An undersized right shot forward who has a knack for scoring goals is right in the Calgary Flames’ wheelhouse. Logan Stankoven is a type of player that the Flames would drool over as one of the best shooters in this year’s draft. Expected to go as high as 12 and as low as the tail end of the second round, Stankoven ended up ranked 26th on TWC’s consolidated NHL draft rankings.
Stankoven is one of the players whose draft stock has risen considerably as the year went on. It is unlikely that he will fall beyond the first round, and has been described as one of the biggest steals this year. Let’s break down why he may even be the best option for the Flames at number 12.
Who is Logan Stankoven?
Standing 5’8″ and weighing in at 170 pounds, Stankoven is not a big player, but has shown that size doesn’t matter if you know how to use it. Drafted fifth overall in the WHL Bantam Draft in 2017, Stankoven has always been a highly regarded prospect, and has shown the ability to produce at all levels.
This was a short season for Stankoven, who played just six games in the WHL, all of which as the Blazers’ second line centre. Connor Zary was the first line centre for Kamloops all season until he was injured, which means Stankoven did not get a boost from playing alongside the Blazers’ top player.
From there, Stankoven then went off to join Team Canada at the World U18 Tournament, where he played on the right side of the second line, alongside fellow draft eligible forward Mason McTavish and 2023 eligible prospect Connor Bedard.
Logan Stankoven’s on-ice production
In every league he has played, and in each tournament he has featured in, Stankoven has impressed.
|2018–19||D-2||BC U18||Thompson Blazers U18 AAA||38||49||52||101|
These are incredibly impressive numbers all the way through. Stankoven was the top scorer in his D-2 season, playing in U-18 AAA, beating the player in second by over 40 points. And while it took him a few games to settle into the WHL game, Stankoven was just one goal away from breaking the all-time rookie goal-scoring record in the league but was stymied by the league shutting down due to the pandemic. He still finished his D-1 season third among rookies and sixth on his team.
2020–21 was a hard season to evaluate fairly for Stankoven, given he only featured in six games. However, in terms of points-per-game, Stankoven finished fifth in the league and first on his team at 1.67. He then joined Team Canada’s U18 Team for the end of the season, and had eight points in seven games, good for 16th in the tournament. He was also fifth on Team Canada in terms of points. Clearly, he’s made the most of the opportunities he had to make his stock rise in the eyes of scouts.
Logan Stankoven’s strengths
It is hard to oversell just how offensively gifted Stankoven is. He has one of the best shots in the entire draft class this year, which has been described as a laser beam. Not only is it incredibly powerful, but supremely accurate, allowing him to pick a spot and hit it even when facing competition. Take a look at this beautiful goal Stankoven scored at the World U18s in which he stutter stepped then took a wicked wrister that beat the goalie high:
Here is another incredible example of how good his shot is, but also his ability to pick his spot through traffic without trouble at all:
While the Latvian goaltender was screened, it took incredible accuracy from Stankoven to pinpoint that shot through two defenders and his own teammate up high over the netminder and into the net. This was done all while facing pressure from the defender covering him.
Perhaps just as impressive for Stankoven is his skating ability. He is fast! Not only does he have a high top speed, he gets there quickly, accelerating to force defenders to adjust faster than they would have liked. He has the ability to beat defenders out wide like many great skaters, but what is perhaps more impressive is his skating through the neutral zone. Stankoven uses his speed to turn defense into offense so effectively, and before you know it, the puck is in the offensive end leading to a scoring chance.
His two-way game is also very impressive. Stankoven is defensively sound, knowing where he needs to be to limit offensive chances against. He probably isn’t going to be a penalty kill specialist, but when he is on the ice, he uses his stick well to break up chances and is good at keeping the play to the outside. He is also a very smart player, and can often anticipate the play before it happens, allowing him to react smartly to regain possession.
Despite being a smaller player, he isn’t afraid to get into the corners and push his way around to generate chances. It is details like this that make him so valuable in the draft this year. Take a look at him battling hard and not giving up against guys who are clearly bigger than him. However, his skill with his stick and determination allow the puck to get to the front of the net, leading to a goal. Watch #12 here:
It’s the little details in his game that seal it for me. Stankoven has never had anything handed to him, having to work hard for every opportunity he has been given. And he rewards coahces for their trust. Not only does he score goals like an absolute monster, he also does little things like getting into scrums and blocking shots, especially when the chips are down. He has a motor of an engine, never taking shifts off, and just never gives up. Check out this clip from the U18s where he makes a great block then you see him jump right back into a great defensive position:
Logan Stankoven’s areas of improvement
Scouts have few negative things to say about Stankoven. In terms of his game, Stankoven is a shoot-first guy, and while he has the ability to make strong passes when called upon, he often prefers to shoot. This would be a problem if he was making bad decisions, but his hockey IQ is quite high.
The problem may be in moving him to the wing versus keeping him at centre, and a team that needs a pure centre may shy away from him for this reason. That being said, he did have one of the highest faceoff percentages in the WHL this season (albeit in a small sample size), but centres need to be able to make plays, and Stankoven may be better served on the right wing.
Scouts as always will question his effectiveness because of his size. Yes, he is a small player, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for in drive and determination. He has shown his ability to make do with his height, and while he absolutely will need to fill in his frame in the weight room, Stankoven looks to be an incredible offensive weapon in a few years. The NHL is in a different era where skill usurps size—Stankoven is a prime example of the newest generation of prospective NHL talent.
Finally, as is a problem with many prospects in this year’s draft, Stankoven simply has not played in many meaningful games. Over his entire junior hockey career, Stankoven has featured in less than 75 games, which relative to players who have been drafted before him is remarkably few. This makes him a bit of a hard commodity to judge, simply because he has not had a chance to show exactly what he is.
That being said, everything that has been seen of him has been overwhelmingly positive. The question then becomes, if he played one more full junior season, could he have been projected to be a top-10 pick as opposed to a later first round pick? We will never know, but that’s the reality of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Fit with the Flames
The Flames need two key things on their team right now: right shot forwards and goal scorers. Stankoven fills both in one small package. It is hard to oversell just how incredible of a fit Stankoven would be with the Flames, not only based on his ability to just score goals at will, but also his incredible skating ability. The Flames need to add some speed to their game, and he may be part of that answer. While he is a few years away from becoming an impact NHLer, Stankoven has the potential to be become not just a top-six forward, but a bona fide star.
It would have been ideal to dream about a future of Dylan Guenther as the Flames’ selection, it seems unlikely that he will fall to them at 12th. However, I’d argue that Stankoven may be a better fit for the Flames. Not only does he have an incredible work ethic, but he is a much stronger two-way player, able to play any role on the ice when he’s called upon. The one knock on Guenther is he sneaks out of the zone early on breakouts, and does not defend as effectively, but Stankoven is much stronger on defence. With the Flames watching the Western league like a hawk, they likely know just how underrated Stankoven is and given his work ethic and all-around game.
If the 14 NHL teams ahead of Montreal could have redone their 2019 draft, it is safe to bet that Cole Caufield would have been gone before the Habs had a chance to select, and probably would have been gone within the first five selections. Stankoven feels like a similar type of player—one ranked somewhere in the mid to tail end of the first round, but who has the offensive skills to make a huge statement in the NHL.
An offensive star in the making, Stankoven is projected to be a top-six winger or centre at the NHL level, and as a right shot forward who plays in the WHL, the Flames’ favorite place to draft from, Stankoven could be the pick at 12 this year. Could he be a reach looking at the draft rankings alone? Absolutely. But when you break down his game, and look at just how good he is on the ice, Stankoven could turn out to be an absolute steal in a couple of years.
Projection: Top-six winger/centre
Previously: William Eklund, Dylan Guenther, Cole Sillinger, Jesper Wallstedt, Kent Johnson, Simon Robertsson, Fabian Lysell, Aatu Räty, Carson Lambos, Simon Edvinsson, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Brennan Othmann, Corson Ceulemans, Francesco Pinelli, Oskar Olausson, Xavier Bourgault, Zachary L’Heureux, Matthew Coronato, Zachary Bolduc
Featured image created with Venngage.