Each Day until September 15th TPS will take a look at one team from the East and one team from the West and spotlight a few rookies to watch for this season. Today in the West it’s the Calgary Flames.
Let's face it the Flames have not been a prospect machine over the last few seasons, mostly because they've only picked inside the top 23 once since 2004 and it was this past June when they grabbed Portland Winterhawk Sven Bartschi. 2007 first rounder Mikael Backlund played his first full season with the Flames last year producing 25 points and he could end up as their #1 center this season. Greg Nemisz will make a case for a spot down the middle as well and Lance Bouma will likely see some time with the big club as well.
As for who makes the biggest impact as a freshman, I think it will be T.J. Brodie on the back end. Even if Brodie doesn't crack the line up out of camp, injuries will happen and Brodie will be summoned from Abbotsford. A 4th round pick from 2008, Brodie has steadily gotten better each season. After getting drafted he jumped from 30 to 50 points in Saginaw. Last year he had a respectable 34 points in 68 games during his first pro campaign. He also played 3 games with the big club at the start of the year. He skates very well and is a good passer who might even see some power play time with his heavy shot. Brodie played in quite a few different situations for the Heat last season and could turn into a versatile blueliner for the Flames this season.