Flames Top 20 prospects

By Aaron Vickers

Calgary Flames Top Twenty

It was clear during the 2004 National Hockey
League Entry Draft that Head Coach and General Manager
Darryl Sutter was making a strong attempt to put his stamp on this
organization.  He did so by selecting players of his favored gritty mold such as Kris
Chucko, Dustin Boyd and Aki Seitsonen, adding to the likes of Dion
Phaneuf and Eric Nystrom already owned by the team. It would be
hard to argue that there’s an organization with the same heart, hustle
and desire in its prospects as the Calgary Flames.

Stocked with heart and hustle, however, the
organization is short on almost everything else. Aside from a
handful of prospects, the system is lacking pure offensive skill
and depth, the result of several years of poor drafting. It seems as
though the corner may have been turned by the organization in the latest draft,
as it added 10 new hopefuls.

Calgary Flames Top 20 at a Glance

1. Dion Phaneuf, D
2. Kris Chucko, LW
3. Tim Ramholt, D
4. Eric Nystrom, LW
5. Brent Krahn, G
Dustin Boyd, C
7. Andrei Taratukhin, C
8. Aki Seitsonen, C
9. Yuri Trubachev, C
10. Andrei Medvedev, G
11. Ruslan Zainullin, RW
12. Brandon Prust, C/LW
13. Jamie Tardif, C
14. Kristopher Hogg, LW
15. Tomi Maki, RW
16. Ryan Donally, LW
17. Brian McConnell, C
18. Curtis McElhinney, G
19. Adam Cracknell, RW
20. Emanual Peter, C

1. Dion Phaneuf, D

Birthdate: 04/10/1985

Height: 6’3

Weight: 205

2003-04 Club: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Selected 9th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

There isn’t a player in the Calgary Flames
organization with the potential to match that of Dion Phaneuf. Widely
regarded as the top defensive prospect in the world, Phaneuf has the
potential to be a Calgary Flames franchise player, a banner similarly
held by current Flame Jarome Iginla. There may not
be a defenseman as polished in the hard-hitting Western Hockey League.
Much like the player he is often compared to, Scott Stevens, Phaneuf
is not afraid to get mixed up physically, and certainly has yet to come
across competition that he’s found intimidating. Clearly a leader on
the ice, Phaneuf contributes at both ends of the ice, providing an
offensive flair that compliments his defensive play nicely. Simply put,
Phaneuf excels defensively, has enough potential offensively to
organize a power play at the NHL level, and plays with an edge rivaled
only by his intelligence on the ice. If ever there was a franchise defenseman in waiting, it is Dion Phaneuf.

2. Kris Chucko, LW

Birthdate: 03/13/1986

Height: 6’2

Weight: 190

2003-04 Club: Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL)
Selected 24th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Chucko, a graduate of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, was selected
early in the draft along with Silverback teammate Travis Zajac. He has immense
potential to translate his game to the NHL level. Flames Head Coach and General Manager
Darryl Sutter drafted Chucko on the basis that
he’d fit in exceptionally well with the Flames system. In fact, the
Burnaby, BC native embodies the spirit that Sutter himself displayed as
a professional. The Flames, and Sutter in particular, hope that Chucko
will be able to display more of an offensive flair then his new boss,

3. Tim Ramholt, D

Birthdate: 11/02/1984
Height: 6’1
Weight: 194
2003-04 Club: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Selected 39th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

The Flames top-ranked European prospect, Tim Ramholt, moved across the pond from Zurich, Switzerland to play with the
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
for the 2003-04 campaign. It was a move deemed a success, as he acclimatized to not only North American hockey, but the culture as well. The Calgary
Flames have the luxury of coaxing this Swiss star into the American
Hockey League, as there is no rush to develop Ramholt, or any other
defenseman in the organization for that matter, given the depth the
Flames have been able to amass at the National Hockey League level.
With Calgary looking to share their AHL affiliate with the Carolina
Hurricanes, there certainly is no rush to move Ramholt to the
professional ranks, as he isn’t guaranteed to see as much ice time as
the Flames would necessarily like. Ramholt, as expected, will return to
Cape Breton to play one more season as a 20-year-old with the
Screaming Eagles.

4. Eric Nystrom, LW

Birthdate: 02/14/1983
Height: 6’1
Weight: 195
2003-04 Club: University Of Michigan (CCHA)

Selected 10th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

While Eric Nystrom has excellent hockey bloodlines, he’s
struggled over the course of the last two seasons with the University of Michigan. After
an excellent freshmen season, Nystrom’s offensive totals failed to
improve. His offensive numbers have dropped so significantly that his likely production at the NHL
level has come into question as well. Last season, Nystrom
scored eight fewer goals then his freshman campaign, registering a
mediocre 10 goals and 22 total points. The good thing for both Nystrom
and the Flames, though, is the fact that the primary objective in
drafting him was not necessarily motivated by his offensive
capabilities. The Syosset, New York native plays an aggressive, two-way
brand of hockey, not unlike many of the prospects already in the Flames system. The difference in Nystrom lies in his hockey
sense. Whether or not it’s fair to say that Nystrom’s offensive talent
has gone missing may be questioned, but certainly his other attributes,
his dedication, physical play, and attitude may very well offer enough
to the Calgary franchise to be a regular player.

5. Brent Krahn, G

Birthdate: 04/02/1982
Height: 6’4
Weight: 206
2003-04 Club: Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL)/San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
Selected 9th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft

If Brent Krahn represents all that is to come out of the 2000
NHL Entry Draft for the Calgary Flames, the organization should be
disappointed. That’s not to say that Krahn, the Flames first round
selection in 2000, will be a disappointment. Krahn was drafted
from another Calgary club, the WHL Hitmen, had struggled greatly with an
injury to his knee cap, which saw him play a mere 60 regular season
games between 2000-01 and 2002-03. Krahn,
however, has appeared to turn the corner with his injury, and seems to
be back on track in terms of development. After turning pro, though, he ran into another problem. The Flames lacked
a sole affiliate in the American Hockey League, so Krahn was forced to split time
during the 2003-04 season between three clubs; the Las Vegas Wranglers
of the ECHL, and the Lowell Lock Monsters and San Antonio Rampage of
the AHL. Failing to find a regular stay on each team, he couldn’t find a

Dustin Boyd, C

Birthdate: 7/16/1986

Height: 6’0

Weight: 180

2003-04 Club: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Selected 98th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

There’s no disputing that Dustin Boyd has the potential to be
one of the more interesting selections in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Boyd, a late addition to the 2004 Canadian Junior Summer Development Camp
held in Calgary, possesses a wide variety of tools, highlighted most by
his aggressiveness at both ends of the ice. Never one to take a shift
off, Boyd appears to possess both the drive and the will to achieve and
excel at not only the Western Hockey League level, but in the
professional ranks as well. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native also
possesses the motivation to improve himself and his position within the
organization. Simply put, his hunger appears to be his biggest
attribute, off the ice at least. On the ice, Boyd is good at
everything, but doesn’t necessarily excel in any facet of the game. One
thing that still remains a mystery for the Warrior is his offensive
potential, which seems to have all but evaporated since he’s left the
MJHL to play for Moose Jaw two seasons ago. Again, with his confidence
and drive, though, one might not be surprised if Boyd turns out an
incredible season with his WHL club.

7. Andrei Taratukhin, C

Birthdate: 03/29/1984
Height: 6’0
Weight: 190
2003-04 Club: Omsk Avangard (RSL)
Selected 41st overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

Leading a trio of Russians drafted by the Calgary Flames in the
2001 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Andrei Taratukhin may yet
provide the best offensive talent in terms of pure skill among all
Calgary Flame prospects. Highly touted as an offensive dynamo,
Taratukhin not only relies on his offensive abilities, but also his
strong work ethic and excellent hockey sense. While he may not be as
flashy as most Russians to come from across the pond to play in North
America, Taratukhin has the sheer ability to make his linemates look
like gold on the ice. His ability to make the ‘unnoticed play’ only
reinforces his abilities in terms of hockey smarts. Arguably the only
aspect holding back Taratukhin, in terms of a Calgary Flames debut, may
be the lack of an IIHF-NHL Transfer
Agreement. Certainly the Calgary Flames would love to bring this
prospect over to North America, and get him accustomed to life in North

Aki Seitsonen, C

Birthdate: 02/05/1986
Height: 6’3
Weight: 206
2003-04 Club: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Selected 118th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Seitsonen, a member of the Prince Albert Raiders by way of
Riihmski, Finland, was buried under a pair of promising young centers
in Prince Albert; Kyle Chipchura and Jeremy Colliton. Nonetheless, the
Flames managed to see something in the 6’3 center, who showed an
offensive flair before coming over to North America. Seitsonen, who put
up 40 points through 71 games will be looking to improve
upon those marks this coming season, although may still find himself
limited to his familiar role on the third line. Perhaps all was not lost with Seitsonen being behind such quality
players, as he has been given an opportunity to learn the
defensive aspects of the game, under Head Coach Peter Anholt, something
that will be a necessity under Coach Sutter’s regime.

Yuri Trubachev, C

Birthdate: 11/14/1981

Height: 5’9

Weight: 182

2003-04 Club:  Cherepovets Severstal (RSL)

Selected 164th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

When drafted, Yuri Trubachev was considered a long-range prospect. While not much was
expected of the Cherepovets native at the time, expectations may have
risen a fair bit given the performance of Trubachev in the 2003 World
Junior Championships, in which he finished with 10 points in six
games. The tournament may have exaggerated Trubachev’s
offensive ability, however, as he is better described as having average overall
skills. Often said to be of the defense-first mentality, this could
simply be a result of the young center playing a responsible role on
Cherepovets Severstal’s bottom two lines. Trubachev’s liabilities are
few, although certainly his size is one. His ability to handle physical
activity is still questioned, and whether or not the Calgary Flames
organization will be able to coax Trubachev over to North America
remains to be seen.

10. Andrei Medvedev, G

Birthdate: 04/01/1983
Height: 6’1
Weight: 230
2003-04 Club: Spartak Moscow (RSL)
Selected 56th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

Only two aspects seem to stand out with Russian goaltender Andrei
Medvedev; his gold medal
performances against Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in
2002 and 2003, and his conditioning, or lack thereof. Lack of stamina
and hefty frame have long been a concern for not only the Calgary
Flames, but for Spartak Moscow as well. Medvedev has yet to earn a
full-time role with Spartak, despite putting up sparkling numbers.
Whether or not this is due to concern that he simply cannot handle the
physicality of being a starting goaltender, it is unclear. While his
size may leave little for opposing shooters to look at, his lateral
movement, as well as his ability to recover from scrambles leaves
something to be desired. While his fast reflexes certainly help him
hide these faults, they are readily exposed over the course of a hockey
game. Medvedev is strong mentally, though, and doesn’t let minor
mistakes rattle him. In fact, his mentality while standing between the
pipes may be the strongest attribute the Moscow native possesses. Medved still will not be named Spartak Moscow’s starting
goaltender, as he is again destined to split duty with another, Los
Angeles Kings property Alexei Volkov.

Ruslan Zainullin, RW

Birthdate: 02/12/1982
Height: 6’2
Weight: 206
2003-04 Club: Dynamo Moscow (RSL)
Acquired via trade with the Atlanta
Thrashers in 2002

Forever linked to Marc Savard, Ruslan Zainullin was acquired
from the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal that saw a disgruntled Savard
leave Calgary. While most Flames fans are well aware of Savard’s
successes, they’ve all but written off the return of their former
center. Zainullin, for his part, still very much enjoys an
excellent upside. Possessing all the qualities of an offensive force,
Zainullin has yet to make an attempt to put them all together at the
National Hockey League level. Drafted in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft,
patience might be running out on this forward to make his debut with
the Calgary Flames.

Brandon Prust, C, LW

Birthdate: 03/16/1984
Height: 5’11
Weight: 195
2003-04 Club: London Knights (OHL)
Selected 70th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

London Knight forward Brandon Prust was selected by the Calgary
Flames as a 20-year-old in the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He struggled to put all the necessary aspects of his game
together until the 2003-04 season, which intrigued the Flames enough to
make him a gamble at 70th overall. While Prust lacks any true offensive
potential, he certainly possesses enough energy to be relied on as a heart and
soul type player who is willing to go to any length on the
ice if he feels it will help give his club any sort of physical or
mental advantage over the competition.

13. Jamie Tardif, C

Birthdate: 01/23/1985
Height: 6’0
Weight: 210
2003-04 Club: Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Selected 112th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

Offensively, Jamie Tardif has been stellar for the low scoring
Peterborough Petes. In fact, Tardif finished with an impressive 53
points in 64 games. Defensively, though, Tardif was second
worst with a -23 rating. With only one player on the club with a positive rating playing
over 25 games, the rating likely reflects a team effort than Tardif’s
unwillingness to contribute in his own end. Luckily though, the
Welland, Ontario native will have a chance to redeem himself as the
Petes top center next season.

14. Kristopher Hogg, LW

Birthdate: 06/07/1985

Height: 5’10

Weight: 174

2003-04 Club: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Selected 121st overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Kristopher Hogg had a very successful 2003-04 season with the Kamloops
Blazers, including an exceptional second half. In fact, Hogg had such a good second half
that he saw his Central Scouting ranking rise from 153rd
among North American skaters at the mid-term ranking to 114th at the final. Hogg’s 24 goals lead the Kamloops
Blazers on the season, and he will be expected to contribute in a similar
fashion next season.
Described as
a pure speedster with an offensive touch, the undersized Hogg could be
a diamond in the rough for the Calgary Flames should he fill out and
possibly grow an inch or two.

15. Tomi Maki, RW

Birthdate: 08/19/1983
Height: 6’0
Weight: 183
2003-04 Club: Jokerit Helsinki (FNL)
Selected 108th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

Much like goaltender Brent Krahn, injuries to his knees, coupled
with a concussion have slowed the development of Tomi Maki somewhat.
After playing in only 18 games for Jokerit in 2002-03, Maki managed to
find success while healthy in 2003-04. Due to injuries on Jokerit, he was relied on to play a much larger role in the
organization, playing both right wing and center on three different
lines to cover holes in the line-up. Playing 50 games with the club,
Maki managed 10 points. He certainly displayed his
versatility with Jokerit, but has yet to prove he can stay healthy over
long periods. The
disadvantages of sharing an AHL affiliate become more
and more clear as the split affiliation makes it more difficult to
bring over European prospects to play quality minutes in North America.

16. Ryan Donally, LW

Birthdate: 07/12/1986
Height: 6’4
Weight: 215
2003-04 Club: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Selected 97th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

About the only positive Ryan Donally was
able to take from the 2003-04 season was that he nearly toppled his
career highs in goals and points, despite playing in only 44 games due to a bout of mononucleosis. Described as someone who
will put his body on the line, night-in, night-out, Donally is another
prototypical Sutter player. Combine his willingness to sacrifice
himself for the team in an all-out defensive role with the fact that he already stands at 6’4 and weighs in at 215lbs. Should Donally
improve his skating, which isn’t spectacular, then the Tecumseh, Ontario native could develop into a
highly effective defensive presence in the Calgary Flames organization.

17. Brian McConnell, C

Birthdate: 02/01/1983
Height: 6’1
Weight: 190
2003-04 Club: Boston University (HE)
Selected 39th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

Although the organization is chock full of players of his caliber, Boston, Massachusetts native Brian McConnell could
exemplify the right combination of hockey smarts, heart, and physical
play that make him invaluable to the Calgary Flames in a defensive-oriented role. In his first two seasons at Boston University, McConnell
posted 25 points in each season, but suffered an offensive
lapse, recording only 16 points in 37 games during the
2003-04 season. Although he’ll never have top six talent, McConnell’s leadership abilities are
impressive. He will captain Boston University during the 2004-05 season.

Curtis McElhinney, G

Birthdate: 05/23/1985

Height: 6’2

Weight: 195

2003-04 Club: Colorado College (WCHA)
Selected 176th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

With both Brent Krahn and Andrei
Medvedev ahead of him on the depth charts, goaltender Curtis McEIhinney will not
be relied on to have much of an impact in the organization, other then
to provide a little discomfort to the two previously mentioned
goaltenders. The Calgary, Alberta native finished his third season with
Colorado College, which saw him put up good, but not spectacular
numbers, while being outperformed by fellow goaltender and Los Angeles
Kings prospect Matt Zaba.

19. Adam Cracknell, RW

Birthdate: 07/15/1985
Height: 6’1
Weight: 191
2003-04 Club: Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Selected 279th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Much like Brandon Prust, Adam Cracknell was selected as an
overager late in the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
Cracknell, 19, impressed Flames scouts by increasing his point total
from the season before by 50 points. The Prince
Albert, Saskatchewan native registered 61 points in 72 games.
Making the club as a walk-on in 2002-03, the right-winger improved by
leaps and bounds, although he will need to do so again through the 2004-05
season. He could definitely improve upon his physical play and skating,
but it’s obvious that Cracknell has already grown into an offensive
force for the Kootenay Ice.

20. Emanuel Peter, C

Birthdate: 06/09/1984
Height: 6’1
Weight: 207
2003-04 Club: Kloten (LNSw)
Selected 142nd overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

Emanuel Peter, the ‘other’ Swiss
prospect in the Calgary Flames system, was selected late in the 2002
National Hockey League Entry Draft. Unlike countryman Tim Ramholt,
Peter has decided to stay in Switzerland for the time being. Given the
uncertainty of the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, many of the
Calgary Flames prospects are just as content to stay with their club
teams until all matters are resolved, and Peter is no exception.
Described as a workhorse with excellent playmaking ability, Peter is no
stranger to his defensive end either. Whether or not Peter makes the
ultimate decision to come to North America will remain to be seen, but
certainly the chances that the Calgary Flames will be able to get him
to do so, are increased with Ramholt already over.

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