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Five Flames To Watch: Aaron Vickers

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames will participate in the 2015 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC, beginning Friday, September 11, 2015. This will be the fifth time the Flames have participated. The round-robin tournament will feature prospects from the Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets from September 11-14th.

Here is Aaron Vickers' list of Flames prospects to keep an eye on:

Sam Bennett

The highest draft pick in franchise history when the Calgary Flames selected him fourth overall in 2014, Sam Bennett has lofty expectations placed upon him. He’s delivered in his relatively short career with the Flames, overcoming shoulder surgery in 2014-15 to score 11 goals and 24 points in 11 games with his Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League before joining Calgary for the final regular season game of the season. It took Bennett all of one shift to record his first career NHL point -- an assist. The 19-year-old carried that play into the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he recorded three goals and four points while playing in all 11 games for the Flames, helping Calgary advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004. A package of grit and elite skill, Bennett is expected to push for a starring role with the Flames this season.

Mason McDonald

The first goaltender taken in the 2014 NHL Draft when the Calgary Flames selected him 34th overall, Mason McDonald is a quick and athletic goaltender who displays excellent recovery ability. He posted a 28-22-4 record for the Charlottetown Islanders last season with a 3.06 GAA and .906 save percentage, second-highest in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. McDonald is no stranger to the international game, either, having represented Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in 2013 and again at the IIHF 2014 World Under-18 Championship, helping Canada to bronze. The 19-year-old was one of three goaltenders to attend Hockey Canada’s National Junior Summer Evaluation Camp in August, too, and is a candidate to represent Canada at the IIHF 2016 Word Junior Championship in Finland this winter.

Hunter Smith

One of the largest players in the Calgary Flames organization, the 6-foot-7, 208-pound Hunter Smith is big on success of late. As a member of the Oshawa Generals, Smith recorded 23 goals, 49 points and 122 penalty minutes in 57 games. Those totals all served as career-best numbers for the bruising forward. He added nine goals and 18 points in 21 games en route to helping Oshawa capture the J. Ross Robertson Cup as Ontario Hockey League Champions in 2014-15. Smith and the Generals parlayed that success into a Memorial Cup title in May, with the Flames prospect adding a goal in four games in the tournament. Smith, who turned 20 on Sept. 11, will push this fall to turn pro with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.

Oliver Kylington

Selected in the second round, 60th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft just a few months ago, Oliver Kylington split the 2014-15 season between Farjestads BK Karistad (Swe), AIK (Swe-1), and represented Sweden at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, recording a pair of assists in five games. In 2013-14, Kylington became the youngest player, at 16 years, four months and 10 days, to score a goal in SHL history after netting the game-winner in his Farjestad debut. In addition to being selected in the NHL Draft, the dynamic defenceman was also picked 60th overall in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft by the Brandon Wheat Kings. AIK, who previously owned Kylington’s rights, has released the 18-year-old to play in North America for the 2015-16 season. Kylington’s options include the NHL’s Flames, Brandon of the Western Hockey League, and the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, Calgary’s minor-league affiliate.

Jon Gillies

Signing a three-year, entry-level deal with the Flames in April, Jon Gillies will play his first season of professional hockey this fall. He capped his collegiate career in impression fashion, too, backstopping Providence College to an NCAA Championship last spring. As a junior, the 21-year-old Gillies posted a 24-13-2 record with a 2.01 goals against average and .930 save percentage -- tops among Hockey East goaltenders. He was honoured as the 2014-15 Hockey East Goaltender of the Year, and was named the NCAA Division 1 Tournament Most Outstanding Player in leading Providence through the Frozen Four. In 108 games in his NCAA career, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound goaltender recorded 60 wins, 13 shutouts, a 2.08 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

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