Flames Major Junior update

By Aaron Vickers

As the calendar inches closer to November, the
Canadian Hockey League schedule begins to hit full stride. With eight
players in the Western Hockey League, the Calgary Flames organization
will not have to go far to keep an eye on some of its more promising
prospects. In all, Calgary has 12 players playing in the CHL this
season, with three in the Ontario Hockey League and one in the
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With the season well over a month
old, some future Flames are on fire out of the gate, a few have
fizzled, and a pair are already battling injuries. Statistics are as of October 26th 2004.

Western Hockey League

Calgary’s last selection in the 2004 National Hockey League
Entry Draft, Kootenay Ice forward Adam
Cracknell
has enjoyed a relatively hot start to his 2004-05 Western Hockey
League season, after finding success on the Ice’s top two lines last
year. Cracknell, who was drafted as a 19-year-old by the Flames 279th
overall, finished last season behind only New York Rangers prospect
Nigel Dawes in scoring, registered
26 goals and 61 points in 72 games last season. Through 17
games this season, the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native sits behind
both Dawes and Dale Mahovsky
with 14 points. Offense isn’t the only department in which the 6’1,
190lb forward is contributing. With 32 minutes in penalties, Cracknell
sits only a minor infraction behind Casey
Lee
for the team lead in penalties. Perhaps the play of the
right winger has inspired Cracknell’s Kootenay Ice, as they continue to
roll in the Western Hockey League, topping the Western Conference with
20 points.

Matt
Schneider
,
the only Calgary Flames prospect spending his season skating for a CHL
squad in the United States, is off to an extremely familiar season with
the Tri-City Americans. Last season with the club, the Vernon, BC
native registered 23 points in 69 games, or at a 0.33
points-per-game pace. Through 11 games this season, the 6’6 Schneider
has registered 2 goals and 4 points, or a 0.36 point-per-game
pace. Schneider, whose Americans are off to the second worst start in
the Western Hockey League with eight points in 11 games and 24 goals to
show for their offensive output, sits at -4 on the season, second to last
on the club. Statistically speaking, this season won’t be as important
to Schneider, the 200th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft,
as developing his coordination and skill within his massive frame.

The Calgary Flames have only one European prospect playing in
the Canadian Hockey League this season, Finn Aki
Seitsonen
. Playing for the Prince Albert Raiders, Seitsonen has seen
himself slide from the center ice position, to which he is most
familiar with, to the right wing on the top line alongside Montreal
Canadiens 2004 first round selection Kyle
Chipchura.
Seitsonen spent much of last
season buried behind Chipchura and New York Islanders prospect Jeremy Colliton. The adjustment for
Seitsonen has been difficult at both ends of the ice for the native of
Riihmiski, Finland. While Seitsonen sits third on the Raiders in
scoring with five goals and nine points in 15 games, his
offensive totals leave something to be desired for a player that has
spent time on the club’s top line. Defensively, the 6’3 winger sits -4
on the season, with the team low shared by rookies Marcel Ulehla and Josh Elder, who are both -5
respectively.

Despite playing for an offensively inept Kamloops Blazers squad,
which has scored more goals than only three of its Western Conference
rivals and five clubs in the entire Western Hockey League, 2003 NHL
Entry Draft selection Cam Cunning is off to a torrid
pace to start the 2004-05 season. Cunning, who has skated in 14 games
for the Blazers this season, has registered nine goals, over twice as
many as his closest teammate, and behind only five others in the
league, including Calgary Flames prospect and Red Deer Rebels
defenseman Dion Phaneuf. The Powell River, BC native is almost certain
to eclipse his WHL career high in goals scored, set last season with
his 14 tallies in 65 games last season. Although the Blazers seem to be
struggling, and off to the third worst start in the league, both
Cunning and fellow Calgary Flames prospect Kris Hogg seem to be finding success. Hogg, a left winger, has one less point then Cunning, and sits third on the club in points with 11 in 13 games. Cunning, who has skated in 14 games, sits at 12
points and second on the roster, behind only Jarret Lukin, who has scored only
two goals this season, but has 11 assists. Hogg may sit one point
behind Cunning in the scoring race, but has a clear and decisive edge
when it comes to time spent off the ice. This season the 6’1 Cunning
has spent a modest 19 minutes in the penalty box, while Hogg holds
second on the club with 33 minutes in penalties.

When selected in the third round by the Calgary Flames, General
Manager Darryl Sutter was hoping that Moose Jaw Warrior Dustin
Boyd

would explode offensively the following season. Possessing all the
offensive skills necessary to be an effective two-way forward, the
Flames, and Boyd himself, are waiting for the offensive explosion
predicted by the former Midget scoring sensation. While Boyd is scoring
at a higher pace then that of his 2003-04 campaign with the Warriors,
which saw him register 38 points in 72 games, his offensive
totals aren’t overwhelming. A positive sign for Boyd, though, is that
he is currently leading his offensively inept Moose Jaw team in points,
and shares the club lead in goals. Boyd’s current totals have him on
pace to average a point-per-game this season, with five goals and 12
points in 12 games this season. Boyd, named earlier this month
to the WHL’s roster for the CHL Canada/Russia Challenge, may find his
plus/minus discouraging, as he is a disappointing -9. Perhaps what is
more discouraging for Boyd is the fact that the organization is winless
through its first 12 games, posting an awful 0-9-3-1 record, while
being outscored 63-34 this season.

6’2, 200lb center Tyler Johnson is off to an impressive
start to his season with Head Coach Brent Sutter and the Red Deer
Rebels. Johnson, who spent part of last season as a teammate to Dustin
Boyd and the Moose Jaw Warriors, has seen his role with the
organization increase early this season, as he is already closing in on
his career high in assists, with his goal total not far behind. Last
season, the 173rd overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft split
nine goals and 20 points between 35 games with the Rebels and
22 with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Calgary, Alberta native is off to
the best start of his junior career, with four goals and 11 points in 14 games. Johnson, whose Rebels sit behind only the Medicine Hat Tigers and Kootenay Ice in the standings this season, are
off to an equally impressive start. The man leading the Rebels to such
an impressive start is 2003 NHL Entry Draft first round selection Dion
Phaneuf
,
who has seen his offensive game develop by leaps and bounds. It has
been publicly stated by General Manager and Head Coach Darryl Sutter
that Phaneuf was returned to the Rebels this season only due to the NHL
lockout, stating that he was ready for the challenges that professional
hockey brings. It appears as though as Sutter is right, as his brother
Brent is thanking him for the gift of Phaneuf. Through 14 games the 6’2
defenseman has amassed 17 points, but an even more impressive
11 goals. Phaneuf’s 11 goals this season has him slotted third in the
league for the category, behind only Saskatoon Blades forward Ryan Keller and Nigel Dawes of the
Kootenay Ice. Among defensemen, Phaneuf has nearly triple that of the
next defenseman, rookie defenseman Andrej Meszaros of the Vancouver Giants, Shea Weber of the Kelowna Rockets
and Braydon Coburn of the
Portland Winter Hawks, each with four on the season. It is also
interesting to note that Phaneuf, despite playing a rough style of
game, has only 21 minutes in penalties, a far cry from the team lead
held by captain Colin Fraser,
with 43.

Ontario Hockey League

Despite playing in only nine games for the Windsor Spitfires, 6’4 225-pound forward Ryan Donally has made his presence felt in the Ontario Hockey League. Unfortunately for the Spitfires, though, he’s only been able to do it through nine games this season. Donally,
the captain in Windsor, has missed four games due to a knee injury
for which he will go undergo minor surgery, and is expected
out of the lineup for at least a month. Despite this injury, though,
Donally still sits second on the team in minutes in penalties, while
adding one goal and three points in his nine games of action.
Last season, Donally recorded 22 points in 44 games for the
Spitfires.

You would think that skating on the only undefeated team in the
Canadian Hockey League would have any player excited, but unfortunately
for Calgary Flames prospect Brandon Prust, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Prust, an overage selection by the Calgary Flames in the second round of the 2004 NHL
Entry Draft, has played in but seven of the 13 games for the London
Knights this season. Prust has played both center and left wing
early this season and has seen only action in only seven games due to an
injury suffered in his first shift of the season. Back in the fold,
Prust has now registered three points in the six games. A native of London, Prust
will have every opportunity to excel offensively with the likes of
Corey Perry and Rob Schremp as potential linemates.
Returning to add a physical element to the undefeated, record-setting
London squad, Prust has averaged 2.43 minutes in penalties a game,
fourth on the club.

Peterborough Petes forward Jamie Tardif is off to an
incredible start to the 2004-05 Ontario Hockey League season. Tardif leads his Peterborough squad in points, registering 18 in 15
games after putting up 53 in 62 games last season, finishing
behind only Liam Reddox.
Tardif seemingly has stepped up his offensive contributions after an
impressive offseason in which he had a strong showing at the Calgary
Flames Developmental Camp in August. Tardif’s point totals this season
place him amongst the OHL’s best, sitting in the top ten in scoring,
ahead of the likes of Florida Panthers 2003 first rounder Anthony Stewart and Philadelpha
Flyers prospect Mike Richards.
The
only discouraging stat that one may find on Tardif’s line is the fact
that he currently sits at -7 on a team that boasts 2005 draft eligible
Daniel Ryder, who sits at +6.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League

The Calgary Flames lone prospect in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League is Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defenseman Adam Pardy.
Pardy, who stands at 6’2 and over 200lbs, is playing in his second
season of Major Junior hockey. Pardy, who had 16 points in 68
games last season, is off to a start that should easily eclipse both
personal bests for the Bonavista, Newfoundland native. Through 17 games
this season, Pardy already has 7 points including three goals,
one shy of his career best set last season. Pardy’s steady offensive
contributions see him tied for the team lead in scoring among
defensemen with Neil Smith,
and tied for fifth in overall scoring. Strong, defensive play has also
been a trademark of Pardy this season, who is a modest -2 on the
season, playing for a squad that boasts a team -55. Another overage
selection for the Calgary Flames in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Pardy’s
good start to the season may have unveiled something that Flames scouts
saw in him last year.

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Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.