#9: Mark Jankowski
Team: Stockton Heat (AHL)
Drafted: 21st Overall in 2012 (1st Round)
Last Year Rank: 11
After a long road of scorn, then quietness, then hope, Mark Jankowski may finally be on the verge of breaking through to the NHL as a full-time player. When he was first drafted in 2012, it seemed like this reality may never occur, yet 5 years later, Mark Jankowski has the potential to be one of the better players from his draft class.
Take a look at the 2012 draft class as of today. The Jankowski pick looks a fair bit more promising that quite a few of the players taken before and after him.
Definitively better as of now: Murray, Galchenyuk, Rielly, Lindholm, Dumba, Trouba, Forsberg, Faksa, Hertl, Teravainen, Vasilevskiy.
Jankowski may turn out better than: Yakupov, Reinhart, Pouliot, Koekkoek, Grigorenko, Girgensons, Ceci, Wilson, Laughton and Maatta.
That is not bad at all, for all the distaste toward the pick at the time. Obviously, we have not seen what he can do at the NHL level, but between his last couple of years at college and the fact he was one of the best young players in the AHL last season, he holds a lot of potential, while a lot of these players have already proven they will not offer much at the NHL level.
For all the ranting about how Olli Maatta was available to the Flames, Maatta has actually been pretty bad the last couple of seasons. Yeah, he has had a lot of injuries, but he would be a number 5 at best on the Flames and most of the team's prospects hold more potential.
In the next 30 picks after Jankowski, the only players of note that have been selected were Michael Matheson, Brady Skjei, Tanner Pearson and Jake McCabe.
So, while it is left to be determined whether Mark Jankowski can actualize his potential in the NHL and ascend to the status of the greatest player of the 2012 draft (oh, Jay Feaster...), it is hard to argue anymore that this was a bad draft selection. If anything, it does a great job of illuminating how uncertain a game the draft is and how people should not be so quick to judge the success of a draft on draft day. Except when team's draft players like Jake Virtanen or Michael Rasmussen, that is.
Jankowski has blossomed into a very reliable 2-way centre. He is known for being defensively responsible, but is a creative playmaker and put up solid totals in the goal column in his rookie AHL season.
Jankowski deserves a shot to prove himself in the NHL this year and that general feeling seems to be pervasive among people following the Calgary Flames. The only question is where exactly he can fit into the line up. Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund are entrenched on the first two lines, while Sam Bennett should be starting on the third line once again. So does he play on the 4th line? Do they temporarily place him on the wing to get him into the NHL? Or perhaps he goes back to the AHL to continue refining his game until an injury strikes?
It’s tough to say what will come next with Jankowski, but as of right now, he is our best ranked forward who is yet to crack the NHL. Lets see if he is in a different place next year.