With the 2021–22 season now over for 30 teams in the league and the NHL Draft upcoming, we have polled our team and put together 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 kick things off, let’s take a look at the prospects who earned honourable mention nods and those who did not earn votes in the top 15. With 37 prospects in the system, it’s inevitable that no-votes would happen, but many of these prospects have upside potential that was not realized this year for one reason or another.
Honourable mentions for Flames prospects
Six prospects earned at least one honourable mention vote. Let’s take a closer look at this group.
Glenn Gawdin had a very good season for the Stockton Heat, putting up 50 points in 62 games for the farm team. However, he seemed to be stuck in purgatory between the AHL and NHL, but was not so impressive in the lower league to really burst through the doors to the NHL on a full-time basis.
An unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season, there is a good chance Gawdin will be playing in different colours next season, but if the Flames are able to retain him, he could be a handy depth piece for the team.
Justin Kirkland was incredibly impressive for the Heat, particularly down the stretch. The winger led the team in points in the playoffs with 12 in 13 games, and was a key factor as to why the Heat did as well as they did in the playoffs. Unfortunately, like Gawdin, he did not show enough to earn a real look at the NHL level.
Kirkland is also a UFA at the end of the season, and will likely move on to another team. However, he would be the type of guy the Flames would want to bring back if possible to help their young players grow.
The 2021 second-round pick had a decent if unremarkable season in Sweden this year, spending most of his time in the Swedish J-20 with Rogle BK. Through 44 games, he had 36 points, and earned six games in the SHL, Sweden’s highest men’s league. Unfortunately he did not hit the scoresheet in any of those games.
His numbers do not particularly jump off the page, but the team at Rogle clearly liked him quite a bit. He will be back with them for one more year before he hopefully makes the jump over to North America.
Cole Jordan had a really rough season this year in the WHL with Moose Jaw, putting up just 11 points in 36 games. However, the blueliner was sidelined for most of the year with an unknown ailment, and even when he returned he looked to still be suffering. However, he clearly seemed to be the type of player his teammates wanted to root for, and the type of player that his teammates trusted. Expect him to have a very good year next year.
An unknown prospect when he was drafted, Boltmann took a big step forward this year in his rookie year with Notre Dame. The blueliner put up a goal and 12 assists in 40 regular season games while playing primarily on the second pairing. As mostly a shutdown guy and in his first season, these are great numbers to build off of. He’s another guy who could take off next season.
Walker Duehr had a fantastic Flames training camp, and earned himself a look at the NHL level with the Flames. However, he did not do much more from there with the Heat, putting up just 23 points in 59 games in the AHL. During the playoffs, he did tally five goals, good for second most on the team behind Kirkland. There may be more there, but he will have to really show up next season.
Flames prospects with no votes
Fourteen prospects did not receive any votes this year, including a few surprises. The latter group broadly falls into three big categories: prospects who did not show enough but have upside potential, middling prospects who likely are running out of runway, and prospects who are probably or definitely not going to be in the organization after this season. Let’s take a quick look at each prospect who didn’t receive a single vote.
Prospects with upside potential
These are prospects who maybe did not have the best seasons, but have runway and showed glimpses of potential upside in their games.
The Halifax Moosehead defenceman quietly battled injuries through the course of the season, but had a decent year putting up 17 points in 45 games. Whynot played primarily on the team’s top pairing, but could not really separate himself as a standout blueliner on the team. He will need to push hard to earn an entry-level contract (ELC) next season.
Huckins was trending towards being a point-per-game player with the Acadie Bathurst Titan before being sent away from the team for unknown reasons. When he returned, he bounced up and down the lineup and could not find the back of the net. If he hopes to earn an ELC, he will need to put whatever caused his dismissal in the rearview mirror and focus on his on-ice production. He clearly has a great deal of skill.
After a very good season in Russia last year, Chechelev came over to North America and joined the Kansas City Mavericks. In 30 starts for the sub-0.500 Mavs, he put up a .894 save percentage and a shutout. Not bad for his first season in pro-hockey.
He only featured in one game for Stockton, putting up a 4.73 GAA and an .848 save percentage. He probably pushes for a job with the Heat next season backing up Wolf, but will likely be pushed by another experienced AHL veteran netminder for the job. The skills are there for Chechelev, though.
Ciona had an off-and-on year this year on a very good Seattle Thunderbirds team that made it all the way to the WHL Finals. A big player who projects to be a power-forward, Ciona clearly has more work to do on his offensive game if he hopes to take the next step in his development. 35 points in 53 games isn’t terrible, but he will need to show more if he wants to earn an ELC.
A big defensive defenceman from Belarus, Solovyov put up eight points in 51 games for Stockton in his first season with the team. He was a pretty regular fixture for the squad throughout the season, which is more than can be said for many of the team’s blueliners. And while he was never going to be a gamebreaking defenceman, Solovyov was remarkably steady in his role.
A heavy defensive defenceman, the Flames signed Poolman as a senior out of the University of North Dakota. Now after two seasons in the AHL, Poolman has been steady and reliable, but the point production has been very limited.
With Jeremie Poirier and Yan Kuznetsov coming up to Stockton next season, plus Solovyov and Juuso Valimaki already in the system, it is hard to imagine Poolman being part of the Flames’ plans going forward. While he is an RFA, there is a high chance he ends up unqualified.
Koumontzis is the type of player you just want to root for. He has shown glimpses of excellence through his college career, and he also just seems like a great teammate. Unfortunately, COVID and injuries have put a damper on his career to this point. He put up just 11 points in 23 games on a decently good Arizona State University Sun Devils’ squad, but finished the year on the IR. He will be back for a fifth and final season at ASU, but will need a massive year to earn an ELC from the Flames.
Now in his third season with the Heat, Tuulola has developed into a fine depth player for the team. He put up a personal best 25 points in 61 games this season, but his point production has been pretty steadily around the half-point-per-game mark over his time in the league. Could he be more? Maybe, but he will really need to show it if he wants to take the next step in his career.
Nodler has been one of the few bright spots on a woefully bad Minnesota State University Spartans team over the last three years. A defensively-responsible centre, he put up 15 points in 36 games this season while playing mostly on the team’s top line.
He has reportedly transferred to the University of Massachusetts for next season, and will be playing for a much better program. How this move goes will almost certainly dictate his future in professional hockey.
Prospects likely leaving the Flames
The good news is that Feuk put up 25 points in 27 games this season. The bad news is it was in the Swedish third division, the HockeyEttan. He was unable to make a mark in the division above, and will likely not remain in the organization.
It’s hard to rank a player in a rankings who did not play a single game this year. Parsons is a classic story of what could have been. A Memorial Cup winner, his career was derailed by injuries, mental health struggles, and an inability to pass quarantine regulations at the beginning of the season. It’s hard to see him continuing with the Flames past this season.
Once ranked as high as late first-round draft pick, Mattson has just not panned out as a NHL prospect. He was a frequent scratch for Minnesota State this year, and put up just eight points over his four years in college.
Philp has been a really handy depth find for the Heat out of the University of Alberta Golden Bears program. He put up 44 points in 66 games in his third season with the team. Not bad for an undrafted player. Unfortunately, he just did not standout enough to earn a look at the NHL level, and could be looking for a role on another team come next season.
Once a very promising offensive defenceman in Sweden, Kinnvall’s tenure started with a leg injury that saw him miss the first half of the season. However, when he was healthy, he only saw 19 games of action for the Heat, and had just eight points. He also did not appear in any of the Heat’s playoff games.
While he was a very good power play quarterback, he just did not have enough at 5v5 and really struggled to make an impact on the defensive side of the game. He’ll be heading back to Sweden next season.
Francis had an excellent training camp that earned him an ATO with the Stockton Heat. Unfortunately, he could not earn a full-time job with the team and was returned to the Saint John Sea Dogs, where he finished the season on the second line, putting up 65 points in 54 regular season games.
Unfortunately, the Flames opted not to sign the 20-year-old and his rights have since expired. Francis will re-enter the draft this summer, and there is a chance a team takes a flyer on the former Flames prospect. He may be a smaller guy, but he has a great shot and a high compete level.
What’s next for these prospects?
It’s really hard to gauge where prospects will be from year-to-year. Francis, Kinnvall, and Gawdin were all in the top 15 last season, but fell out this year. There is a chance that some of the prospects that were unranked this year may end up having big years next year and earn a spot inside the top 15.
Keep your eyes here to see how the rest of this year’s top 15 unfolds for Flames prospects.