Sunday, July 13, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days: Calgary Flames

The first Canadian stop on the 30 day tour, here are the Calgary Flames (who only have OHL prospects from the most recent draft).

Sam Bennett - Kingston Frontenacs
I've made it pretty clear how much I like Bennett in my previous posts, but the Flames were lucky he fell to their lap at number 4. Other than size, he's your prototypical franchise center who brings everything to the table. The comparisons to former Flame Doug Gilmour aren't that far fetched. I've gotten one question a lot, "is Bennett ready for the NHL?" The answer is no. He needs another year of junior where he can try to help Kingston climb to the top of the Eastern Conference. He can then get stronger and more confident and be ready to step into Calgary's line-up in 2015. I expect pretty huge things from him this year. He's definitely one of the front runners to lead the OHL in scoring and should be a contributing member of Team Canada at the WJC's. With Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, Calgary is set down the middle with two very cerebral and complete players who can make the players around them better.

Hunter Smith - Oshawa Generals
Another great pick up by Calgary. Smith has grown so much as a player in the last year. From a fringe OHL player fighting for a roster spot, to a top 6 winger and 2nd round draft pick. He's a very intriguing player because of his size and skill package. He'll never be mistaken for Wayne Gretzky with the puck, but he has enough skill to work close to the net and in the slot. He's already become a very confident player in front of the net, looking for tips and screens. The Gennies use him like the Bruins use Zdeno Chara on the powerplay. As the year went on, he gained a lot of confidence in his ability to skate with the puck and even started to take chances on drives to the net, creating his own scoring chances by the end of the year. I look for him to continue his steep development curve this coming season. He'll likely end up on a line with Michael Dal Colle, opening up space on the ice for Dal Colle to create. I'd expect a 25 goal, perhaps even 60 point season for him.

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