Standouts and underperformers at the Young Stars Classic for the Calgary Flames

No matter what way you look at it, this was not a great outing for the Calgary Flames at the 2022 Penticton Young Stars Classic. The team went 0–3, scoring just four goals over three games. Altogether, the team lacked cohesion, composure, and simply could not buy a goal even when they had the edge in shots and chances. Bad bounces, bad luck, and sometimes straight up bad plays led to this result.

Luckily, this is a prospect tournament which has absolutely no bearing on well, anything. This was not a tournament to judge the team on their performance, but rather to look for positives in their young players going into another season. Thankfully for the Flames, there were a lot of positives despite the result, with a number of prospects really standing out for the team in Penticton. Here’s who caught our eye as the top performers.

Flames Prospects who stood out positively

Connor Zary

Welcome to the Connor Zary Show! The first-round pick from 2020 was the Flames’ best forward prospect, generating chance after chance on net, and were it not for bad bounces, great saves, or the finishing ability of his linemates, he would have earned even more praise (and points).

What stood out particularly about Zary was his skating ability, which has long been seen as an issue for him. He was quick on his skates, and had no issue beating defenders on the rush. He also combined very nicely with Walker Duehr for numerous chances on net. Effective at both ends of the ice, Zary has shown he still has the chops to be among the Flames’ top prospects this season.

Walker Duehr

Just like last season, Duehr has started off this campaign very well. He was one of the Flames’ top prospects this tournament, and really showing off his speed and strength on the rush. He had a very special way of dropping his shoulder and just barreling his way to the front of the net to create a scoring chance. While he didn’t convert on his chances, it always appeared to be just one bounce away.

One of the older prospects with NHL experience, the expectation was for Duehr to be among the Flames’ better prospects in Penticton and he did not disappoint in the slightest.

Jack Beck

One of the best Flames’ prospects, Beck was exceptional in the three game tournament. He scored the first goal for the Flames, and was all over the offensive zone creating chances. What was perhaps most impressive was his forechecking, which was simply relentless, but did not come at the expense of his two-way play. It’s an inspiring sight to see him reach this level of play after an extremely unlucky season last year.

Adam Klapka

The big man was excellent for the Flames in the tournament. He was able to effectively use his size to his advantage, but did so in a way that didn’t make him a liability, either in terms of positioning or in terms of penalties. What really stood out was his skating and hands, which were truly top-notch. The forward was great at creating space in the offensive zone, giving him the ability to create chances for his teammates or shots on net by himself. A truly great tournament from the Czech standout.

Jeremie Poirier

Easily the Flames’ best defenceman at the tournament, Poirier was electric at both ends of the ice. His offensive talent was on full display, using his fantastic hands and skating ability to beat defenders and create rush chances. He went 1v3 multiple times, and generated numerous chances.

Defensively, he was also regularly in the right place, and was able to limit chances against. He did not leave his partner out to dry when he was creating scoring chances, instead regularly would hustle back to ensure he was where he needed to be in his own zone. His passing was crisp, and allowed for good breakouts that led to scoring chances.

Flashy when he wanted to be, but quietly effective more often when he was needed, Poirier was a standout for the Flames this tournament.

A quick word on Jakob Pelletier

Two things can be true at the same time. It is both true that Jakob Pelletier had a good tournament, but also true that the expectation was that he would be excellent and he simply was not. As the Flames’ best forward prospect at the tournament, it was expected that he would use this opportunity to show why he is so highly rated by the organization.

Unfortunately, Pelletier was not able to really elevate his game the way that Dylan Holloway or Cole Perfetti did for the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets, respectively. This does not mean that Pelletier is bound to be a career AHLer or destined to not crack the Flames’ roster. He still has a great opportunity to earn a role on the main club this season, but will really need to bring it at main camp, which opens this week.

The Flames will have a lot of bodies at camp this year, with many fighting for a few coveted roster spots with the team this season. Numerous prospects will be in the running for those spots, including the aforementioned Pelletier, but also Matthew Phillips, Adam Ruzicka, Cole Schwindt, and others. Realistically, a spot could go to any of them. It will be interesting to see who earns that role.

The young stars shone

Again, while Calgary walked away as the only winless team in the tournament, there’s still plenty of positive takeaways for their up-and-coming prospects. A talented pool all showed their development and the future looks bright.

Photo by Marissa Baecker via

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