After a pandemic-driven hiatus, the Penticton Young Stars Classic is back and the Calgary Flames will be participating this year. 27 players will head into interior British Columbia and don the Flaming C in the tournament—each looking to make a name for themselves going into training camp. Here’s everything you need to know about the Flames at the tournament.
Young Stars tournament schedule
The Flames are set to play against every other team’s young stars once. They start off against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, September 16 at 8:30pm. They then play the next night, Setember 17 again at 8:30pm against the Vancouver Canucks. Finally, they finish off the tournament on Monday afternoon at 12:00PM against the Winnipeg Jets.
|1||WPG vs EDM||September 16||5:00pm MT|
|2||CGY vs VAN||September 16||8:30pm MT|
|3||CGY vs EDM||September 17||8:30pm MT|
|4||VAN vs WPG||September 18||3:00pm MT|
|5||WPG vs CGY||September 19||12:00pm MT|
|6||VAN vs EDM||September 19||3:30pm MT|
Which Flames will be there?
The lineup for this is pretty much who you would expect to be there: The Flames’ best young players with a handful of invitees. The exceptions being the Flames’ European prospects, CJHL prospects, and the prospects playing in the NCAA as they are ineligible for the tournament due to their league’s rules. Let’s break it down by position.
Aside from Arseni Sergeev who is with UConn this season, the Flames will have Dustin Wolf and Daniil Chechelev at the Young Stars Tournament. Wolf is the AHL’s reigning Goalie of the Year, a first-team AHL All-Star, and the Stockton Heat’s best player last season. He will be looking to make a case to be in the NHL this season.
Chechelev is coming off of a fine first season in the ECHL with the Kansas City Mavericks. The Mavericks were pretty awful last season, and Chechelev was not able to really help them look better than they did. He will be hoping to earn a spot in Calgary this season as opposed to going back to the ECHL.
The team has also invited Brad Arvanitis to camp as the third netminder. He played five games for the Rapid City Rush, the Flames’ new ECHL affiliate, and posted a 0.922 save percentage in that time. No doubt he will be looking to show he can be more than an ECHL netminder.
The Flames will have nine defencemen in the tournament this year. Ilya Solovyov is the only one who played in the Flames’ AHL system last year, putting up eight points in 51 games as mostly a third pairing guy. He’s a good all-around defencemen, but not really a standout to this point.
He will be joined by Memorial Cup winning blueliners Jeremie Poirier and Yan Kuznetsov who will be in Calgary with the Wranglers this year. Poirier has always been a strong offensive defenceman while Kuznetsov has been heavily defensive, but both have taken huge strides to be better at where they have historically been weak. Expect both to come out flying this season, but keep an eye particularly on Poirier who was the best player at this year’s Flames development camp scrimmage.
2021 draft picks Cameron Whynot and Cole Jordan will also be at the tournament. Whynot was good not great last year for the Halifax Mooseheads, and will be looking to take a huge step forward this season. Jordan missed much of last season with what appeared to be a serious illness. He’s an exceptionally gifted playmaker but needs to get into a rhythm this season in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Expect a huge rebound from him.
The team will also have three invitees in Rhett Rhinehart, Simon Lavigne, and Chris Sedoff. All three attended this year’s development camp, and were decent throughout. Rhinehart has signed with the Wranglers for this season after putting up 37 points in 53 games for the Saskatoon Blades last year.
Lavigne has also signed with the Wranglers this year after putting up 36 points in 65 games as the captain of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada last season.
The Finnish Sedoff had 61 points in 65 games for the Red Deer Rebels last season and will be back with the team this season.
The Flames will have 15 forwards in Penticton this year. This group will be headlined by four players from Stockton last year: Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary, Emilio Pettersen, and Walker Duehr. All four are all coming off of a season with the Flames’ AHL and will be looking to put their name in the ring for a spot in Calgary with the Flames this season.
They will be joined by newcomer Cole Schwindt, who is coming off his first AHL season with the Charlotte Checkers. He had 40 points in 72 regular season games last season.
There will also be four forwards who will be starting their first AHL season this year: Adam Klapka, Lucas Feuk, Rory Kerins, Ilya Nikolayev. Klapka is coming over to North America from Czechia, where he had 18 points in 44 regular season in the country’s top league.
Lucas Feuk was a surprise this year, signing a two-way deal with the Heat this season. The 2019 fourth-round pick had 25 points in 27 games in the HockeyEttan, Sweden’s third division.
Rory Kerins was one of the OHL’s top scorers last season, and will be hoping to carry over his production to the AHL this season. Last season’s 118 points in 67 games is unlikely to be his statline this season, but he has the skill to be one of the team’s top rookies this season.
Ilya Nikolayev took to North American hockey like a fish to water last season. He was one of the top scorers in the USHL last season with 72 points in 58 games with the Tri-City Storm, and will be hoping to make a name for himself in the AHL.
The Flames will have a number of their younger prospects who will almost certainly be back in their respective junior hockey leagues this season. Jack Beck was one of the best OHL skaters last season when he was healthy, and finished second in points on his team with 44 in 36 games. Expect him to be one of the best OHL point-producers this season.
Cole Huckins had a topsy-turvy season this year, looking quite good to start the season, but spent time away from the team for reasons unknown. When he returned he really did not find a role, and was traded to Sherbrooke this off-season. He will need to figure out whatever was causing issues last season if he wants to take the next step in his career.
Lucas Ciona had a good not great season in the WHL with Seattle, but has started his preseason with two goals in his first game this season. A power-forward, Ciona has a great finish and could be a player for the team down the road.
A 2022 fifth-round pick, Parker Bell had 49 points in 65 games last season for the Tri-City Americans. He will likely be back in the WHL this coming season, and will be looking to be an over a point-per-game player this year.
Finally, the Flames will have two forward invitees joining them in Penticton: Evan Boucher and Cooper Walker. Both prospects were at the Flames’ recent development camp. Boucher is a teammate of Whynot in Halifax, and had 40 points in 37 games last season in the QMJHL. He will be back in the Maritimes next season.
Walker had 35 points in 68 games in his first full season in the OHL due to injuries and the pandemic. He will be back with the Guelph Storm this coming season as a 20-year-old.
What to watch for
While this is definitely going to be a fun tournament for all sides, there will be a ton of storylines to watch for with this team. Here are three big ones.
Do any older forwards stand out as potential NHLers this season?
It looks like there is an open hole on the Flames’ lineup, and there is a good chance that the best prospect or PTO player will get it. Pelletier and Schwindt are among the top two prospects to earn that spot. How both do in Penticton will be the start to see if either can earn a role in the NHL this season.
Does Poirier or Kuznetsov stand out more in Penticton?
Poirier and Kuznetsov are among the top two defensive prospects in the Flames’ system. Both are now graduating to the AHL, and the question will be how they adapt to the AHL game. Poirier was the best player in the Development Camp Scrimmage this summer, while Kuznetsov was a Memorial Cup All-Star this year. Either or both could really elevate to be the team’s top blueline prospects in the system this year.
While Poirier is the flashier of the two prospects, it’s hard to discount just how strong Kuznetsov is in the defensive zone. Facing off against the best prospects of Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, it will be interesting to see if they can limit chances against.
Which of the Flames’ younger prospects shows the most promise?
There will be a number of prospects who will not be joining either Calgary team this season, but this is a good opportunity to see what is coming through the pipeline in the future. The two prospects that intregues me most are Cole Jordan and Jack Beck.
Both are coming off of major time on the injured reserve, but both have enormous potential to be elite players down the line. Jordan simply does not get enough credit for how good he is. This tournament is a great chance to see what the Flames have, particularly in these two young stars.
Where to watch the Young Stars games
The Flames have announced that the games will be streamed on CalgaryFlames.com, as well as on the Flames’ app. It will also be on the Flames’ Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
One thing is for certain, there is a lot for Flames fans to watch for this tournament. The Penticton Tournament is the start of the hockey season, and it’s been entirely too long since the puck has been on the ice. Let’s go!