This may have been a forgettable year for the Calgary Flames, but the team’s prospects had a very good year nearly across the board. Nearly all their prospects played playoff games this year, with a few looking to earn a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Here is how every Flames prospect did this year, and a brief look at what’s next for them broken down by draft year. Let’s dive into it.
2016 draft class
The only Flames prospect remaining from the 2016 class, Phillips probably had his best and worst year as a member of the Flames’ organization. On the ice in the AHL, he finished the regular season as the fifth leading scorer in the AHL and led the team by a country mile in points. Unfortunately, he simply could not crack the NHL lineup for a second straight year, only appearing for minimal minutes in two NHL games.
This feels like the end of the line for Phillips with the Flames, and as long as Sutter remains in charge of the Flames, there doesn’t seem to be a path for him to the NHL. Expect him to try to find a team that presents a NHL opportunity, or else he could potentially end up plying his trade in Europe. A true waste of potential.
2017 draft class
The only player in the Flames’ system from this year is Ben Jones, and what a year he has had! The 2017 seventh-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights finished with 54 points in 71 games, and was quietly one of the Wranglers’ most effective players. He had a ton of sandpaper to his game as well, finishing with 63 penalty minutes in that time. Expect him back with the Wranglers next season pushing for an NHL job.
2018 draft class
Martin Pospisil has been lauded as a big, grinder with skill since he was drafted, but has struggled to stay healthy. He put up just 10 points in 20 games this year, and is a restricted free agent this year. It feels unlikely that the Flames retain him.
Demetrios Koumontzis finished his super-senior (fifth year) at Arizona State, playing more as a defenceman than as a forward. He then graduated and signed with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, the farm team of the Dallas Stars as a defenceman. Given he signed with them, there is a very low chance the Flames sign him after this season.
A true late bloomer, Emilio Pettersen exploded this season, putting up 44 points in 61 games, good for fifth among Wranglers prospects. The Norwegian has been decent in his time in the AHL, but this production is unprecedented for him. It’s great to see him performing, but still below a point-per-game as a smaller skilled forward in his fifth season since being drafted is not great. His production probably earns him another contract, but he will really need to produce if he wants to stay with the Flames.
2019 draft class
A huge year for Jakob Pelletier who seems to have made a home for himself in the NHL. Despite not getting playing time in the final stretch of the season, the Flames clearly liked Pelletier a lot and have found a home for him in the middle-six. Expect him to start in the NHL next season and to see more minutes.
After a massive season in the USHL, Ilya Nikolayev saw basically no time in the AHL, spending nearly the whole season in the ECHL with the Rapid City Rush. He was about a point-per-game guy there, but suffered an injury that shortened his season. He will be hoping to be back in the AHL next season, and looked good enough to be there.
Ah Lucas Feuk! After three disappointing years in Sweden, he made the trek over to North America for… reasons, and failed to do much of anything in the ECHL. This is almost certainly the end of the road for him, and he likely goes back to Sweden after this season.
Another very disappointing season for Nodler. He moved to UMass in the transfer portal, struggled to make an impact anywhere in the lineup, rarely played, and then re-entered the transfer portal to play his fifth year next year at Bowling Green. He’s probably not going to earn a contract at the end of next year, but anything can happen.
The pride and joy of the Flames’ prospect system, Dustin Wolf won basically every single award in the AHL this year, and featured in his first NHL game at the end of the season. Expect him to play in the NHL regularly next season.
Acquired as part of the Matthew Tkachuk trade, Cole Schwindt struggled to make an impact with the Wranglers, going long stretches without putting a point on the board. He ended with 32 points in 70 games this season, not great for a 2019 pick who had played a full season in the AHL already. He will really need to show more next season if he wants to be considered for an NHL role.
2020 draft class
After a really rough season last season, Connor Zary had a huge bounce-back season with the Wranglers, finishing with 58 points in 72 games in the AHL as a centre. The 2020 first-round pick probably needs another good season before he makes the jump to the NHL, but he has a very feisty side to his game and will be a joy to watch at the next level.
A good, but not great season for Yan Kuznetsov in the AHL. The defensive defenceman put up 19 points in his first AHL season, which is very good to see. He needs to get better at boxing out players cutting to the net as well as being more assertive offensively, but if he can do those two things, there is a chance he develops into an NHLer in a couple years.
The Flames’ best defensive prospect, Jeremie Poirier had an outstanding season, which was capped off by him being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. His 41 points this season put him 16th in scoring among defenceman in the league and the best among rookie blueliners. He could see the NHL next season, but probably needs one more year before he earns an NHL spot full time, assuming all continues to trend upwards.
An absolute headscratcher of a pick, Jake Boltmann put up just five points in 37 games, and finished with the worst points-per-game of all Flames prospects this season. He’s going into his third full season with Notre Dame, and looks increasingly like not-an-NHLer.
Daniil Chechelev played a ton of hockey for Rapid City, finishing eighth in games played this season, but put up a not-great 0.894 save percentage. Not a promising outlook. He will be trying for an AHL job next year, but may end up on the outside looking in. Goalie development is hard to predict so you just don’t know with him.
After finishing as one of the top scorers in the OHL last year, Rory Kerins spent nearly the entire year in Rapid City, where he finished around a point-per-game. He was clearly too good for that league, but the Wranglers had too many bodies to really utilize him. Next season will be key if he can earn an AHL job to see what he really can be at that level. His production over the last year points to him being far better than just an AHLer.
Nobody expected Ilya Solovyov to be anything, but he is quietly developing into a very serviceable two-way blueliner. There is a very good chance he sees NHL games next season simply because he is so well-rounded, but likely tops out as a sixth defenceman.
2021 draft class
After finishing up with 36 points at Harvard, Coronato signed his entry-level contract with the Flames and played his first NHL game at the end of the season. There is a chance he plays exclusively in the NHL next year, but more likely he splits time between the AHL and NHL as he acclimates to the big leagues. One of the most exciting prospects in the Flames’ system.
Another headscratcher, William Stromgren played mostly bottom line minutes in the SHL this year then signed an ELC with the Flames. He appeared in two AHL games this year on a try-out before being sent back to Sweden for the summer. This was surprising as the team is still carrying Parker Bell and others in their lineup, but he may have an injury that has not been disclosed. Stromgren will be back in the AHL next year and that will be the real test of him as a prospect.
A high-risk, high-reward pick, Cole Huckins was just below a point-per-game this year in the QMJHL with Sherbrooke while playing mostly in the middle-six. I’m not convinced there’s much there, but he could earn an ELC after this season. Else, he’ll be back for his 20-year-old season in the Q next year.
Whynot has been good but not great in Halifax, playing mostly on the team’s middle pair. I don’t expect him to earn an ELC with the Flames this season after a very average season.
A story of what could have been. Cole Jordan was very good when he was healthy, but has been on the IR for the better part of the last two seasons. He has ended his WHL career with the Moose Jaw Warriors after an injury, and I would be surprised if he earns an ELC this summer.
Lucas Ciona went on an absolute tear to start the season, and earned himself an ELC with the Flames. He then tailed off for the middle of the season before ramping right back up for a strong finish, ending with 75 points on the stacked Seattle Thunderbirds. He will be in the AHL next season and the big bodied forward is exactly the type of player Darryl Sutter loves.
Beck had an outstanding season when he was in the lineup, but again was sidelined significantly with injury. The forward ended with 53 points in 41 games, good for third in points-per-game among all Flames prospects. He likely earns an ELC at the end of the season.
What a rise Sergeev has quietly had. He was outstanding in the USHL last year then joined UConn this season, where he stole the starters net away from older goalies, and finished with a 0.912 save percentage through 19 games as a rookie. He will be back with the team again next year, and will be hoping to make an even bigger mark before pushing for an ELC with the Flames. Goalie development is tough at best, but this production is good to see.
2022 draft class
Ronni had by all accounts a fine regular season, playing mostly with Tappara in the Finnish Liiga. He finished with five points in 22 games as an 18-year-old, then went down to the J20 sm-Sarjaa and led Tappara to the championship, finishing second in playoff scoring. He’s clearly too good for the junior league, but still finding his footing in the big league. Expect him to spend the whole season in Liiga next year before making the jump over to North America.
Bell put up nearly the same number of points as Lucas Ciona this year, finishing with 64 in 55 games, but being a year younger. The forward was also playing on the middling Tri-City Americans this season, a far worse squad than Seattle. He played two regular season AHL games with the Wranglers, and had his first pro point in that time. Bell probably deserves an ELC, but given his age, he probably gets one next season.
Littler had a strong season, finishing with 68 points in 51 games in the BCHL. That was good for sixth in the league in points, but the BCHL is not a great indicator of success at any level. He is off to Minnesota State Mankato next year, which will be a better indicator of what the Flames have in him.
What’s next for the Flames’ prospects
For the most part, expect most of these names back again next season, with most again remaining prospects on the NHL track. A few will be moving on to new pastures after this season, with Phillips, Pospisil, Pettersen, and Jones all needing new contracts this season. There will also be a number of new faces on the team, with the Flames holding five selections in the upcoming draft, including their first- and second-round picks.
Prospects are the most exciting part of hockey development, with hope always being strongest in players before they hit the NHL. No matter what happens with the Flames, at least there are young potential stars in the pipeline itching for an NHL job.