The Calgary Flames have a great roster. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm are all exceptional hockey players. The problem is a simple one. Depth. The Flames haven’t had enough depth to surpass the competition.
The Flames do have a stocked farm system and it won’t be long before several of these prospects are in the NHL providing secondary help.
But, let’s take a look at who are the top ten prospects in their system.
2019-20 Top 10 Calgary Flames Prospects
1. Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
HT/WT: 5-9/161 lbs
Drafted: 26th overall in the 2019 draft by the Calgary Flames
Jakob Pelletier is easily becoming one of the most offensively talented prospects in the QMJHL. He is playing on a loaded Moncton Wildcats team with Alexander Khovanov (Minnesota Wild prospect), Jared McIssac (Detroit Red Wings prospect), Axel Andersson (Boston Bruins prospect), Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Anaheim Ducks prospect) and Olivier Rodrigue (Edmonton Oilers prospect).
While there is a lot of talent, Pelletier certainly stands out. His raw sniping ability does not go un-noticed. On the season, he has 20 goals and is on pace to best his goal total from last season (39). In addition, Pelletier is a shifty forward and will make smart passes including off the boards to drive the rush.
2. Juuso Välimäki, D, Calgary Flames (NHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/205 lbs
Drafted: 16th overall in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
The Finnish defenseman has a lot of promise. He’s got a ton of upside and can be a number one defenseman in Calgary in the future. But, he’s got a lot of work to do. This past season, he’s showed to be a bit inconsistent. He spent some time early on in the 2018-19 season playing for the Flames when Travis Hamonic was on Injured Reserve. He was sent back down to the Stockton Heat when Hamonic was healthy, but he wasn’t too impressive in his short stint. Välimäki did play in a few more games for Calgary down the stretch and played in a couple of playoff games for the Flames. All-in-all, Välimäki is a special defenseman. He had his highs and lows with Calgary, but at some point, the highs are going to be much greater than the lows. Flames fans just need to stay patient.
If you look at the stats, you will see that Välimäki was more effective in the AHL than in the NHL. In his 20 game stint with Stockton last season. he tallied 4 goals and 10 assists. Not too shabby. When he was playing in the NHL with Calgary, he played in 24 regular-season games last year. Per Hockey-Reference.com, he’s recorded 1 goal, 2 assists, 12 PIM, 3.6 S%, 15:29 ATOI, 21 hits, 43 blocks, 9 TKs, 14 GVs and a 49.8 CF%. His stats in Calgary weren’t too bad, but his possession numbers should have been better given his average time on ice.
Unfortunately, this season, Valimaki has not played a single game. He suffered a torn ACL prior to the season and has been on LITR.
Valimaki reminds me a lot of former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s great in transition, has a nasty wrist shot and could be a true asset on both ends of the ice. He’s going to be an elite defenseman, but the name of the game is patience. Don’t rush him. He’ll produce over time.
3. Mathias Emilio Pettersen, C, University of Denver (NCAA)
HT/WT: 5-10/181 lbs
Drafted: 167th in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
Norwegian prospect Mathias Emilio Pettersen is having a superb sophomore campaign for the University of Denver. He has tallied seven goals and 17 assists over the course of 26 games.
Pettersen has quality speed and is a robust playmaker. When he has the puck in the slot, he will crush you. In addition, he has great hands and can deliver quick swift passes to his wingers.
The future is bright for Pettersen. If he continues to shine in Denver, he could make the jump to the AHL/NHL next season.
4. Adam Ruzicka, C/W, Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-4/203 lbs
Drafted: 109th in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
Ruzicka is a talented power forward. He’s got great size and elite puck-handling. The Slovakian national could be the next Jiri Hudler.
In his play last season with the Sarnia Sting and the Sudbury Wolves (both of the OHL), he showed that he was well-worth the mid-round selection in the 2017 draft. He played in a combined 65 games and tallied 35 goals and 43 assists. While those numbers are pretty impressive, you normally hope that over-agers become even more dominant than the youngsters in the CHL. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
This season, he has been playing in the AHL for the Stockton Heat. In 39 games played, he has tallied seven goals and eight assists.
Ruzicka will probably require another season or two in the AHL before he is ready to make the leap.
5. Milos Roman, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/192 lbs
Drafted: 122nd in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
Roman is another talented Slovakian forward that is part of the Calgary Flames farm system. His play is a tad inconsistent. There are sequences where he’s dominant. He’ll create scoring chances left and right. He’ll use his beautiful slap shot and wrist shot whenever possible. But, sometimes, his vision fails him. He’ll creep into high traffic situations with the puck and attempt to dart through, but often that doesn’t work out to his advantage. He’ll cough up the puck. If Roman can be a bit more cautious in high traffic situations, he’ll see his offensive production go up.
Last season, Roman played in 59 regular-season games for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He managed to muster up 27 goals and 33 assists. But, his offensive production wasn’t nearly the same in the playoffs. In 22 playoff games for the Giants, he tallied 4 goals and 8 assists.
Roman’s offensive struggles have continued into this season. In 45 games played, he has 14 goals and 12 assists.
If Roman is looking to make a splash in the NHL down the road, he needs to be more consistent. At the moment, there are too many red flags.
6. Martin Pospisil, C, Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/183 lbs
Drafted: 105th overall in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
It’s clear that the Calgary Flames love Slovakian forwards. Earlier I wrote about Adam Ruzicka and Milos Roman. This time around, we take a look at Martin Pospisil.
Pospisil is very much a power forward, but he hasn’t yet grown into his role. He needs to beef up and add some muscle to truly become a power forward. EliteProspects has him weighing in at 183 lbs. The goal should be for him to get as close as possible to 200 lbs.
When he’s on the ice, he’s proven to be a natural goal scorer. He loves to go right to the net and look for the optimal scoring chance.
This past season, he played in 44 games with the Musketeers, recording 16 goals and 47 assists. Musketeers fans saw a huge improvement in Pospisil’s shooting last season. The season prior, he played in 49 games and scored 9 goals. Perhaps, next season, he’ll continue to develop his shooting and reach the 20 goal plateau.
This season, Pospisil has suited up in 11 games and has recorded only one point. In addition, he has been out of the lineup since mid-October after a fight with Colby Cave of the Bakersfield Condors.
7. Dmitry Zavgorodniy, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
HT/WT: 5-9/174 lbs
Drafted: 198th overall in the 2018 draft by the Calgary Flames
When you watch the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic play, you generally are watching Alexis LaFreniere and not normally tuning in to watch Omsk, Russia native, Dmitry Zavgorodniy. But, Zavgorodniy has proven to fans that he’s worth watching.
In one of his first exhibition games with Flames, he played against the Edmonton Oilers and had a stellar goal on Oilers’ goalie prospect Oliver Rodrigue. In that short clip, you can see just how talented Zavgorodniy is. His puck handling is superb and his speed is electric. He’s very much like Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman and New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux. Great speed and puck handling and he knows how to use both of the skills at the same time to deliver goal after goal.
Last season with the Oceanic, he proved to Quebecers that he’s got some raw talent. In 67 games, he managed to record 28 goals and 36 assists.
This season, Zavgorodniy has benefitted by playing with a stellar Rimouski group including Alexis LaFrenière and Zachary Bolduc. In 25 games with the Oceanic, he has recorded 17 goals and 28 assists. Unfortunately, he has been hurt since mid-November, but his offensive play this season, bodes well for his future.
8. Alexander Yelesin, RHD, Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 5-11/192 lbs
The Russian defenseman, who holds the record for the fastest goal in KHL history. He has yet to play in the NHL, but is right on the cusp. The Calgary Flames have called Yelesin up a few times since coming to North America, but as an insurance policy due to injuries.
This season, he has played in 31 games with the Stockton Heat and has tallied four points (one goal and three assists). While his offensive numbers are low, that is the norm for Yelesin as he plays more of a physical game. Teams are always looking for a blue liner, especially a right-handed one that can be physical along the boards.
9. Artyom Zagidulin, G, Stockton Heat (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/176 lbs
Artyom Zagidulin is a butterfly goaltender. He hardly uses his blocker and loves to stride from left to right in order to shut down his opponents. It’s been highly effective in Russia, but it might not translate so well to the NHL. When it comes to players in the NHL, forwards are capable of lifting the puck up and picking their corners. If Zagidulin doesn’t become more of a hybrid goaltender, he might not succeed in the NHL.
Even though Zagidulin will need to become more a hybrid net-minder to have success in North America, he was still highly productive in Russia last season. In 25 games played, he posted a 1.96 GAA and a .924 SV%. In addition, he appeared in 4 playoff games for Metallurg and put up an impressive 1.70 GAA and a .928 SV%.
This season, Zagidulin is playing his first full season in North America with the Stockton Heat. After 23 appearances in net, the Russian net-minder has a 3.00 GAA and .900 SV%.
10. Filip Sveningsson, LW/RW, IK Oskarshamn (SHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/181 lbs
Drafted: 202nd overall in the 2017 draft by the Calgary Flames
Filip Sveningsson could be a gem. He’s got exceptional vision, knows how to pick his corners, and has a cannon of a shot. He’s also great at reading his opponents and identifying the right time to poke check or make an interception. The only drawback is speed and skating. Sveningsson needs to get faster if he figures to make an impact in the NHL.
While Sveningsson does need to work his skating, he did have a solid season (last season) for IK Oskarshamn (Allsvenskan). The 19-year-old appeared in 43 games and managed to muster up 15 goals and 12 assists.
This season, he is playing in his first full season in the SHL with IK Oskarshamn. In 25 games played, he has tallied four points (two goals and two assists)