Another rookie on the AHL circuit this past season, former seventh round draft pick Gaelan Patterson debuted full-time with the Heat this past season. After being passed over in his first year of eligibility for the NHL draft, Patterson put up two consecutive 20-goal, 50+ point seasons with the Saskatoon Blades in his final two years of Junior, in which he was a +31 and +21, respectively.
After being picked up by the Flames in 2009 and concluding his Junior career, Patterson appeared in three playoff games with the Abbotsford Heat at the end of the season, scoring once. In 2010-11, the 20-year old collected seven goals and 21 points in 61 games with the Heat despite missing time with a multitude of injuries, just ahead of fellow rookie Lance Bouma.
Patterson spent only 15 minutes in the penalty box this past season, which was beneficial for Abbotsford since he finished the season second on the squad in shorthanded goals and was one of the team's main penalty killers, according to this report by Hockey's Future:
The 6′ 207-pounder showed a solid defensive side to his game finishing the year with a plus-one rating on an offensively challenged Abbottsford team. The coaches gave the rookie quality time on the penalty killing unit where he was able to score two shorthanded goals for the season.
As a seventh-round pick, his ceiling is probably limited to that of a bottom six forward if and when he ever cracks an NHL roster, but Patterson's progress as a defensively capable forward with an offensive upside and the potential for improvement is encouraging; despite his proficiency on the PK, the majority of his points still came at even strength, which is always a good sign for a young player.
Judging by the fact that he only had 55 shots on goal in 61 games, I'd guess that he didn't get an extraordinary amount of ice time at EV, but he made the most of it, operating with a 12.7 SH%.Seeing how those numbers are above the norm, he could be in line for a regression next season, but I think the main concern about Patterson for the time being is his health–he missed 19 games this past season with shoulder, knee, jaw, and head injuries and has yet to play a full season in his young hockey career.
The Flames seem to have a propensity for selecting injury-prone prospects whose bad luck prevents them from reaching the next level (see: John Armstrong, Matt Pelech, and John Negrin), but hopefully Patterson can turn it around in that regard so we can truly judge his talent and potential.
by Hayley Mutch