Stocking the cupboards with prospects was Brad Treliving’s chief responsibility upon arriving in Calgary three years ago.
For the first time in a long time the Flames entered training camp with the very real possibility that two or three raw rookies could fight their way onto the opening night roster. Mark Jankowski and Rasmus Andersson are still on the Flames’ camp roster, but regardless of whether they survive the weekend, the future is bright for them and several other youngsters.
The Flames’ top 10 prospects:
1. Mark Jankowski, 23, C
Drafted: First round, 21st overall, 2012
Last season: Stockton Heat (AHL) – 64 GP, 27 goals, 29 assists, 56 points, 29 PIM
Flames – 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 0 PIM
Five years after being taken as a tall, skinny high school stud, Jankowski is on the verge of making the NHL breakthrough then-GM Jay Feaster promised when taking him in the first round.
Whether he starts the season with the Flames or is the first call-up from Stockton, his impressive camp has proven he’s a legitimate NHLer.
The six-foot-five, 210-pound centre scored in each of his first three pre-season games with the big club, has killed penalties and acquitted himself well after a lengthy college and AHL development that pays off now.
2. Rasmus Andersson, 20, D
Drafted: Second round, 53rd overall, 2015
Last Season: Stockton Heat (AHL) – 54 GP, 3 goals, 19 assists, 22 points, 38 PIM,
Flames – 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 0 PIM
The six-foot-one, 220-pound Swede has long battled weight issues, which have held him back from serious NHL consideration to this point.
However, an improved camp showing weight-wise has helped him remain with the club as it decides on who will fill its sixth and seventh blue-line spots to open the season.
Although he’ll likely be the odd man out, he should be the first call-up from Stockton if a defenceman is needed. Talented with a high IQ, his quickness and fitness are still a work in progress.
3. Dillon Dube, 19, LW
Drafted: Second round, 56th overall, 2016
Last season: Kelowna Rockets (WHL) – 40 GP, 20 goals, 35 assists, 55 points, 40 PIM
The five-foot-11, 185-pound forward was one of the later cuts from camp due to a strong showing.
He drew kudos for adapting well from a playmaker role in Kelowna to a shut-down role for Team Canada at the world juniors.
Back in Kelowna, he should dominate and be a top-six forward at the big junior Christmas tourney where he will also be one of the team leaders.
4. Juuso Valimaki, 18, D
Drafted: First round, 16th overall, 2017
Last season: Tri-City Americans (WHL) – 60 GP, 19 goals, 42 assists, 61 points, 34 PIM
As impressed as the Flames brass were of the Finnish star in training camp, there was no reason to even entertain the notion of keeping him here given the depth on the Flames’ blue line.
Sent back to junior where he’ll work on his skating and munch massive minutes in Tri-City, and as captain of his world junior team, Valimaki is expected to press the Flames into making a tough decision on him next fall.
The six-foot-two, 215-pound lefty demonstrated tremendous poise playing alongside NHLers during the pre-season. He’ll be a top-four NHL defenceman for a lot of years.
5. Adam Fox, 19, D
Drafted: Third round, 66th overall, 2016
Last season: Harvard University (NCAA) – 35 GP, 6 goals, 34 assists, 40 points, 6 PIM
Size is the only concern anyone could have about the five-foot-10, 185-pound Harvard stud who is expected to up his role significantly with the world junior champion U.S. squad this year.
He’s one of the most talked about and coveted Flames prospects due to his smarts and dynamic style.
Looked great at Flames summer development camp.
6. Tyler Parsons, 20, G
Drafted: Second round, 54th overall, 2016
Last season: London Knights (OHL) – 34 GP, Record: 23-6-3, 2.37 GAA, .925 SV%
In an organization stacked with high-end goalie prospects he may be the team’s most coveted — most decorated too.
Not only was Parsons the standout goalie at the 2016 Memorial Cup, where he essentially won every trophy possible en route to London’s national crown, he then went on to backstop the U.S. to world-junior gold.
A back injury limited him at the Flames rookie camp in Penticton and he didn’t get much of an opportunity to play at the main camp as Jon Gillies and David Rittich are still the ones poised to be first call-ups if the Flames need a farmhand.
At six-foot-one, 185 pounds he’s more of an athletic goaltender than today’s shot-blocking giants. He’s currently in Stockton but will likely be bumped to the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL where he will get plenty of playing time.
7. Spencer Foo, 23, RW
Acquired: Free agent signing, June 2017
Last Season: Union College (NCAA) – 38 GP, 26 goals, 36 assists, 62 points, 24 PIM
Foo was all the rage this summer for Flames fans stoked the Edmonton native chose Calgary from a lengthy list of suitors this summer.
The Hobey Baker finalist chose to test free agency after a monstrous offensive year at Union College, giving Flames fans hope he’d be the perfect fit to slide in alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line right away. His name was being chanted by fans at the Flames’ summer prospects camp following a highlight-reel goal.
Not so fast.
He simply blended in during main camp and was an easy choice to send to Stockton where he needs time to acclimatize to being a pro. He’s in great shape, has an excellent shot and release and is on the team’s radar as a possible call-up after seasoning.
8. Jon Gillies, 23, G
Drafted: Third round, 75th overall, 2012
Last Season: Stockton Heat (AHL) – 39 GP, Record: 18-14-1, 2.93 GAA, .910 SV%,
Flames – 1 GP, Record: 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%
It’s easy to get excited about a six-foot-six, 217-pound netminder with an NCAA title under his belt.
Last year he rebounded from a rookie season lost due to hip surgery. But, inconsistent at times, he was surpassed by Rittich in Stockton.
Gillies likely re-established himself during camp the last month as the Flames’ first call-up should Eddie Lack or Mike Smith get injured.
9. David Rittich, 25, G
Acquired: Free agent signing, June 2016
Last Season: Stockton Heat (AHL) – 31 GP, Record: 15-11-1, 2.27 GAA, .924 SV%
Flames – 1 GP, Record: 0-0-0, 3.00 GAA, .900 SV%
Some in the organization think the six-foot-three, 201-pound Czech may ultimately be the Flames starting goalie five years from now. Time will tell.
He took big strides last year in his first season in North America where he went from backup to starter, eclipsing Gillies in Stockton with more consistent play and better numbers.
10. Oliver Kylington, 20, D
Drafted: Second round, 60th overall, 2015
Last Season: Stockton Heat (AHL) – 60 GP, 6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points, 22 PIM
With two years of pro puck under his belt, the slick-skating Swede is a power-play quarterback whose defensive game still needs to catch up to his offensive flair.
Sent back to Stockton midway through Flames camp, the six-foot, 181-pound lefty is simply too far behind others on Calgary’s impressive defensive depth chart right now.