With our team of writers gearing up to kick off our annual Top 25 Under 25 series in the coming weeks, I thought it would be a good time to look back at our first ever installment of the series, five years ago in 2015. I thought it would be interesting to look at what has happened to each of the listed players since then. I’ll break this down into two articles, the first one covering unranked players through to #14, and then a second article focusing on the Top 13 from 2015.
For context, at this time the Flames were fresh off a their 2014-15 playoff run which included a series victory over Vancouver, and the team had also just gone out and acquired Dougie Hamilton at the draft. The team was only a few years into the rebuild, and yet we haven’t seen a playoff series win since then (not counting the mini series victory over Winnipeg this year).
The Unranked Players (No Votes): Riley Bruce, Matt DeBlouw, Tim Harrison, Brett Kulak, Rushan Rafikov, and Bryce Van Brabant.
Nothing particularly surprising out of the above group with the obvious exception of Brett Kulak who became a full time NHLer with the Flames before being waived and picked up by Montreal. Since then, Kulak has been a regular in Montreal and the decision to waive him still bugs a lot of the fanbase to this day.
The Honourable Mentions: Patrick Sieloff, John Gilmour, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Keegan Kanzig, Austin Carroll, Turner Elson
A whole lot of meh on this list as for the most part they have all been either AHLers or playing in Europe since. Gilmour did get into just under 40 NHL games between the Rangers and Sabres, but that’s it.
#25 - D Ryan Culkin (2012 5th Round Pick)
At the time, Culkin was seen as a few years away but was expected to be an AHLer the next season. He ended up splitting time between the AHL and ECHL and left the organization in 2017. He has been primarily an ECHLer in the Canadiens organization.
#24 - RW Hunter Smith (2014 2nd Round Pick)
Ugh this pick really sucked. It still bugs me to this day. At this point, Smith had just won the Memorial Cup with Oshawa in the OHL, and was best known for his size and physicality. He played the next few years in Stockton, and then in Kansas City of the ECHL. He left the organization in 2018 and did not play hockey in 2019-20. Drafted within five spots of him were Brandon Montour, Ryan Donato, and Christian Dvorak. Ugh.
#23 - C Pavel Karnaukhov (2015 5th Round Pick)
While the Flames still technically own his NHL rights as he’s playing in the KHL, it doesn’t seem likely at all that he’ll ever return to North America at the pro level. He spent the 2015-16 season with the Calgary Hitmen before heading back to Russia. He has six goals in 14 games this year which is already a career high.
#22 - RW Garnet Hathaway (ATO in 2013)
Hathaway was undoubtedly a success story from the bottom portion of the rankings, having developed into a full time NHLer although he’s now unfortunately with the Washington Capitals and not the Flames. At the time, Hathaway had just signed an ELC after a successful 36 point rookie year in Stockton on an amateur contract. Hathaway would go on to make his NHL debut in 2015-16 and was a full time NHLer by 2017-18.
#21 - LW Kenny Agostino (Acquired via Trade in March 2013)
The main prospect who came in return for Jarome Iginla, Agostino was never able to live up to his billing. At this point he had just finished his first full pro season with 43 points in the AHL. Agostino would have another strong year in the AHL in 2015-16 with 57 points, however he would be out of the organization that summer. At his age of 24, the Flames felt he would never advance past being a good AHLer. Since then, he’s had a few NHL stints but has primarily been a good AHL scorer.
#20 - C Mark Jankowski (2012 1st Round Pick)
Yeah...everything I want to say has kind of been said over the last few weeks as Jankowski left to Pittsburgh in free agency. If you want to read the original article, you can already see the dissent towards him from the writers and commenters. To Jankowski’s credit he did manage to develop into a full time NHLer, but drafting him continues to be a running joke among fans, just as it was in 2015.
#19 - C Bill Arnold (2010 4th Round Pick)
Arnold was an interesting case at the time as he was coming his first pro season in the AHL where he had a respectable 38 points in 61 games. However in 2015-16 he would have just 22 points and go unqualified by the Flames at the age of 26, retiring from hockey altogether at that point.
#18 - D Kenney Morrison (Signed March 2015)
Morrison was a late season college signing in 2015, and he showed some offensive promise with six points in ten games to close the AHL season. There was hope that Morrison could develop into an NHL caliber two-way defenceman in Stockton, however he was unable to do so over two years and left the organization in 2017. He now plays in Slovakia.
#17 - LW Andrew Mangiapane (2015 6th Round Pick)
Despite being drafted late in the most recent draft, the writers at the time had a good feeling Mangiapane deserved his relatively high billing, and they ended up being right. The biggest thing holding Mangiapane down was his size, and as he’s proven, he’s managed to overcome that along the way as he just finished his first full season as an everyday NHLer. Now, Brad Treliving has to ensure he’s around for the long haul with a contract asap.
#14 (Three Way Tie) - G Mason Mcdonald, D - Brandon Hickey, D - Rasmus Andersson
At the time, there was a tie among these three players so I figured we’d keep them together for this analysis as we close Part 1 of this review.
First up, Mcdonald who was coming off a not great year in the QMJHL, with a .906 SV%. He would go on to primarily be the ECHL goalie in the organization through 2019, before leaving entirely. He was the first goalie chosen in 2014, and since then guys like Thatcher Demko and Elvis Merzlikins have made the Flames regret their choice.
Secondly, Hickey was a third round pick, also from 2014. He was coming off a decent first year at Boston University and would play four more years there. He was traded to Arizona by the Flames for Mike Smith, and then was further dealt to Buffalo in another trade. He was just recently not qualified by the Sabres, making him a UFA and he has yet to sign anywhere.
Finally, we have the glorious Rasmus Andersson. I’m still shocked at how the Flames were able to trade a 1st and 2 2nd round picks at the 2015 draft, and come away with three legitimate NHL talents in Andersson, Mangiapane, and Oliver Kylington. Andersson would have a solid 2015-16 year in Barrie (OHL), play two years in Stockton, and became a NHL regular in 2018-19. He will be starting the first year of a six year contract this upcoming season.
#25 to #14 Summary:
- Flames Draft Picks: 9/12
- At Least 1 NHL GP: 6/12
- >100 NHL GP: 4/12
- Still with Organization: 2/12
That’s it for Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2 in the coming days as we look back at our Top 25 Under 25 rankings from 2015, and gear up to begin this years. We will need your votes for this year’s rankings, so watch for that post in the coming days!