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The Flames have done their first piece of RFA business this offseason, re-signing left winger Morgan Klimchuk on a one year, two-way deal for $700,000.

.@CortexBusiness Transaction Alert: The #Flames have signed forward Morgan Klimchuk to a one-year deal. https://t.co/RFXVWlOOky

— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 15, 2018

The 2013 first rounder has spent all but one game of his pro career with the Stockton Heat, becoming one of the team’s strongest two-way forwards in the process. A rough nine point rookie season aside, Klimchuk has developed into one of the strongest players on the Heat, picking up back-to-back 40 point seasons while seeing ice time on the powerplay and penalty kill. He saw NHL action for the first time this year, playing one game against the Boston Bruins.

Klimchuk will be one of the names battling for a spot this upcoming training camp. Given the depth accumulated by the team this offseason, he might have a tough time sneaking in, but his waiver eligible status should make the choice a bit tougher.

The Flames still have to re-sign RFAs Hunter Shinkaruk, Jon Gillies, Noah Hanifin, Mark Jankowski, Garnet Hathaway, Brett Kulak, Elias Lindholm, and David Rittich, the last five potentially going to arbitration for their contracts.

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Up next in our features on 2018 Flames draftees is Mathias Emilio Pettersen, Norwegian YouTube sensation.

Mathias Emilio Pettersen 10 year 2010 - YouTube

The kid has been in the spotlight (relatively speaking) before he hit junior high, and been thoroughly scouted throughout the entire time. Having already torn up Norway’s U16 league at age 13, he headed to American prep schools at age 14 and eventually found his way to the USHL. The 5’10, 170 lbs centre has been tabbed as one to watch, as his developing offensive prowess could prove valuable in the future.

The Flames are no stranger to drafting smallish offensive weapons in the sixth round. Could Pettersen be another late gem?

Numbers and such
GP G A P Primary Points 5v5 points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
USHL 60 14 32 46 29 21 15 17.6

Pettersen was a pretty consistent contributor for Muskegon. Besides a slow start where he only scored two points in nine games, he became a regular point per game contributor for the rest of the season, his longest drought after that lasting three games.

There’s a few red flags with Pettersen though. He was pretty reliant on powerplay scoring (16), which is always a concern. Pettersen also picked up a lot of secondary points along the way, scoring 15 primary assists compared to 17 secondary assists. Those aren’t numbers indicative of a guy who will be in the NHL.

Another issue with Pettersen is that he played on a pretty good Muskegon team, one of the USHL’s highest scoring outfits. Although 46 points is a pretty good number, that only meant he contributed on 22.89% of all Muskegon goals. His other issues with 5v5 scoring and primary points generation also show up here. He was only involved in 14.42% of 5v5 goals. Factoring in primary contributions, he was only the main factor on 17.5% of AS goals, and 12.5% of 5v5 goals. Pettersen likely benefited from being on a great team. Although he certainly has his merits, a deeper dive reveals a few issues with Pettersen’s performances.

Relative to his draft class, Pettersen fares quite well. Of the 53 first-time eligible USHL forwards (20 GP minimum), Pettersen ranks ninth in points per game, and 15th in primary points per game. His production was still top-end when you consider the context of him being a 17-year-old USHLer. However, those numbers drop to 15th in P/GP and 18th in P1/GP when only looking at 5v5 numbers. His estimated 5v5 P/60 is also 25th among first time eligibles, which is not great.

In other competitions, Pettersen was the leading scorer at the Div 1A World Juniors, finishing with 12 points in five games. Competition in that tournament included Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, and Kazakhstan, so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s still a positive note.

Final thoughts

Pettersen is heading to the University of Denver, a program he’s been committed to since he was 15.

The Pioneers are undergoing a rebuild phase, having lost their head coach to the NHL as well as a few of their better players. Pettersen is in a good spot to step in and steal the spotlight, but he has to show more than what he has at the USHL level. Being a secondary scorer as he gets older isn’t going to get him much closer to the NHL. If he’s a burgeoning offensive weapon, Pettersen is simply going to have to show more.

Pettersen is likely going to be a longer term project. He’s had some promising USHL years but is far from a complete player as it stands; he’ll likely need three years before signing in the NHL is even an idea. Hopefully he can become more than a complementary player at the NCAA level.

Previously

Milos Roman | Demetrious Koumontzis | Martin Pospisil

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The Calgary Flames seem comfortable leaving their comfort zone in the late rounds of the NHL Draft. In recent years they’ve become more comfortable with grabbing undersized scorers, with the likes of Matthew Phillips and Andrew Mangiapane being snapped up by the club. But this past June they did something they rarely do: select a small, Russian import player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the seventh round.

It’s a bit of an interesting move for a team that hasn’t had a ton of recent success with Russians or Quebec league players, but Dmitry Zavgorodniy is an interesting prospect who could be worth the risk.

Originally from Osmk, Russia, Zavgorodniy came up through the Avangard Omsk organization and put up strong numbers. He led the Russian U16 league in scoring as a 15-year-old and was top 30 in scoring in their U17 league as a 16-year-old – he was third in the U17 league on a points-per-game basis.

Zavgorodniy’s domestic success led to interest on this side of the Atlantic, which led to him making the big leap and coming over to Canadian major junior hockey via the 2017 CHL Import Draft. A bright-eyed 17-year-old Russian was dropped into the heartland of the QMJHL with the Rimouski Oceanic.

“I really like Rimouski and North America, Canada,” said Zavgorodniy at Flames development camp. “People like hockey and now every time each game, four thousand people at each game. It’s pretty cool. And it’s a bit different. It’s different, but my teammate [Denis Mikhnin] is from Russia, he’s a big help when I arrive there.”

In addition to adjusting to all the on-ice differences of North American hockey, including the smaller ice and different pace of play in the QMJHL, Zavgorodiny had to adjust to life in a bilingual country and a team where not everybody spoke the same language. He credited his coaches with helping him adjust.

“It’s hard at first,” said Zavgorodniy. “I sit in the locker room and all speak French, just four or five guys who don’t know French. My first time I came there I wasn’t sure how to speak there. But I learned some French words. I want to learn some [more] French.”

During the season, Zavgorodniy took language classes twice a week to help him adjust (and presumably will continue to do so). He made a strong first impression in his rookie year, with 47 points in 62 games – good for fourth on the Oceanic. With a playing style and build somewhat resembling a right-shooting Mangiapane he seems poised for a stronger 2018-19, as the Oceanic will have potential 2020 top pick Alexis Lafreniere leading the way while some departures will open the door for Zavgorodniy to have a bigger role on the team.

“I want to get better every day,” said Zavgorodniy. “I don’t have any goal, but I just want to make the team in Rimouski and try to show what a teammate I am. And go on that roster and try to make NHL and sign a contract. That stuff, that’s my dream, to play in NHL. I want to do all I can to go there.”

Zavgorodniy was one of the youngest first-time eligible players in the 2018 draft class, not turning 18 until mid-August. Due to where his birthday falls, he’s not eligible to play in the American Hockey League until the 2020-21 season – so he’ll have two more full seasons in the QMJHL to hone his craft. For now, he’s just excited to be drafted.

“I’m pretty happy to be part of this organization,” said Zavgorodniy. “I’m so proud. It’s really cool. It’s one of the best days of my life.”

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Elias Lindholm isn’t signed – yet.

But the Flames are working towards locking down one of their biggest offseason acquisitions, with rumour having it he may get a five- or six-year deal, with an annual average value of around $5 million.

The Calgary Flames appear to be closing in on an extension with RFA, Elias Lindholm. Details being worked on but expectation is 5 or 6 years at around $5M per.

— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) July 13, 2018

Lindholm’s arbitration date isn’t until Aug. 1, the last of the five Flames to file for arbitration, but he’s the highest profile of the lot, with the most NHL experience and an anticipated top six role, so focusing on a deal for him sooner rather than later makes sense.

Only four Flames forwards currently have cap hits over $5 million: Mikael Backlund ($5.35 million), James Neal ($5.75 million), Sean Monahan ($6.375 million), and Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million). Monahan and Gaudreau’s signings were both their second contracts, signed as restricted free agents and carrying them through to unrestricted free agency.

Lindholm, meanwhile, will be signed as an RFA, but this will be his third contract. He already has five years of NHL experience, but has never scored at a level as elite as Monahan and Gaudreau.

So, the question arises: is Lindholm worth a $5 million cap hit?

Here are 15 forwards, all of whom were signed as RFAs, with cap hits ranging from $4.9-$5.5 million, and their stats in their respective contract years.

Player Cap hit Term Points 5v5 CF% OZS%
Elias Lindholm ? ? 44 53.25 56.93
Jonathan Drouin $5.5 million 6 years 53 52.07 57.12
Bo Horvat $5.5 million 6 years 52 47.55 46.47
Jaden Schwartz $5.35 million 5 years 22 54.02 62.99
Mika Zibanejad $5.35 million 5 years 37 49.30 52.46
Tomas Tatar $5.3 million 4 years 46 50.84 52.29
Ondrej Palat $5.3 million 5 years 52 52.71 56.11
Jeff Carter $5.273 million 11 years* 66 51.27 43.72
JT Miller $5.25 million 5 years 58 NYR: 46.16
TB: 53.41
NYR: 55.09
TB: 55.74
Nino Niederreiter $5.25 million 5 years 57 55.41 52.40
Brayden Schenn $5.125 million 4 years 59 50.30 52.29
Reilly Smith $5 million 5 years 37 52.47 47.82
Derick Brassard $5 million 5 years 45 53.54 60.16
Alex Galchenyuk $4.9 million 3 years 44 50.06 66.38
Alexander Wennberg $4.9 million 6 years 59 51.18 60.74

*Note that 11-year deals are no longer possible under the current CBA.

Most of these deals were signed in the past couple of years, so percentage of cap isn’t a particularly big factor. Most players played full seasons as well; Schwartz, the lone exception, was a .67 point per game player in his 33-game contract year. Zibanejad was a .66 point per game player in his.

There’s a common theme to be found: all guys are pretty decent players, typically ranging from 40-60 points, mostly with 5v5 CFs over 50%, with corresponding offensive zone start ratios over 50%. Lindholm matches the criteria to a tee, though his point production is on the lower end of things: while he’s been consistent in his scoring, he’s never broken the 50-point barrier, unlike most of his comparables.

So all in all? A cap hit around $5 million is probably a fair deal for Lindholm, based on the market the league has set. Signing him to a five- or six-year deal fits in with everyone else, as well.

But he should probably be on the lower scale of the $5-million group, if only because he hasn’t yet had a truly breakout offensive season. Maybe that’s due to the general lack of high scoring the Hurricanes have had to offer, maybe that’s because of his own ceiling – but we won’t know that for a few seasons yet, in all likelihood.

In the meantime, no sense in getting burned by the unknown – though Lindholm will probably be worth the deal he gets.

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The most prominent trade the Calgary Flames made on the second day of the 2018 NHL Draft was obviously the one with the Carolina Hurricanes. But just before that they added a draft pick when they swapped a 2019 fourth round pick to Montreal for a 2018 fourth round selection, taking Vancouver Giants forward Milos Roman at 122nd overall.

While the Slovakian import only played in 39 games for the Giants, he impressed enough for the Flames to go out of their way to grab him. In what’s a bit of a theme for the Flames’ 2018 draft class, Roman represents a calculated gamble (and a potential value selection).

Originally from Kysucke Nove Mesto in northern Slovakia, Roman played much of his junior hockey in the neighbouring Czech Republic with the HC Trinec organization – his older brother, Michal, was his teammate on several rungs of the Trinec ladder.

The nice thing about European hockey is that the organizations are vertically integrated, so players can jump up a level if they’re good. And Roman turned out to be pretty good at generating points, so he moved up quite frequently.

  • At 14, Roman was well over a point-per-game (60 points in 26 games in the Czech U16 league and just under a point-per-game (16 points in 19 games) in the U18 league.
  • At 15, he was a point-per-game (42 points in 36 games) in the U18 league.
  • At 16, he was a point-per-game (37 points in 35 games) in the U20 league.
  • At 17, he was a full-time pro in the Czech secondary league, playing 29 games and generating six points.

It’s worth noting that Roman is two years younger than his brother and outscored him over these four seasons in every instance where they were teammates.

From there Roman rolled the dice and headed to North America, moving to the Vancouver Giants by way of the Canadian Hockey League’s Import Draft. He faced some unique challenges as he adapted to differences on and off the ice.

“When I came here I didn’t speak English, so I learned there fast and it helped me a lot,” said Roman at Flames development camp. “And also on the ice about three games into the season so I felt good on the ice, and I used to playing here really fast and it helped me.”

Despite having to adjust to the many differences of the North American game, Roman managed to put together a very solid rookie campaign with 32 points in 39 games. His season was partially derailed, though, by a trip to the World Juniors and a lower-body injury that followed soon after.

“I thought I had a good year over there in Vancouver,” reflected Roman. “I got injured right after World Juniors, in first game, it kinda stopped me a little bit because I thought I had pretty good season so far at the time. I came back after the injury and I felt really good in playoffs. I’m really happy that I jumped back and I felt good there.”

Roman got a big confidence boost from his performances in the WHL playoffs, where he had six points in their seven-game first round loss to Victoria. He got another one from the Flames trading into the fourth round to nab him. He might get another big one this season, as there’s chatter that he may become the Giants’ captain now that Tyler Benson has gone pro.

For his part, Roman’s more focused on team goals.

“We’ll have a good team,” said Roman. “I’m sure I’ll be one of the leaders. I’m ready for it. I want to go further in playoffs. I want to make playoffs and want to go further.”

Short of a trip to Vancouver, though, Flames fans probably won’t get a chance to see him in-person this season. He’ll likely be suiting up for Slovakia at the World Juniors when the Giants are slated to come to town in late December.

But also be on the lookout for something else by late December: a potential NHL contract. Like Juuso Valimaki’s signing last year, Roman’s late birthday means the Flames could get a free year of AHL development if he signs before the end of 2018.

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When the Flames signed Austin Czarnik, they reportedly beat out roughly two-thirds of the league in order to acquire his services. Signed for just two years with an annual average value of $1.25 million, it isn’t a particularly glamorous deal, and yet they got him.

One reason? He’s a right-shot centre who can play the wing, and with the Flames’ dismal lack of right shots, he has an easier path to the NHL – fewer guys he has to be better than. This was a factor that helped the Flames land Spencer Foo a year ago, with a key difference: Czarnik already had three years’ worth of pro experience, including NHL time. Being a known commodity helps.

At 25, he doesn’t just fit in with the Flames positionally; he fits their age group, as well. He’s a little older than their other prominent names – a few months older than Johnny Gaudreau, but a few years younger than Mikael Backlund – and though it would be hard to define him as a prospect at this stage of his career, there’s definitely still potential for more within him, especially if he gets the chance the Flames seem to be willing to give him.

Situational scoring

There’s potential for points: with 69 points in 64 games he was third in AHL scoring in 2017-18, younger than the two guys ahead of him who already appear to have flamed out of an NHL spot. Czarnik’s 1.08 points per game was second amongst AHLers who spent most of their season in the league, beaten only by Chris Terry, who was one of the two with more raw points.

Not just that, but there’s been interest expressed in using him in all situations, with a potential spot on the powerplay (remember, he’s a right shot!) available, and praise for his penalty killing abilities, as well (most of the Flames’ penalty killers are returning, but for Matt Stajan, fourth in forward kill time; and Garnet Hathaway, who was sixth, and could find himself pushed out of the lineup all together due to added depth).

Czarnik might need powerplay time to put up offensive totals, though, if this past AHL season was any indication. Just 37 of his points – 54% of his offence – came at 5v5, tied for 13th in the league. The 31 points he scored on the powerplay were among the most in the AHL (29 at a standard 5v4 was tied for second most; he also picked up two points at 4v3).

To speak to that penalty killing, though, Czarnik did pick up one shorthanded assist in the AHL this past season.

Comparables

Via Christian Tiberi and his consistently helpful database, we can pull up a set of AHL forwards who scored over a point per game in their 24-year-old seasons – and then went on to play at least 20 NHL games the following season.

The names are not particularly familiar to the casual fan:

  • Kris Beech
  • David Desharnais
  • Andrew Gordon
  • Mark Mancari
  • Rich Peverley
  • Colton Sceviour
  • Jordan Weal
  • Brad Winchester
  • Mike Zigomanis

Plus another 14 forwards who scored over a point per game in the AHL, but failed to really play in the NHL in any meaningful circumstances the following season.

Gordon and Mancari failed to have much in the way of NHL careers. Beech, Winchester, and Zigomanis all got about a couple hundred games in each, but failed to do much in the way of actual scoring.

Weal, 26, is still something of a work in progress, finding his footing in the big league but proving useful in some capacity. Sceviour, 29, has carved out a spot as a consistent 20-point scorer.

Peverley may have been out of the league for several years now, but he had a number of great seasons; Desharnais found a fair bit of success in Montreal. They may be the best case scenario for Czarnik’s presumptive NHL career.

NHL situations

Czarnik only played 10 games in the NHL in 2017-18, but dressed for 49 in 2016-17. Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract defined him then as a “sheltered forward”, with a low quality of opponent (he wasn’t being sent out to deal with the opposition’s big guns, like Patrice Bergeron or Backlund would be) and a 58.58% offensive zone start.

Czarnik did have a positive corsi rating of 54.44%, but it’s worth remembering the Bruins have generally been a strong team in that area. Relatively, he was a -1.37 – certainly not a dealbreaker, but underwhelming, even if the data is over a year old.

With the Flames, though, one would expect him to remain in that “sheltered forward” situation.

Depth chart

The Flames have plenty of options at centre before Czarnik’s name comes up: Sean Monahan, Backlund, Mark Jankowski, Derek Ryan, Elias Lindholm, Sam Bennett, and Curtis Lazar. Of that group, Lazar is the only one Czarnik could probably realistically usurp (say what you will about Bennett and how he may permanently be a winger now, but he’s still shown more at the NHL level at a younger age, and isn’t devoid of potential just yet).

That turns attention to the right wing, a position the Flames have been pretty desperate in since Jarome Iginla left. There’s James Neal, Michael Frolik, Lindholm, Troy Brouwer, Garnet Hathaway, and Spencer Foo. Those first three aren’t going to be overtaken any time soon, but after them, it’s wide open.

Czarnik is clearly exciting at the AHL level, and has some further potential to be explored, but it’s best to keep in mind as we wait for training camp that he relied on the powerplay a fair bit to score, and was sheltered in the NHL. To that end, he should still have to work hard in training camp, because he isn’t a player who should be guaranteed a spot; he isn’t as can’t miss as Ryan, who was signed the same day, is.

But on a relatively cheap two-year deal for an overlooked player who can clearly perform at a high level of hockey? He’s a low risk, high reward kind of guy, and you can’t really go wrong with that.

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Martin Pospisil is a very intriguing hockey player. The first of three players selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft – and the first player they selected over their weekend – his talent is almost overshadowed by the conception that he’s the Tasmanian Devil on skates.

But the Flames may have bought low on a player with some upside.

A product of Zvolen, Slovakia – located in the geographic center of that country – Martin has spent a good deal of his hockey-playing time following in his older brother Kristian’s footsteps. Kristian is three-and-a-half years older and is currently signed with the Toronto Marlies.

As did Kristian, Martin ended up playing much of his high-end hockey in Austrian junior leagues. He jumped to North America for the 2017-18 season as an old 17-year-old (he turned 18 in November), joining the Sioux City Musketeers – the same team his older brother played on during the prior season.

“He told me Sioux City is a really good organization and USHL is a really good league, and he said it’s really good for me if I come to Sioux City,” said Pospisil at Flames development camp.

The elder Pospisil had 40 points in 48 games in 2016-17 (as a 19-year-old), while Martin had 37 points in 49 games as an 18-year-old. The younger Pospisil was third on the Musketeers in scoring. He has one more year left in the USHL, then he’s headed off to St. Lawrence University for the 2019-20 campaign.

“It’s a little bit different hockey in Europe than in U.S.,” noted Pospisil. “I like the U.S. hockey because the rink is a little bit smaller than Europe. I play physical and it’s more tough.”

One thing the two Pospisil brothers have in common? Taking many penalties. Kristian led the MHL in penalty minutes in 2014-15 (with 161 in 49 games), while Martin led the USHL in penalties with 253 minutes. He admits that finding the balance between physical play and helping his team offensively was a challenge.

“For sure, because this year I was suspended for 13 games,” said Pospisil. “And then after then I just said to the guys, ‘I want to play, I don’t want to be in the penalty box.'”

While that’s easier said than done – and we’ll believe it when we see it – Pospisil had 0.76 points per game and 77 more penalty minutes than the next nearest player. You can’t say he wasn’t engaged in the games. Right now he’s still trying to figure out where the edge is. If he can channel himself more effectively and play less like an unfocused firehose, he could be a good value pickup given a couple seasons in college to round himself out.

That said, it’s also entirely possible he could end up joining his brother in the AHL and ECHL. He’s at the point of his career where it could go either way, but he still has a good deal of time to figure things out.

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The National Hockey League and the Players’ Association have settled on their 2018 salary arbitration schedule. The Calgary Flames will be busy, as they have five cases on the docket.

The Flames cases are scheduled as follows:

  • July 23: Brett Kulak
  • July 27: Mark Jankowski
  • July 28: David Rittich
  • July 30: Garnet Hathaway
  • Aug. 1: Elias Lindholm

Per the CBA, the Flames have access to a 48-hour additional buyout window by virtue of having arbitration cases scheduled. The Flames’ buyout window will run from Aug. 4-6.

While the Flames are among the busiest teams in terms of arbitration hearings scheduled, traditionally very few cases actually reach the hearing room. Only three of the 30 players who filed during the 2017 offseason made it to the hearing room (with just one decision announced), while Brad Treliving has only made it to the hearing room on one of the six previous cases that filed for salary arbitration (and that case was settled soon after they left the hearing).

We’ll have more on the salary arbitration cases, including mock arbitration hearings, in the coming weeks.

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When you google Emilio Pettersen, the first things that pop up in the search results are a series of YouTube videos. The videos show a pint-sized Pettersen dekeing and dodging around larger players and scoring many slick goals in his native Norway.

While he was a YouTube sensation as a youngster, nowadays Pettersen – the Calgary Flames’ sixth round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft – continues to hone his craft with an eye towards big league stardom.

After proving himself a formidable force in Norway and seeking a challenge, Pettersen came to North America in 2014-15 as a 14-year-old. He played two seasons with the prestigious Selects Hockey Academy in Connecticut, where he was teammates with 2018 first round selection Joel Farabee, and finished third and fourth in team scoring over his tenure.

“[I moved] to gain knowledge about the game,” shared Pettersen during Flames development camp. “I knew that I was going to learn a lot from moving over here. It’s a different lifestyle over here, especially for hockey, where hockey’s not as big in Norway. So to build that knowledge about hockey and really try to gain some skill and coming over here to really benefit from it.”

Mathias Emilio Pettersen 10 year 2010 - YouTube

After aging out of the Selects program, he played the 2016-17 season with the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers, where he had 27 points and was fourth in team scoring. He was traded to the Muskegon Lumberjacks for the 2017-18 season where he had 46 points and was fifth in team scoring – he scored at the same rate as Nashville’s fourth round pick (and Muskegon teammate) Jachym Kondelik.

A veteran of two Under-18 World Championships for Team Norway, Pettersen seems primed to follow in his father’s footsteps. The elder Pettersen, Flemming, represented Norway at a pair of lower division World Juniors in the ’90s – the level of competition where countries are trying to get to the top level. In the meantime, Pettersen is off to school in the fall at the University of Denver and still seems to get a kick of out his old YouTube clips.

“I think I’m a little different player now,” laughed Pettersen. “It’s fun to watch how I used to play and how I play now. I have a little bit of the same skill-set, obviously now I play on the smaller sheet and you know moving over here you have to switch your mentality on how you would go about it. It’s just fun to watch.”

Mathias Emilio Pettersen 2011 - YouTube

Pettersen joins a Denver Pioneers program in transition under new head coach David Carle. With several key veterans graduating or leaving for pro hockey and a freshman class that includes recent draft picks Slava Demin (Vegas), Brett Stapley (Montreal), Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay) and goalie Filip Larsson (Detroit), the Pioneers are going to be a young, scrappy bunch. With few established offensive weapons, the new coach will probably lean on whoever is able to score consistently early on.

If Pettersen can capture some of the swagger of his YouTube days, perhaps he’ll follow in the footsteps of past Flames sixth round selections Andrew Mangiapane (2015) and Matthew Phillips (2016) and make a name for himself as a high-end scorer as he works his way towards the NHL.

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The less significant Flames trade on the second day of the draft, almost forgettable given the significance of the other trade, was a straight swap of fourth round picks: the Flames traded their 2019 fourth rounder for Montreal’s 2018 fourth rounder. Without a pick in the fifth round, the Flames made sure they got their man in Milos Roman, a productive import WHLer whose injury-shortened season damaged his draft stock.

The 6’0″, 187 lb. Slovakian centreman has been praised for his high hockey IQ and solid play, which is probably why the Flames couldn’t wait to pick him up.

Numbers and such
GP G A P Primary Points 5v5 points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
WHL 39 10 22 32 18 21 12 18.84

Roman took a few games to find consistency, but when he was on, he could be trusted to pick up a point per game. He trailed off towards the end, likely because he returned from the World Juniors, got injured, and then returned from injury two months later. If Roman could keep up his production from earlier in the year, he would be a guaranteed second rounder.

The odd thing about Roman is that the generous scouting reports occasionally don’t show in his numbers. Despite being praised as a playmaker, he has a pretty even amount of primary points to secondary. His 5v5 numbers are alright, but he seems to rely a lot on powerplay scoring to get points. Again, he’s a rookie playing in North America for the first time so things aren’t always going to be spotless, but there are a few concerns.

Despite the stat line, Roman actually shows up favourably compared to other draft eligibles. Among the 83 first-time eligible forwards in the WHL, Roman actually ranks third in points per game and ninth in primary points per game at both 5v5 and all situations. Factoring in estimated time on ice, Roman ranks second in the entire league in estimated points per 60. The WHL draft crop was not as strong as other developmental leagues’, but the Flames certainly got one of the better players from the WHL in Roman.

Comparables

Methodology explained here. Roman’s full data can be found here.

For a fourth round pick, Roman actually has some good comparables. Around 18% of players with similar all situations production or 5v5 players production eventually made it to 200 NHL games, which is pretty good. When you consider players with similar AS and 5v5 production, that number jumps to 25%. The odds are still against him, but a fourth rounder with a one-fifth chance of making it to the NHL is always good value.

The problem for the time being is that similar players eventually go on to third and fourth line careers. Similar AS players eventually hit a 0.31 PPG rate in the NHL, whereas similar 5v5 players hit a 0.4 PPG rate in the NHL. Players who had similar production in both categories went on to score at about a 0.29 PPG rate. That’s 25, 33, and 24 points respectively. Not that great.

Canucksarmy’s PGPS system has Roman in similar territory, giving him a 12.6% chance of hitting 200 NHL games with an expected production of about 33 points per 82 games. They do include caveats about his injury and transition, however.

Final thoughts

Roman strikes me as a Glenn Gawdin type prospect. He is a pretty solid pick in the later rounds of the draft who, with patience, could develop into an NHL player. The difference is the situation. Roman had to come in cold with no previous North American experience compounded with an injury that took away the majority of his playing time. He could reach new levels next year with a year of experience under his belt.

But despite some promising numbers, Roman still needs a lot of work before he’s at that level yet. Look for him to be a bigger part of the Vancouver offence, and hopefully a starring role with Slovakia’s World Juniors team. His future in North America would be clearer with a full season to look at, so hopefully all goes right.

Previously

Demetrious Koumontzis | Martin Pospisil

ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY SPORTS EXCELLENCE

Founded in 1950, Sports Excellence Corporation represents over 150 family-owned independent hockey retailers across Canada and the United States. Our highly knowledgeable hockey specialists are available to assist all your equipment needs. Find your closest Sports Excellence retailer here: Find a location near you!

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