Top prospects for Calgary Flames

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NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the Calgary Flames, according to NHL.com.

 

[Flames 31 IN 31: Season Preview3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]

 

1. Juuso Valimaki , D

How acquired: Selected with No. 16 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Did not play because of torn ACL in right knee

The 22-year-old left-shot defenseman is healthy and leads defensemen in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 14 games with Ilves, where the Flames loaned him Sept. 29. Valimaki (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) has played on the right side with Ilves, which could help him earn a spot with the Flames, whose right-shot defensemen with NHL experience are Rasmus Andersson, Christopher Tanev and Alexander Yelesin. Valimaki scored three points (one goal, two assists) in 24 NHL games in 2018-19.

“This is a big year for [Valimaki],” Flames coach Geoff Ward said. “… It looks like he’s really picked up where he left off; he was such a real good defenseman for us in his first year. It’s going to be interesting to see where he’s at and where he’s prepared to take it coming into this season.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: BOS@CGY: Valimaki nets first career goal

 

2. Jakob Pelletier, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Moncton (QMJHL): 57 GP, 32-50-82

The 19-year-old left wing was tied for eighth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points, was sixth in assists and had the league’s second best plus/minus (plus-57) last season. Pelletier (5-9, 160) was traded from Moncton to Val-d’Or on June 5 and scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in nine games this season.

“[Pelletier is] a high-character player,” Ward said. “His compete level is extremely high. We’re anxious to get him back to training camp again and see where he’s progressed. He’s a guy that plays hard away from the puck.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: 31 in 31: Calgary Flames 2020-21 season preview

 

3. Connor Zary, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 24 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Kamloops (WHL): 57 GP, 38-48-86

The 19-year-old center averaged more than a point per game in the past two seasons in the Western Hockey League, scoring 153 points (62 goals, 91 assists) in 120 games. Zary (6-foot, 178) is a foundational piece for the Flames because of his offense and his two-way play.

“As a coach, when you have a guy that has that Patrice Bergeron mentality, where you take pride in that 200-foot game and how you think the game, you can build around guys like that,” Ward said. “It’s something that we’re really emphasizing with our players and seeing gains in it throughout our lineup. Connor’s a guy that’s going to be able to just come in and continue to build our culture in that direction.”

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

 

4. Dustin Wolf, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 214 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Everett (WHL): 46 GP, 34-10-2, 1.88 GAA, .935 SV%

The 19-year-old led the Western Hockey League in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts (nine), and tied for the lead in wins. Wolf (6-foot, 156) signed a three-year, entry-level contract May 1.

“When you take a look at [Wolf’s] athleticism, what he’s been able to do in a short period of time and really rise to the top at the level he’s playing at, we’re excited about seeing him at the next level and where he’s going to take himself,” Ward said.

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

 

5. Connor Mackey, D

How acquired: Signed one-year, entry-level contract March 20

2019-20 season: Minnesota State (WCHA): 36 GP, 7-17-24

The 24-year-old left-shot defenseman and made a strong first impression in July.

“[Mackey] came into our training camp before the bubble and was there for a while,” Ward said. “He looked extremely comfortable. He’s a big defenseman (6-2, 190), he’s rangy, he moves extremely well. He’s got, I would say, elite hockey intelligence. He really showed well, so we’re excited about seeing what his camp is going to look like.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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