June 22, 2012. It's the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, and the Flames are about to make their selection at 14th overall ... no, wait, scratch that, they've just traded down to the 21st spot and gained a second round pick in the process, having lost their original in a desperate move to ditch Ales Kotalik.
The Flames' target that draft was Mark Jankowski, a long-term prospect. This is not the case with the 6'1" 200 lbs Patrick Sieloff, the Flames' recouped second round choice. The hard-hitting shutdown defenceman with big ears (sound familiar? I love him already) played in the US Development Program in his draft year, and didn't join the OHL's Windsor Spitfires until after, thus making him an exception to the CHL-NHL agreement that normally prevents 19-year-olds such as Sieloff from playing in the AHL.
From the Windsor Spitfires:
General Manager Warren Rychel has announced defenceman Patrick Sieloff will not be returning to the club for the 2013-14 season. Instead, he will begin his professional career with the Calgary Flames organization.
Sieloff, 19, played 45 games with the Spitfires last season, after completing two years with the United States National Development Team.
"We're proud of Pat's accomplishments and to see yet another one of our players moving on to a professional career," Rychel said. "Pat was a true Spitfire, both on and off the ice. He was a big part of our team and will be missed. He will have a long career in the NHL and we wish him all the best."
If Sieloff is chosen for Team USA in the World Juniors, the Flames will make him available. As a returning player, it's likely he will be going to Sweden.
With an extremely crowded blueline, don't expect to see Sieloff in the NHL just yet. He'll probably spend most of his year in Abbotsford, learning how to defend against adults as opposed to the teenagers typically seen in major junior hockey. If Sieloff is physically ready for professional hockey - and, by all accounts, he very well might be, or at least isn't going to get any better by smashing up juniors - then the AHL might be the ideal league for him. Even then, there are a lot of older prospects on the Heat's backend: Chris Breen, Mark Cundari, John Ramage, Tyler Wotherspoon, and Chad Billins will be there right alongside him, to say nothing of the myriad of defencemen signed to AHL deals who will also be competing for spots on the Heat, so Sieloff will be in tough to get substantial playing minutes.
If he is beat out, then one has to wonder what the advantage is for a kid to play limited AHL minutes, or in the ECHL, and burn an entry level year as opposed to going back to the OHL, although it is possible that if he plays fewer than nine NHL games, his ELC may slide. If, however, he is able to play regularly in the AHL as a 19-year-old, then Sieloff's future bodes well.
The Flames signed Sieloff to a standard three-year, two-way deal worth about $925,000 per this past July. He remains in camp.