The Flames wrapped up a successful weekend in Penticton with a 4-3 overtime win against the Canucks last night. Combined with a 4-1 win against Winnipeg and a 4-3 overtime loss to the Oilers, they finished with a 2-0-1 record. That is great. Obviously, you want to see your team win in any context and it is best to have your prospects in a winning culture. However, the real importance of this tournament is the development experience it provides for the players, as well as the showcase to the organization, hockey world and fans about what these players can do. At the Flames camp, there were many players that fared very well, some blended in and a couple had a rough time. Here are some things I observed while following along myself.
Note: Some players such as tryouts Justin Doucet, Matheiu Sevigny and Aaron Hyman barely played at all, so I did not forget about them, I just hardly saw anything to form an opinion on, so I’m not going to pretend I have one.
Mark Jankowski: Jankowski had a good weekend and did a lot of things that inspire confidence that he should be a legitimately good NHL player. Probably not a star, but he looks like a player that will be able to provide value. He was very defensively aware, his line carried the play in the offensive zone, and he executed a lot of beautiful passes. He’s definitely not as much of a shooter and he probably could be a bit stronger on his skates, but Janko is coming along. I don’t think he would look out of place in spot duty in the NHL, but give him a full year of development in the AHL and he should be knocking on the door.
Matthew Tkachuk: Man, did Tkachuk leave an impression. While somewhat quiet against the Canucks, in the games against the Jets and the Oilers, he was so involved in everything. He got under the opposition’s skin so often, taking a lot (too many) of penalties but drawing many as well. He roughed it up, took and gave some hits, and dished out a pretty dirty spear. He was also impactful offensively, with him and Jankowski showing some pretty solid chemistry as time went on. Tkachuk skated better than I thought he would (given all the talk about how that’s his biggest flaw) and he moved the puck well. He was guilty of trying too much in a lot of aspects this weekend, but that is to be expected and I’m even higher on him than before. You can see the potential for a sort of super-pest but quality player, in the make of Brad Marchand or Corey Perry.
Austin Carroll: Carroll had an all right weekend. He was good with working the cycle with Tkachuk and Jankowski, but it was pretty apparent his skill level did not really match up with them. It would have been nice to see someone else get an opportunity with them, but Carroll did play hard and he does have physicality and a bit of offensive ability, it just seems like there is quite a ways to go still.
Oliver Kylington: I have always been hyped on Oliver Kylington, but I have to say, what a difference from last year. The guy is so confident in everything that he does and he looked like a major difference maker out there. Often for good, sometimes for bad. Kylington still has some work to do on when to pick his spots, but you cannot deny that he has some elite abilities that cannot be taught. Being taught when to take chances is much more doable than being taught how to be the best skater in an entire prospect tournament, constantly creating offense. He jumped up into the rush so often, creating a lot of chances and when things did not work out, a lot of the time he could rely on his skating to get out of trouble. There are still some things to be ironed out, but he is not super far away and his potential looks as high as ever. I’m not saying he is going to be as good and he is definitely not as physical, but his game reminded me a lot of P.K. Subban’s.
Rasmus Andersson: Not as noticeable as Kylington due to a very different style, he still had a solid weekend. He was arguably the most reliable defenseman the Flames had, playing well in his own end, but he jumped up into the rush when he saw fit, he showed well on the powerplay and he had a massive hit to swing momentum against Edmonton. It was not such a crazy showing as last year, but it was still a good one and it will be interesting to see how he looks in main camp.
Kenney Morrison: I honestly was not a great fan of Morrison’s game. I just felt like he took too many bad penalties, gave the puck away and was not very conducive to success on the powerplay. I just did not really see many redeeming qualities in his game. I’m not saying he’s a bad player or anything because you can see glimpses of why teams wanted him in the first place, but packaged together I just thought he did not have a great showing.
Ryan Culkin: I do not really have a ton to say on Culkin. They used him in all situations and he was a fair bit better than Morrison, but not as impressive as Andersson or Kylington. However, it was good to see him get out of the weekend without an injury, like last year. Hopefully he can play a full season without injury, which would really help his development.
Dillon Dube: Dube was awesome. I was not too familiar with Dube when they drafted him, but he played solid in all 3 games. He kept popping out to me throughout the tournament for doing good things. He just was a ball of energy, such a good skater, strong offensive instincts, good hands, drew some penalties. Even though he is less than 6’0, it seemed like the opposition had a hard time getting the puck away from him along the boards too. I hope he makes Canada’s World Junior team because I would love to see as much as I can of him this year.
Matthew Phillips: Phillips only played in the first couple of games, but he performed pretty much how I thought he would. He was speedy and slippery. He worked well with Dube in their time together. He also scored a goal in the first game by parking himself in front of the net and putting in a rebound. For a guy who is 5’7” but is as skilled as he is, if he is willing to go to those areas consistently, his chance of success in the future is that much higher. He did not look like the next Johnny Gaudreau but he does look like a solid prospect that has potential.
Andrew Mangiapane: Mangiapane did not have a phenomenal tournament but it was a pretty good one. He could be a little quiet for stretches, but he did rack up some points and had a lot of other chances that did not quite materialize. He’s a great skater, displayed some moves that only highly talented players can make, and it is going to be interesting to see how well he carries his scoring prowess forward to the AHL.
Ryan Lomberg: Probably the Flames best forward in the tournament. Absolutely wild, how effective he was in all aspects of the game. Scored 3 goals, had a fight, was involved in a lot of scrums, displayed his full arsenal of agitating skills. Like Dube, Phillips and Mangiapane, he was a really fast skater. He was also a mainstay on an effective penalty-killing unit. He kept up with skilled players too, playing with Mangiapane and Tuulola in the last game. Lomberg split time between Stockton and Adirondack last year and is on an AHL-only deal this year. I think Lomberg did a lot this weekend to earn consideration for an NHL contract from the big club.
Brett Pollock: I did not find Pollock to be particularly noticeable this weekend, but when he was, it was for making good, smart, responsible plays. He did not make any noticeable mistakes or anything like that, but he played a pretty quiet game. Interested in seeing more of him in the future.
Mikkel Aagaard: A Danish forward who spent the past couple of years in the OHL, I thought Aagaard had a solid tryout with the club. They played him every game and he was generally effective. He scored a nice goal against the Oilers, skated well, was in good positioning and fit in wherever they played him, with a revolving door of linemates, on the penalty-kill and even at the point on the powerplay which was interesting. They gave him a lot of ice time, so they obviously wanted to see what he had and he showed some skill. I am not sure what else they could have wanted him to do and I would be pretty surprised if he was not brought to main camp and I could see him being offered a contract somewhere in the organization.
Dennis Kravchenko: Another tryout player, I thought Kravchenko made some nice plays in the first game against the Jets. After sitting out against the Oilers, he had a strong game against the Canucks with a goal, a big hit and regularly creating on his shifts. He played well; maybe they find a spot for him in the AHL or ECHL.
Brayden Burke: The tryout player with the most fanfare heading into the tournament, we unfortunately hardly saw any of Burke. He only got into one game and had very limited minutes at that. I would have liked to see more of him, because even in his limited minutes he scored a goal while playing with Hunter Smith. Not sure what the next step will be with Burke but hopefully they give him more of a look in main camp.
Eetu Tuulola: The recent 6th rounder continues to impress more than a normal 6th rounder does after being drafted. He left Penticton with a goal and a couple assists, but created many other quality scoring chances for himself and his teammates. He had good offensive instincts and fit in well with other skilled players. Considering how he’s been playing in Europe for his whole life, he looked pretty good on the smaller ice.
Stepan Falkovsky: Only got into one game, but moved well for a bigger guy and unlike Kanzig and Bruce, there are some offensive instincts there. Definitely seems like someone worth taking a shot at with a 7th round pick.
Hunter Smith/Keegan Kanzig: I thought they both looked better than in previous years but they are not quite up to speed and who knows if they can get there. Still need to keep working at it.
Jon Gillies: Played one game, played well. Good to see him healthy and that he started off on the right track. Need a full AHL season for him, but hopefully he continues heading along to becoming the goalie of the future.
Tyler Parsons: For a player who was just drafted, Parsons looked very solid. You can see why they took him in the second round, very athletic and made many nice saves. He looks like a good prospect for down the road.
Mason McDonald: I was really hoping McDonald would come in and have a good showing, just to have something positive going about the guy as a prospect, but it did not happen. He had the worst showing of all of the Flames goalies (although Nick Schneider barely played and was not really tested). To be fair, he only got half a game, but he let in a couple pretty rough goals and did not look particularly comfortable. I thought it was interesting too how Gillies got a full game, Parsons got two half games, but McDonald only got the back half of one game. He’s young so you cannot write him off before he even turns pro, but he is not tracking as well as his peers and at this point it is a little tough to see him being better than Gillies or Parsons in the future, but you never know I guess.
The players that really stood out most to me in a good way were Lomberg, Dube, Tkachuk, Kylington, Jankowski and Tuulola. The biggest disappointments from my viewings were Morrison and McDonald. It was a shame we did not get to see any of Morgan Klimchuk, due to injury. What did you think? We all get different views of these players. Who stood out for you? Who dropped the ball?