The Calgary Flames kick off their annual development camp next week at Winsport. In addition to the many prospects that readers are familiar with, the club has invited 15 players on try-outs. We’ve dug into these players to let you know who these mystery men are.
A teammate of Filip Sveningsson’s last season with IK Oskarshamn of Sweden’s secondary pro league, HockeyAllsvenskan, 22-year-old goaltender Christoffer Rifalk has a contract for next season with the SHL’s Rogle BK. That said, he’s coming off a superb season with Oskarshamn – he posted a .929 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average in the regular season – and helped his team win the promotional playoffs to get into the SHL. Four of the goalies in the Flames’ system have expiring contracts after 2019-20 and will be restricted free agents – Artyom Zagidulin, Nick Schneider, Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons – so it makes sense for them to keep their options open.
Formerly of Timra IK, the team that IK Oskarshamn knocked out of the SHL, defenseman Johannes Kinnvall will be playing the upcoming season with HV71. He had 22 points in the SHL last season as a 21-year-old, leading his age group in points by a defender and placing eighth among all skaters in his age group.
On the blueline, the Flames have invited Brown University senior (and captain) Zach Guittari and Michigan State red-shirt senior Jerad Rosberg. Guittari had 20 points in 34 games as a junior. Rosberg missed his entire freshman season with an injury and had 16 points in 36 games last season. Both players are 23. They’re joined by Michigan State junior Tommy Miller (20), who had four points last season in 36 games.
University of Connecticut senior (and captain) Ben Freeman leads the college forward groups. The 6’5″, 205 pound right winger had 16 points last season and attended Flames development camp last summer. Brown University sophomore Tristan Crozier (21) and Ohio State senior Ronnie Hein (22) round out the college skaters.
As you might expect given that they own a WHL team, the Flames are bringing in a lot of undrafted junior players – five of the six invites are from the Dub.
Edmonton Oil Kings forward David Kope, Baie-Comeau Drakkar blueliner Christopher Merisier-Ortiz and Calgary Hitmen defender Jackson van de Leest all went undrafted in the latest draft, which was each of their first time through. Kope’s a good two-way player with size (6’5″, 165 pounds), Merisier-Ortiz is rangy and played with former Flames prospect D’Artagnan Joly, and van de Leest (6’6″, 223 pounds) did everything but score a ton for the Hitmen last season.
Forward Andrew Fyten just aged out of the WHL after stints with the Hitmen, Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos, where he played with Flames farmhand Glenn Gawdin on a WHL Championship squad. He could be looking for an AHL gig and while he might not have supreme skill, he brings a great motor and could be a fourth line fit for Stockton. Hitmen forward James Malm played with Milos Roman in Vancouver before being traded to Calgary. He’s small (5’9″, 174 pounds) but plays the game at full speed and is a great forechecker. Kamloops blueliner Montana Onyebuchi has size (6’3″, 209 pounds) and plays a smash-mouth style. He played with Dustin Wolf in Everett.
As a reminder, under the CBA any of the junior players with remaining draft eligibility can be signed by an NHL club (like the Flames) as a free agent before the first day of the junior season.
Keep an eye on…
The two Swedes, Rifalk and Kinnvall, are legit prospects. Of the remainder, it’ll be interesting to see if Fyten can stand out against the older college players and if the towering van de Leest can make an impression as one of the youngest players in the camp.