Top 10 Calgary Flames Prospects: Winter 2015 Edition

The Calgary Flames once were defined as a veteran club, with the key roles on their team taken by players at (or beyond) the peak of their useful hockey-playing careers. Now, much of this was out of necessity, as the Flames struggled to identify, draft and develop young players. However, the hallmark of their recent rebuild has been the influx of young talent into their roster.

As of this writing, the Calgary Flames have six players on their roster who haven’t yet reached their 25th birthday. Of that six, five of those players – Dougie Hamilton, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan – are already NHL regulars. The challenge the Flames are facing now is dealing with some depletion of their prospect depth, both through trading picks to acquire Hamilton and graduating players from their farm and development system into the National Hockey League ranks.

With that in mind, here’s a listing of the ten best Calgary Flames prospects that are (a) not yet 25 years old and (b) haven’t yet established themselves as everyday NHL players.

#1: Jon Gillies – Stockton Heat (AHL)

Goaltender; Calgary’s third round selection in 2012

A hip injury has most likely ended his first professional season prematurely, but Gillies is a big-bodied goaltender that plays a smart positional style of game. He doesn’t over-commit and he lets his body do the work rather than over-correcting. He’s won a World Junior gold medal and an NCAA championship thus far and the Flames have hopes he’ll be their goalie of the future in a few years.

#2: Oliver Kylington – Stockton Heat (AHL)

Defenseman; Calgary’s second round selection in 2015

Once one of the most talked-about prospects of the 2015 Draft class, Kylington slid down the draft rankings and ultimately landed in the Flames laps at the tail-end of the second round. From their perspective, it’s their cup runneth over: Kylington is an excellent skater and was talented enough to crack the Swedish professional ranks as a 17-year-old. He’s made the transition to the AHL at age 18 – something he was able to do due to his European lineage – and while his defensive game needs some work, his offensive skills and mobility have made the jump with him.

#3: Brandon Hickey – Boston University Terriers (NCAA)

Defenseman; Calgary’s third round selection in 2014

A product of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Hickey’s stock has risen a ton internally due to his strong performance on Boston University’s blueline as a freshman en route to an NCAA championship final appearance and his play earned him a spot at the World Juniors, cracking a spot on Team Canada’s stacked blueline. An excellent skater, Hickey’s strengths lie on the defensive side of the puck as he uses his mobility to cut down angles, but he’s also an underrated offensive player.

#4: Markus Granlund – Calgary Flames (NHL) / Stockton Heat (AHL)

Center; Calgary’s second round selection in 2011

The younger brother of Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund, Markus has quietly circled a full-time NHL job for the past three seasons, but hasn’t yet stuck the landing. He’s a strong 200-foot player; he’s got the positional game without the puck down and uses his speed well to close gaps on the forecheck. He’s not yet a strong offensive player in the NHL but he’s shown flashes of strong play. His only glaring weakness is his face-off game, which has hovered around the 40% mark at the NHL level. He may need to transition to the wing to be an everyday NHLer – especially with Calgary’s center depth – but he’s definitely got the chops to be in the big league full-time.

#5: Andrew Mangiapane – Barrie Colts (OHL)

Winger; Calgary’s sixth round selection in 2015

A bit of a late bloomer, Mangiapane slipped through the 2014 Draft unclaimed but really impressed last season and finished among the OHL scoring leaders. And despite his scoring prowess – and probably primarily due to his diminutive stature – he slipped to Calgary in the sixth round. He’s an impressive offensive talent, but he has issues both fixable (his under-developed defensive game) and not (his size).

#6: Emile Poirier – Stockton Heat (AHL)

Winger; Calgary’s first round selection in 2013

The second of Calgary’s three first round picks in 2013, Poirier’s struggled a bit with consistency this season as a second-year pro. He’s an impressive offensive talent and a quick, agile skater. However, the challenge for him has been becoming a consistent 200-foot player that’s as useful away from the puck as he is with it.

#7: Rasmus Andersson – Barrie Colts (OHL)

Defenseman; Calgary’s second round selection in 2015

The first player selected by the Flames in the 2015 Draft, Andersson’s an offensively-talented, right-shooting blueliner. His skating and conditioning may need a bit of work, but his positional play and ability to battle for pucks make him a very valuable prospect going forward. Because of his late-year birthday, he could go pro and head to the AHL as early as next season.

#8: Morgan Klimchuk – Stockton Heat (AHL)

Winger; Calgary’s first round selection in 2013

The third of Calgary’s three first round picks in 2013, Klimchuk has had the longest road to the professional ranks and he’s faced some challenges in his first season – including an injury that sidelined him for a few weeks. But Klimchuk’s just starting to translate his 200-foot game to the pro ranks, and his ability to compete in all three zones is what made him an impressive junior player.

#9: Mason McDonald – Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)

Goaltender; Calgary’s second round selection in 2014

McDonald’s a very toolsy goaltender. He’s tall, he’s got good reflexes and he’s been impressive enough to earn a spot on Team Canada’s World Junior team. On the other hand, his potential has so far remained somewhat untapped and he has yet to emerge as a dominant goalie at the major-junior level.

#10: Mark Jankowski – Providence College Friars (NCAA)

Center; Calgary’s first round selection in 2012

Few Flames prospects have been as long-awaited as Mark Jankowski. Originally drafted way back in 2012, Jankowski’s selection was preceded by the Flames trading down and followed by the management pronouncing how great the pick was. Bear in mind, Calgary’s drafting was horrendous at that point and the pronouncement went over like flatulence in church. That said, Jankowski’s quietly become a strong collegiate center and is poised to turn pro once he’s done his senior year at college.

Honourable Mentions: Pavel Karnaukhov (Calgary Hitmen – WHL), John Gilmour (Providence College Friars – NCAA), Brett Kulak (Stockton Heat – AHL)