In line with their recent drafting tendencies, the Calgary Flames have a number of top prospects playing in the Western Hockey League. Headlined by top prospect Sven Baertschi, Calgary also has a pair of forward prospects vying for spots on Team Canada's 2012 World Junior roster.
Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired: 1st round (13th overall) in 2011
Sven Baertschi has very quickly shown why he was worthy of the 13th overall selection in the 2011 draft. Due to his time at Flames training camp, combined with an early season hip injury, Baertschi missed a significant amount of time at the start of the year. Despite these challenges he has managed to put up some impressive numbers. In just 24 games played this year Baertschi has posted 12 goals and 42 assists. His stunning rate of 2.25 points per game is best in the WHL.
Baertschi is looking to build on what was a very strong rookie season with the Portland Winterhawks. In fact he holds the distinction of being the highest scoring Winterhawk rookie since Marian Hossa. Like many young players who have had a taste of the NHL, the transition back to junior has been tough. Baertschi has admitted, however, that he is enjoying more of a leadership role on what is a young Portland team. Back playing on a line with promising St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie, Baertschi is enjoying great chemistry. Baertschi himself has attributed much of his offensive production to the play of Rattie.
Baertschi is in the right place for this stage of his development. By remaining in junior he can continue to improve on his overall game, as well as gaining some size to his frame. While not a physically imposing player, Baertschi does not turn away from physical play, and some added bulk will allow him to better excel at the professional level.
Michael Ferland, LW, Brandon Wheat Kings
Acquired: 5th round (133rd overall) in 2010
Michael Ferland is yet another Flames prospect who has had an outstanding start to the 2011-12 WHL season. With 17 goals and 27 assists in 30 games, Ferland finds himself in the top 10 of WHL scoring for the first time in his junior career.
To go along with an already solid start to the season, Ferland has been chosen for the Team Canada 41-man selection camp. Along with linemate, and Ottawa Senators prospect, Mark Stone, Ferland hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Wheat Kings Keith Aulie and Brayden Schenn (PHI) and represent Canada at the World Junior Championship tournament this year in Alberta.
Known as a rugged physical winger, the offensive outburst of this season may come as a surprise to some. Though he may never be known as a prolific scorer, he still has the potential to have a promising career at the pro level. Ferland just needs to continue to improve his skating abilities and develop his power forward game.
Max Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice
Acquired: 3rd round (64th overall) in 2010
Max Reinhart is looking to build on what was an incredibly successful 2010-11 season with the Kootenay Ice. Last year Reinhart was a major component in the ice's run through the WHL playoffs and all the way to the semi-finals of the Memorial Cup. He also finished second overall in WHL regular season scoring last year. In 28 games this year, Reinhart has led the Ice with 16 goals and 21 assists.
Reinhart had a great training camp with Calgary, and showed both maturity and poise in the 2011 Young Stars Tournament in Pentiction, BC. The Flames organization seems to recognize Reinhart's ability as a go-to offensive player, since he played in a top line role in every tournament game that he dressed. Unfortunately Max Reinhart never got to build on his early successes in training camp, as he suffered an apparent allergic reaction and was sent back to Kootenay on Sept 26th. The setback doesn't appear to have dampened the spirits of the young center, as he has continued to be the offensive leader on the Eastern Conference leading Kootenay Ice.
Reinhart is yet another of Calgary's junior prospects that could be wearing the maple leaf at the 2012 World Junior Championship being chosen for the 41-man selection camp. The World Junior selection comes on the heels of Reinhart being named to team WHL for the Subway Super Series where he managed 1 goal in the 2 games he appeared in.
Patrick Holland, RW, Tri-City Americans
Acquired: 7th round (193rd overall) in 2010
As Calgary's final selection in the 2010 entry draft, Patrick Holland could be easily overlooked. Not known for having an elite scoring touch, Holland has still managed nine goals and 22 assists in 28 games this year. For most players, this would be a respectable start to the year, but what makes Holland a solid professional prospect isn't his scoring touch.
Playing the third line checker role to perfection, Holland is called upon every night to line up against the opposing team's top offensive players. This is a role that Holland excels at, and his ability as a shut down winger is a major reason that the Tri-City Americans find themselves at the top of the WHL standings. The best example of Holland's style of play is a recent 6-1 Americans victory over the Regina Pats. In that game, Holland not only shut-down the Pats top scorer, Los Angeles Kings prospect Jordan Weal, but also contributed one goal and a pair of assists.
Originally thought to be an option for this year's Team Canada world junior team, Holland's name was left off the roster for the selection camp. If he is going to continue being an effective player as his career goes forward, he'll need to add bulk to his frame in order to better contain players at the pro level. Assuming that Holland is able to translate his two way game to the professional game, he may be seen as a bona fide late round steal.
Joey Leach, D, Kootenay Ice
Acquired: 3rd round (73rd overall) in 2010
So far in his junior career Joey Leach has been primarily known as a shutdown defender, and has been able to be an effective part of a championship Kootenay Ice team. This year with the graduation of Brayden Mcnabb (BUF) to the AHL level Leach finds himself being called upon to be the top defender for the Ice. With the increased ice time that comes along with these expectations has come increased point totals. Appearing in all 30 of Kootenay's games this year Joey Leach has lead the defense with six goals and 15 assists.
Already surpassed last year's goal total of five, Leach is poised to see career numbers in both goals and assists. Likely in his last season with the Ice, the increased role as a top defender will be invaluable in helping him to make the jump to the AHL next year. With some increased size and a continued commitment to his two way game should see Leach develop into a dependable defensive defenseman.
Tyler Wotherspoon, D, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired: 2nd round (57th overall) in 2011
Already known as a strong and intense competitor, Tyler Wotherspoon has been called upon in 2012 to fulfill a much greater role for the Portland Winterhawks. Playing in all situations he has already surpassed his previous point totals with four goals and nine assists in 29 games. The shutdown defender, if he continues to show an offensive touch, should improve his value beyond that of purely defensive defenseman.
Turner Elson, LW, Red Deer Rebels
Acquired: Signed as a free agent, September 22nd, 2011
Elson may have been passed over in the 2011 draft, but according to Flames management, he was very much on their radar. Seen as a very smart and hard working player the Flames have high hopes for their post draft acquisition. Already with a strong start to the season, Elson has already posted 13 goals and 12 assists for the Red Deer Rebels. Combined with a penchant for dropping the gloves, his new offensive output puts forward an intriguing skill set for the young winger. If Elson continues to develop along these lines he may translate into a hard-hitting two-way winger at the professional level.
Laurent Brossoit, G, Edmonton Oil Kings
Acquired: 6th round (164th overall) in 2011
Drafted in the later rounds of 2011, Laurent Brossoit was something of an unknown. As backup to Jon Groenheyde in Edmonton scouts never really got a chance to see what Brossoit was truly capable of. So far in the 2011-12 season he has had his chance to shine and has not disappointed. In 28 games so far Broissoit has put forward 19 wins with a solid 2.38 goals against average and an impressive .915 save percentage.
For goaltenders the road to the NHL can be a long one. Brossoit will likely be no different than other young men before him. Standing tall at 6'3, and possessing quick reflexes with strong technique, he has all the tools to be a starting goaltender at the professional level. With time he should receive his opportunity to prove it
Article written by Kevin Mattinson.