Jump to content
The Official Site of the Calgary Flames
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    4
  • comment
    1
  • views
    6,795

Evaluating The Prospects

kehatch

2,043 views

The Calgary Flames have done an admirable job of improving their prospect pool over the past three seasons. A simple comparison of the 2010 vs the 2013 development camp rosters should be proof enough. But what does that mean to a Flames team with roster gaps at all positions? The Flames aren't looking for their prospect pool to fill in a few gaps or to provide a successor-ship plan for aging players. The Flames are going through a full scale rebuild and need help at every position.

Most Flames fans are excited about their prospects. For example, many are ready to declare a 2015 top six resembling:

Baertschi-Monahan-Gaudreau

Klimchuk-Jankowski-Poirier

Is that a realistic expectation though?

A prospects chance of success?

Johnathan Willis with Leafs Nation consolidated a number of articles measuring the chances of a draft pick being successful. You can also peruse the various NHL drafts through the Hockey DB to see how many draft picks play a meaningful number of NHL games (and how productive those games were).

Keep in mind:

  • The majority of NHL drafted players do not play a meaningful number of NHL games
  • The chances of drafted players producing in a top line role are very small
  • The chances of a prospect being successful reduce dramatically outside the top 5 picks and are reduced again outside of the top 30

In other words manage expectations accordingly. Despite the excitement level around some of our prospects many of them won't make the NHL and for those that do many of them will be limited to depth roles.

Edmonton Oiler fan's have previously been ready to declare the rebuild as complete rallying behind the Gagner's, Petry's, Paajarvi's, and Cogliano's. Clearly those players didn't meet fans expectations.

What is a top line player?

This is an often debated question. If there are 30 teams in the NHL there must be 30 'top-line' players correct? Let me suggest this: the expectation is to build a Stanley Cup contending team. So there is a difference between a player that can play top line versus a player that excels on the top line.

For the purpose of projecting a player as a 'top line' player I ask the question: Is this player projected to be in the top 15 at their position compared to other NHL players? You can argue that Tyler Bozak or Paul Stastny are top line Cs based on their role and the minutes they play but they don't compare to Crosby and Toews,

Things to keep in mind

  • The principle used above for the top line extends to all other lines as well. Just because a player can play the second line (as an example) doesn't mean they are cut out to play that position on a contending team.
  • Just because I have a player projected to a certain line doesn't mean they won't exceed the projection. But for the Flames they can't overestimate their prospects and hope they get lucky. They need to be realistic about where their gaps are.
  • Most prospects drafted outside of the top 5 don't project as top line players immediately following the draft. It takes a season or two for prospects to elevate their projection by proving what they can do. Given how young the Flames top prospects some may elevate their projection going forward.
  • As this is intended to evaluate the long term gaps of the Flames rather then the actual prospect system I have included any player who still has RFA status
  • I am projecting players at their natural position though it is possible that the Flames can move players (i.e. C to W)
  • I am ignoring handedness for this projection (LW vs RW, LD vs RD) as players are generally interchangeable.
  • I am using a 'traffic light' color scale to represent the gap at each position.

Top Line

Centre

Positions Needed: 1

Projected Prospects: 0

Status: RED

Currently the Flames do not have any prospects projected to be top 15 C's in the NHL. Players like Monahan or Jankowski may develop into top line C's but right now are more comfortably projected for the 2-line.

Wing

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 1 (Gaudreau)

Status: RED

Many will argue that Baertschi deserves to be in this category. He may very well project to be a top 30 winger in the NHL. However, right now the only player I am comfortable projecting at that level is John Gaudreau (who has high bust potential).

Defense

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 0

Status: RED

The Flame lack any marquee D prospects. Only TJ Brodie is close to showing he can play in a top 2 role and he projects as a player that can spend some time there but not be a top 30D in the NHL.

Second Line

Centre

Positions Needed: 1

Projected Prospects: 3 (Monahan, Jankowski, Granlund)

Status: GREEN

The Flames have strong depth at this position. Jankowski and Granlund are both still long shots to make the NHL but Monahan looks like a solid contender to be a strong 2-line C.

Wing

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 3 (Baertschi, Poirier, Klimchuk)

Status: YELLOW

The Flames should be comfortable penciling Baertschi into a future 2-line role. However, the other two prospects still have a lot to prove before being considered legitimate NHL candidates.

Defense

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 3 (Brodie, Wotherspoon, Culkin)

Status: YELLOW

Similar to wing the Flames have one prospect (Brodie) that they can rely on in the future. Again, the remaining two players still need to prove their NHL value. However, the Flames do have a high number of 3-line project D prospects who may elevate their projection.

Third Line

Centre

Positions Needed: 1

Projected Prospects: 4 (Knight, Horak, Backlund, Arnold)

Status: GREEN

The Flames have four solid prospects who project to be strong 3-line C's in the future.

Wing

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 2 (Agostino, Galiardi)

Status: ORANGE

The Flames lack depth at this position. Fortunately Galiardi is proven in the NHL already and Agostino has a high likelihood of reaching his projection.

Defense

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 10 (Ramage, Butler, Russell, Billins, Sieloff, Cundari, Breen, Roy, Kulak, Kanzig)

Status: GREEN

The Flames are rich in bottom pairing defense prospects. Hopefully some of these prospects can surpass their projection and be impact players on a higher line.

Fourth Line

Centre

Positions Needed: 1

Projected Prospects: 2 (Reinhart, Bouma)

Status: GREEN

Fourth line C are not difficult to acquire and the Flames have a couple of good candidates in the system.

Wing

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 3 (Elson, Hanowski, Harrison)

Status: YELLOW

The Flames lack depth at this position with 3 mostly unproven prospects. That said finding fourth line wingers outside of your prospect system isn't usually a problem.

Goalie

Positions Needed: 2

Projected Prospects: 4 (Gilles, Brossoit, Ortio, Berra)

Status: YELLOW

On one hand the Flames have four players to fill two positions so are relatively deep at this position. On the other hand finding prospects that develop into starting goalies are very difficult to find. Gilles might be the Flames best bet to be a top 15 NHL goalie, but he has a long way to go to prove he can play in the NHL.

I left this position at yellow due to a lack of near NHL ready highly ranked prospects.

In Summary

The Flames have made strong improvements to their prospect system and have built a respectable pool of prospects filling gaps from the 2-line down. But they need to find top line defense and forward talent. Either through younger prospects improving their projections, by acquiring new prospects by draft or trade, or external to their prospect system. They could also use more security in net.

A lot of fans are hoping the Flames draft in the top 5 for the next couple of season. Although I don't advocate losing that is the most certain way of finding top line prospects.

The rebuild is just started folks. I am happy to see an improvement to the prospect pool. But the Flames still need more prospects. And they need time to develop players and get them NHL experience before they can comfortably assess what they have.

Barring a LOT of luck this is probably going to be a long and bumpy road.


×
×
  • Create New...