Calgary Flames prospects on display at 2012 Development Camp
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the 100th anniversary edition of the Calgary Stampede, a very different kind of stampede was underway on the western fringes of the city Ė a hockey stampede.
Canada Olympic Park played host this past week to the 2012 edition of the Calgary Flamesí development camp. The camp brings together nearly 40 prospects (including a dozen on try-outs) to assess and develop the skills of the organizationís youngest players. The roster for the week-long camp included three first round selections (Mark Jankowski, Sven Baertschi and Greg Nemisz) and a laundry list of team captains, assistant captains, Memorial Cup contenders and IIHF Under-18 and World Junior medalists. All-in-all, Calgary Flames draft picks from the last five draft classes were represented.
Not too bad for a team criticized in recent years for not having any prospects.
What follows is a quick assessment of how players looked during five days of drills and scrimmages. This is not meant to be an exhaustive evaluation of these players. Some players simply donít look good in certain situations as their skills donít really translate into anything showy (example: two-way forwards). Expectations also play into this process; in a camp with ages ranging from 17 (Mark Jankowski) to 24 (Brady Lamb & Dan Bakala), you would expect older guys to appear more polished, poised and effective. If younger guys stand out more or older guys fade into the background, thatís notable.
WHO STOOD OUT
Fresh on everyoneís minds was 2012 first round selection Mark Jankowski. The lanky 17-year-old (he turns 18 in September) didnít disappoint, dazzling on-lookers with his stick-handling and skating. He wasnít dominant by any stretch, as he was often shoved off the puck by the defensemen, but he showed a lot of raw talent and promise. If he can put on some muscle and fill out a bit, he should progress nicely.
Somebody whoís already progressed nicely is 2011 first rounder Sven Baertschi. The Swiss product looked swift and poised throughout the week, including in all three scrimmages. Heís expected to challenge for a roster spot in Calgary next season and did nothing to dampen the clubís lofty expectations.
Also doing nothing to dampen expectations was 2011 fourth round choice Johnny Gaudreau. After a year in the NCAA that saw him light it up in the playoffs, the diminutive winger skated circles around his teammates all week. Heís still small (5-9ish and 160 pounds) but he displayed arguably the most pure skill and athleticism of anyone on the ice.
Also impressing were 2012 pick Patrick Sieloff, 2010 pick Max Reinhart and Dustin Sylvester, recently signed to an American Hockey League contract and in camp on an invite.
The oldest goalie in camp, Dan Bakala, did not look appreciably better than the other three goaltenders, despite being an NCAA graduate that has faced shots from grown men for the past four years. That said, all four netminders were solid if unspectacular against a rather skilled Flames forward group.
Three other players who spent their years playing against men probably hoped for a more spectacular showing. Markus Granlund, Greg Nemisz and Roman Horak all spent time in professional leagues last season, with Nemisz and Horak spending time in the NHL even, but none of them seemed completely dialed-in and flashy during the week. That said, Horak is more of a two-way player and Nemisz is transitioning to a shut-down role in Abbotsford, but Granlund looked lost (at times) without his brother Mikael by his side.