While the National Hockey League continues its latest labour impasse, every other hockey league in the world continues to play games in earnest. So, while the lockout keeps the Calgary Flames’ NHL roster players on the shelf for the foreseeable future, the various prospects that the organization has sprinkled throughout the world are continuing their quest for NHL opportunities.
For most of these players, November represents the month where the season goes from its beginning to its middle, and occasional smart plays or mistakes become hardened into habits. Here’s a quick look at how Calgary’s prospects fared in November.
AHL & ECHL Notables
C Ben Street [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 25 years old]
Signed as a free agent
One of the most pleasant surprises in the organization, Street had a quiet October but blossomed offensively in November. As the Heat continued their strong defensive play, Street emerged as a strong two-way threat. He had 12 points and plus-7 rating in 11 November contests.
LW Sven Baertschi [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 20 years old]
Calgary’s first round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
The Swiss Sensation’s second professional month wasn’t quite as excellent as his first, as he slowed down a tad offensively. However, Baertschi still produced decent numbers for a rookie, with 9 points and a plus-2 rating on the month.
RW Brett Olson [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 25 years old]
Signed to an AHL contract as a free agent
Brought to Abbotsford’s camp as a try-out player out of Michigan Tech, where he was team captain, Olson made the team and has become a very consistent bottom-six contributor. In November, he stepped up his game and got onto the score-sheet. He had 6 points and a plus-6 rating on the month.
G Barry Brust [Abbotsford Heat (AHL); 29 years old]
Signed to an AHL contract as a free agent
Part of Abbotsford’s three-headed goaltending monster (in the sense that teams have to guess which goalie will start and then adapt a strategy), Brust had an excellent November. How excellent? He broke Johnny Bower’s 50+ year old shutout record, won all 5 of his starts and had a 5-0-0 record, with a 0.59 goals against average and a .976 save percentage.
C Bryan Cameron [Utah Grizzlies (ECHL); 23 years old]
Signed as a free agent
Now in his third year in the Flames organization, Cameron has been a bit disappointing as a pro despite posting great OHL numbers as an over-ager. He’s found his stride in Utah, though. In November, he had 12 points and a minus-2 rating in 10 games. He’ll have to continue to impress to convince Flames brass to extend his contract (or to convince another organization to bring him in).
C Mitch Wahl [Utah Grizzlies (ECHL); 22 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft
Wahl was once very highly-touted, but he lost a lot of momentum and confidence following a series of injuries (including a concussion) two seasons ago. He had 11 points and was plus-2 in 8 games in November. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s unclear if he’s done enough to merit a return to the AHL.
LW Johnny Gaudreau[Boston College Eagles (Hockey East); 19 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
After a strong October, Gaudreau (nicknamed “Johnny Hockey” by Eagles fans) exploded in November. He notched at least a point per game in every game this month, averaged two points per game overall, and scored three game-winning goals and had assists on another two game-winners. Gaudreau put up 7 goals, 7 assists and was plus-11 in November as Boston College went 6-1-0.
C Bill Arnold [Boston College Eagles (Hockey East); 20 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft
If he were on any other college team in the country, Bill Arnold would be the pride of his organization. (Un)fortunately for him, he’s a Flame prospect at Boston College. Arnold had 6 points in November and put up good face-off numbers. He had a disappointing minus-5 rating, but bear in mind he’s typically playing the tough minutes on his team’s penalty-kill and against the other club’s best offensive players. He also has a tendency to be staunch defensively five-on-five and put up his points on the power-play.
C Mark Jankowski [Providence College Friars (Hockey East); 18 years old]
Calgary’s first round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
It was said when he was drafted that Mark Jankowski was a project. After two months, it can probably be said that he’s a project that’s coming along quite nicely. “The Big Jankowski” had 5 points in the month of November, including a game-winning goal and a plus-3 rating. His Providence College club was just above .500 and he’s being given opportunities to play in a lot of different situations.
G Jon Gillies [Providence College Friars (Hockey East); 18 years old]
Calgary’s third round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
The Flames have a lot of goalies playing in different places. Thrown into the deep waters of Hockey East as an 18-year-old freshman, Jon Gillies has been very good. How good? He’s keeping Providence College in games and despite having a 4-3-0 record, he’s got a sparkling 1.99 goals against average and .929 save percentage in the month of November. Let me repeat that: he’s stopping 93% of the pucks on net and yet his team only wins about half the time, which tells you how valuable he’s been to the Friars.
D John Ramage [Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA); 21 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Drafted due to his rugged style and ability to shut opposition players down, Ramage is team captain of the Badgers for the second season. The Badgers haven’t been amazing this year, with a sub-.500 record, but Ramage posted a single assist and a minus-2 rating as a shutdown defender on a team that was routinely out-scored. That’s not a terrible month by that standard.
C Matthew Deblouw [Michigan State Spartans (CCHA); 19 years old]
Calgary’s seventh round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
If you asked Flames brass if they were pleased with Deblouw’s first two months of college, they would likely say yes. As a freshman, Deblouw has graduated to his club’s top line and he routinely takes face-offs in tough situations. In November, Deblouw had 8 points, a plus-2 rating and some great face-off numbers. The Spartans hovered around .500.
LW Nick Larson [Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA); 22 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft
Larson posted 0 points and a minus-2 rating in November. Despite being a senior on his team, he’s merely a depth guy for the Irish right now.
CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
D Ryan Culkin [Quebec Remparts (QMJHL); 18 years old]
Calgary’s fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
November was a productive month for Ryan Culkin. In a dozen games for the Remparts he posted 9 assists and an even plus/minus rating. He also appeared in both of Team QMJHL’s Subway Super Series games against Russia, posting an even rating playing against some of Russia’s top players.
D Patrick Sieloff [Windsor Spitfires (OHL); 18 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Sieloff continued to post respectable offensive numbers while riling up the opposition with big hits and physical play. He posted 5 points and a minus-1 rating in November and fought twice during the month, but both times he drew the instigator penalty and gave the Spitfires a power-play. He leads Windsor in penalty minutes so far this season, but a fair chunk of them have been “productive” penalties such as these.
D Brett Kulak [Vancouver Giants (WHL); 18 years old]
Calgary’s fourth round pick int he 2012 NHL Entry Draft
I’m not sure whether or not to feel bad for Brett Kulak. On one hand, the Vancouver Giants are not a particularly good team. They lose quite a bit and are frequently out-shot. On the other hand, the team traded away David Musil on Halloween and Kulak spent November auditioning to be the top blueliner. He had a minus-12 rating, which isn’t great, but he also have 5 points against the other team’s top guys.
D Tyler Wotherspoon [Portland Winterhawks (WHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s second round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
If Kulak is a good player on a bad team, Wotherspoon is a good player on a good team. In a dozen games in November, Wotherspoon had 10 points and a mind-boggling plus-21 rating. As November turned into December, he lead the entire Canadian Hockey League in plus/minus. It’s not the greatest stat as far as evaluating his game, but he’s definitely creating more goals than he’s giving up.
LW Turner Elson [Red Deer Rebels (WHL); 20 years old]
Signed by Calgary as a free agent
The Rebels went through massive changes in November; they fired their coach and brought back Brent Sutter, they traded away top scorer Charles Inglis and began to lean on their depth a bit more. The result? A winning streak headed into December. The Rebels’ captain, Elson had a good month with 11 points in as many games and a plus-7 rating.
G Laurent Brossoit [Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL); 19 years old]
Calgary’s sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
If October was a shaky month for Brossoit, November was a complete return to playoff form. The Oil Kings starter had a 5-1-2 record, a 2.09 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. The team in front of him definitely helped, but his consistency was there much more than it was in October.
LW Coda Gordon [Swift Current Broncos (WHL); 18 years old]
Calgary’s sixth round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
The Broncos had an up-and-down month in November, as their top line went a bit cold at times and had to be shuffled around. While Gordon used to play consistently with Colby Cave and Adam Lowry, he’s been bounced around a bit lately. In November, he had 6 points and a minus-4 rating in 10 games.
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.