The Calgary Flames have pressing entry-level contract decisions to make this week

Craig Conroy may still be getting comfortable in the Flames’ GM Chair, but the work that the team needs to accomplish this summer must continue. Right at the forefront are the decisions that the Flames need to make about a number of their prospects, whose rights expire at the end of next week. The Flames have until June 1 to sign Lucas Feuk (2019 4th), Cole Huckins (2021 3rd), Cameron Whynot (2021 3rd), Cole Jordan (2021 5th), and Jack Beck (2021 6th). With five players to decide on, the Flames have the most expiring prospects of any team in the league right now. Some are deserving of entry-level contracts (ELCs), and some, maybe not so much. Here’s what they should do with each.

Lucas Feuk

Feuk was a very average player for the last few years, playing in Sweden’s third division primarily in 2021-22. This season, the Flames brought him over to North America to see exactly what they have in him, signing him to an AHL/ECHL deal this past season.

In 45 games with Rapid City in the ECHL, Feuk put up 12 points and finished -9. This was good for 19th on the team, with only one forward who played most of the season finishing with fewer points than him. That player was Keegan Iverson, who also had 134 penalty minutes in 67 games, mostly for fighting.

Feuk is not an NHLer. He did not even get into a single AHL game this season, and struggled to even play regularly in the ECHL. There is virtually no chance the Flames sign him to a contract, and they shouldn’t.

Cole Huckins

The New Brunswick native was drafted in the third round of the 2021 draft, after a nearly point-per-game draft year. However, he had a very odd season last year, putting up 26 points in 41 games, but being sent away from the team for some time due to what looked like discipline issues.

He was then traded to Sherbrooke after last season, and spent the year in the team’s middle six, putting up 58 points in 64 games. He also added nine playoff points in 14 games. These numbers are decent, but put him 51st in the league in points.

Huckins probably has a 30% shot of earning a contract with the Flames, but I would err on the side of him not earning an ELC. Between some weird issues last season and simply not being outstanding this season, it’s hard to justify signing him.

Cameron Whynot

Drafted out of the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, Whynot was a good two-way defenceman who put up 23 points in 34 games. This followed his D-1 season, where he had just nine points as a more defensive blueliner.

The hope was that as he developed, Whynot would begin to separate himself from the pack, developing into a very serviceable blueliner who could quarterback a powerplay. Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite panned out, putting up just 28 points this season, and playing mostly on the team’s second pairing.

The consensus on Whynot seems to be that he has been a decent blueliner in the Q, but hasn’t really shown himself to be much more than that. I doubt he earns a contract with the Flames, but with limited blueliners in the organization at this point, there’s a small chance.

Cole Jordan

What a sad story Jordan has been since being drafted. Stolen in the fifth round, Jordan was seen to be a sneakily great pick by the Flames in his draft year. Playing for Moose Jaw, the defenceman had 10 points in 23 games, good for second on his team among blueliners. He was particularly known for his passing ability and for being just a genuinely good human being.

Unfortunately, major injuries limited his playing time over the two seasons since being drafted. Jordan ended up featuring in just 53 games in that time, recording 18 points. And, while 18 points in 53 games isn’t bad while being injured, it’s simply not enough game time to really get Jordan ready for professional hockey. It’s highly unlikely that Jordan earns an ELC.

Jack Beck

The player who almost certainly will get a contract this week is Beck. The Ottawa 67’s star has been the best Flames’ prospect from this draft besides Matt Coronato to this point. Despite missing time over the past two seasons, Beck put up over a point-per-game in each season, leading his team to the second round of the playoffs in both years.

Beck has shown he is too good for the OHL, finishing with 1.178 points-per-game in the league this past season. I would be very surprised if Beck doesn’t earn a contract this week.

Who’s left from the 2021 draft?

The Flames made eight picks in this draft, but broadly the picks have been a mixed-bag. Aside from the four mentioned above and the aforementioned Coronato, who has already been signed, the Flames have just three players from this draft that we haven’t discussed.

Lucas Ciona signed an ELC earlier last season, after a red-hot start to the year. He will lead his Seattle Thunderbirds to the Memorial Cup then join the Wranglers next season as a rookie.

The Flames’ second round pick William Stromgren had a fine year in Sweden, putting up 8 points in 45 games for Brynas in the SHL. The team was unfortunately relegated at the end of the season, and Stromgren signed an ELC with the Flames which kicks in next season.

The only other prospect without a contract right now is goalie Arseni Sergeev, who is playing at UConn of the NCAA. Because he’s in the US collegiate system, the Flames hold his rights until August of the year that he graduates, so they have tons of time to see what he becomes. Little was expected of the rookie netminder, but he found his way into 20 games this year, finishing with a 0.912 save percentage. Not bad from the Russian netminder.

It may be a bit premature to know definitively how this draft will look in the grand scheme of things, but early results are middling at best. Aside from Coronato, only Beck and Ciona really show themselves to be potential NHLers. Stromgren will be interesting to watch when he comes over full-time next season, and Sergeev as a goalie is a wild card. Anything can happen, but hopefully this upcoming draft is more exciting than the 2021 class.

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