With the season ending and the draft upcoming, we have polled our team and developed a consolidated list of the top 15 Calgary Flames prospects. There was substantially more disagreement down the list than anticipated, with some prospects being universally loved, while others are viewed very differently across the team.
To start things off, let’s discuss the players who got a handful of votes, but not enough to crack the top 15. Three prospects fell just outside: Josh Nodler, Ilya Solovyov, and Tyler Parsons. These three players showed up on just four ballots each. The writers who chose to rank them outline their case for inclusion on the top 15 list.
Ranked #15 by Mike Gould:
Josh Nodler is a promising young right-handed centre who took a step forward on an underwhelming Michigan State team this season. At first glance, Nodler’s three goals and 11 points in 27 games don’t look all that impressive; however, the Spartans scored just 40 goals in 27 games this year and their leading scorer (Mitch Lewandowski, three years Nodler’s senior) had just two more points than the 19-year-old Nodler.
More impressive: Michigan State was outscored 77-40 this season but managed to draw even, at 12-12, with Nodler on the ice. He was the only player on 7-18-2 MSU to boast an on-ice goals-for percentage at or above 50%, and he did so as a sophomore on a relatively experienced team.
Nodler is a tenacious two-way player who stands 5’11” and weighs 194 pounds; Calgary would be smart to begin exploring the possibility of graduating him to their professional ranks after his junior year.
Ranked #14 by Khalid Keshavjee and #15 by Joshua Serafini:
Of all the Flames’ prospects, Solovyov has had the most unique development path. He grew up in Belarus’ national team system then made the jump over to the OHL, where he put up 40 points in 54 games and finished 17th among all defencemen league-wide. Then, he was selected by the Flames in the seventh round and spent the season in the KHL, putting up a modest nine points in 41 games as a rookie, and finished fifth among U-21 defencemen in the second-best league in the world.
Of the Flames’ prospect playing in Russia, Solovyov was the only one who played this season in the KHL, and was serviceable as a rookie in mostly a third pairing role. Being a seventh round pick, the Flames surprised many in signing him to an ELC this season, and he will join the Stockton Heat in the fall. It is going to be interesting to see how he adapts to the AHL system and will have heavy competition on the back end with Johannes Kinnvall and Yan Kuznetsov joining for their first full seasons.
That being said, Solovyov has succeeded as a rookie at the KHL and the OHL and has shown that he has no issue playing in North America. Expect him to really push hard this coming season in Stockton, and may even push up the depth chart for a spot on the NHL roster sooner than later.
Ranked #15 by John MacKinnon:
Tyler Parsons may have had a rough start to his professional career, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely over for him. Just a few years ago, Parsons was ranked as one of the organization’s top prospects, with some even ranking him first overall. How can a young player fall that far that fast?
Well, first off all, injuries have plagued Parsons since he made the jump to the pros. He has yet to have a full season where he has remained healthy. As a result, he has catapulted down the depth chart. Dustin Wolf looks to be the Flames’ best goaltending prospect at the moment, but he is still seasons away from an NHL debut. The team has to see what they have in Parsons sooner rather than later.
Parsons still has the potential and will always have the pedigree, but if he is unable to stay healthy and seize an opportunity, he may never be able to make the jump to the NHL (at least with the Flames). The young goaltender screams of someone the Flames organization would give up on, but find success elsewhere. Although he has split his time between the AHL and ECHL, it would be ideal for the Flames to give him as much AHL time this coming season to get a sense of where his ceiling is, or if it is already set.
With Parsons and Wolf likely splitting time in Stockton, expect Parsons to fight hard for the starting role if he can stay healthy.
Featured image created with Venngage.