‏Decision time looms for several key Calgary Flames NCAA prospects

By Jason Lewis
John Gilmour - Calgary Flames

Photo: Calgary Flames prospect John Gilmour and the Providence Friars won’t get a chance to repeat as national champions but it was a solid development season for the two-way defenseman (courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

 

The Calgary Flames have five NCAA prospects. All five are eligible to be signed to pro contracts, but three of them have completed senior seasons that will force Brad Treliving and crew into decision-making time. While it remains to be seen what will happen with the likes of Mark Jankowski or John Gilmour, we are starting to see the blending of the old management’s building plan with the potentially new and different blueprint of the current management.

How they handle these contracts will be interesting to see play out over the next several weeks as the Flames gear heavily towards the future. Many of them have had positive trajectories up to and including this season, which only furthers the difficulty in the decision making process.

Elsewhere, the Flames have seen two European prospects hit seasons in professional leagues with a steep learning curve.

‏As seasons wrap up around, there will be plenty to reflect and project on for the various prospects around the country and the world.

NCAA

Mark Jankowski, C, Providence College (Hockey East)
‏Drafted 1st round, 21st overall, 2012

‏Has there been a more controversial pick in a Flames first round in the last five or six years? When Jankowski was selected late in the 2012 first round, it was odd given he was ranked 43rd by ISS among North American skaters. Be that as it may, Jankowski has put together a nice NCAA career for himself, leading the Friars to a first-ever national title, and finishing his collegiate career off with a bang in 2015-16. He achieved career highs in goals and points this season, going just beyond the point per game mark with 40 in 38.

It was an altogether impressive season for a player that many had theorized the Flames would let go to free agency prior to Brad Treliving expressing his desire to sign the 21-year old in an interview back in November.  Sadly, the Friars’ alternate captain will not be getting back to back NCAA titles, as Minnesota-Duluth shocked the defending champs in the first round on Friday. Now, for Flames fans, Jankowski watch begins as the Flames attempt to sign their first-round project prospect. The Flames will collect a compensatory 2017 second-round pick if they choose not to sign him by August 15th.

John Gilmour, D, Providence College (Hockey East)
‏Drafted 7th round, 198th overall, 2013

‏The other victim of the dramatic Minnesota-Duluth double OT shocker was senior Providence defenseman John Gilmour.  The 22-year old has actually been a very nice surprise for the Flames this season, and upon Providence’s unexpected exit he may very well get signed. He was a key anchor for the Friars blueline this year. While he is a bit on the older side, given his strong upward trajectory it would be hard to imagine the Flames not taking a low-risk chance on him coming out of college and making an impact. He set career highs in goals, assists, and points for Providence. He was the squad’s second leading defensive scorer, which included time on the team’s top power play unit.

Brandon Hickey, D, Boston University (Hockey East)
‏Drafted 3rd round, 64th overall, 2014

‏It has been a fairly big season for Brandon Hickey. He attended the World Junior Championships in Finland with Team Canada, his Boston University team qualified for the NCAA tournament, and in the process he has become a more prominent prospect in the Calgary pipeline. While his offensive numbers cooled from 2014-15 – losing 71 points from Jack Eichel and 61 points from Evan Rodrigues obviously hurts the entire squad – Hickey has been a big fixture on the second pairing for BU.

He has been a consistent play driving force and puck mover that has played all situations for coach David Quinn. With that in mind, there still is some question to Hickey’s defensive game overall. He can move the puck, skate, and command a power play unit well, but there is some work to be done defensively. With a promising Boston University squad’s season over, it seems likely that Hickey will return next year to Boston. Calgary is loaded with defensive depth and there are still some wrinkles to be smoothed out in his game.

Matt DeBlouw, C, Michigan State (Big Ten)
‏Drafted 7th round, 186th overall, 2012

‏Matt DeBlouw and Michigan State’s altogether forgettable season has come to a close. The older Spartans squad is going to be losing a large number of upperclassmen, and DeBlouw will be among them. The senior forward has had a positive career trajectory, but has rarely been a key cog in his team’s offense. This year he finished sixth among forwards in scoring and fourth in goals. He has a better defensive game than his numbers may imply, and that alone may earn him a “show me” contract with the Flames.

Tim Harrison, RW, Colgate University (ECAC)
‏Drafted 6th round, 157th overall, 2013

‏Thanks to NCAA rules, the Colgate forward did not attend the Flames development camp this year, much to the dismay of fans who wanted to get a look at the 2013 draftee. Be that as it may, 2015-16 has been a step forward for the big winger. He has seen his role elevate into the top six, and even the top line at times with the Raiders.

Colgate, however, was by no means a powerhouse squad, and Harrison on the top line may point to how thin the team actually was at forward. He is a big physical presence with a bit of chip in offense to him, and that showed through this year as he hit career highs in points and goals. If he chooses to return next season for his senior year he can expect an even more difficult year and an even more elevated role. The top four scorers on Colgate are all graduating seniors. For the record, Harrison was sixth on the team in scoring. It could be a very rough year in 2016-17.

Europe

Rushan Rafikov, D, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
‏Drafted 7th round, 187th overall, 2013

‏Any time you get a 20-year old playing in a men’s professional league it is going to lead to some tough growing pains. That seems to be the case for Calgary’s big Russian defenseman currently playing in his home country. Rafikov split his time this year between Admiral Vladivostok and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, logging a total of 33 KHL games. While there was a stretch in the middle portion of the season where Rafikov was eating an upwards of 20 minutes night with Admiral, after he was traded to Lokomotiv that changed significantly. His minutes dipped into the 10-12 minute range on a deeper squad, and he was eventually sent down to the Russian minor leagues with Loko’s affiliate squad for the end of the season and their playoff run. While there is little to no offensive upside with Rafikov, it is somewhat impressive that he was a KHL regular for most of the year at such a young age. He is signed with Yaroslavl through next season.

Adam Ollas Mattsson, D, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
‏Drafted 6th round, 175th overall, 2014

‏The 19-year old rearguard spent the majority of his 2015-16 season bouncing between bottom pair and press box for Djurgården of the SHL, only making the roster for one of the club’s playoff games. He still figures to be a decent defensive-minded asset for the future, and this season he was simply shuffled down on the depth chart to seventh defenseman. Tough to ask more of a young player who is still learning the game. Ollas Mattsson also made Team Sweden’s World Junior squad, though he suffered an injury that limited him to five games.

Prospect of the Month

Andrew Mangiapane - Calgary FlamesIt was a pretty darn good March for Flames junior prospect Andrew Mangiapane. The Barrie Colts forward posted 22 points, seven goals, and 15 assists en route to surpassing 50 goals and 50 assists for a total of 106 points on the regular season. With those seven goals he became one of only three OHL players to surpass the 50 goal mark this year, the other two being Christian Dvorak (ARI) and Alex DeBrincat (2016). He also received an entry level deal from the Calgary Flames to further add to his already good month and his wonderful 2015-16 regular season in the OHL.