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After worst outing of the year, Flames give Jankowski NHL debut

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 26: Tyler Pitlick #15 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against Mark Jankowski #77 of the Calgary Flames on September 26, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

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Of the 30 players first-rounders from the 2012 draft, only two have yet to make their NHL debuts.

Tonight, that number will decrease to one.

Mark Jankowski, the 21st overall pick, will play his first big-league contest when he and the Flames take on the Isles in Brooklyn on Monday night.

(This leaves St. Louis’ Jordan Schmaltz, the 25th selection, as the lone first-rounder yet to play in the NHL.)

Jankowski, 22, got the call up to Calgary after a terrific start to the year in AHL Stockton, with 12 points in 13 games.

And now he gets to enter the lineup after his team’s lousiest effort of the year!

“It’s the worst we’ve played from the start all season. I give (the Flyers) credit, too. They did outwork us,” head coach Glen Guluzan told reporters after Calgary’s 5-3 loss in Philly on Sunday. “It’s everything. It’s execution. It’s battles. I was very disappointed with our guys after the first.

“I let them know that but it didn’t get any better in the second.”

Gulutzan wouldn’t say who is coming out of the lineup to make room for Jankowski.

So, how big a boost can the rookie forward provide?

There have always been high, but tempered hopes for Jankowski -- former Flames assistant GM John Weisbrod once compared him to Joe Nieuwendyk, but the Flames also said he was ‘very much a project’ when he was drafted.

After getting selected in ’12, Jankowski spent four full years at Providence, helping the Friars capture the Frozen Four in 2015. Like many NCAAers that play out the string, he could have become a free agent this summer, a la Jimmy Vesey.

But despite the opportunity, he saw no reason to sign elsewhere.

“Honestly, there was no looking around,” he told the Calgary Sun in March.