Monday, September 16, 2013

One To Watch: Calgary Flames

It's definitely a new era in Southern Alberta as a number of fan favorite veterans have moved on, Brian Burke has joined the organization and the team has embraced a rebuilding mentality.

With that comes a number of young prospects and new faces to the team and a level of uncertainty. But just because these new players aren't proven doesn't mean they can't get the job done. For the first time in a number of years, the Flames have a number of young prospects in the system for fans to be excited about. Perhaps the rebuild won't take as long as it has for other franchises in different cities.

2012 Choice: Laurent Brossoit - The Edmonton Oil Kings netminder began last season trying to erase the memories of a sub-par Memorial Cup and summer U20 camp performance. For the most part, Brossoit had a very successful year although he was overlooked for Canada's entry at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Russia. The goaltender posted career best numbers with a 2.25 GAA and .917 sv% and was even better in the playoffs. 

My 2013 selection for One To Watch for the Flames comes after the jump. 

Jon Gillies (G)
Providence College Friars
6'5, 216 lbs
Drafted 75th overall in 2012

Photo: Michael Turesk
There were plenty of reasons why Gillies could have been my pick for the Flames last year; a late switch to Providence from Northeastern, the potential trip to Russia with USA for the WJC and his high draft selection among them. 

Gillies not only played well but flourished with the Friars. The freshman held a 2.08 GAA and .935 sv% through 35 games in Providence last season which helped him earn a ton of hardware. Hockey East Rookie of the Year, All Rookie Team, 1st team All-Star, an All-American not to mention a gold medal from Russia as the backup with team USA.

Even the biggest Gillies supporter had to have been impressed with the success the towering goaltender enjoyed last year. 

There were a number of freshman NCAA goalies that enjoyed a similar debut and that makes a person wonder if it was the league or the goalie. That will be one of the questions to be decided in 2013-14. 

Photo: Nancie Battaglia
Another will be the U20 WJC in Sweden at New Year's. As a returning player, the starting job is his to lose - will he or can he take the reins from John Gibson and backstop the Americans to another strong showing?    

How does he follow up a stellar rookie campaign with the Friars? Does his game take a step forward or does his development stagnate? If there continues to be a sharp incline to his development curve, does Gillies look at the post-Miikka Kiprusoff Calgary roster, sense an opportunity and consider leaving school at the end of the year?

Like last year, there are a lot of reasons to have Jon Gillies on the One To Watch radar. Unlike last year, he's my pick for Calgary in 2013-14. 

Next Up: St. Louis Blues 

No comments: