It seems only yesterday that the 2021–22 season was beginning, but now just a blink later, we’re already looking forward to next season. A number of Calgary Flames prospects have already seen their seasons come to a close, and while some are playoff bound, others are dusting off their roller skates and golf bags for a long summer of training and fun.
For the Flames’ prospects, some will be staying with their current organization, but for many, the water is murky. Some will be graduating to the next level, others will be moving on to new teams, and yet others are still very much in the air. Let’s take a look at where they will likely end up come puck drop next season:
What is known
All of the 2021 draft picks from the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL will almost certainly remain with their current clubs. This is Cole Huckins (QMJHL), Cameron Whynot (QMJHL), Cole Jordan (WHL), Jack Beck (OHL), and Lucas Ciona (WHL).
As good as Beck has been, he had a shortened season because of injuries. Between that and not playing at all last year due to the pandemic, giving him a year to challenge for the OHL’s scoring title will be great for his development and morale. None of the others have done enough damage to earn an entry-level contract at this point.
Demetrios Koumontzis will be back with ASU for his fifth and final season with the team. He has struggled with injuries throughout his career and will need a big year to earn a role with the Flames.
Jake Boltmann will be back in Notre Dame for his sophomore season while Josh Nodler will be back for his senior year with Michigan State.
Arseni Sergeev will move from the USHL to the NCAA, joining the University of Connecticut. This is where Yan Kuznetsov played his college hockey.
William Stromgren will remain with Rogle for at least one more season as his contract expires at the end of next year. Hopefully, he will be in the SHL as opposed to the J-20.
The Heat will have Jeremie Poirier, Yan Kuznetsov, and Rory Kerins for sure joining the Heat next year. Perhaps most intriguing is the current defence pairing of Kuznetsov and Poirier, who should give the team an already established duo to start next season. This will pose some big questions for what the Heat’s blueline looks like going into next season, but we’ll get into that shortly.
The farm team will also almost certainly continue to have Connor Zary, Walker Duehr, Mathias Emilio Pettersen, and Ilya Solovyov. These are all players who probably need a bit more time in Stockton before they can look at the NHL, but who have contracts for at least next season already.
What is expected
Matt Coronato led the Harvard Crimson in scoring this season as a rookie and carried them right to the Whitelaw Cup of the ECAC. However, with just one year of NCAA experience, expect him back in college next year. It seems unlikely that the Flames will want to rush his development at this point, and given he’s at a top college like Harvard, it’s probably good for Coronato too.
It is not yet official, but expect Ryan Francis to sign an ELC at the end of this season to join the Stockton Heat next year. He has been on absolute fire to end the year for the Sea Dogs. This is one of those “not official but probably official” moves.
The other very likely move for Stockton will be Ilya Nikolayev joining the team. He is having a very good year in the USHL with Tri-City as an older player, but without an NCAA commitment, he likely joins Stockton next season. Because of the Flames’ contract situation, there is a good chance he gets an AHL only deal, and will be forced to earn an NHL one the following year.
On the flip side, this is almost certainly the end of the line for Tyler Parsons, who has not even been in Stockton this year. Bad injury luck combined with his personal decisions likely led to this.
Now things get murky. Dustin Wolf and Connor Mackey could push for NHL jobs, but it seems more likely that the pair start the season in Stockton. Mackey may get an extended look to start the year but expect him back in Stockton at least at this point.
The Heat also have Dmitri Zavgorodniy signed for one more year, and he had a very good campaign on loan with HC Sochi of the KHL. He hasn’t seen much action since coming back across the pond as Stockton is just so deep right now, but he likely factors in next year.
Not technically a prospect, but the Flames are going to decide what to do with Juuso Valimaki. They still have him under contract for one more season, but whether he’s in the NHL, the AHL, or even with the Flames is going to be a big question.
Perhaps the biggest question mark of all is Daniil Chechelev who has been decent for Kansas City in the ECHL. He could earn a look in the AHL next season, and if he doesn’t perform, could be seconded back to KC.
The Flames will still hold Lucas Feuk’s rights for one more season, and barring a major transformation in his play, that will be the end of his tenure with the team. He is currently playing in the HockeyEttan, Sweden’s third division, but it is unclear where he will end up next year. Hopefully a stronger league.
What is still up in the air
The Heat have a number of question marks to answer this season. Let’s start with the ones where the team has control. Technically both Colton Poolman and Johannes Kinnvall are RFAs at the end of the year, but it seems like both will be looking for new homes.
Kinnvall has been a healthy scratch often of late, and while he has been an effective powerplay quarterback, he just has not been great at 5v5. Maybe he sticks around one more year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went home to Sweden at the end of the season. Poolman has also not been very effective this year, and may need a new home.
Then there are the UFA prospects: Glenn Gawdin, Luke Philp, and Justin Kirkland who can go anywhere from here based on who gives them the best opportunity. It seems unlikely any crack the Flames’ lineup anytime soon, with Gawdin being passed by Adam Ruzicka in the depth chart. There’s always half a chance the Heat bring one or two back, but expect them all to be looking for new homes next season.
Two prospects could make a serious push for the NHL next year. Adam Ruzicka was very decent in his time with the big club, but was pushed down the depth chart with the acquisition of Ryan Carpenter and Calle Jarnkrok at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Just like Oliver Kylington losing the trade deadline two seasons ago, this is not a bad thing, but it means there is a good chance he is looked at next year as a potential for a roster spot.
The other player who could make a serious push is Jakob Pelletier, who has been among the best rookies in the entire AHL. Pelletier is showing himself to already be too good for the AHL right now and deserves a look at the next level. Because of the Flames’ remarkable injury luck, he hasn’t had an opportunity to get into a game, but when he invariably does, it will be very telling for his future. There is a good chance he could have a flaming C on the front of his jersey at the start of next year.
While the Flames do hold his rights for one more season, this seems to be the end of the road for Mitchell Mattson who was a senior this year for Michigan State. He struggled to earn a spot in the lineup on a very weak Spartans side, and will almost certainly be looking for new opportunities next year. We wish him nothing but the best.
The biggest question mark of all will be what the Flames do at the draft. They currently have three 2022 draft picks, and will likely have just a couple new players joining the organization. While there is half a chance that there may be some surprises—like Ilya Nikolayev and Daniil Chechelev coming over from Russia—expect this to be somewhat where the prospects end up playing to start next season.
There will be a lot of emerging storylines as we get to the end of this season and into next. Some prospects will have a lot to prove to continue being in the system while many others will have their work cut out to earn a spot at the next level, but as we do every week, The Win Column will always have you covered on all these stories as they emerge.
Ahead of tonight’s contest, the bookies have a bit of a split decision, with Betway Sports pricing the Calgary Flames at -120 and the Los Angeles Kings at +110 to win the game in regulation. An overtime decision is set at +300.