The month of December saw the fortunes of some Calgary Flames prospects dip as the we arrive into the meaty part of the season.
Most notably, the Abbotsford Heat had a rough month (winning just three of their 13 contests) and were without the services of standout winger Sven Baertschi and rugged pivot Lance Bouma for the entire month.
Outside of the Heat, six Flame prospects vied for spots on their respective national junior teams and five of them missed time with their club teams because they were at the World Juniors.
Here’s the December highlights for Calgary’s prospects.
AHL & ECHL
D T.J. Brodie [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 22 years old]
Calgary’s third round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft
The Heat didn’t set the world on fire in December, but Brodie continued to impress. While he was a bit quiet offensively in previous months, he managed to turn his crisp passes into points. He’ll be a likely participant at Flames training camp whenever it opens.
C Krys Kolanos [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 31 years old]
Signed as a free agent
The wily veteran had a slow start after a torrid 2011-12 campaign (that saw him earn an NHL contract). He remains almost frustratingly inconsistent – and has sat as a healthy scratch more than the Heat’s other veteran players – but when he’s in the line-up and amped up, he’s very effective. He had 7 points in 10 games in December.
G Barry Brust [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 29 years old]
Signed to an AHL contract as a free agent
The AHL’s most combative netminder, Brust had a poor win-loss record in December (at 2-4-2). However, those numbers merely indicate that he got very inconsistent (and low) goal support. His goals against was a very good 1.90 and he stopped 93.5% of the shots he faced. All-in-all, a good month for Brust, but not for the Heat.
C Mitch Wahl [Utah Grizzlies (ECHL); 22 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft
Arguably the most enigmatic player in the organization, Wahl continues to wreak havoc on the ECHL. He had 20 points in a dozen appearances in December. It’s unclear if he’ll be recalled to Abbotsford when NHL camps begin later in January.
LW Johnny Gaudreau [Boston College Eagles (HE); 19 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft
Gaudreau had a couple points in a couple NCAA games. Then he went to USA Hockey’s World Junior selection camp, made the team and had three points in the four games he played in during the December half of the tournament. All of those points came in a potential elimination game in the round robin against Slovakia (in the form of two goals and an assist).
C Bill Arnold [Boston College Eagles (HE); 20 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft
While Gaudreau missed time with the Eagles due to World Junior obligations, Arnold (a World Junior participant last year) remained at Boston College and had a solid month. Arnold put up three points in four games and remains just under a point-per-game pace for his junior year.
CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
D Tyler Wotherspoon [Portland Winterhawks (WHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft
A steady, reliable, jack-of-all-trades blueliner, Wotherspoon continued scoring at a point-per-game pace for possibly the WHL’s best team in Portland. He was invited to World Junior selection camp for Team Canada…and to the surprise of some, he made the team. Through the first portion of the tournament, he had two points in four games and stood as arguably the team’s most consistent blueliner.
G Laurent Brossoit [Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft
It’s every young Canadian player’s dream to represent their country at a big tournament. Laurent Brossoit was the only goaltender (of four invited to camp) to be sent home, and responded like a champ – posting a 5-2-0 record in December with a 2.31 goals against average and .916 save percentage. He
Cut from Team Canada, went 5-2-0 with 2.31 GAA and .916 S% in Edmonton)
LW Coda Gordon [Swift Current Broncos (WHL); 18 years old]
Calgary’s sixth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft
After an uneven start to the year, Gordon had a tremendous December for the Broncos. He put up 14 points in 11 games and got himself back on a solid scoring pace.
D Ryan Culkin [Quebec Remparts (QMJHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft
While it must’ve been disappointing for Culkin not to be invited to Hockey Canada’s selection camp, he didn’t seem to show it on the ice. The Remparts blueliner put up 6 points in 11 appearances and his club continued its trek towards the QMJHL playoffs.
D Brett Kulak [Vancouver Giants (WHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft
The lone NHL-drafted player on Vancouver, Kulak has much less talent to work with (arguably) than Ryan Culkin does on the Remparts. So it’s probably pretty impressive that Kulak put up identical numbers: 6 points in 11 contests.
C Markus Granlund [HIFK Helsinki (SM-Liiga); 19 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft
As a 19-year-old in Finland’s top pro league, Granlund has been a bit uneven, scoring intermittently but otherwise not producing that much. He put up 2 points in 5 December games. However, he was a key contributor for Finland at the World Juniors and put up 5 points in 4 December World Junior contests.
G Joni Ortio [HIFK Helsinki (SM-Liiga); 21 years old]
Calgary’s sixth round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft
Ortio had another productive month as HIFK Helsinki tries to get into the playoff picture. He won 5 of his 8 starts and posted a 2.52 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
G Karri Ramo [Avangard Omsk (KHL); 26 years old]
Acquired with Mike Cammalleri and a fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft (Ryan Culkin) from Montreal for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft
Ramo was the KHL’s goaltender of the month for December, winning 4 of 7 starts, posting 3 shutouts, a sparkling 1.15 goals against average and a .957 save percentage. He was dialed in as Omsk tries to cement themselves deep in the KHL’s playoff picture. They’re already among the league’s best teams through the first three months of the season.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.