob Hamilton and Zachary Leslie. Hamilton put up 18 points in 50 games last season while Lesline put up 28 points in the same time. Both were born in 1994, and seem destined to be AHL stalwarts.
Among the young guns, the Flames have Carl-Johan Lerby, Colton Poolman and Alexander Yelesin looking to show that they have what it takes to wear the Flaming C. Yelesin put up just five points last season as a defensive defenceman but appears to be the closest to NHL-ready of the group.
Poolman was signed out of the University of North Dakota, where he put up 17 points in 31 games as the captain. He also has a hockey pedigree, being the younger brother of Winnipeg Jets defenceman Tucker Poolman.
Lerby meanwhile is going into his first season with Stockton after putting up 16 points in 44 games with the Malmo Redhawks of the SHL. Malmo is where Rasmus Andersson got his start, and the team is currently coached by his father Peter.
The Heat will also have Michael Stone and Alex Petrovic joining their roster. Stone spent most of last season with the Flames, typically in the pressbox as their seventh defencemen. Petrovic joined the team in the off-season from the Bruins organization, where he had 20 points in 54 games. Both bring a veteran presence to the Heat.
The Heat have also signed three former assistant captains to round out their defence. Noah King put up 40 points in 64 games as the assistant captain of the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. He is joined by former assistant captain of Clarkson University Greg Moro, who had a just seven points in 32 games last season but finished with 20 the season before. Finally, winning the award for coolest name on the Heat is Koletrane Wilson, who joins the Heat from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He put up 33 points and 90 penalty minutes in 62 games.
If the Heat’s roster wasn’t busy enough, they currently have six goaltenders in the pipeline right now along with Louis Domingue who is currently on the Flames’ taxi squad. Artyom Zagidulin had a decent season last year, featuring in 30 games and ending with a 0.898 save percentage. However he had a rough outing in his loan stint in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, where he played in five games but only had a 0.869 save percentage. He will be looking to turn that around this season.
Tyler Parsons will be looking to make a big impact this season, but is currently recovering from ankle surgery that he had in the off-season. He will be looking to claim the starters job upon his return.
Friend of the Blog Dustin Wolf is currently with the team, but with American WHL clubs going back to playing next month, he will be back with Everett shortly.
The team has also signed Garrett Sparks to an AHL deal. With Parsons still recovering and uncertainty around Zagidulin’s performance, Sparks brings a good deal of NHL and AHL experience. Last season, he put up a 0.908 save percentage in 26 games with the Chicago Wolves.
The Flames have also signed Max Paddock and Hayden Lavigne to a try-out and a loan stint respectively. 20 year old Paddock is an undrafted netminder currently playing for the Prince Albert Raiders. However, don’t expect him to stay with the Heat as he is expected back in the WHL to be the Raiders’ starting netminder this season. He put up a 0.935 save percentage last season, and was the only goalie in the league who put up better numbers than Wolf last season.
The Heat also have Hayden Lavigne who has been loaned from the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. Wichita currently have five goalies in their system and are currently rolling with Evan Weninger as their starter. In two games, Hayden Lavigne finished with a 0.950 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA.
Who are you most excited about going into this season? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.
Photo credits: Stocktonheat.com