The highlight of development camp is typically the scrimmage prospects take part in, and with an 8-7 overtime victory for Team Red, this year's edition certainly did not disappoint. With at least 13 different goal scorers (missed one goal, and the scorer doesn't seem to be out there), the talent was spread around throughout all of the prospects partaking.
Sam Bennett, Garnet Hathaway, and Jakub Nakladal were all scratched, while the rest of the roster participated. One hour of hockey, split into two half-hour periods was played, and the offence came fast and furious - especially in the second half (in which, it should be noted, Adam Clark and Rylan Toth, two camp invitees, were in net).
Three of us from Matchsticks & Gasoline - myself, saltysyd, and ctibs - attended. From the limited bird's eye view Joan Snyder Arena can offer, here's what we saw:
- Starting off on the goalie front: Mason McDonald was awesome. Team Red had a number of high quality chances, and he did an outstanding job keeping sure goals out. The first one he let in, by camp invite Josh Pitt, couldn't really be blamed on him either; he made the initial save, the rebound got away from him, and he had no chance to recover because Emile Poirier was basically hugging him. (Ryan Culkin tried to dive across to save it with his stick, though he was unsuccessful.)
- Jon Gillies was at the other end, so it was difficult to see much of him; McDonald looked more impressive in the very limited view, though.
- Speaking of Poirier: he had an outstanding goal, completely dekeing out McDonald to tuck it in. It was clear he was the only one of the group with NHL experience, but he looked really, really good out there.
- There's a reason it was Poirier's shootout attempt the Flames were trying to vine, after all - even though he lost the puck on his try.
Shootout time! https://t.co/65YV1REMmf— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 9, 2015
- The tuck-in you see is from none other than Hunter Smith. Smith, along with the other big guys - Riley Bruce and Keegan Kanzig - all had some pretty nice shootout goals.
- Speaking of Culkin: he had a pretty good showing, himself. He likely would have made his NHL debut in the regular season finale against the Winnipeg Jets this past season had he not been injured at the time; as it stands, he's one of the top defensive prospects.
- A guy who cemented himself as someone to watch extremely early on was Andrew Mangiapane. It actually got to the point where if someone did something impressive, it almost always turned out to be #88: Mangiapane. You couldn't possibly be more thrilled with a sixth rounder; he was a star as far as development camp was concerned. Mangiapane basically looks like a poor man's Johnny Gaudreau.
- Speaking of 2015 draft picks: all of them scored! Oliver Kylington opened the scoring, Rasmus Andersson tucked away a nice goal on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box, and Pavel Karnaukhov threw in his own tally. Bruce's only goal came in the shootout, but he did have an assist in the actual game.
- Didn't really see as much of Andersson or Kylington as I would have liked to, though. But you definitely have to say this for Kylington: that is a kid who can really skate.
- Smith had a nice goal in-game. He really stood out in the scrimmage: in part because of his height (goes without saying, but in a prospects camp filled with some pretty big guys, Smith is absolutely huge), but in part because of his skill. He helped create a number of chances, and looked good out there with Poirier in particular. Smith can either return to the OHL for his overage year (but considering his early September birthday, he is essentially a year behind his draft class), or go the AHL; right now, it looks like he might do just fine in the A.
- Austin Carroll wasn't as noticeable as Smith, but the same basically goes for him. Between the two Smith looks like the better player, but that's kind of what happens when one guy is taken in the second round, and the other, the seventh.
- I actually kind of forgot Morgan Klimchuk was there until he had an assist. He definitely wasn't as noticeable as fellow first rounder Poirier, but he's also younger and has never played professionally. This was just a development camp; Klimchuk should be in the AHL next season, and that's where he'll hopefully really begin to shine.
- Back to the defencemen. Brett Kulak was all over the place, and in a very good way. He made his NHL debut in the meaningless regular season finale, and while he's clearly not NHL ready, amongst peers more along his level, he looked pretty good. Kulak spent a lot of time in the ECHL last season in part thanks to the numbers game. That shouldn't happen this year.
- Kenney Morrison is an exciting prospect, and the Flames have a lot to look forward to in him.
- Same with Brandon Hickey. It will be interesting to see how well he performs on a Boston University team without Jack Eichel, but amongst his peers, he looked excellent. It's easy to see where the TJ Brodie-lite description comes from. He even had his fair dash of truculence, throwing what was probably the biggest hit of the scrimmage.
- As far as camp invitees go, Brandon Hawkins stood out to us very positively (and he had a very nice shootout goal), and Philippe Myers looked pretty decent as well. There was a lot of looking down at the roster list only to see it was a camp invitee who had done something; Christopher Dienes' name came up a fair number of times as well.
- Maybe it's because he was wearing #47, but Tyson Baillie stood out a lot.
- As did Jason Fram, who has been an attendee of several past Flames development and training camps, as well as preseason games. Fram has been compared to Mark Giordano in the past, and with his going undrafted through all his years of eligibility, that's another comparison to make. Considering how the Flames keep welcoming him back, and he's now ready to turn pro, he may have a home in Stockton this upcoming season.
- Last but not least: the overtime hero, Mark Jankowski. Jankowski had an excellent scrimmage, and was increasingly stronger as the game went on. He's taken a lot of undeserved flak (mostly because of Jay Feaster, and Jay Feaster's need to produce stupid soundbites), and he's not the best prospect on the Flames, but at least amongst his peers in development camp, he looked like a player. He has another year of college to go at Providence, and then he'll probably turn pro.
Mind that these are all pretty basic observations from a so-so vantage point of a meaningless prospect scrimmage at a development camp: absolutely nothing to make or break anyone's career, nor form any particularly strong opinions. It was a fun scrimmage, though, and the talent was spread out throughout the participants.
There's a lot to like when looking at the Flames prospects nowadays. Now, the question is simple: how many of them will be able to translate this to the NHL?
The answers didn't get a whole lot clearer today, but did leave you able to come away having appreciated a stint of hockey in July, and a glimpse at the Flames' future.