The Calgary Flames development camp has come to an end, and with that, the long summer hiatus truly begins as no one will take to the ice on behalf of the Flames organization until training camp. Despite being a little leaner on talent than in previous years, this was a great chance for Flames prospects and camp invitees to leave a lasting impression on general manager Brad Treliving and the rest of top brass.
It was a very controlled scrimmage, with two “periods” of 5-on-5 play, then 4-on-4, then 3-on-3, then a shootout. The red team overall looked stronger today than the white team (goalies aside), but we can’t tell you the exact rosters for teams as the Flames only provided a numerical and alphabetical roster for all camp attendees with no team breakdowns.
Nathan: To me, the most noticeable takeaway was how much better the 2018 draft class continues to look despite the low and infrequent picks. This was something that head amateur scout Tod Button had mentioned earlier in the off-season, and I have to agree with him. Emilio Pettersen looked sharp to me, and it was easy to see why Treliving singled out Demetrios Koumontzis as one of the most improved players, especially since he scored the prettiest goal of the scrimmage.
Martin Pospisil was very noticeable, including the choice to land a fantastic hip check during a 3-on-3 portion of the scrimmage, which he may admittedly want to question if that’s the best way to befriend his potential future teammates. He also ripped off a scorcher of a goal during the shootout, which was a refreshing change of pace from many of the other attempts that went wide from too much stick handling.
Karim: I hadn’t been to a development camp scrimmage before so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but the first thing that stood out to me was the intensity level across the board. I was impressed with how hard everyone was playing out there, even though it was just a development camp scrimmage. There were lots of big hits, hard defensive plays, and calculated offensive rushes. Overall, the scrimmage was fast paced, allowed for the better players to showcase themselves a bit, and gave all five goalies a chance to face a ton of shots.
Nathan: He’s a bit older, but to me I liked what I saw out of Andrew Nielsen. There’s no room for anyone to really jump from the minors to the Flames as far as defenders go, but Nielsen is making the case to be one of the top guys down in Stockton.
Christopher Merisier-Ortiz also impressed me to a lesser extent, and I think there’s a chance he could be invited to something else with the Flames at a later date. I know that others were impressed with Montana Onyebuchi (who objectively had the best name at the camp), but he took a very stupid boarding penalty which leaves a sour note for me at a development camp.
Karim: Echoing both Nathan and Treliving, Koumontzis really did stand out in a big way. His big moment was definitely the incredible goal he scored, but even outside of that play, he was buzzing every time he was on the ice. He’s a very skilled and creative offensive player and is incredible at opening up space to make moves in the offensive zone.
Nathan: I liked what I saw from all five goalies, although it was all very short shifts. No goalie really ever got more than five minutes at a time, so it was impossible to set a rhythm. Dustin Wolf’s lateral movement blew me away, although he could stand to work on his rebound control. He let in a softie from a very sharp angle, but he also had the save of the scrimmage. There’s a lot to be excited about with this kid while acknowledging he’s definitely going to need some seasoning.
I found myself continually impressed with invite Christoffer Rifalk, and it will be interesting to see if the Flames keep an eye on him as he presumably returns to Sweden. It’ll be interesting to see how minor league goaltending shakes out, as there’s a definite race going on as far as I’m concerned for both the top spot and back-up slot in Stockton between Tyler Parsons, Artyom Zagidulin, Nick Schneider, and Jon Gillies (who was not at the camp).
Karim: I was personally interested to see how Dustin Wolf fared against the much more experienced goalies in camp. Despite being younger and significantly less seasoned than the others, Wolf held his own and showed off his impressive quickness and lateral movement in the crease. He was beaten a couple times, but he mixed in a few tremendous saves, including taking away a sure goal with his glove in the second part of the session. His rebound control was definitely something you noticed, and not for the right reasons, but overall he looked solid.
Nathan: One additional thing I’d like to make note of is the apparent chemistry between Jakob Pelletier and Phillips. Both of them are known as smaller players who aren’t afraid to shy away from big plays and tough areas, and that was on display when they were sent out over the boards together. [Editor’s Note: Pelletier and Phillips were super intense in one-on-one battle drills against each other on Saturday morning.]
It’ll be a while before they play on the same squad again (if they ever do) but it’s fun to see the seeds planted in development camp and imagine what that could look like in say 2022. Phillips had a very nice goal, and it was nice to see those two provide team white with a very-needed spark.
Karim and I both agree on what the top three highlights were, mostly because of the overall lack of highlights there were to be found from the scrimmage. The order may change between the two of us, but without question they were:
- Pospisil’s hip check. It was such a well-executed hip check, and hinted at the fiery nature that Pospisil brings to his game. I don’t know if it’s always a smart call to commit to those during 3-on-3, but it worked perfectly for him today.
- Wolf’s glove save. I thought it was a sure goal, but Wolf moved across his crease so smoothly so swallow up that chance. The speed in which he can drop down into the splits is a treat, and his glove is very active for a player constantly trying to physically size up against his peers.
- Koumontzis’ goal. Looked like he was playing NHL 19 with moves he put on. He juked around his defender with the puck going between their legs, and was able to recollect it and immediately snipe it in far side in a matter of moments. It’ll be fun to see what he can do at the Summer Showcase later this month and at Arizona State again next season.
Honorable mention goes to Pospisil for unloading a slapshot on Tyler Parsons in the shootout. One of his biggest assets is his feistiness, and it was on full display during the scrimmage.
The Calgary Flames announced after the camp the awards that were given out this year. Congratulations to Linus Lindstrom for taking home the Fittest Player, Schneider for nabbing the Good Guy Award, and to Phillips for earning the Coaches Award.