It’s the beginning of back-to-school activities for many teens, but for three youthful Calgary Flames hopefuls, it’s already time for a performance review. Five players were selected by the Flames at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and three are in Calgary to participate in the 2019 Flames prospect camp.
Reporting to camp are Martin Pospisil (4th round 105 overall), Milos Roman (4th round 122 overall), and Dmitry Zavgorodniy (7th round 198 overall). Demetrios Koumontzis (4th round 108th overall), and Mathias Emilio Pettersen (6th round, 167 overall) are not making the trip to WinSport at the Canada Olympic Park. All five participated at the Flames 2019 development camp in early July.
Three 2018 Draft Picks Attending Flames Rookie Camp
A total of 25 Flames prospects will be in Calgary for six days for fitness testing, medicals, on-ice sessions, and two games against the Edmonton Oilers prospects. The first match was on Saturday night at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer, AB, with the Flames prevailing 1-0. They’re back on the ice Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. All of the invitees to the prospect camp will be trying to earn an invitation to the Flames’ main camp which begins Sept. 12.
None of the 2018 draft picks who are at the rookie camp are expected to threaten for a roster spot with the big club, but their missions are clear – to show marked improvement from 2018. Measurables such as strength, size, endurance, flexibility, and speed, plus intangibles – grittiness, compete level, leadership skills, and coachability – will be closely monitored. It is imperative to their status within the organization to show that the past 14 months were productive and that the demands and advice of the coaches, trainers, and management were put to good use.
Pospisil, 19, was drafted from the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL in 2018 and played there in 2018-19. In 44 games, the Slovakian had 16 goals and 47 assists for 63 points with a plus/minus of plus-13 and 118 penalty minutes. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, the left-shooting center appealed to Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button at the U-18 World Junior Championships in 2017 with his playmaking abilities. (from ‘Flames bring in skilled picks at 2018 NHL draft,’ Calgary Sun, 06/24/2018) In his first season with Sioux City, he piled-up 253 penalty minutes, demonstrating a willingness to get dirty.
“He came over and spent the first half of the year proving he wasn’t scared and was a European that could play,” said Button.
Pospisil is under contract until 2022 and will likely be assigned to the Stockton Heat of the AHL before the start of the regular season.
Two Are Likely Bound for Stockton Heat
Fellow Slovakian Roman – whom the Flames traded up with the Montreal Canadiens to draft – spent the past two seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. The 6-foot, 200-pound centerman scored 27 goals and 33 assists for 60 points and was plus-19 with 21 PIM during 2018-19. The top-line center finished third in Giants regular-season scoring and tallied 12 points in 22 playoff games. He totaled four points in five games at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
“Character, character kid,” Button said. “We talked to his (WHL) coaches and they loved him, the leadership intangibles. He needs to become a better skater, that’s his big drawback – he has to improve his skating.”
The 19-year-old is under contract until 2020 and is eligible to return to junior. His import status makes him less attractive to many WHL clubs because of league import restrictions, so he could be destined for Stockton.
Zavgorodniy is an undersized right-shooting left-winger who’s played for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL the past two seasons, scoring 28 goals and adding 36 assists for 64 points with 124 PIM and a plus-31 in 2018-19. He scored four goals and added four assists for eight points in 12 playoff games. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound player is under contract until 2022. The Flames used their final pick on the Russian due to his creativity, smarts, and scoring ability.
“A real clever little player,” remarked Button. “We saw him at (Ivan) Hlinka the first time and he was one of the leading scorers in the tournament. He was lights-out when we saw him and we were like ‘Who is this kid?'”
Expect him to be returned to Rimouski for a third season of junior. Consistent growth is expected in his offensive output as he adapts to playing wing in the North American game.
Two Picks From ’18 Remain Unsigned
Koumontzis, who remains unsigned, spent last season at Arizona State University. The left-winger recorded 4 goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 35 games for the Sun Devils in 2018-19. The 19-year-old was described by Button as a “skilled player, high motor, high energy, always going. A little buzz saw with skill.”
Pettersen is also unsigned. The Flames picked him from the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL after he had 14 goals and 32 assists in 60 games. Calgary likes his skill and resolve, but he needs more size and strength.
“He’s a skilled but smaller in stature player. But he can play,” Button said. “He wants to win, he wants to play hard, and is an offensive-minded player.”
The left-shooting center will be returning for a second season at the University of Denver. Last season, the 19-year-old Norwegian scored 6 goals and added 24 assists in 30 games for the Pioneers.
For the trio of prizes from the 2018 Draft that are skating at the prospects camp – Pospisil, Roman, and Zavgorodniy – the time to impress is now. They need to shine if their sights are set on a Flames roster spot in seasons to come. As for Koumontzis and Pettersen, college textbooks and NCAA hockey are the here and now. And perhaps a signed Flames contract soon.
Allan is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist who has scouted high school athletes for the NCAA and MLB, and has worked in sports management and sales in professional soccer and football.