The rare time the Flames look outside of North American borders for prospects, they usually head for the Nordic region. Under the reign of GM Darryl Sutter, Calgary has been rather suspicious of Eastern European players and have thus far never chosen anyone from Slovakia, the Czech Republic or Russia. Sweden remains the favorite (perhaps with a short stop over in Finland to glance at a goalie or two). As such, the organization’s list of European prospects is rather brief.
Tim Erixon, D, Skellefteå
6’2”, 205 lbs
Acquired: 1st round, 23rd overall 2009
Perhaps the franchise’s best overall defensive prospect, the 19-year-old spent the entire season as a regular for Skellefteå of the Swedish Elite League. Although he missed 10 games due to a wrist injury, Erixon managed a team-high seven goals from the point, to go with six assists. His 13 points placed him fifth on the team among the defenders in points, although he was only marginally behind leader Pavel Skrbek (21 points) despite appearing in five fewer games. In three post-season games thus far, Erixon has been held pointless.
Erixon has NHL size and is a silky-smooth skater with good vision and puck distributing abilities. The Flames don’t have any pressing need on the back end, so expect to see Erixon spend at least one more season developing in the Eliteserien.
Henrik Bjorklund, RW, Borås
6’2”, 198 lbs
Acquired: 4th round, 111th overall 2009
Although Bjorklund began the season with Färjestad of the SEL, the 19-year-old actually spent most of the year skating for Borås of the Allsvenskan league. He managed just one goal and four points in 19 appearances for Färjestad before being relegated to Borås, where he managed more respectable numbers (eight goals, six assists, 14 points in 31 games).
Bjorklund has a hard shot and a quick release. His primary handicap is his skating, which is said to be average to below average. His marginal overall results in both Swedish professional leagues this year suggest he’s still a few seasons away.
Alexander Deilert, D, Mora
6’0”, 181 lbs
Acquired: 7th round, 198th overall 2008
Like Bjorklund, Deilert has bounced between both pro leagues in Sweden since being drafted. In 2008-09, he skated for both Djurgården (Eliteserien) and Almtuna (Allsvenskan), putting up mediocre results in just 25 games between the two. This season, he has played a total of 58 games between both leagues, managing just one assist in 26 appearances for Djurgården and five goals, 16 points for Mora.
Deilert doesn’t possess an ideal NHL frame. He’s said to have strong offensive instincts and good skating capability, but his results thus far don’t suggest a high enough offensive ceiling for the NHL. At 21, he’s further along the development path than Erixon and Bjorklund and the fact that he has yet to break through at the elite level means he’s still not close to NHL form.
Joni Ortio, G, TPS U20
6’1”, 181 lbs
Acquired: 6th round, 171st overall 2009
The Flames newest and youngest goalie bounced around the various Finnish leagues this season, spending most of his time with the TPS U20 team in the Jr. A SM-Liiga. His stats there aren’t terribly compelling (2.89 GAA, .906 SV%) in 16 games.
Ortio has appeared on the international stage more than once in his young career (including the most recent World Junior Championship) and there’s a good chance he will hop the pond this off-season to join the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. A move west would no doubt improve Ortio’s development given the high number of games in the CHL.
Juuso Puustinen, RW, Espoo Blues
6’1, 185 lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 149th overall, 2006
After appearing in two seasons with the WHL Kamloops Blazers, Puustinen fled back home to his native Finland where he’s played professionally for the Espoo Blues. His stats over 107 games have been mediocre (21 goals, 54 points).
In truth, Puustinen is a Flames prospect in name only. He hasn’t attended a Calgary training camp in years. There’s little chance the Flames will retain his rights beyond this year.
Per Johnsson, D, Farjestad
6’0, 172 lbs
Acquired: 7th round, 209th overall, 2006
Johnsson played defense for Farjestad (SEL) this year. He put up just three points in 29 games. He spent 10 games in the Allsvenskan as well, posting two points. He also played seven games in the Finnish SM-Liiga, posting two points. He’s not a legitimate NHL prospect at this point.