The Calgary Flames had a fairly strong couple of days at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft as they acquired plenty of skill but also drafted for size and potential. After a few years of trading picks, management added picks through trades and ended up with eight new prospects in the system after day two. They drafted at all three positions selecting five forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie with their last pick of the draft. The team’s prospect system has gotten weaker with the graduations of guys like Andrew Mangiapane, Rasmus Andersson, and Dillon Dube, but slowly they are building up the system again.
In a draft class marred by delayed or canceled seasons, the Flames ended up with a pretty good haul of prospects. Here’s a quick breakdown of each prospect pick by pick and what kinds of players they may project as.
The Flames went with pure goal-scorer Coronato with the 13th pick of the draft. The pick was an injection of pure offense into the Flames’ prospect system, which they desperately needed. The Chicago Steel forward led the USHL in scoring by a wide margin tallying 48 goals in 51 games, the next closest player had 32 goals. He finished with the third most productive 18-year-old season in USHL history, posting 85 points in 51 games.
Coronato played on a fairly stacked Steel team who rolled through the USHL on route to a championship. This fall, he will be going to Harvard to continue his career and progression as a hockey player by playing against older competition. If he continues to excel and produces for the Crimson, it would not be shocking to see him sign his pro contract after two collegiate seasons. Coronato profiled similarly to Alex DeBrincat in their draft years. Both were late birthdays who had to wait the extra year to be drafted, and both scored at near goal per game pace in their draft year. DeBrincat stayed in the OHL in his draft +1 season while Coronato is off to college. If his production continues, the Flames may have a very similar player who can score at the NHL level.
The Flames took the big Swedish winger with the 45th pick of the draft. Stromgren has the size, skill, and speed that you want in an NHL prospect. He played in several different leagues over the course of the 2020-21 hockey season in Sweden but primarily played with MODO of the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan league. In 27 games, he put up nine points with MODO, while in the Swedish U-20 league and the third-tier HockeyEttan, Stromgren was over a point per game player.
Next season will be a big test of Stromgren’s skill and ability as he is signed with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League. Playing in Sweden’s top league will be a challenge for the 18-year-old, but he will solidify himself as a legit NHL prospect if he can produce. He has all the tools required to become a great hockey player, he just needs to start putting it all together in the SHL starting this season.
The Flames used their first pick of the third round to select Huckins from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. In his second season with the Titan posted 32 points in 33 games which was a major improvement from his rookie season of 38 points in 66 games. Both TSN’s Craig Button and Bob McKenzie had Huckins ranked at 71, so it was not shocking to see the Flames take him at this spot.
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At 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Huckins has the size to become a good power-forward at the NHL level. He has been compared to a young Joe Thornton, which are lofty goals, but gives you an idea of the type of game he likes to play. He is hard on loose pucks, especially in the corners, and has good speed and playmaking abilities. He’ll have two more seasons in Acadie-Bathurst to develop before he can make the switch to professional hockey, but Flames fans should keep their eye on him and if he can lead the team next season.
Brad Treliving and Co. went back to the QMJHL just 11 picks later to select Halifax Mooseheads’ defenceman, Whynot. After a tough start to his career in the QMJHL, it seems as though he is starting to figure things out and find his game. In his rookie season, he posted just nine points in 57 games while accumulating 73 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -41. This season in 34 games, he registered 23 points and a plus-13 rating while only taking 28 penalty minutes.
It’s good to see that he made the progression he has from his rookie season during the 2020-21 season and management will be monitoring closely if he can do it again in 2021-22. He plays a fairly physical game and seems to play a more defensive style of game. His offensive production is something to watch as to whether he can continue to improve on offense as well as in his own end.
The Flames didn’t select again until the fifth round, but they made up for it by selecting a possible late-round gem in Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Cole Jordan. He’s big (6-foot-2, 205lbs), he can skate, and he’s not afraid to make plays with the puck. He just missed eligibility for the 2020 draft making him one of the oldest players in the 2021 draft, but he has lots of upside. The big defender played just 23 games this season, collecting three goals and 10 points.
He hasn’t begun to generate a lot of offense for the Warriors, but he is already a great shut-down defender for the team. His skating ability is his best attribute and he uses it well to break out of his own zone and make rushes with the puck. Jordan has two more seasons to go in the WHL before he can move to the American Hockey League, he should have plenty of time to hone his game and work on adding an offensive element to his tool kit.
The Flames took a sixth-round flyer on Beck, who played no meaningful games this past season as the OHL never started up a season. In his rookie season with the Ottawa 67’s, Beck had seven goals and 19 points in 56 games. He’s the kind of player that you would expect to be taken in the later rounds of the draft. The forward is only listed at 5-foot-11 and 152 pounds, but in an interview, Brad Treliving said Beck had put on some muscle during the canceled season.
Beck’s second season with the 67’s will be a big moment for him to see where his game is at and whether he may have a legitimate professional career. Skating is one of his best attributes that could help him become a solid prospect in the Flames’ system. There will likely be a lot of roster turnover in Ottawa and look for Beck to try and earn a larger role with the team in 2021-22.
Using their second pick of the sixth round, the Flames returned to the WHL and selected the Seattle Thunderbirds winger. Once again, the Flames took another big body as Ciona stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 205 pounds. Like Beck, Ciona is another player you might expect a team to take a chance on later in the draft. In his rookie season, he scored three goals and added 10 assists in 53 games with Seattle.
Ciona made some progress during the shortened 2020-21 WHL season as he scored 2 goals and 11 assists in just 23 games in his second season. He should be looking to take on a larger role next season as he played on a very young 2020-21 Thunderbirds team that rostered 12 rookies. In 2021-22 he will be one of the older players on the team and could be relied upon much more on the ice than he has in his first two seasons.
Sergeev became just the second player selected from the North American Hockey League (NAHL) when the Flames took the Shreveport Mudbugs goaltender in the seventh round, 205th overall. For the second year in a row, Calgary selected a Russian goaltending prospect who is a bit off the radar (Daniil Chechelev in 2020). Sergeev currently plays in the NAHL but is committed to the University of Connecticut for the 2022-23 season.
The NAHL is a tier-II junior league beneath the United States Hockey League (USHL), but it is still fairly good hockey. In his second full season in the league, he posted a 0.936 SV% in 20 games with the Mud Bugs on route to a Roberston Cup championship. As most hockey fans know, it takes a long time for goalies to develop and Sergeev will be a project. He will move on to play for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL next season, which will be another step in his development playing in a higher league.
Flames Continue to Build the Prospect Pipeline
Calgary has made 16 selections in the last two entry drafts after making just 15 selections in the three entry drafts before 2020. This year the theme was clear that the team wanted to add prospects with size but didn’t go out of their way in the first round when selecting Coronato. Brad Treliving noted in a press conference that they believed Coronato was the best player available at the time and that’s usually how they draft players.
After selecting Coronato, it was clear the team wanted to add prospects with size. They did so in the picks of Stromgren, Huckins, Jordan, and Ciona. They also got plenty of potential in most of their picks, especially in Stromgren and Jordan, who may have a good shot at becoming NHL players if they can put the pieces together. After Coronato, the Flames didn’t make any flashy picks, but they most certainly made some strong bets for the club’s future.
Brett is a freelance writer covering the Calgary Flames here at The Hockey Writers. He is an enthusiast of hockey stats and continues to learn every day about the sports analytics movement. Brett enjoys using both statistical analysis and the old-fashioned eye test in his writing to create the best content for readers. His work at THW has been featured on the Calgary Flames’ news feed for The Score and on Yardbarker. Brett is also part of THW’s Flames Faceoff YouTube/podcast show where he brings his opinions each week on the team’s current state of affairs.