Flames 2009-10 junior prospects update

By Kent Wilson

Due to years of dealing draft picks for established players, GM Darryl Sutter’s Calgary Flames are currently relatively light in terms of junior level prospects. That said, a number of Calgary’s most promising offensive futures currently reside in the WHL and OHL. The majority of the six junior prospects currently play in the WHL, which is where the organization tends to concentrate its scouting and draft picks. Mitch Wahl and Ryan Howse are the most potent offensive weapons from the West, while Greg Nemisz and T.J. Brodie of the OHL continue to be noteworthy contributors in the East.

WHL

Mitch Wahl, C – Spokane Chiefs
Acquired: 2nd round, 48th overall, 2008
January 22, 1990

Known as a strong defensive contributor, Wahl has also been an offensive leader for the Spokane Chiefs for the last three seasons. While his goal-scoring pace has fallen away from the 32 he managed last year, Wahl still leads the Chiefs in assists (20) and points (27) in 22 games played thus far. Despite frequently seeing the opposition’s top lines, Wahl was an impressive +42 last year, a trend that continues this season with Wahl posting the best plus/minus rating among Spokane forwards (+9).

Not overly big or physical, Wahl combines smarts, vision and slick skating to put up points while checking the opposition’s stars.

Ryan Howse, LW – Chilliwack Bruins
Acquired: 3rd round, 74th overall, 2009
July 6, 1991

Taken in the third round last year, Howse has taken a big step forward for the Chilliwack Bruins this season. The 5’11 winger leads the team in just about all offensive categories: goals (21), points (34), power-play goals (eight), short-handed goals (two) and plus/minus (+12). Howse is by far the most potent offensive weapon the Bruins possess: he’s 10 goals and nine points ahead of second-place Roman Horak (NYR) for team scoring. Only three other Bruins are on the plus side and no other skater on the club has managed to score at a point-per-game pace thus far. In fact, Howse is currently 11th overall in the WHL scoring race.

There were some questions about Howse’s willingness to compete and overall game during his draft year. Scouts noticed his accurate shot and ability to get into scoring areas, but didn’t like his lack of physical game and one-dimensional play (which was reflected in a -24 rating). This year, however, Howse seems to be answering his critics while further improving his offensive skills. 

Lance Bouma, C – Vancouver Giants
Acquired: 3rd round, 78th overall, 2008
March 25, 1990

The captain of the Vancouver Giants is having a solid if unspectacular offensive campaign thus far, although he wasn’t originally drafted for his scoring prowess. In 27 games played, Bouma has six goals and 21 points which his best PPG pace (.78) in the WHL to date.

A hard worker and a strong dressing room presence, Bouma won’t make the NHL based on his offensive abilities. In four seasons for Vancouver, Bouma has never managed more than 35 points in a single season. Strong and tenacious, he’s universally liked by his teammates and coaches and will likely audition for a “defensive specialist” or “energy player” type role once his junior career is over.

Gaelan Patterson, C – Saskatoon Blades
Acquired: 7th round, 201st overall, 2009
August 22, 1990

Patterson is older than his draft cohort because he was skipped over during his first draft-eligible year. The Flames last pick in 2009, Patterson is nonetheless having a decent season considering his pedigree. Previously a 20+ goal scorer, Patterson has already collected 10 goals and 24 points in 25 games this season, good for third on the Blades in scoring. His +21 rating is also third among Saskatoon forwards, as is his .96 PPG rate.

Patterson has improved markedly in each season of his junior career. He jumped from four points to 10 in his first two years and then made the quantum leap to 57 last year, resulting in him being drafted by Calgary. At his current pace, Patterson will finish this season with more than 65 points. Although it’s unlikely he’ll ever make the NHL as a scorer, his rapid rate of improvement is a positive sign for the Flames. 

OHL

Greg Nemisz, RW – Windsor Spitfires
Acquired: 1st round, 25th overall
June 5, 1990

Perhaps the most promising of all the Flames junior prospects, Nemisz continues to be a key contributor to the CHL’s most impressive team, the Windsor Spitfires. A two-time 30+ goal scorer, Nemisz is poised to break the 40-goal barrier this season, having managed 21 goals in his first 27 games. His 39 points also place him third on the Spitfires in scoring behind potential future No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique. In fact, Nemisz is currently fourth in OHL scoring, slightly ahead of Tyler Seguin, who also figures to be a top-five pick in the next NHL entry draft.

Nemisz is a big winger who has excellent offensive instincts, but is capable at both ends of ice. Good around the net and on the power play, Nemisz will likely feature prominently in the Flames plans going forward given the dearth of legitimate offensive prospects in the system.

T.J. Brodie, D – Barrie Colts
Acquired: 4th round, 114th overall, 2008
June 7, 1990

A slick-skating, puck-moving defenseman, Brodie surprised after being selected in the fourth round by scoring 12 goals and 50 points in just 63 games last season – good for a 20-point jump over the previous year. Brodie has continued to put up notable numbers this year, scoring fours goals and 23 points in his first 19 games. However, he was traded by the Saginaw Spirit to the Barrie Colts recently and the move has put a dent in his output. In five games with his new team, Brodie has yet to garner a single point.

Despite the minor bump in the road, Brodie remains sixth among OHL defenders in scoring. If he can get back on track, Brodie projects to finish above the 70-point mark this year, which will position him well within the organization – despite the fact that the Flames have a lot of quality defensive prospects, not many of them have better than average offensive abilities.