Calgary Flames Top 20 shows underrated system depth

By Brian Jung
Photo: Calgary Flames prospect Markus Granlund is part of the team's solid depth at center. (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Calgary Flames prospect Markus Granlund is part of the team’s solid depth at center. (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire)


After five seasons of not making the playoffs, the Calgary Flames appear to be on the verge of returning to post-season action. The emergences of Johnny Gaudreau and Josh Jooris have assisted in the drive for the playoffs and are among the top ranking prospects in the system. Meanwhile, the AHL’s Adirondack Flames also find themselves in the playoff hunt with key contributions from Emile Poirier and Joni Ortio. Michael Ferland and Ryan Culkin make their first appearances on the Top 20 list, while Sven Baertschi has graduated from prospect status.

1. (1) Johnny Gaudreau, LW, 8.0B
Drafted 4th round, 104th overall, 2011

Gaudreau continues to keep up an impressive pace with his consistent performance this season and is giving Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators solid competition for Rookie of the Year honors. Gaudreau has 40 points in 53 games and was one of the leading scorers for the Flames in January with seven points in eleven games. Coach Bob Hartley continues to use the New Jersey native on the power play and has recently played him alongside Sean Monahan, which has helped spark Monahan’s game.

2. (2) Sam Bennett, C, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 4th overall, 2014

Although Bennett is still recovering from shoulder surgery, he maintains the second spot in the rankings and is poised to take over first overall next year after Gaudreau graduates from prospect status this season. Bennett is on track with his recovery and Calgary could choose to add another potent player to the lineup when he is ready to return to action.  

3. (5) Markus Granlund, C, 7.0B
Drafted 2nd round, 45th overall, 2011

It has been a breakout season for Granlund who continues to move up the prospect ranks. Granlund has played in 33 games for Calgary this year, recording five goals and eight assists. The 21-year-old played a strong two-way game in his second NHL stint and his confidence increased with each game. Granlund has also gained a boost from the coaching staff with another recall due to the recent injury to David Wolf.

4. (NR) Drew Shore, C, 7.0B
Acquired via trade with Florida, 2015

The acquisition of Drew Shore adds another offensive talent to an organization that is developing a strong offensive core. Prior to being traded, Shore scored 30 points in 35 games with San Antonio and was voted to appear in the AHL All-Star game alongside Emile Poirier. Since suiting up for Adirondack, Shore has two goals and two assists in seven games.

5. (18) Josh Jooris, C, 6.5B
Free agent signing, 2013

Making a significant rise in the rankings, Jooris is another young talent that has made an impression this season. Jooris has been one of the best faceoff men for Calgary, as well as one of the top shot blockers in the league. Through 39 games, Jooris has 17 points and continues to demonstrate excellent speed, positioning and hustle on a nightly basis. The 24-year-old is also on track to graduate from prospect status at the end of the season.

6. (6) Tyler Wotherspoon, D, 6.5B
Drafted 2nd round, 57th overall, 2011

As the highest ranking defensive prospect for the Calgary Flames, Wotherspoon continues to improve his overall game as he readies himself for action in the NHL. The 21-year-old has been solid defending his zone this season while enhancing the offensive side of his game by jumping into the play more often and firing more shots on goal. As a result, Wotherspoon is having his best season AHL season with 18 points through 43 games.

7. (8) Emile Poirier, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 1st round, 22th overall, 2013

It has been an incredible rookie season for Poirier, which included his first AHL All-Star game appearance. The 20-year-old leads Adirondack in scoring with 29 points through 39 games and continues to impress the coaching staff with his transition to the pro ranks. Poirier has matured over the season, and has produced a team leading +11 rating. Poirier is shaping into another strong prospect for the Flames as he continues to steadily climb the rankings.

8. (9) Joni Ortio, G, 7.0C
Drafted 6th round, 171st overall, 2009

Ortio has once again provided solid goaltending this season while building confidence for himself and the organization. The 23-year-old goaltender ranks as one of the top goaltenders in the AHL this season. Through 33 games with Adirondack, Ortio has a 20-11-1 record with a 2.48 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Appearing in five games for Calgary this year, Ortio posted an impressive 4-1 record with one shutout and a respectable 1.98 goals against average. Ortio could find himself in a starting position for Calgary in the near future as he continues to climb the rankings.  

9. (10) Jon Gillies, G, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 75th overall, 2012

Another goaltender having an impressive season is Jon Gillies, who ranks among the top goaltenders in the NCAA. Playing in his junior year at Providence, Gillies is having the strongest season of his collegiate career. Consistency has been a trademark for Gillies, and through 25 games he had posted a .931 save percentage: the same high mark that he has recorded over the previous two seasons. The 21-year-old also earned Hockey East’s goaltender of the month honors for November and December and has recently been nominated for the Walter Brown Award for the best American-born Hockey player in New England.

10. (7) Patrick Sieloff, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2012

It has been an adjustment year for Sieloff after spending a season on the sideline recovering from an injury. In 26 games, Sieloff has just two points with a -7 rating. Sieloff has struggled at times with his defensive game this season and as a result Sieloff drops a few spots as he looks to regain his previous form and ranking.

11. (11) Morgan Klimchuk, LW, 7.0C
Drafted 1st round, 28th overall, 2013

Since being traded from the Regina Pats to Brandon Wheat Kings, Morgan Klimchuk has provided solid production and continues to hold promise as a young prospect moving up the ranks for Calgary. Klimchuk continues to post over a point-per-game average with 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games with Brandon and has a total of 46 points in 41 games of action in the WHL this season. The Wheat Kings have strengthened their roster with Klimchuk in the lineup, and have gone 11-3 since acquiring the 20-year-old winger.

12. (12) Bill Arnold, C, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 108th overall, 2010

Arnold has provided a solid performance in his AHL rookie season this year and has successfully made a smooth transition to the pro ranks from collegiate level. Through 39 games, Arnold ranks among the top in scoring for Adirondack with nine goals and twelve assists. The 22-year-old center plays a solid two-way game and carries a +8 rating, which is one of the highest for Adirondack.
13. (NR) Michael Ferland, C, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 133 overall, 2010

Ferland makes his first appearance on the Flames Top 20 list after gaining confidence from the organization this season and improving his play along the way. Ferland arrived at summer camp in stronger shape, which landed him his first NHL appearance this season. However Ferland sustained an upper-body injury in his first NHL game and required time on the sideline. Upon his return to action, Ferland recorded one point in ten games, and through 30 games with Adirondack, Ferland has recorded five goals and eight assists.

14. (NR) Ryan Culkin, D, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 124 overall, 2012

Culkin has made a successful transition carrying over his mobile puck-moving style of play from the CHL to the AHL this season. The 21-year-old is tied with Wotherspoon for the scoring lead among defensemen for Adirondack with 18 points in 37 games. He has shown a confident game on the blue line, especially on the power play where he has contributed ten assists and scored his only goal of the season. Culkin could develop into a valuable defender for the organization if he is able to build upon his impressive rookie season.

15. (20) Keegan Kanzig, D, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 67th overall, 2013

Since being acquired by the Calgary Hitmen, Kanzig has elevated his game to the next level. In 30 games for the Hitmen, Kanzig has two goals and ten assists with an impressive +26 rating. The 6’7 defender also made his physical presence felt registering 81 penalty minutes – which includes six fighting majors – since arriving in Calgary. Look for Kanzig to keep ascending the rankings as he continues to improve his overall game.
16. (14) Kenny Agostino, LW, 6.5C
Acquired via trade with Pittsburgh, 2013

Playing in his first AHL season, Kenny Agostino continues to adjust to the higher level of play since moving up from the collegiate ranks. The New Jersey native continues to work hard on a nightly basis resulting in five goals and ten assists through 39 games. Although Agostino started off January recording three points in two games, he had gone pointless in his last five games and recorded a total of four points in 17 games since the start of December.

17. (17) Mason McDonald, G, 6.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2014

Through 44 games in the QMJHL, Mason McDonald ranks among the top league goaltenders in goals against average, save percentage, and wins. The 18-year-old goaltender has posted a career-best 2.92 goals against average and his 23 wins are the most he has recorded in a season. McDonald will be heavily relied upon as Charlottetown pushes for post-season action.

18. (4) Max Reinhart, C, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 64th overall, 2010

Despite his efforts this season, Max Reinhart has dropped in rank due to a lack of production in his third AHL season. Reinhart has registered just 14 points in 41 games, compared to last season when he averaged almost a point-per-game with 63 points in 66 games. However, Reinhart finished the month of January on a three game point-streak and could be turning things around as Adirondack contends for the playoffs.

19. (13) Ben Hanowski, LW, 6.5C
Acquired via trade with Pittsburgh, 2013

Although Hanowski ranks among the top goal scorers for the Adirondack Flames this season, he has fallen in rank due to the stronger performances of the prospects in front of him. The 24-year-old forward has 21 points through 43 games in his second AHL season. However Hanowski has slowed down as of late, recording four points in eight games during January and has a combined total of nine points since the start of December.

20. (9) Mark Jankowski, C, 6.5C
Drafted 1st round, 21st overall, 2012

Jankowski has not shown significant progress year-over-year in his collegiate career. Now in his junior season at Providence College, he has not demonstrated the kinds of improvement needed to maintain his previous position in the rankings. Although Jankowski sits tied for fourth in scoring for the Providence Friars with 18 points in 23 games, he has not elevated his play to the level one would like to see from a first-round draft pick.

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