Breaking down the road to the Memorial Cup for the Calgary Flames’ prospects

The Calgary Flames are in the playoffs for the first time in two years, and for the first time in likely ever, every prospect whose league has a playoff tournament will be competing in it. Some, like Matthew Coronato and the Flames’ NCAA prospects, have already had their playoffs, while others, like William Stromgren and Lucas Feuk in Sweden are in progress.

The big tournament for prospects has always been the Memorial Cup—the prize awarded to the top team in the Canadian Hockey Leagues (CHL). The winners of the three league—the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, compete with the host team for the chance to win the cup. Teams will first have to win their respective league’s playoffs then faceoff in a ten-day tournament in order to win the cup.

A number of Flames have won the tournament in their day. Most recently Matthew Tkachuk with the London Knights in 2016, but also former prospect Hunter Smith in 2015, “current” prospect Tyler Parsons in 2016, Lance Bouma in 2007, and most notably Jarome Iginla in 1994 and 1995 before he was selected 11th overall in the 1995 draft by the Dallas Stars.

This season, nine Flames prospects on seven teams will compete for the chance to raise the trophy. Here is the path that each team will have to take to claim the cup.


The WHL playoffs start this week, with teams facing off in a standard 16-team playoff format. Eight teams from each division earned a spot in the tournament, with the top seed facing off against the bottom seed on each side in a seven-game series. Here are the two that involve the Flames’ prospects.

Cole Jordan – Moose Jaw Warriors

The Moose Jaw Warriors secured the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and will face off against the Saskatoon Blades. The Blades have had the Warriors’ number all season, holding a 6–2–0–0 record in eight contests, and are led by 20-year-old Calgary-born Kyle Crnkovic, who has 94 points in 68 contests this year. He sits fifth in WHL scoring. They also boast Nolan Maier, who leads the Dub with 60 starts this year while still holding a 0.910 save percentage.

The Warriors are a very strong team, with draft-eligible Jagger Firkus leading the team with 80 points in 66 contests. What sets the Warriors apart is their blueline, which is stacked with potential top-10 pick Denton Mateychuk, Minnesota Wild pick Daemon Hunt, and Flames’ prospect Cole Jordan.

Jordan has had a very tough season, marred by a very long illness and then a long injury. However, he has slowly started regaining his form and has found his way back onto the team’s powerplay. He could become an X-factor for this team going into the playoff if he can regain his form.

This series could go either way. The Warriors will need to be strong defensively to control the Blades’ offence, which they have the capacity to do, but will also need to solve Maier offensively.

Lucas Ciona – Seattle Thunderbirds

Like the Warriors, the Thunderbirds took the fourth seed in their division and will faceoff against the Kelowna Rockets, where Dillon Dube played his junior hockey. The T-Birds went 3–1–0–0 in their four meetings with the Rockets, and were led by Jared Davidson.

Kelowna is not a team to take lightly. Their main offensive weapon is Chicago Blackhawks pick Colton Dach, who has 79 points in 61 games. They also have New York Rangers’ pick Talyn Boyko, who posted neat identical numbers to Cossa in 46 games this year for the Rockets.

Flames’ prospect Lucas Ciona had a bumpy season. He started slowly, but worked his way to being about a three-quarter-point-per-game player before going down with an injury. He has returned in the last week or so, but has not really put up points to end the year. As a top-six player, the Thunderbirds will hope to get more out of him through the playoffs.

The big dogs in the WHL are the Edmonton Oil Kings and Winnipeg ICE, the latter will likely be the Warriors’ opponent in the next round should they both get through. The Oil Kings have Detroit Red Wings’ prospect Sebastian Cossa in net and Arizona Coyotes’ forward Dylan Guenther, while the ICE have potential top-10 picks Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie. Both teams will be the teams to beat in the WHL if either Flames’ prospect team hopes to see Memorial Cup action.


Just as with the WHL, the OHL playoffs will start this week utilizing a standard hockey playoff format. Here’s how the Flames’ prospects stack up.

Rory Kerins – Soo Greyhounds

Just like Seattle and Moose Jaw, the Soo Greyhounds also finished fourth, securing home ice advantage in their first round series against the Guelph Storm. This season, Soo finished 4–2–0–0 against the Storm, and had some big wins over them over in the process.

The Storm have two big names on their roster: Anaheim Ducks prospect Sasha Pastujov and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Daniil Chayka. Both were very highly touted picks going into last season, and Pastujov in particular has been impressive with 76 points in 65 games this year.

The Soo have been led by Flames prospect Rory Kerins, who has been just outstanding this year. The sixth-round pick finished second in scoring in the entire OHL with 118 points in 67 games. He was just four points shy of breaking Joe Thornton‘s record of 122. The Greyhounds also have gotten phenomenal production from Tye Kartye, a Seattle Kraken signee, and Cole Mackay, a 20-year-old winger.

This will be a tough series for Soo, who do not have a netminder with an over 0.900 save percentage this season. They will need to get a ton of offence from their top guns if they hope to be successful.

Jack Beck – Ottawa 67’s

On the other side of the province, the seventh-seeded Ottawa 67’s will take on the second place North Bay Battalion in the first round of their playoffs. The Barber Poles went 2–2–1–1 in six matchups against the Battalion this year.

North Bay has two huge offensive weapons in Brandon Coe and Matvei Petrov, prospects of the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers respectively. Petrov recorded 90 points while Coe put up a whopping 101 through 62 games. They also have potential first round selection Ty Nelson on their blueline. Six-foot-six Joe Vrbetic, a 2021 seventh-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, is their netminder, and has put up a 0.906 save percentage this season.

The 67’s got their scoring by committee, with Vinzenz Rohrer, a draft-eligible prospect this year leading the way with 48 points. Despite missing half the season with a nasty kidney issue, Jack Beck finished the season second in team scoring with 44 points in 36 games. He was 25th in points-per-game in the league. The team also got production from 2021 first-round pick Tyler Boucher, who joined the team mid-season from the NCAA. He had 14 points in 22 games.

Will this be enough for the 67’s to vanquish the Batallion? Only time will tell but they have had success in tough games against big opponents. If they make it through the first round, they will almost certainly have to face either the Hamilton Bulldogs or Kingston Frontenacs, where expected 2022 first overall selection Shane Wright plays. Both teams would be exceptionally tough competition.

The other team to watch out for is the perennially excellent London Knights. Both they and the Windsor Spitfire will be tough outs for any team. Both Kerins and Beck will be in tough competition to make it to the Memorial Cup, but as in any playoffs, anything can happen.


Unlike the OHL and WHL, the QMJHL playoffs are still a couple of weeks away. And unlike their counterparts, the Q’s playoffs will be best-of-five instead of best-of-seven for the first three rounds and a best-of-seven for the championship. Here’s how the playoff picture looks so far.

Cole Huckins – Acadie Bathurst Titan

The Titan will realistically finish either third or fourth in the standings this season, and either way will have home ice advantage in their playoff matchup. Their most likely opponents are the Rimouski Oceanic or Halifax Mooseheads, as there is a wide gap between fourth and fifth as well as between sixth and seventh in the standings.

Acadie Bathurst is led by four prospects, Riley Kidney of the Montreal Canadiens, Bennett MacArthur of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jacob Melanson of the Seattle Kraken, and Hendrix LaPierre of the Washington Capitals. LaPierre should be somewhat familiar to the Flames, as he was one of the picks taken when the Flames traded down in 2020 to take Connor Zary in the first round. Both Titan netminders boast save percentages of about 0.900 as well.

Cole Huckins is a bit of an enigma. He was nearly a point-per-game player at the start of the year, but then was sent away from the team in very murky circumstances for over a month. He has since returned and is on the bottom line at this point. He could emerge as an X-factor for the Titan in the playoffs, but they would need to play him in slightly more minutes for him to have a shot at emerging. He clearly has the skills to be a very good player in this league, but that likely was not the problem.

Cameron Whynot – Halifax Mooseheads

The Moosehead will either finish fifth or sixth, meaning they will likely face either Acadie Bathurst of the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Halifax boasts a very strong team as well, led by draft-eligible Jordan Dumais, who has 90 points in 63 games this year. He is followed by Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Elliot Desnoyers with 75 points in 56 games. Former 2021 first round pick Zachary L’Heureux of the Nashville Predators sits fourth.

Whynot is more of a shutdown blueliner, but has been playing primarily on the team’s top pair for the majority of the season. He has struggled with a few injuries, including one that kept him out of the lineup for the last few games of the season. The hope is that he will be back in the lineup soon, and remain there through the playoffs. He has not done enough to separate himself from the pack, but will likely have another season in the Q next year to do that.

The big dog to watch in the Q has and continues to be the Quebec Remparts, who are managed and coached by legendary netminder Patrick Roy. They are currently 8–1–1 in their last 10 games and look to be the team to beat in the playoffs this year.

Yan Kuznetsov, Jeremie Poirier, Ryan Francis – Saint John Sea Dogs

Finally, sitting in the position of already being in the Memorial Cup by virtue of being the host team are the Saint John Sea Dogs. The team absolutely loaded up this year, drafting Yan Kuznetsov in the import draft, getting Ryan Francis back from Stockton, and adding Vincent Sevigny, Ravais Ansons, and Thomas Couture among others. Expect them not to be an easy out in the playoffs this year.

For the host team, the playoffs are excellent practice time for the rigours of the Memorial Cup. Their competition in the Cup will be three elite teams from across the country, and the home team will not want to disappoint in front of their fans. Expect the Dogs to really play hard through the playoffs.

A season to remember

There is still a lot of uncertainty with regard to the playoffs this year for the Q, but there is a very good chance that Flames’ prospects will face off against each other in the first round. With lots of emerging storylines already coming out and even more impending, the Memorial Cup should be a fun one to watch for the Flames this year. There’s at least a 25% chance that some Flames’ prospects could find their name on the cup as this year’s champions.

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