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The Calgary Flames have been pretty effective at drafting over the past few years. Their first round picks have tended to jump right into the NHL, which has left their top farm team, the Stockton Heat, a bit lean on shiny toys and early draft picks.

But that’s probably a good thing.

The probable 2020-21 Stockton bunch

Here are the players that will likely be with the Heat next season:

  • G Tyler Parsons – 2016 second rounder
  • G Artyom Zagidulin – undrafted free agent
  • D Carl-Johan Lerby – undrafted free agent
  • D Connor Mackey – undrafted free agent
  • D Colton Poolman – undrafted free agent
  • D Alexander Yelesin – undrafted free agent
  • F Emilio Pettersen – 2018 sixth rounder
  • F Luke Philp – undrafted free agent
  • F Eetu Tuulola – 2016 sixth rounder
  • F Adam Ruzicka – 2017 fourth rounder
  • F Martin Pospsil – 2018 fourth rounder
  • F Dmitry Zavgorodniy – 2018 seventh rounder
  • F Glenn Gawdin – free agent (2015 fourth rounder, St. Louis)
  • F Matthew Phillips – 2016 sixth rounder
  • F Justin Kirkland – free agent (2014 third rounder, Nashville)

There’s a chance that Juuso Valimaki (2017 first rounder) could spend some time in Stockton as well, but aside from Tyler Parsons it’s almost entirely mid-to-late picks and undrafted players.

The meritocracy

Based on history, y’know who gets the ice time in Stockton? The players that are clicking. The top players in Stockton this season were Gawdin and Phillips, and Ruzicka and Philp down the stretch. In prior seasons, sixth rounder Andrew Mangiapane was their centerpiece.

Heck, look at the project signings the Flames have made! David Rittich got starts and NHL call-ups. Garnet Hathaway and Josh Jooris got the necessary reps to get into the NHL.

The outside view

Is Stockton star-studded from the outside? Hardly. But if you’re a free agent pondering where you’re going to sign, you probably take a look at the lack of high end picks and think to yourself “I can probably out-work these depth guys.” The lack of tippity-top prospects in Stockton makes the team internally very competitive, but might actually help the Flames recruit key free agents. Connor Mackey probably doesn’t sign with Calgary if their farm team includes a handful of high picks; the lack of them helped the Flames land Mackey.