Lots of character in collegiate and European prospect pool for Calgary Flames

By Brad Gardner
Photo: Tim Erixon is among the top puck-moving defensemen not playing in North America. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

The Calgary Flames added three European prospects at the 2009 draft, including the team’s best all-around defensive prospect in Tim Erixon and talented Finnish goalie Joni Ortio. Both had strong seasons and could be making their North American debuts next season.

The organization has strong character in prospects at the college level, including 2010 picks John Ramage and Bill Arnold. The group is also characterized by good checking ability and could yield some depth players for the organization in the near future.

Europe

Henrik Bjorklund, RW, 20
Acquired: 4th round, 111th overall, 2009


Bjorklund played his second season at the pro level in Sweden, spending a majority of the year on loan to Rogle in the Allsvenskan. The winger ranked second on the team with 16 goals, finishing with 28 points in 51 games at Sweden‘s second-tier level.

The 6’2 202-pound Bjorklund was a reliable scorer during his junior career, but has been unable to translate that production in limited opportunities in the Swedish Elite League. He has just one goal and four assists in 34 SEL games with Farjestad over the last two seasons, but has played in a limited role with the big club. With better numbers in his second year in the Allsvenskan, the winger is still working his way up the ranks in his home country.


Tim Erixon, D, 20
Acquired: 1st round, 23rd overall, 2009

Calgary’s most recent first round draft pick has emerged as one of the organization’s top overall prospects. Tim Erixon turned in another strong season for Skelleftea, averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game and playing in all situations in his third SEL season. His point production and role have increased each season and the 20-year-old defenseman finished this one with five goals and 19 assists in 48 games. His 24 points ranked second among defenders, trailing only David Rundblad‘s (OTT) explosive season.

The Swede is a mobile defenseman who plays with excellent hockey sense. The 6’2 Erixon has already shown he can be effective at the pro level in both ends of the rink, capable of playing the role of power play quarter back as well as a sound, defensive style.

After three years in the Elitserien, Erixon will likely head over to North America next year. The Flames’ blue line will be a unit in transition with several veteran free agents, so an NHL debut at some point next season is not out of the question.

Alexander Deilert, D, 22
Acquired: 7th round, 198th overall, 2008

Alexander Deilert spent his second season bouncing between the SEL and Allsvenskan. He had his most productive stint with Orebro in the Allsvenskan, scoring five goals and eight assists in 21 games.

Deilert was relegated to more of a checking role in the SEL as he averaged just over six minutes per game in his 27 games with Djurgarden. In 59 career games in the Elite league, Deilert has managed just two assists. The blueliner does not seem to have an immediate future in North America, but could get a bigger opportunity with Djurgarden next season to try to raise his stock.


Joni Ortio, G, 20
Acquired: 6th round, 171st overall, 2009

The Finnish netminder had a busy season, suiting up at five different levels of play over the course of the year. His best performance came at the World Junior Championships, where he ranked second with both his 1.86 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He was voted one of Finland‘s top three players by the coaches and was the player of the game in their overtime battle against the U.S.

In Finland, he had a few starts in the second tier league and junior level, but spent a majority of the season at the top level with TPS. In 15 SM-liiga games, Ortio earned a 2-7-3 record with a solid 3.12 goals against average and .910 save percentage.

The Flames appear to have hit on the sixth round pick, as the 20-year-old netminder has shown flashes of brilliance in net over the last two seasons. The 6’1 goalie has good reflexes and plays with great composure. He signed an amateur try-out contract with Abbotsford at the end of the season, appearing in one game but was lit up for six goals on 30 shots. Though he is not officially signed to an NHL deal yet, Ortio could challenge for starts in the AHL next season if he remains in North America.

NCAA

Nick Larson, LW, 21
Acquired: 4th round, 108th overall, 2008

In his sophomore season at Notre Dame, Nick Larson played throughout the lineup. He was most consistently deployed in a checking role at even strength, but also earned some time with the skill forwards on the man advantage. The power forward managed 10 goals and 19 points in 43 games for the Irish.

A native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, Larson was able to play in front of family and friends for Notre Dame at the Frozen Four in St. Paul. Larson notched an assist in the game but the Irish fell to the eventual National Champions from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

An intense and physical forward, Larson is able to flourish in a checking role. His solid production in his second season at Notre Dame could lead to a bigger role offensively as a junior with the Irish graduating several key contributors up front.

Bill Arnold, C, 18
Acquired: 4th round, 108th overall, 2010

Bill Arnold turned in a fine freshman season at Boston College, scoring 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. He emerged as the Eagles third line center by the end of the season was used on both the power play and penalty kill units.

A hard-working center who excels in the defensive zone, his solid production showed he is now slouch in the attacking zone either. Arnold ranked fifth in goals on Boston College and finished with the most points of any freshmen on the roster, including former high school teammate and 2010 first round pick Kevin Hayes (CHI). Arnold is a forward with great character and work ethic who should be an even bigger part of the Eagles’ lineup next season.

Aaron Marvin, C, 22
Acquired: 3rd round, 89th overall, 2006

Marvin finished his four-year career at St. Cloud State as the team’s captain. In 37 games as a senior, he scored 15 points and tied for fifth on the team with nine goals.

The 22-year-old center made more of name for himself earlier in his college career with reckless play, including injurious hits to Chay Genoway (MIN) and Blake Geoffrion (NAS) in WCHA play. A good skater with size at 6’2 and 191 pounds, that aggressive style will be a major part of Marvin’s game at the pro level. He could be a capable checker as a pro if he is able to control his physical play.

Marvin signed an amateur try-out contract with Abbotsford after his college season, appearing in three games with zero points. He is not yet signed a pro contract for next season, and Calgary would lose his rights if he remains unsigned through the summer.

C.J. Severyn, C, 21
Acquired: 7th round, 186th overall, 2007

Another four-year starter at the collegiate level, C.J. Severyn was a constant presence in the bottom six for Ohio State over the course of his NCAA career. Though he never played much of an offensive role for the Buckeyes, the center scored 25 goals and 41 points in his 139-game career, finishing with seven goals and 12 points in 37 games as a senior.

Not the biggest forward at 6’0 and 185 pounds, Severyn is not shy about battling in the tough areas around the net and along the boards. Calgary will have to sign the 21-year-old center this summer or they will lose his rights.

John Ramage, D, 20
Acquired: 4th round, 103rd overall, 2010

John Ramage had another solid season for the University of Wisconsin, finishing with one goal and 11 points in 37 games as a sophomore. He played in all situations for the Badgers, maintaining a solid plus-seven rating and finishing second on the team with 59 penalty minutes.

The defenseman plays with excellent hockey sense at both ends of the rink and always puts forth maximum effort. He has an average frame at 6’1, but is strong and not afraid to throw his weight around.

Ramage served as Team USA’s captain at the World Junior Championships, helping the team to the bronze medal. Though he did not register a point in the tournament, he finished with a plus-two rating and provided a reliable defensive presence for the Americans. He will likely develop for at least one more year at Wisconsin, but certainly has the potential to develop into a reliable, defensive-defenseman at the NHL level.