With the 2022 NHL Draft less than two weeks away, many fanbases are getting excited about what prospects their favorite team will end up with. For the Calgary Flames, that excitement is somewhat tamed due to the fact that not only do they not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but they own just three picks in total.
As of now, they aren’t slated to pick until nearly the end of the second round (59th overall). That said, there are several great NHLers, both past and present, who have been taken not only in the second round but much later, meaning all three of the picks they do have in the upcoming draft have a chance at being special. The hope is that at least one if not all of the players they will soon select, can soon rise up the depth charts and be included on a list such as this one, which will review the current top 10 prospects in their system.
10. Jack Beck
Back when the Flames selected Jack Beck in the sixth round (168 overall) of the 2021 Draft, there didn’t seem to be a ton to get excited over. After all, he sat out the entire 2020-21 season due to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) being shut down as a result of the pandemic, and in his rookie campaign a year prior, he recorded just seven goals and 19 points in 56 games with the Ottawa 67’s.
It appears the Flames’ scouting staff knew what they were doing, however, as the now 19-year-old impressed in 2021-22, registering 22 goals and 44 points in just 36 games. Both his goals and points trailed only Vinzenz Rohrer – who played in 64 games – for team scoring.
Thanks to his breakout season, Beck was recently invited to Team Canada’s summer camp for the upcoming 2023 IIHF World Juniors. While he at this point is looked at as a long shot to make the team, a hot start with the 67’s in 2022-23 could go a long way to making that happen.
9. Jeremie Poirier
Heading into the 2020 Draft, one of the most intriguing prospects was Jeremie Poirier. The Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman was viewed as having first-round talent offensively, but several questions surrounded his defensive play and, at times, his effort level. As a result, he fell to the Flames in the third round (72nd overall) and has improved some of his defensive shortcomings since then.
As mentioned, at the time of his draft year, Poirier was already very gifted offensively, proven by the fact that he had 20 goals and 53 points in just 64 games. Since then, his offensive numbers have remained quite consistent, as he scored 16 goals and 57 points in 67 games this past season. Instead, what has been said to have improved is the defensive side of his game, and while it still has a ways to go in that respect, the questions surrounding his work ethic no longer appear to exist.
While Poirier will likely spend the 2022-23 season in the American Hockey League (AHL), he won’t be focused on that just yet. Instead, he and his Sea Dogs teammates, along with another Flames prospect in Yan Kuznetsov, are preparing to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Memorial Cup Final on Wednesday night.
8. Matthew Phillips
As each year passes, it gets tougher and tougher to label Matthew Phillips as a prospect. While the 24-year-old has excelled in the AHL for three straight seasons now, he has managed to get into just one game at the NHL level. It is rather puzzling given the extremely high talent level he possesses, but for whatever reason, the Flames’ coaching staff don’t seem to be sold on him.
The 2021-22 season marked Phillip’s best as a pro, as he tallied 31 goals and 68 points in 65 outings. What will be interesting to see now is what happens with his contract situation, as he is currently a restricted free agent. He has to be growing frustrated with the fact he hasn’t gotten a real shot to prove his worth at the NHL level, which could result in him being moved elsewhere.
7. Connor Mackey
When Connor Mackey was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after three seasons with Minnesota State University, many believed he was very close, if not ready, to become an NHL regular. That hasn’t proven to be the case, however, as the 25-year-old has spent the majority of the past two seasons in the minors.
In each of his past two seasons with the Stockton Heat, Mackey has proven he can get things done at both ends of the ice, as in a combined 80 games in the AHL, he has put up eight goals and 52 points. With several blueliners on the Flames set to become unrestricted free agents, paired with the team’s need to fill holes with cheap contracts in hopes of signing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, he has a great chance to earn a roster spot out of training camp this upcoming season.
6. Rory Kerins
As mentioned at the start of the article, every now and again you hear of a late-round pick that goes on to have an outstanding NHL career, and while he still has a long road ahead, Rory Kerins could become just that. The now 20-year-old was selected in the sixth round (174 overall) of the 2020 Draft and is looking like a great pick by the Flames right now.
During his draft-eligible season in 2019-20, Kerins had a respectable 30 goals and 59 points in 64 contests. Like Beck, he was unable to play any junior hockey during the 2020-21 season but returned in 2021-22 with a vengeance. In 67 games with the Soo Greyhounds, he scored 43 goals and a team-leading 118 points. Safe to say, he will be a player to keep an eye on next season as a rookie in the AHL.
5. Adam Ruzicka
With his size and skill, there was always plenty of potential surrounding Adam Ruzicka, and he flashed plenty of it in 2021-22. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward split the season between the Heat and Flames and played solid with both. In 16 games with the Heat, he scored 11 goals and 20 points, while in 28 contests with the Flames he had five goals and 10 points.
Considering the extended look he received with the Flames last season, he appears to have an inside edge when it comes to open roster spots with the big club in 2022-23. At just 23 years old, there is still plenty of untapped potential, making him one of the organization’s more exciting prospects at the moment.
4. Connor Zary
There’s no way to beat around it, Connor Zary’s first season in professional hockey was a disappointing one. The 24th overall selection from the 2020 Draft had high expectations entering the 2021-22 campaign after recording seven points in a brief nine-game stint with the Heat a season prior. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to live up to that hype, managing just 13 goals and 25 points in 53 games, followed up with a lone goal and assist in 13 playoff outings.
Despite the down year, however, there is still plenty to be excited about when it comes to Zary. It is important to note that he is still just 20 years old, which is a very young age to be playing games in the AHL. The Flames will undoubtedly be patient with him and hope that he is able to up his performance in his sophomore season with the Heat, which wouldn’t come as any sort of surprise given his dominance in the Western Hockey League (WHL). If he is to have another down year, however, he will find himself lower on this list next season.
3. Matthew Coronato
Now is where we get into the really high-end prospects. Matthew Coronato, who was selected 13th overall in the 2021 Draft, has nothing short of star-studded potential. During his draft year, he scored a ridiculous 48 goals and 85 points in just 51 games with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League.
Coronato spent this past season playing as a freshman for Harvard University and did not disappoint. In just 34 games, he managed 18 goals and 36 points, both of which led his team. It has already been announced that he will return to Harvard for his sophomore season, where he will look to improve further on those totals.
2. Jacob Pelletier
The hope was that Jacob Pelletier, who was selected 26th overall in 2019, would excel in his first season as a pro in 2021-22. What few expected, however, was for him to be nearly a point per game player, as he had 27 goals and 62 points in 66 games. Clearly, his big numbers through his four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League were no fluke.
Given how well Pelletier played this past season, it wouldn’t come as a major surprise to see him make the Flames out of training camp this coming Fall. If that isn’t the case, however, he will at the very least get some games at the NHL level. Right now, he appears to have been a very good draft selection by general manager Brad Treliving and his staff.
1. Dustin Wolf
While the Flames have made several solid late-round draft selections in recent years, none compare to Dustin Wolf. The undersized goaltender fell all the way to the seventh-round (214th overall) of the 2019 Draft, and he’s making plenty of teams look foolish for that.
Throughout his four seasons in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, Wolf posted video game-like numbers. Despite the success, however, many questioned whether his great play would transition to the professional side of things. Safe to say after his first year with the Heat, he was able to adjust just fine.
In 47 games with the Heat this past season, the 21-year-old Wolf recorded a spectacular 2.35 goals-against average along with a .924 save percentage and a 33-9-4 record. At this point, it appears to be more of a question of just how big of a star he can become in the NHL, rather than wondering if he has what it takes to make it. While he still may be another season out from cracking the Flames’ roster, there are very few goaltending prospects as promising as him right now.
Plenty For Flames Fans to Be Excited About
Right now, Flames fans are praying to hear that their team has worked out a new contract extension with Johnny Gaudreau. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but as this list shows, there is still plenty to look forward to for this organization. Who knows, perhaps a player on this list has the chance of becoming as good, if not better, than Gaudreau himself?
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.