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HFNHL Flames Top 20 Prospects - Spring 2014

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04-04-2014, 10:34 AM
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MatthewFlames
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HFNHL Flames Top 20 Prospects - Spring 2014

The biggest change in the last five years is that the Flames have drafted and traded for a ton of defenseman and this list is now filled with them.

1. Valeri Nichushkin - In the NHL - Drafted 5th overall 2014
Nicrussian has had an overwhelmingly positive season. He's been handled very well by the coaching staff, protecting him from too many minutes and situations he couldn't handle. Has shown there are many more facets to his game than scouts expected. Still can play a little with his head down when he has the puck but has shown he has playmaking skills. While still naive in his own zone he has been defensively responsible all season, shown by his +20. His Olympic call up was a surprise and he initially looked tired upon his return. He's picked up his game again of late. First and last time on this list!

2. Mirco Müller - In the AHL - Drafted 35th overall 2014
HFNHL GM's will soon be cursing that they passed on him if they are not already. Talk is that he is NHL ready despite still being 18. Words get bandied around about his 'elite' and 'world class' skating. Comparisons to Marc Andre Vlasic are high praise. Had a good season on a bad team and is now in the AHL.

3. Ryan Murphy - In the NHL/AHL - Trade from LA Kings
Ryan Murphy has been a pleasant surprise. Made the Hurricanes out of camp as a first year pro and hasn't looked out of place. Still struggles with some of his defensive coverage and lack of strength but has come a long way. Looks at his best with the puck on his stick. Hopefully his development will continue but the fears that he won't be an every day NHL defenseman have alleviated. Long way to go but all the signs are there.

4. Calvin de Haan - In the NHL - Trade from Dallas Stars
The Flamettes have a new obsession with 'toolsy' defenseman who can skate and de Haan is the 2nd of many on this list. After all his injury trouble, this was expected to be a development season in the minors. While he started slowly in the AHL, his NHL call-up came just as he hit his stride and he hasn't looked back. He is playing over 22 minutes a night and often leading the Isles with 27 or 30 minutes a game and he's playing against all the top lines. He's kept it simple so far but there is, like Murphy, a lot of potential upside there as well.

5. Oscar Dansk - In the OHL - Trade from Nashville Predators
Dansk has had a great season despite the fact he has lost the starting job in the playoffs. Named best goalie of the World Juniors, he was an OHL statistical leader, and is a finalist for goalie of the year.

6. Austin Watson - In the AHL - Drafted 12th overall in 2010
While statistically his improvements may be modest, the overall play of Austin Watson continues to improve. His all around game is exceptional so he will have a spot in the NHL, its just whether he can get his offensive game going. A recent move to the wing has worked and he's scored 10 points in his last 12 games.

7. Dmitri Orlov - In the NHL - Trade with Washington
It has taken a lot of patience waiting for Orlov to get his shot back in the NHL. It took the threat of his moving to the KHL to get on the ice for the Capitals but after watching him play you wonder why they needed to be blackmailed. While he still makes rookie errors and can be a bit too 'optimistic' with the puck, his overall game has improved tremendously and the Caps just signed him to an extension.

8. Anders Lee - In the NHL - Drafted 199th overall in 2008
Not many players arrive on the scene in the NHL playing point a game hockey like Anders Lee. While he's come back down to earth he is still creating chances, going to the net and playing a game that seems very suited to the NHL. He still has to improve his skating and his play in his own zone but its not hard to imagine him holding down a 2nd line spot for the Isles for years to come. Seems very coachable and is an impressive athlete.

9. Martin Marincin - In the NHL - Trade with Anaheim
Marincin is a prospect who is starting to get noticed (#41 on hockeysfuture prospects lists.) One of the few highlights of the Oilers season is that Marincin has shown the potential to be a defender who can log a lot of minutes and make a good pass out of his own zone. Still rail thin and will have more impact if he can fill out. Played in the Olympics.

10. Adam Clendening - In the AHL - Trade with Vancouver
Patience will be the key for Clendening as there is a lot of depth ahead of him for the Blackhawks. However, as nearly a point a game defenseman nearing the end of his second pro season, you start to wonder if he needs to step up a level to continue his improvement.

11. Mattias Ekholm - In the NHL - Trade with Vancouver
To say that this has been a difficult transition year for Ekholm would be an understatement. Given how many prospects arrive in the NHL these days ready to go its not much of a surprise to be a bit down about how Ekholm struggled. His minutes have been limited and he has been a regular healthy scratch. Lately his improved play has seen an uptick in minutes but he still makes too many errors and turns over the puck too often. Hopefully its just a matter of experience.

12. Alex Stalock - In the NHL - Drafted 165th overall in 2005
Its been a long road to the NHL, marred by some career threatening injuries, but Stalock has made it and grasped the chance with both hands. His stats are sparkling, which can be trumped partly up to playing behind a great team, but he has stolen games on his own and been very consistent. He is 11-5-2, with three of those losses being games when the Sharks were shutout themselves and Stalock only conceded one. He passed the Sharks shutout record streak with an amazing 178 minutes of shut-out hockey.

13. William Carrier - in the QMJHL - Drafted 42nd overall in 2013
It was a little disappointing that Carrier was traded to the Sabres. But if anything he is used to playing for bad teams. He was traded in the Q to Drummondville. He has had a good season, without any major injuries, easing those concerns. Plays an all around game that makes some scouts think he will translate well as a pro player.

14. Oliver Bjorkstrand - In the WHL - Drafted 55th overall in 2013
Where to rank a player who scored 50 goals and 109 points in the WHL? In the top 5 because he is the most offensively gifted forward prospect you have, or below the players in the NHL or with higher percentage chance of long NHL careers? He has a lot to overcome to be an NHL player. His skating is below where you want it to be. While he's taller than when drafted he hasn't put on any weight. He's weak and in physical games he can get stuck on the perimeter. However, his hockey sense and skills are off the charts. Real boom or bust.

15. Laurent Dauphin - In the QMJHL - Drafted 40th overall in 2013
Playing on a poor team without any good line mates for a majority of the season meant trying to carry the team offensively this year while hampered by injuries. Being beaten by Anthony Mantha in a fight didn't help. However as a pro prospect Dauphin is still on the radar. He's very good in the face-off circle, has good offensive instincts and is extremely competitive. Will need to add muscle so he's probably a good 4 or 5 years away from the NHL.

16. John Klingberg - In the SEL - Trade with Montreal
I really want to rank him much much higher. Another fleet footed, 'toolsy' defenseman, who can dangle and pass the puck. He is enjoying a wonderful season in Sweden and the Stars have handled his development well. He will be in North America next year, with Future Watch stating that he's probably NHL ready. Will most likely join up with the AHL Stars this week.

17. Radek Faksa - In the AHL - Trade with Dallas
Its not that Radek Faksa's stock has fallen this much that he's #17 on the list, its just that the depth of this list is such that a future two-way 3rd line centre doesn't get a chance to be much higher. He had another good season in the OHL, cementing the fact that he probably doesn't have the offensive upside to be a true second line centre in the NHL. At 6'3" and 210lbs he's really grown into his body and should be a very useful NHL player.

18. Jimmy Vesey - In the NCAA - Drafted 194th overall in 2011
A goalscorer who continues to develop well in the NCAA. He's a player following in the footsteps of Alex Killorn and Anders Lee (both Lee and Vesey were drafted in the HFNHL a year earlier than in the NHL) to the Flamettes. Vesey is really the leading light on a poor Harvard team. His coach, Ted Donato, says he's becoming a complete player and has predicted that he will be a star in the NHL.

19. Sam Brittain - In the NCAA - Drafted 101st overall in 2010
Of all the goalies I have, 5 of whom have been in the NHL this season, and Dansk, in many ways I think Sam Brittain could be the best of the lot. He's had a real up and down NCAA career, hampered by injury and inconsistency. But he's a tremendous athlete with good fundamentals. A finalist for the inaugural Mike Richter award for the best goalie in college hockey. He helped North Dakota upset Wisconsin and into the Frozen Four. The Panthers traded Markstrôm because they knew... Sam Brittain is coming!

20 - The other genuine NHL prospects: Joshua Leivo played 7 games for the Leafs and still projects as a 2nd line C. Josh Anderson and Taylor Leier both made Team Canada for the World Juniors and had great years. Laurent Broissoit was lights out in the ECHL as a first year pro and even spent some time backing up for the Edmonton Oilers. Nathan Lieuwen has started 4 games for the Buffalo Sabres. Martin Gernat had a very solid rookie year in the AHL. Graham Black was top ten in scoring in the WHL and also projects as a good pro. Jeremy Gregoire and Gemel Smith were productive junior players who have skill sets that might get them there but hurdles associated with size to overcome. Ryan Culkin, Reece Wilcox, & Michael Parks have all exceeded draft expectations. Martin Oullette had another great season and was amongst the NCAA stats leaders.

The following players graduated or left the organization from the list a year ago:
1 Zach Kassian – Graduated
5 Alex Killorn - Graduated
11 Patrick Wiercioch - Graduated
12 Matt Frattin – Traded

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04-05-2014, 09:20 AM
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A few of my former players in this mix. Interesting to see you have De Haan ahead of Orlov. They are close, but I'd still probably have Orlov ahead of Calvin, despite De Haan making the Isles full time (it is the Isles, after all). Orlov has a bit of a flight risk I suppose, even though he has been in NA for many years. Once the rookie deal expires, the Caps might be in a bit of a pickle given the KHL $'s Orlov will be offered will be substantial.

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04-05-2014, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sens(e) View Post
A few of my former players in this mix. Interesting to see you have De Haan ahead of Orlov. They are close, but I'd still probably have Orlov ahead of Calvin, despite De Haan making the Isles full time (it is the Isles, after all). Orlov has a bit of a flight risk I suppose, even though he has been in NA for many years. Once the rookie deal expires, the Caps might be in a bit of a pickle given the KHL $'s Orlov will be offered will be substantial.
Orlov has extended for two years so I'm not too worried about that flight risk. I'm all about the Ruskies!

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04-06-2014, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by MatthewFlames View Post
Orlov has extended for two years so I'm not too worried about that flight risk. I'm all about the Ruskies!
Everyone loves the Ruskies. Until they don't.

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04-08-2014, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Sens(e) View Post
Everyone loves the Ruskies. Until they don't.
I've never had a reason to dislike them. Other than the one who was stabbed by his girlfriend. But at least I wasn't responsible for drafting him.

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