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The Calgary Flames Top-5 Prospects

September 5, 2018, 10:16 AM ET [33 Comments]
Adam French
The Calgary Flames have done a very nice job of acquiring defensemen. Whether they are signed as free agents, traded for or drafted, they’ve done a good job. The first thing you’ll notice on this list is that they will likely continue to have a strong defense going forward due to their top prospects. This has been the most straight forward list I’ve had to do thus far. I asked Todd Cordell, our resident Flames blogger about whether he agreed with my list. He gave me a new suggestion at 5 and looking into it, I agree with him. So I changed it. In case you were wondering it was Gillies, who I’ve never been a huge fan of. Asking Todd was also why Carolina came before Calgary. I may be highly illiterate, but I do know “L” comes before “R!”

Shoutout to having a guy named D’Artagnan and drafting the most penalized player in USHL history.

5. Andrew Mangiapane – Left Winger, 5’10 183lbs, 22 Years Old, 166th, 2015, Stockton Heat in the AHL

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One need only look to the success of some other small sized later bloomers like Marchessault or Johnson to see what Mangiapane is looking like he might become. Mangiapane has been a player overlooked for most of his career. Finding himself undrafted in the OHL Priority Draft and then not hearing his name in his first year of NHL Draft Eligibility. His second OHL season saw Mangiapane score 43 goals and add 104 points on the third best line in the OHL. Considering the competition, third best wasn’t so bad. The other two had guys named McDavid, Marner, Dvorak, Domi and DeBrincat. He followed that up with 51 goals and 106 points in just 59 games and really solidified himself as a real NHL level prospect. He had a strong professional debut finishing second in goals and fourth in points as a rookie for the Heat.

This past season he put his stamp on the AHL with 46 points in 39 games. He was one of the best scorers in the AHL while being 21 for the majority of the season. He had the second highest PPG of players over 10 games played. While also being involved in 38.38% of all goals on the Heat. A dominant season indeed.

Despite being undersized, Mangiapane has non-stop energy and a level of determination that sets him apart. One of the biggest issues for undersized players is their style of game. A lot of “dipsy doodlers” find themselves destroying junior leagues and then find the transition to the pros disastrous. Mangiapane plays that relentless and fearless game that I think will allow him to transition into the NHL. He’s also extremely quick and has an excellent outside burst of speed.

His 10 game stint in the NHL last season saw him go pointless. While not a great debut, much like the rest of his career he will have to earn everything he gets. Next year I expect him to make the Flames out of camp even with the large quantity of left wingers.

Potential : Top-6 Scorer

4. Dillon Dubé – Centreman, 5’11 183lbs, 20 Years Old, 56th Overall, 2016, Kelowna Rockets in the WHL

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Dubé has been a solid junior player for the entirety of his career. He has been a strong contributor for Kelowna, as well as for Hockey Canada. He was a member of the Silver Medaling Canadians in 2017 as a bottom-size option and more recently Captained Canada to a Gold Medal with 3 goals and 5 points in the 7 games. He has shown incremental improvement every season and has earned more and more responsibility from his various coaches. Reliability, strong attention to detail, good defensive zone coverage and strong face-off abilities highlight the more workman qualities that Dubé possesses. He’s a very strong penalty killer as he showed playing as Canada’s top option and is a shorthanded threat due to his smart reads.

Smooth NHL-like skating, a commitment to a 200 foot game and versatility have him all but guaranteed an NHL career. While he doesn’t have the type of creativity in my mind to become a top line scorer in the NHL, his shot has improved every year and he could be a good fit as the “safe” player on a scoring line. One thing I noticed in the WJC’s was that he does not have the instincts of a playmaker. He made a lot of individualistic moves and missed passes openings for poor angle shots. WHL contributors have noticed that to and bring that about as one of his biggest knocks. His 6 game showing in the AHL at the end of his junior career showed some promise. He had 4 points in a minor role.

Next season there is very little doubt that he finds himself as a rookie in the AHL to cut his teeth. There’s too many guys above him on the depth chart at the moment unless he blows everybody away. I think in a few years’ time he will develop into a very solid third line contributor that can play any style the coach wants.

Potential : Third Line Two-Way Centre

3. Oliver Kylington - Left Defenseman, 6'0 183lbs, 21 Years Old, 60th Overall, 2015, Stockton Heat in the AHL

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Kylington has had a very interesting history. Prior to his draft year, he was often viewed as a shoo-in for being selected in the top-5. He had played 32 games in the Elitserien scoring 6 points as a 16 year old and put up a PPG in the SuperElit. He was the SuperElit’s top defenseman and came into the season with a wave of hype. Despite a strong draft season, Kylington’s foibles became highly scrutinized and found wanting. He tumbled all the way out of the first round largely on the back of questions surrounding his defensive awareness…or lack thereof. His elite skating and creativity make him a very dangerous offensive defenseman. Skating being the greatest strength that he has and one that immediately becomes apparent. He loves to rush the puck and make deep dangerous runs.

Despite being just 21 years old, Kylington already has five professional seasons under his belt, including three in North America. He has made consistent improvements in his offensive production each season. Going from 12 in 47 as a rookie, 27 in 60 as a sophomore and most recently 35 in 62. Despite this consistent increase in offensive capacity, he still has his detractors who find that his inconsistency in his own zone is still an issue. Though his coach has been praising the strides he has made in that area of his game.

Elite skaters like Kylington are much in demand on the backend. As the NHL gets faster, so too does the necessity for defensemen to get faster. Teams also need players who can rush the puck with confidence and create plays from nothing. Kylington can do that and he’s doing it very young in professional leagues. Next season with Calgary’s defense firmly set, I think he will play yet another season in the AHL. The expectations will be high for him at both ends of the ice. Polarizing player, some love him and some loathe him.

Potential : 4-5 Offensive Defenseman

2. Rasmus Andersson – Right Defenseman, 6’0 214lbs, 21 Years Old, 53rd Overall in 2015, Stockton Heat in the AHL

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From one Swede to another and two offensive defensemen that couldn’t be more different. Kylington offers elite skating and dynamism, Andersson offers methodical precision and smart instincts. Despite a near PPG Rookie Season in the OHL and finishing third in scoring by a defenseman, Andersson’s average skating saw him fall into the second round. He followed his fantastic rookie season with another near PPG year for Barrie where he led the OHL in scoring by a defenseman. All the man does is put up points consistently and yet he never attained much respect from Hockey Sweden’s U20 selection committee.

Andersson had a large improvement on a solid rookie season in the AHL. He finished 8th in scoring by defensemen and in reality there was only one actual "prospect" ahead of him in that race. He had a dominant season and was a team high +20. He's a volume shooting defenseman and is very good at getting pucks in and around the net. While he can move the puck, it's not his greatest strength as he's not the fleetest of foot. I think he's far more effective creeping into the zone after a forward rush where he can get his shots off unexpectedly. Defensively Andersson is solid, but can have some gaffs, mostly on the counter attack. Speedier forwards can sometimes get by him causing him to take penalties. It's the one part of his game I don't particularly like. The kind of penalties one would deem "unnecessary." Once he's settled in his own zone though, he's actually very good at pressuring forwards, stealing pucks on the board and pushing people around. He's very stout.

Next season will be interesting. He has to basically beat out Dalton Prout for a job, which I think he can easily do. However, he's still on his ELC for two more seasons and the Flames will be very desperate to make the playoffs. Teams like that usually turn to "gud uld pros." Without needing to go through waivers they can bring him up at their whim. I expect he will be up at some point, hopefully at the start.

Top-4 Two-Way Defenseman

1. Juuso Välimäki - Left Defenseman, 6'2 205lbs, 19 Years Old, 16th Overall, 2017, Tri-City Americans in the WHL

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Välimäki is a very bright prospect and one deserving of the number one spot. He has shredded the WHL with 40 goals and 138 points in his 159 games played. This includes a pre-draft rookie season of 32 points in 56 games. He led all defensemen in the WHL in Even Strength PPG and was seventh in overall PPG. When he was healthy this season, he was one the best offensive defenseman in the entire league.

He has been a stapled for the Finns internationally representing his country twice at the U18's and twice at the U20's, being named Captain twice as well.

Offense is the name of the game for Välimäki and he will rush the puck with reckless abandon. He has the ability to change the course of the game and take charge on his own. He's also such a smooth skater that despite his deep rushes, he's usually back in time to avert disaster. With his vision and skating, it often seems like he's a fourth forward as he has the instincts to simply know where the puck will be at all times.

Next season Välimäki turns pro and will likely fit right behind Kylington on the depth chart of the Heat. The young Finn should be insulated by a strong defense core. With guys like Kylington and Andersson likely to be on the squad, at least to start the year, it will be interesting to see how many offensive zone starts or Power Play time he sees. This is a player that is going from playing 35 minutes of all situation hockey to probably fitting on the second or third pairing. It's a rough transition for some. Personally, I think he will be a Flame by next season with the way he has been developing.

Potential : Number 2 Offensive Defenseman

Thanks for reading.
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