I watched the first game of the annual Penticton tourney yesterday and though I would offer up some thoughts.
Andy Taranto - Max Reinhart - Josh Jooris
Michael Ferland - Markus Granlund - Ben Hanowski
Turner Elson - Sean Monahan - Emile Poirier
Sven Baertschi - Corban Knight - Coda Gordon
Keegan Kanzig - Tyler Wotherspoon
Ryan Culkin - John Ramage
Patrick Sieloff - Brett Kulak
I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of the Flames players’ I watched were outright disappointments and some were standouts; here are some of my highly subjective observations.
Laurent Brossoit was solid if not spectacular. He wasn’t really tested much, but he covers a lot of the net with his big frame and moves well for a guy his size. He really couldn’t be faulted on either goal, especially Culkin’s own goal.
On the back end I was especially impressed with John Ramage. Although he took a couple of penalties he was solid in his own end and showed an offensive flair as well, garnering him some time playing point on the PP.
The Oilers had a couple of really solid looking defensemen playing, and Ramage was as good if not better than all of them. You could tell he was more seasoned than the other Flames’ defensemen by the way he read and reacted to the play. I am not sure what happened in his last year of college, but it really helped his development curve.
If he can bring that level of play to the NHL some day he will definitely be a top four guy, maybe top two. As it stands I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees some time on the Flames this year. Subjective letter grade A+
My second fave on defense was Patrick Seiloff. He loves to hit, and apparently he loves to skate. He took off with the puck shorthanded and had the wheels to turn it into a 2-on-1. Has a rocket of a shot as well. He was solid defensively and quite chippy in front of the net when the opposition got in too tight. Subjective letter grade A
I was surprised to find my next favourite defensive display came from little Keenan Kanzig. He was tough, scrappy and seemed to be the target for the Oilers who wanted to prove they could add grit to the Oil’s lineup.
He is a much better skater than I saw previously reported, but needs to keep his knees bent more when he is in transition. He has a good head for the game but I think he was given the green light to rush the puck (as they all were) and he seemed a bit tentative in his decision making. Subjective letter grade B.
The other defensemen were all solid and besides an own-goal from Culkin they were not much below the top guys(Ramage and Seloff). Besides the own-snipe I thought Culkin was great and would have knocked out Kanzig for third favourite performance had he not rifled it past Brossoit.
Up front there were a few guys I thought were standouts.
I will start with the biggest surprise for me and that was Michael Ferland. After an outstanding year with the Wheat Kings in 2011-2012, he found himself way out of his league in both Abby and the ECHL, so he was sent back to Junior at his request where he was good but not great.
I am not sure what he did over the summer but he was great in this game. He was fast, strong on the puck and in the corners, made some great passes and plays and dominated several shifts with linemate Markus Granlund. These two were dynamic in the first period controlling the game when they were on the ice. Subjective letter grade A+
Markus Granlund along side Ferland looked like a future star. People projected him to have a tough time adapting to the North American game because of the smaller ice surface and his size, but that was not the case at all.
Markus was great on face-offs, excellent in this own end and scored two goals. He, Hanowski and Ferland were dominant. Subjective letter grade A+
After taking some shots for selecting Emile Poirier instead of Hunter Shinkaruk, I think the Flames will have the last laugh. While watching this guy at the U-20 camp in Lake Placid I became a big fan and every time I see him I like him more.
Emile is my favourite type of player. He is good with the puck, tough in the corners, excellent on the backcheck and goes extremely hard to the net. Emile is also bring-you-to-your-feet fast. At both the U-20 camp and in the game last night Emile reminded me of a race car. Once he is warmed up no one can catch him. He was a major force in all three of the last third periods I have seen him play. Subjective letter grade A+
Max Reinhart stood out for me as well. He had a great game both offensively and defensively, seems to have gained a half-step since lat year in Penticton. One thing I noticed was Max standing at the gate after each period ended giving each member of the team a pat of encouragement before he left the ice. You could tell he was captain for Kootenay. Subjective letter grade A.
Conspicuous by his absense was Morgan Klimchuk who was injured in pre-season action.
I could actually go on for a while about more of the forwards because each of them had at least one shift that impressed me, but this is s blog not a book, so I will sign off now.
Factoid: Michael Ferland did not play rep hockey until midget.
Thanks for reading.