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Calgary Flames Top Prospects: 2023 Edition

Flames Prospects

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. As we go through the summer of 2023, each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a look at one NHL team’s top prospects or other topical articles. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben KerrKyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports!  You can find all the articles here as well as our extensive NHL Draft preview. Today, we look at the 2023 Calgary Flames Top Prospects.

For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old. However, these are not hard or fast rules; we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

2023 Calgary Flames Top Prospects

1.) Matthew Coronato

Sitting at the top of the Flames Prospects list is 2021 first-round pick, Matthew Coronato.  Coronato recently finished his college career at Harvard and signed his ELC with the Flames. A versatile forward who can play both centre and wing, Coronato has an outstanding wrist shot and release. He has real power and accuracy on his wrist shot, as well as the ability to quickly change the angle and release point with his quick hands. This extends to his snapshot as well, and he can use that as a weapon on the wing. Coronato has a very good one-timer and a knack for getting it on the net from the “Ovechkin Spot” on the power play. He is also able to establish his position in front of the net, getting deflections and pouncing on rebounds. He has the ability to elevate the puck quickly and beat goalies in tight.

Coronato’s game is relatively simple. He plays a very “North-South” style, not trying a lot of fancy dangles or slick plays. Coronato is always driving the net, both with and without the puck. He forechecks effectively as well as battles well along the boards. His passing game is decent but he projects to be more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker. He moves the puck with short, quick passes and then looks to get open away from the play. The biggest knock in his draft year was his skating, but Coronato has made some improvements in that area.

2.) Dustin Wolf

Wolf had an incredible season. He might have been the best goalie in the AHL this year. Wolf has a strong technique. He comes out of the net and challenges shooters. At just 6’0″, Wolf is small compared to what teams are looking for in a modern goaltender, but his ability to get to the top of the crease helps him to take up as much space as possible. His quick reflexes and strong legs take away the bottom of the net. Wolf also tracks the puck well and moves side-to-side exceptionally quickly. He also gets in and out of the butterfly well, getting up and down quickly.

He is very athletic and can make incredible saves at times. A quick glove hand takes away the top of the net, while he also uses his blocker effectively. His rebound control is advanced for his age, though like most young goaltenders it can continue to improve. He keeps his body square to the shooter. This is true even when he gives up a rebound, as he is always in the correct position to minimize the amount of net the opponent can see and make the next save. He is also good at handling the puck.

3.) Samuel Honzek

Drafted 16th overall in this year’s draft, Honzek comes in at 6’4″ though he can still add muscle to his frame as he is just 185 lbs right now.  The 18-year-old WHL forward will need time to add muscle to his frame and round out his game. However, the ceiling is very high. He is already a very good skater, comparable to many smaller forwards. This will allow him to develop into a power forward once he puts on that mass. Honzek has good hockey sense and vision. He does a great job of transitioning the puck through the neutral zone and establishing effective zone entries. His shot is powerful, but he could improve his accuracy. One would also like to see him do a better job of getting to the front of the net and playing less of a perimeter game as he grows into his body.

4.) Jakob Pelletier

Pelletier is an undersized playmaker with outstanding speed. His speed allows him to take a defender wide and cut to the net. The 2019 first-round pick had a strong AHL season and will push to make the jump this year. He has an excellent hockey IQ. Pelletier anticipates plays. He knows where his teammates are and is able to thread passes through tight areas. He has the patience to wait for a linemate to get open and in a good scoring position. His quick movements and good hands allow him to control the puck down low. Pelletier uses his skating skills to create space and openings. Defenders must back off and respect his speed. When this happens he can slow down the play and find an opening passing lane. He also creates passing lanes with his quick changes of direction as well as his soft hands changing angles against defenders.

5.) Connor Zary

Zary is at his best working in the dirty areas of the ice. He gets to the front of the net both with and without the puck. From there he can bang in a rebound, deflect a teammate’s shot into the net, or one-time a quick pass on goal. He can produce points in the dirty areas of the ice. Zary is willing to battle for loose pucks along the boards. He is also good at creating pressure on the forecheck, forcing opposing defenders to make quick decisions and capitalizing on their mistakes if they don’t.

Zary plays a two-hundred-foot game, as he is not afraid to be involved in his own end. He brings good back pressure and helps his team’s defence down low. He supports teammates against the cycle game. Zary also uses his high-end hockey IQ on his own end. His positioning is solid, he reads opponents well and he has the anticipation and an active stick necessary to create turnovers. Zary is also willing to play physically along the boards or in front of the net.

6.) Etienne Morin

Morin had an excellent season in the WHL. He scored 72 points in 67 games, playing defence for the Moncton Wildcats. He has good but not great attributes in terms of skating, puckhandling, passing skills, shot and defensive play.  When one first watches him, you note that his game is well-rounded, but nothing really stands out. The more one sees of Morin though, it becomes clear that his vision and hockey sense really stand out. He almost always makes the smart play with the puck. His positioning without the puck is also very good. He finds open space to take a pass and quickly get off his wrist shot or one-timer. Morin does a lot of little things right and if he can make a few more minor improvements in his game, he could become a steady top-four NHL defender.

7.) Topi Ronni

The Flames top pick in 2022, 59th overall was Topi Ronni. Ronni is a Finnish centre who brings speed, size, and strong defensive play to the organization. There are some questions as to how much offence he will be able to bring to the next level. He is a bit slight right now and will need time to bulk up. Ronni is more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer. He combines his speed with good stickhandling, which allows him to make space in the offensive zone and challenge defenders in one-on-one situations. Ronni also has good vision. His offensive potential may be limited by the fact he lacks power on his shot and does not have a quick release.

8.) Jeremie Poirier

Poirier is a dynamic offensive defencemen. As stated, he really improved his skating since being drafted. He combines this with his stickhandling ability to effectively carry the puck through the neutral zone, starting and even leading the rush. Poirier is very effective at generating good zone entries and establishing possession in the offensive zone. There are some times that he tries to do a bit too much though, leading to a bad turnover and a rush against him. Poirier is also willing to join the rush and try to generate opportunities as a trailer. While this style is effective in generating a lot of points, it can leave his team vulnerable at the back as well. He will need to learn to better pick his spots and improve his defensive game.

9.) William Stromgren

At the junior levels, Stromgren was a pure goal scorer. He loves to take the puck to the front of the net, working to get there with power. In tight he can score goals with his quick hands. He can elevate the puck over the goaltender from in tight to the net. Stromgren can finish on both his forehand and his backhand. His quick hands can also deflect pucks and bang in rebounds. Stromgren has a powerful and accurate wrist shot. His release is good, but can be even quicker. However, with his quick hands, he is able to change the angle of his release, fooling goaltenders.

Stromgren struggled in his first full year in the SHL with limited ice time and production. The game seemed a little too fast for him at that level. However, it is hoped that he can see a big jump this season as he has had time to adjust.

10.) Aydar Suniev

Suniev has a really good shot, and he knows how to get open to let them off and be a scoring threat away from the puck. Not only that, but he has surprisingly good puck skills, allowing him to create space for himself. He also has a great motor, which helps him be a pain with his physicality. A modern-day power forward, Suniev needs to improve his skating and playmaking to make it to the NHL. He projects as a bottom-six power forward type.

Flames Prospects Honorable Mention: Mathias Emilio Pettersson

Pettersen is much more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer. He is very creative and will make plays that other players won’t even attempt. Pettersen also combines his skating ability with outstanding stickhandling ability. He can make moves with the puck while moving at top speed. He can also make plays in a phone booth, with the quickness to deke players and goalies in tight areas. A quick change in angles on his stick and with his skating can also open up passing lanes. Pettersen has excellent vision and the passing ability to put the puck through tight spaces and on his teammate’s tape for a scoring chance.  He needs to bulk up and sometimes gets pushed off the puck.

Flames Prospects in the System

The Flames need to rebuild their development system after years of trading away prospects and draft picks have depleted the prospects pipeline. However, there are some other talents worth keeping an eye on, who have not cracked the top ten.  They include Yan Kuznetsov, Arseni Sergeyev, Ben Jones, Martin Pospisil, and Jake Boltmann.


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