C of Red Prospects Corner – Ryan Francis
The latest Calgary Flames prospect I’ll be reviewing is 2020 fifth round pick Ryan Francis.
Francis, who was selected 143rd overall in this past draft has had one of the hottest sticks in the QMJHL. Prior to his mid-season trade to the Saint John Sea Dogs where he’s posted five goals and five assists in 10 games, including a four goal game on March 9 in his first game since November. In three and a half seasons with the Cape Breton Eagles, Francis suited up in 198 games, tallying 159 points with his best coming last season where he registered 24 goals and 72 points in 61 games which was third best on the Eagles behind Yegor Sokolov and Shawn Boudrais. His previous high was 34 in his rookie season. He also played one game for Team QMJHL in the Canada-Russia Series.
“We thought he could go anywhere from late second to the fourth,” said Cape Breton head coach Jake Grimes in an interview with flamesnation.ca on Francis’ draft stock and his potential. “We had no idea he’d end up in the fifth, but the drafts are always different and always funny, and credit to Calgary for getting him where they did. They got a great player in the fifth round. He’s got third round skill for sure, easily, and maybe even second round skill. As he starts to complete his game and continue with some grit and just continue on his process, you never know, but his skill level is super high. You never know what you could end up with a guy like that.”
Of Francis’ 169 career points, 113 of them are assists. The best skill that 5’9, 175 pound Francis possesses is his playmaking abilitys. However, in his first game with the Sea Dogs Francis scored a whopping 4 goals. In only 5 games with his new club Francis has 5 goals and 5 assists.
Per Elite Prospects “He is a playmaker first and foremost. He moves the puck around opponents by changing the angle of passes; he spins to use his backhand, hooks the puck through the skates of opponents, and shows poise in possession. On any given line, Francis connects plays between teammates.”
“A silky smooth playmaker who reads the ice at an advanced level. He has some warts away from the puck as with most small wingers but if a team is willing to bank on his skill, they could get a solid winger who excels with a good triggerman” according to dobberprospects.ca.
Francis is a decent skater, but his edgework and agility is elite. His overall stride could use some work and he has above average speed. He has a sneaky good shot with decent accuracy and a very good release, however he’ll need to add some power to his shot in order for it to be a threat at the NHL level. He plays a responsible defensive game, with a willingness to back check and support his defencemen.
Referencing Byron Baders model, Francis may not have the same "elite" potential as another former late round pick by the Flames, but he does have a pretty solid pathway to make the NHL.
Francis has the potential and offensive tools to become a top-six forward at the pro level. A player that he reminds me of at the NHL level is Tyler Ennis. They’re both similarly built and play a similar style of game. Ennis played top six minutes early in his career and while he’s more of a bottom six forward at this point in his career, he is still an effective forward that can play up and down a team’s line up. If the Flames can get that type of production out of Francis, he’ll be a steal of a pick.