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Looking to make the leap: Mark Jankowski

Calgary Flames v New York Islanders

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Mark Jankowski #77 of the Calgary Flames skates in his first NHL game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on November 28, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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This post is a part of Flames day at PHT...

When the Calgary Flames picked Mark Jankowski with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2012 draft it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows. It was the very definition of an “off the board” pick and was pretty much immediately panned by basically every draft analyst.

Things did not get much better during Jankowski’s for most of his first three seasons at Providence College where his production was decent, but not the level you would expect from a first-round NHL draft pick and top prospect.

Over the past two years, however, things have started to turn around for him in his development. After averaging more than a point-per-game during his senior season at Providence, Jankowski played his first full season of pro hockey during the 2016-17 season and had an extremely promising year for the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

He told earlier this month that one of his goals last season after being sent to the AHL was to be a dominant player in the league.

“Last year,’' Jankowski reflects, “was a good one for me. After I was sent down to Stockton, I had it in my mind that I wanted to start dominating games and as the year wore on I think I got closer and closer to doing it. Every shift I wanted to make an impact. Every time on the ice I wanted to affect the outcome, whether by scoring a goal, winning a big face-off or a quick stick in the D-zone.”

He ended up leading the team in goals (27) and total points (56) and was one of the league’s best rookies.

Now the next step for him is finally breaking through and getting a full time look at the NHL level.

It is not going to be easy.

The Flames were a playoff team a year ago and are bringing back a pretty deep roster that won’t have many open spots, especially at Jankowski’s natural position of center where the team already has Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett and Matt Stajan. Important to keep in mind that Monahan and Bennett are both nearly the same age as Jankowski and are already established NHL players.

Whether he makes the roster from the start or gets a look later in the season it still looks like he has a chance to turn out to be a better player than was originally believed on the night he was picked by the Flames.