Something that sneaks up on me every year is the Calgary Flame's Prospect Development Camp. It's a week long look at all the prospects together, seeing who's where relative to everyone else and what they all need to work on. I'm not entirely sure if we'll have someone on the ground there, so if you want to submit anything, let me know.
Now the part of development camp I always find the most fascinating are the players who are brought in on Amateur Try-Outs. The rest of the players are tracked throughout the year, analyzed when we draft them, trade for them, and so on. These players are fascinating in that they provide insight into who the Flames are looking at and where they are scouting from when it comes to depth. So for brief profiles on the seven players brought in on ATOs, follow the jump.
A 22 year old forward, Scott Arnold hails from Pointe-Claire, PQ. He played his junior in the CJHL, which is clearly not the highest tier league. Since then, however, he's started at Niagara University, putting up a line of 16-6-22 in 34 games. Sure, that's hardly lighting the world on fire, but college hockey is generally recognized as far more defensive than junior, and for a rookie, scoring at over 0.5 G/GM is nothing to sneeze at. Will Arnold #2 (no relation to Arnold #1 that I'm aware of) make a splash? It's highly unlikely- but those goal scoring abilities could be a valuable commodity in Abbottsford, and with Troy Ward making promises of a more offensive game, we could be in for a surprise.
One of several local boys with awesome names (seriously, he's almost named Bakula, as in Scott), Dan Bakala is showing the Calgary Flames are starting to understand the right way to find and develop goalies: on the fringe and older. Entering his junior year at Bemidji State, Bakala has put up some pretty solid college stats, though nothing guady, with a .917 sv% his frosh year and .919 sv% his sophomore year. Given the backlog with Brossoit, Irving, and Ortio all below the NHL, it's unlikely Bakala sees anything beyond this ATO. That being said, a dazzling display can always change anything.
Here comes part two of local boys with awesome names. Dallas Ehrhardt (who sounds like he was named by some who read a book about American sports in the south during the mid 90's). Ehrhardt is a defenseman from the Moose Jaw Warriors whose bread and butter is size. At 6'4" and 210 lbs., this is a big dude who plays a physical game. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him as a 3rd pairing AHL defenseman next season.
Another Alberta boy? You betcha. This one is average height, small frame, lacks offensive ability, and fights a lot. Lord only knows how he ended up with an ATO. Probably told Feaster he'd take his lunch money if he didn't get one. Seriously though, it's hard to see how a forward with no notable statistics other than his PIMs. Perhaps the Flames scouting has a line on a skill or ability that we can't see, or perhaps he just has raw undeveloped talent. It's hard to see him having much to do with the Flames past this week however.
Seriously, it's getting to the point where it'd be easier to tell you only the players who aren't from Alberta, with Blake Gal hailing from Lethbridge (home of Patrick Holland). Just as important, Gal possesses an amazing name like Ehrhardt, Elson, and Bakala. As far as actual hockey things go: Blake Gal certainly doesn't have high end offensive abilities, but he's a hard worker and relatively defensively responsible. How's the outlook for him long term? Not good, but you never know.
The second of the players I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see on the Heat next year, James Martin not only fills a relatively large gaping hole in the minors, but he's a player of some familiarity with the Flames, as he ended his last junior season on the same defensive pairing as Flames prospect Joey Leach. Not only that, he just finished his final year of junior before becoming an overage player. For sure he's nothing stunning, but he's a known quantity and fills a need for the organization. Him on the 3rd pairing in Abby wouldn't even resemble a shock.
It's like a defensive Kris Chucko! He went from the BCHL to college! Okay, that's where the similarities end. Quinn attends the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and you won't find many simple stats to describe his game, other than maybe "Hal Gill-esque". Except without the size. A stay at home defenseman, Quinn won't wow anyone with skating, passing, or fancy diddle-doops. Instead he's a player that relies on positioning and never really entering the offensive zone to get things done. I put him as a longer shot than Martin or Ehrhardt to make it past development camp, but stranger things have happened. Like taking Kris Chucko in the first round.