Yesterday I posted a link to an update on several of the Flames' European prospects, so with the second round of the CHL playoffs about to begin, I thought I'd take a look at how the Flames' junior prospects are doing this season.
Greg Nemisz, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) Drafted 25th overall in 2008
After a disappointing World Junior tournament in which Nemisz registered only one goal, he has racked up 34-36-70 and is +22 in 51 games. Nemisz recently missed more than a month of action including Windsor's first round victory over the Erie Otters after sustaining a deep gash in his thigh when he was cut by the skate of a teammate, but is ready to return for Game 1 of his team's second round playoff series against the Plymouth Whalers.
T.J. Brodie, D, Barrie Colts (OHL), Drafted 114th overall in 2008
Excellent in front of the net, hard to move and with soft hands for a player of his size, Nemisz will make a good power forward, if he can improve his skating and general agility.
Nemisz must also work on being consistently physical in his play, so that he can be the force on the ice that his position requires--Hockey's Future
After being chosen late in the fourth round of the NHL draft in 2008, Brodie has shot up the Flames' depth chart, and is currently ranked fifth out of the team's top twenty prospects. He had 3-30-33 in 46 games with the #1 ranked Colts this season and was +18. He has three assists and is +4 in four playoff games so far this spring, and the Colts will move on to play Cody Hodgson's Brampton Battalion in the second round.
The talent analysis provided by Hockey's Future is ambiguous to say the least:
Offensive defenseman of average size.
Ryan Howse, LW, Chilliwhack Bruins (WHL), Drafted 74th overall in 2009
A mid-third round pick at last year's draft, Howse is another player that has improved by leaps and bounds this season, posting a career-high in goals (47) and points (72). Howse operated at a point-per-game pace and was a plus player for the first time in his WHL career, finishing the season +9. The Bruins were recently eliminated from the playoffs, where Howse collected five goals and six points in six games versus the Tri-City Americans. At 19, Howse could still spend another year in junior, but with numbers like that I'm sure he'd make a nice addition to the Heat sometime in the near future.
Howse is a shifty, feisty forward with a nose for the net.
Howse does not dominate physically, but will not shy away from heavy traffic. He is a very good skater, great acceleration. Good understanding of the defensive side of the game.
Mitch Wahl, C, Spokane Chiefs (WHL), Drafted 48th overall in 2008
Ranked 7th out of the Flames' top twenty prospects, Wahl's performance in his last year of junior has many Flames fans excited, and not just because of the constant hype he receives via his agent Allan Walsh's twitter account. Wahl has tallied 30-66-96 in 72 games this season and is +23. He's steadily improved upon his goal totals since entering the league and has operated at more than a point per game pace since 2007-08.
A tireless worker, Wahl is effective at both ends of the rink and has been successful in maintaining consistent production.
Lance Bouma, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL), Drafted 78th overall in 2008
Bouma is another player who continues to improve in his last year of junior. His numbers are pretty decent, nothing too compelling (14-28-43, 57GP, +8) and he has 1 goal and 6 points in four playoff games this season, as the Giants prepare for the WHL semifinals. No talent analysis or future projections have been posted for Bouma, but I can see him developing into a useful third or fourth liner in the NHL. On the other hand, he could be one of those guys who gets buried in the AHL for the entire duration of his career, it's a coin-flip really.
Gaelan Patterson, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL), Drafted 201st overall in 2009
After two disappointing seasons to start his junior career, Gaelen Patterson has improved astronomically in his last two seasons. He had career highs in goals (26) and points (59) and has three goals in four playoff games so far this season, very impressive numbers for a seventh-round pick. The Blades are moving on to play the Brandon Wheat Kings in the semifinals.
Spencer Bennett , LW, Portland Winter Hawks (WHL), Drafted 141st overall in 2009
Bennett signed with the Winter Hawks at the start of the 2009-10 season at 19 years old, after previously playing in the BCHL, and has 19-21-40 in his first season with Portland. He has no points in six playoff games so far this season and will face Wahl's Spokane Chiefs in Game 7 tonight.
Size potential at 6'3; decent offensive abilities shown so far at the BCHL level, though nowhere near as much as Chucko when he was selected. A project like the Flames other picks; fell out of a lot scouts' favor; needs to fill out frame.
Any comparison to Kris Chucko where a player comes out on the losing end can't be good, but since Bennett was a fifth round pick, future success or lack thereof likely won't have any impact on the Flames organization.
All these players are likely still a few years at best away from developing into potential NHLers, and the fact that the highest pick of the bunch is Greg Nemisz at 25th overall means that there are no guarantees here, as there rarely ever are, but Flames fans certainly have reason to be optimistic. With many of these guys playing their last year of junior, we could very well see some new faces in Abbotsford soon, where we will start to get more of an indication of their abilities and potential for success at the NHL level. At the least, the addition of some of these players to the Heat should bolster their roster and allow the team to build upon the progress they've made so far this season.