The Calgary Flames had only three picks at last summer’s NHL draft, in Rounds 2, 5 and 7. In the previous two draft cycles, however, Calgary’s draft grid was full, picking eight times in both 2020 and 2021.
Now, here’s what the Flames’ draft capital looks like:
Matt Coronato, F
Coronato is having another solid season at Harvard, averaging over 19 minutes per game and being used in all situations. I’ve especially noticed his improvement in the small details of the game. He’s winning faceoffs on both sides of the ice (with a 54 per cent success rate), reading plays off the puck and establishing sound position and support defensively.
His element is always going to be his offensive upside. He has a very quick stick and an accurate release. On the power play, Coronato can one-time pucks from the weak side flank, or walk off the half wall to the middle of the ice and snap pucks on net.
His skating would best be described as “average plus” for the NHL game. He definitely has room to add another gear in open ice, though. At this stage, he is crafty with the puck off the rush, but cannot be described as a “burner” in open space.
Coronato has a skill set that could land him in a top-six role at the NHL level. For now, he leans middle-six/power-play contributor. He has the smarts to be used in all situations, but I’m not sure he will see the penalty kill at the NHL level. Overall, though, the Flames’ first-round pick in 2021 (13th) is trending up.
William Stromgren, F
Stromgren is a big-body (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) forward who has loads of room to add more strength to his frame.
His skating will benefit from more power. Out of the gate, his first three steps have room for much more explosiveness. But once he is up to speed, he has no issues keeping up with the pace of the pro game in Sweden, where he plays for Brynas in the SHL.
Stromgren’s offence spiked in his post-draft year, scoring 13 goals and 23 assists at the J20 level last season. That might have been misleading. He has historically never been a high-end point producer and does not see any time in the top six, or on the power play, when playing for the national team within his own age group.
Stromgren is reliable off the puck and brings adequate battle in the hard areas. He works to get pucks out of his zone, or off the half-wall when contested. He rarely transports the puck in transition or makes plays off the rush through zone entries. When time and space allow, he sees the ice and moves the puck responsibly, though.
At this stage of his development, Stromgren projects to be a bottom-of-the-lineup checking forward who isn’t likely to produce even secondary offence at the pro level in North America. He’s an honest, consistent worker who doesn’t possess a singular elite element.
The Flames’ second-round pick (45th) in 2021 is trending flat overall. He needs time to add more strength and further define his upside and role.
Parker Bell, F
The Flames’ fifth-round pick (155th) from last summer is having his most productive season offensively for Tri-City in the Western Hockey League. He’s being used in all situations and averaging over 19 minutes per game.
Bell is a big (6-foot-4, 192-pound), strong, two-way power forward. He finishes his checks in all three zones and has the leverage to absorb contact and still make a puck play. He generally positions himself around the crease on the power play, taking away the eyes of the goaltender and cleaning up rebounds in the process. He has good puck touch in small areas. When working off the cycle, he has shown the ability to either take the play to the net or find a teammate in high-danger areas with his vision and distribution.
On straight lines, Bell has the ability to skate at the pro level and his edges are generally sound. His small-area cuts and transitioning first steps have room for improvement, however. He sometimes finds himself off balance.
Bell has a chance to contribute as a bottom-six NHL forward one day, but it’s going to take time. He’s a bit of a late bloomer. The fact he has size, bump and compete leads me to believe he is going to put in the work to maximize his ability.
Bell most likely projects as a fourth-line forward/role player who will chip in secondary offence. He’s trending up overall.
Dustin Wolf, G
The Flames’ seventh-round selection in 2019 (214th overall) has been nothing short of sensational playing for the Calgary Wranglers in the AHL.
His record over the past two seasons is 67-18-7. His goals-against average has trended down as well, finishing with a 2.35 GAA last season and dropping to 2.22 so far this season. He has an impressive .929 save percentage as well.
Wolf doesn’t fit the definition of a “new breed” of NHL goalie. He isn’t gigantic in the net, standing only six feet and 174 pounds, but he plays an aggressive, quick, butterfly style. He fronts shooters to make himself look as big in the net as he possibly can and he’s uber-competitive.
The bottom line for me is simple: Dustin Wolf is a proven winner at the AHL level and he’s still only 21 years young. I honestly don’t care about the size of the goalie. All he has to do is his job. It’s always interesting to look back on old reports and determine whether a prospect is trending the way I though he would. Here’s a look at a report I generated on Wolf, this past fall, after a game against Colorado:
Wolf stops pucks and wins games. That’s all that matters. He will be an NHL goalie in the not-so-distant future.
Here’s a look the player cards and progress reports on some other Flames prospects of note:
Boltmann projects as a simple, but competitive, two-way/leaning shutdown defenceman. He is most likely a sixth defenceman at the NHL level, if he maximizes his development. Otherwise, he adds depth to the organization as a potential recall.
Ronni is completing his first year of post-draft development and his game has spiked at the end of this season. Some of the reason for that is because he’s been playing games within his own age group, but he’s handling the puck more, making plays and producing offence.
Ronni needs time to add more core strength and leg power, but he’s trending up. He projects as a middle-six forward who can be used in a variety of roles.