It is almost time for the puck to drop on the 2021–22 NHL season, but hockey is already underway. The Calgary Flames have begun their rookie camp already, with training camp set to open next week. Unfortunately for many of the rookies this year, they likely are not ready to make the jump to the NHL to start this season, with a couple of small exceptions. That being said, they will still be taking to the ice for teams as far west as Stockton California, and as far east as Vasterviks in Sweden. Let’s break it all down.
Most Flames prospects will be this side of the pond, with just three over in Sweden this season. East, west, north, and south, they run the gambit of leagues, colours, states, and provinces. Barring any trades or surprises, here is where to catch them all:
The majority of the Flames’ prospects will be playing with the Stockton Heat this year. Some, like Walker Duehr, Dmitry Zavgorodniy, Luke Philp, and Jakob Pelletier will almost certainly be there the whole year, while others like Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin, and Adam Ruzicka could make the jump to the NHL as early as the beginning of this season.
There are no guarantees as to who will be on the roster in Stockton as of yet, with some like Connor Zary hoping to push for an NHL spot, while others like Daniil Chechelev, Koletrane Wilson, and others hoping to get a roster spot with the Heat as opposed to the Kansas City Mavericks in the ECHL.
With the Flames’ roster being deep with NHL bodies, the number of prospects who make the big club looks limited. As a result, the competition for spots in Stockton is going to be fiercer than in years’ past. This is particularly pronounced in net with Tyler Parsons, Adam Werner, Dustin Wolf, and potentially Daniil Chechelev fighting for the two spots in the Stockton crease. This will be a battle to watch. The overflow in goaltending will mean some of these names will end up with ECHL games with the Mavericks.
There are only two prospects in the WHL this season for the Flames, and both were drafted in the 2021 NHL Draft. Lucas Ciona was drafted in the sixth round from the Seattle Thunderbirds and Cole Jordan was drafted in the fourth round from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Jordan has been called one of the big steals from the draft, and could be a difference-maker on his team this season.
The Flames have two prospects in the OHL, similar to the WHL. However, only one was drafted this past season. Jack Beck will be playing his second season with the Ottawa 67’s this year, having been out of action for the entirety of the 2020–21 season. This could be a big breakout year for the new sixth-round selection.
The other prospect to watch is Rory Kerins who will be returning to the Soo Greyhounds for his third season in the OHL. While he only got into four games in the AHL last season, the practice time with the pro club can only help his game. In his draft season, he put up 59 points in 64 games, and is coming off an invitation to Team Canada’s World Junior Summer Camp.
There must be something in the water in the Maritimes as the Flames will have at least four prospects in the QMJHL this season. Newly drafted Cameron Whynot will be playing in Halifax for the Mooseheads. He will be joined by Cole Huckins in Bathurst with the Acadie Bathurst Titans.
The Flames also have two prospects in Saint John with the Sea Dogs this season in Jeremie Poirier and Ryan Francis. Both were in the top-25 in scoring last season and put up absolutely phenomenal numbers on the ice next season. While it was a bit of a surprise that Francis will be back in the Q this season, the Flames will be hoping he takes another step in his two-way game this season.
They could also be joined by Yan Kuznetsov who was drafted in the most recent QMJHL Import Draft. While the odds are on him earning a role in Stockton, should he struggle to make an impact at camp, the Flames could opt to send him to Saint John to grow his game. While probably not optimal, it could be a smart long-term play to have him play alongside Poirier and develop chemistry early on. With Poirier hyper-offensive and Kuznetsov hyper-defensive, this could be a phenomenal pairing for the Flames in the future if it all works out.
The Flames have five prospects playing in the US Collegiate system this season. This group is highlighted by standout 2021 first-round selection Matthew Coronato, who will be looking to translate his incredible USHL numbers to the NCAA. He will be at Harvard this year, being both academically gifted and talented on the ice.
In the central part of the US, the Flames have two prospects at Michigan State University: Mitchell Mattson and Josh Nodler. Mattson had a tough season last year, struggling to stay in the lineup on a very weak Spartan team, but Nodler quietly had a very good year. The right shot winger finished third in scoring on his team last year, and will be looking to take an even bigger role this year.
They will be in the same division as defensive defenceman Jake Boltmann. A relatively unknown quantity, he joined Notre Dame midway through last season, and was decent in a depth role on the back-end of a very strong Fighting Irish club.
Finally, in the Southwest, Demetrios Koumontzis will be looking to make a mark for Arizona State this season. ASU had a very weird year last year, playing almost exclusively on the road all year against teams in the central part of the country, which could not have been good for morale. With a more normal season ahead, here’s hoping Koumontzis can get back to his previous form.
Finally in the USHL, the Flames will have two Russian prospects playing, both on the same team. Ilya Nikolayev will join Arseni Sergeev with the Tri-City Storm in Nebraska. Both will be newcomers to a rather strong Storm lineup, but both will have lots of opportunities to succeed. Sergeev has already gotten a number of starts this season, and Nikolayev will be one of the older players on the roster, and will hope to get lots of playing time with his experience.
For the first time in a long time, the Flames will only have prospects across the pond in Sweden. Three prospects will be in the Scandinavian nation this year. Recently drafted William Stromgren will be playing for Rogle this year in the southwest of the country. He has started the year with their J-20 club, and already has four points in three games this season.
Moving north, Lucas Feuk (pronounced folk) will be playing for Vasterviks this season in the Allsvenskan. He bounced around a lot in last year’s pandemic season, but put up very good numbers in the country’s third division.
Finally, Emil Heineman, who was the prospect coming back in the Sam Bennett deal, will be developing out of Leksands in the SHL. He was a top-10 player in his age group in the SHL, Sweden’s top men’s league, and will be looking to improve on his 13 points last season to make a real impact on the ice.
When does it all begin?
Most North American prospects are at Flames camp right now or will be in the coming weeks. The big exception are the Flames’ three Sweden-based prospects, whose seasons have already started. In North America, the preseason is ongoing for the CHL teams, and games have started in some American leagues.
Real action for most North American leagues starts in the coming week, and you can find Flames prospect updates all season long right here at The Win Column. Here’s to hockey being back again.
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