Random Thoughts - May 13, 2013, On Why the Flames Should Consider Moving Up

Kent Wilson
May 13 2013 09:08AM

 


 

As you can see from the weekend open thread, the possibility of the Flames trading down into the top-5 is a bit contentious. It's hard to say how high the price might be to make the move, but my assumption is it won't be cheap - the top tier in this draft class seems to be clearly demarcated in most scouting circles, so it's going to take an extraordinary package or sacrifice to make the move from 6 to 4 or higher.

I agree with the general sentiment that it probably won't be worth the move, with the caveat that it will also depend on how the draft goes - If MacKinnon, Jones, Barkov, Drouin and Lindholm all go in the top-5, the only apparently remarkable talent who will be left on the board is Valery Nichushkin, who is a gamble for several reasons (KHL contract for one).

I doubt the Flames, who haven't picked a Russian since Andrei Taratukhin, will spend their first top-10 pick since Dion Phaneuf on a potential KHL flight risk. Meaning, if the big-5 are gone by 6, the Flames likely drop down to the obvious second tier of talent populated by guys like Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Darnell Nurse, etc.

So if the org brass considers that scenario likely, I'd like to see them seriously investigate moving up. The Monahan's of the world aren't bad consolation prizes, but guys like Barkov and Drouin hold the possibility of being team changing talents.

Other Stuff

- Don't tell Minnesota Wild fans, but their GM thinks that puck possession and shot differential matter:

“Last year in an 82 game season, we outshot our opponent [24] 24 times. This year in a 48-game season, we outshot our opponent 26. Our shot differential last year was minus-4.9. We gave up 34.1 shots per game, 26th in the league. Basically, the games we won was because of our goaltending.
“We gave up a lot of shots, we were in our zone an awful lot. This year cut that down to 27.1, 6th-best in the league. To me that’s huge. This year we had the puck more than our opponent. Our shots on goal went up close to 2, a 6.6-shot swing. That’s the biggest improvement of any team in the league since 07-08.
“This year, while we think we have to shoot better and execute better, we had the puck more, we were in our zone less, we defended better, our structure was better."

For those unaware, a big feud erupted between "stats guys" and a segment of the Minnesota Wild fan base last year when the former predicted the Wild's strong start to the season was mostly an illusion based on their league-worst possession stats and exaggerated percentages. Minny predictably collapsed in the second half of the season, but there's still a large portion of Wild fans who sneer at possession-based analysis.

As such I expect a torch and pitchfork mob to oust Chuck Fletcher this off-season, largely for his heretical reference to shot differential witchcraft.

- How did the Wild improve? Mostly thanks to the pricey acquisitions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, although it's hard to overlook Jonas Brodin who should have been a calder finalist this year. The rookie defender jumped right onto Minnesota's top pairing with Suter and more than held his own. He could very well develop into a high impact blueliner.

- No major surprises in the playoffs this year, aside from the San Jose sweep of the Canucks. The Islanders probably deserved a better fate in the Penguins series given how much of the game was played in the Pittsburgh end, but they got the bounces in the last couple of contests which happens sometimes.

New York is poised to become a going concern in the East for the first time in recent memory. If their management doesn't screw it up, of course.

- The Leafs hanging with the Bruins is a bit of a shocker I guess. The Bruins are still mostly controlling play at ES, although not to the degree I expected. In part, I think, because Carlyle has kind of been forced to play a good line-up. Jake Gardiner, Cody Franson and Mikhail Grabovski are playing much more than they did in the regular season and that seems to have firmed up the Leafs possession to a non-trivial degree. Clarke MacArthur not being scratched has helped the last couple of games as well.

They're still the second best team in the series, but the difference between the clubs isn't as stark. Boston is the favorite on home ice tonight, but it's not a slam dunk.

- The GM of the year nominees are Bob Murray (Ducks), Marc Bergevin (Canadiens) and Ray Shero (Penguins). Perhaps this should be re-dubbed the "GM of the team who most overachieved relative to expectations and maybe stole some guys at the trade deadline" because there doesn't seem to be much else behind these nominations.

On my ballot would be the Sharks Doug Wilson. His team began the year with a big gaping hole at the end of the roster - to the degree that the bottom-6 was dragging down his impressive collection of stars elsewhere. By the trade deadline, he had cleared out the dead wood (Handzus, Clowe, Murray), improved the bottom-6 with a few low cost acquisitions (Scott Gomez, Raffi Torres) and converted his trash to a nice collection to future assets to boot.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#52 Parallex
May 13 2013, 03:44PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

I don't think he's using strictly NHLE. Petan isn't counted, as he's not ranked in the top half of the draft by anyone (hell, he's not even in the first round on some scouting lists).

Obviously,

That's why I said that if NHLE is going to be the main thing that you use to seperate "elite" from "non-elite" and then use the point drop-off that occurs at Monahan/Domi as the cutoff point then by rights it's a "Big 6".

Now... as I think I've made clear I don't think much of NHLE (and lord knows I wouldn't take Petan in the top 10 to say nothing of top 5). YMMV but I think it's strange to use it (NHLE) as the basis to declare Lindholm an "elite" talent (and Monahan apparently not an elite talent) and then ignore it with regards to Petan's placement. In my mind either it's important enough that you can't justify Petan's exclusion or it's not important enough to warrent Lindholm's inclusion on it's own and if it's not important enough to warrent Lindholm's inclusion on it's own I'd be interested in hearing why he's gotten the "elite" tap all of a sudden when he's done nothing recently to improve or depress his stock.

Is there a rational, plausible reason/s why there are now all of a sudden five elite talents (when until now it had mostly been spoken of as a 3 or 4 elite talent batch) beyond "Pronman says so"? 'Cause like I said I respect his opinion but it's just one of many.

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#53 dean the raven
May 13 2013, 03:48PM
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I can't help but harken back to the days leading up to April 3, and all the hype around what the Flames would/ should get for Iggy and Jaybo and in the end perhaps got better value for the most forgettable name (does Comeau even have a cool nickname?) traded. I hate to say it but I think you guys are inflating the value of the Top Five Picks to Michelin Man proportions when maybe we should be thinking "Pete the Plumber" plus maybe 1 or both lower1st round picks. Looking at the history of deals at the draft, the cost has usually been much less than imagined here. If The Feaster and Co.do their (cough*) due diligence with those teams Up There, hopefully they can swing something that perceivably works for both teams- more for the Good Guys. Otherwise, I'm inclined to agree with those who think we should stand pat a 6 and maybe trade for a difference-maker. That is, of course, if we can find a willing dance partner.

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#55 Baalzamon
May 13 2013, 04:25PM
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I think Petan's non-inclusion among the top players has to do with risk. For a player to be considered an "elite" prospect in his draft, he should be at least reasonably safe (to go with super duper talent). Petan doesn't even come close to approaching any level where anyone would even consider calling him safe.

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#56 Dank
May 13 2013, 05:08PM
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McRib wrote:

Lets put it this way if the NHLE was completely accurate then Daniel Tkaczuk would not have been one of the biggest busts of all time, lol.

Yet, if NHLE had no accuracy, Jeff Skinner wouldn't be one of the best players out of the 2010 draft at this point, since his NHLE was the top of the class.

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#57 SmellOfVictory
May 13 2013, 05:35PM
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@Parallex

The rationale, from my point of view, would be predraft lists combined with NHLE. The predraft lists give a good idea of what scouts think (distinct top 3, possibly top 4-5 depending who you ask, with the rest of the top 10 being fairly strong as well). Within those rankings, NHLE gives us another way to look at these guys and compare between them outside of the various, somewhat arbitrary (but generally expert), lists.

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#58 RexLibris
May 13 2013, 05:52PM
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Just in case anyone is interested, Pronman has part one of the Draft Bible out today (part two is MacKenzie's list).

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1522

Note: this list isn't who will be selected, but rather a ranking based on projected talent. With Nichushkin as an outlier due to limited viewings and transfer factors, Lindholm and Monahan make up the second tier of top-end players. Lindholm has numbers similar to Barkov and is significantly younger which is why I think the Flames will take him, projecting a higher or equal ceiling to Barkov although without the size.

FWIW, the Flames have the names Lindholm and Hagg slotted in the range of their first two picks. After that I think you're looking at Compher, Mueller or Lehkonen in the range for the Penguins pick (I suspect it will be around 24 to 26).

In my opinion, the Flames probably try to trade up, balk at the price, then select Lindholm at #6. After that they take Petan with the second pick and follow it up with an off-the-board reach pick with the Penguins pick. Lindholm can become the Flames franchise center, Petan is pure skill although a bit redundant for a team with Gaudreau and Baertschi in the system.

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#59 RexLibris
May 13 2013, 05:59PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

To qualify this, Buffalo seems like the kind of team that could use Monahan, and I have heard (from no one official) that Edmonton really likes him.

On Monahan: hearing the same up here. Have been for awhile.

That being said, MacGregor likes to be a little cryptic in his name-dropping and if you recall last year the Oilers played a chess-game by hinting they were taking Murray over Yakupov in order to try and squeeze something out of Columbus in a trade.

My take is that the Oilers like Monahan a lot, but they would reasonably prefer to see Lindholm fall to them at #7. If they could either trade up with Carolina (#7, Hemsky and a 2nd round pick for McBain and the #5 or something like that) or have Calgary go off the board a little, they would be happiest.

Not saying it will happen, and I think it is very reasonable to assume that Monahan becomes an Oiler this June, but I suspect that those are the scenarios they are considering.

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#60 clYDE
May 13 2013, 05:59PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Just in case anyone is interested, Pronman has part one of the Draft Bible out today (part two is MacKenzie's list).

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1522

Note: this list isn't who will be selected, but rather a ranking based on projected talent. With Nichushkin as an outlier due to limited viewings and transfer factors, Lindholm and Monahan make up the second tier of top-end players. Lindholm has numbers similar to Barkov and is significantly younger which is why I think the Flames will take him, projecting a higher or equal ceiling to Barkov although without the size.

FWIW, the Flames have the names Lindholm and Hagg slotted in the range of their first two picks. After that I think you're looking at Compher, Mueller or Lehkonen in the range for the Penguins pick (I suspect it will be around 24 to 26).

In my opinion, the Flames probably try to trade up, balk at the price, then select Lindholm at #6. After that they take Petan with the second pick and follow it up with an off-the-board reach pick with the Penguins pick. Lindholm can become the Flames franchise center, Petan is pure skill although a bit redundant for a team with Gaudreau and Baertschi in the system.

Although you can never draft enough high end talent regardless of size, I would be surprised if the Flames took Petan. I agree with the first selection you have and wouldn't mind one bit.

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#61 Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea
May 13 2013, 06:03PM
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@RexLibris

Thanks for the link. You're assuming that Lindholm is still available at #6 - and I have my doubts. For that to happen one of Nichushkin, Nurse, or even Monahan would have to be taken in the top 5. It's all speculation at this point, but I don't see it happening. So, the Flames need to decide on the 'safe' pick (Monahan) or the home run (Nichushkin).

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#62 Baalzamon
May 13 2013, 06:12PM
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@RexLibris

Not to split hairs, but it's actually Barkov who's significantly younger than Lindholm, not the other way around. Barkov was born within days of MacKinnon, while Lindholm is a mere two months younger than Monahan.

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#63 Jeff Lebowski
May 13 2013, 06:21PM
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If there are no trade ups, is it conceivable that:

-top 3 go as predicted -Nashville takes Nurse to replace Suter (getting Forsberg was essentially their high end forward pick). -Carolina takes Nichushkin to complement Semin (who they re upped) -Calgary gets Barkov???

One can dream...

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#64 clYDE
May 13 2013, 06:29PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

If there are no trade ups, is it conceivable that:

-top 3 go as predicted -Nashville takes Nurse to replace Suter (getting Forsberg was essentially their high end forward pick). -Carolina takes Nichushkin to complement Semin (who they re upped) -Calgary gets Barkov???

One can dream...

It is very possible. With so many intangibles and the differences in what teams look for, you never know. Barkov has been my pick to slide and guys like Routselainen and Nurse are my dark horses to move up. They are 2 big, mobile, nasty guys who have great potential to play for a long time. I think we will have 1 of Barkov or Lindholme and wouldn't be shocked to see Drouin or Mckinnon slide to be honest.

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#65 clYDE
May 13 2013, 06:38PM
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RexLibris wrote:

On Monahan: hearing the same up here. Have been for awhile.

That being said, MacGregor likes to be a little cryptic in his name-dropping and if you recall last year the Oilers played a chess-game by hinting they were taking Murray over Yakupov in order to try and squeeze something out of Columbus in a trade.

My take is that the Oilers like Monahan a lot, but they would reasonably prefer to see Lindholm fall to them at #7. If they could either trade up with Carolina (#7, Hemsky and a 2nd round pick for McBain and the #5 or something like that) or have Calgary go off the board a little, they would be happiest.

Not saying it will happen, and I think it is very reasonable to assume that Monahan becomes an Oiler this June, but I suspect that those are the scenarios they are considering.

So, a $5 million dollar 30 year old who can't stay healthy and 2 lower drafts are going to get Edmonton a top 5 pick and a 25 year old top 2-4 def in a year when Carolina has cap issues?

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#66 SmellOfVictory
May 13 2013, 09:33PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

If there are no trade ups, is it conceivable that:

-top 3 go as predicted -Nashville takes Nurse to replace Suter (getting Forsberg was essentially their high end forward pick). -Carolina takes Nichushkin to complement Semin (who they re upped) -Calgary gets Barkov???

One can dream...

Nurse and Shinkaruk are two guys who seem to have a decent chance of being slightly off-the-board top 5 picks. And there's always Nichushkin, who could go anywhere from 4th to 14th (well, it's highly unlikely he drops out of the top 10, but you never know).

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#67 Sean Bennett
May 13 2013, 10:11PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Just in case anyone is interested, Pronman has part one of the Draft Bible out today (part two is MacKenzie's list).

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1522

Note: this list isn't who will be selected, but rather a ranking based on projected talent. With Nichushkin as an outlier due to limited viewings and transfer factors, Lindholm and Monahan make up the second tier of top-end players. Lindholm has numbers similar to Barkov and is significantly younger which is why I think the Flames will take him, projecting a higher or equal ceiling to Barkov although without the size.

FWIW, the Flames have the names Lindholm and Hagg slotted in the range of their first two picks. After that I think you're looking at Compher, Mueller or Lehkonen in the range for the Penguins pick (I suspect it will be around 24 to 26).

In my opinion, the Flames probably try to trade up, balk at the price, then select Lindholm at #6. After that they take Petan with the second pick and follow it up with an off-the-board reach pick with the Penguins pick. Lindholm can become the Flames franchise center, Petan is pure skill although a bit redundant for a team with Gaudreau and Baertschi in the system.

The lowest the Flames can choose with the St. Louis pick is 21, as 4 division leaders have been eliminated and one of San Jose or Los Angeles is guaranteed to make it to the conference finals. However, if one, two, or all of Boston, Pittsburgh, and Chicago lose in the next round, we could end up picking anywhere from 18-20.

If this is a deep draft, a very nice player could be had as late as 21.

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#68 Mullen Mania
May 13 2013, 10:39PM
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@Sean Bennett

I think the St. Louis pick is currently at 22 with Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, and one of SJ or LA going to the conference finals that speaks for pick 30 - 27. The four eliminated division winners from the regular season then take pick 26 - 23 leaving the St. Louis pick at 22. The St. Louis pick will improve by one position for each of Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Boston being eliminated before the conference finals.

Therefore, if I have figured this correctly the St. Louis pick currently sits at 22nd, can't get any worse than 22nd, and could at best improve to 19th.

I think you are figuring in the same way, but are off by one.

Just trying to add some clarity to what seems to be a point of ongoing confusion.

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#69 Baalzamon
May 13 2013, 11:33PM
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@Mullen Mania

you forgot Anaheim. 21.

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#70 Baalzamon
May 13 2013, 11:35PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

you forgot Anaheim. 21.

wait...

Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Vancouver, Washington (div winners); 26, 25, 24, 23...

Boston, 22..

Yeah, St. Louis. 21. Okay, got this.

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#71 Baalzamon
May 13 2013, 11:36PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

wait...

Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Vancouver, Washington (div winners); 26, 25, 24, 23...

Boston, 22..

Yeah, St. Louis. 21. Okay, got this.

sigh, Boston didn't get eliminated. Geez, I'm bad at this.

22. Okay. 22.

=)

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#72 Sean Bennett
May 14 2013, 12:19AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

sigh, Boston didn't get eliminated. Geez, I'm bad at this.

22. Okay. 22.

=)

No, 21 is guaranteed. 27-30 are finalists. For argument`s sake let`s say Boston is one to make it easier. By putting Boston in the final four, you thus have 26. Anaheim, 25. Montreal, 24. Vancouver, 23. Washington. After them, it would be St. Louis at 22, but that is not the case. Here is where you are confused. Technically, if the draft happened today, St. Louis would pick ahead of San Jose or L.A., but since one of them is guaranteed to be a conference finalist, they will automatically be bumped into the 27-30 range and the St. Louis pick will fall a spot.

Hence, St. Louis at 21!!!!!!!!! F yeah!!!!!!!!!

And that pick will drop to 19 if NY wins over Boston, as that will be a double whammy since the B`s had more points than us in the regular season, and the Rangers would be conference finalists.

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#73 Sean Bennett
May 14 2013, 12:19AM
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No, 21 is guaranteed. 27-30 are finalists. For argument`s sake let`s say Boston is one to make it easier. By putting Boston in the final four, you thus have 26. Anaheim, 25. Montreal, 24. Vancouver, 23. Washington. After them, it would be St. Louis at 22, but that is not the case. Here is where you are confused. Technically, if the draft happened today, St. Louis would pick ahead of San Jose or L.A., but since one of them is guaranteed to be a conference finalist, they will automatically be bumped into the 27-30 range and the St. Louis pick will fall a spot.

Hence, St. Louis at 21!!!!!!!!! F yeah!!!!!!!!!

And that pick will drop to 19 if NY wins over Boston, as that will be a double whammy since the B`s had more points than us in the regular season, and the Rangers would be conference finalists.

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#74 Sean Bennett
May 14 2013, 12:36AM
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Sorry for the double post. Having trouble with the laptop.

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#75 44stampede
May 14 2013, 04:09AM
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I guess that I never considered that Nichushkin was a large flight risk. It will be a gamble. I really can't see him going in the first 5 based on this. That would be a tough decision. I still don't think trading down makes sense. Assuming all 5 are gone , you either go for Monahan or Nichushkin I think. For Nichushkin especially, you do your due diligence beforehand and make sure (to the best anyone actually can) that he wants to be part of the Flames. If your spider sense tingles at all, you walk.

The Flames cannot afford to mess this up. Hopefully one of the other guys slide and we can get them (assuming that Flames have them on their radar).

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#76 Mullen Mania
May 14 2013, 06:51AM
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@Sean Bennett

You have a double count if you include San Jose and LA after picks 30 - 27. The scenario you described potentially would list out as follows if the favourites win all the series going forward: Chicago 30, Pittsburgh 29, Boston 28, Los Angeles 27, Anaheim 26, Montreal 25, Vancouver 24, Washington 23, St. Louis 22. Of course this all changes depending on who actually wins.

LA or SJ is counted in the conference finalists, so will not result in a push to 21. If Boston loses to the Rangers, then the Rangers potentially move into 27 and LA moves to 28 while Boston falls behind Washington at 22 moving the St. Louis pick to 21. For 19 we need Ottawa and Detroit to also take conference finalist spots.

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#77 RexLibris
May 14 2013, 07:47AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Not to split hairs, but it's actually Barkov who's significantly younger than Lindholm, not the other way around. Barkov was born within days of MacKinnon, while Lindholm is a mere two months younger than Monahan.

Sorry, good catch. I reversed the names.

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#78 RexLibris
May 14 2013, 07:50AM
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@clYDE

Re-read my last line - "not saying it will happen". But we know that Hemsky will be trade bait and as mentioned, I believe those are the scenarios that the Oilers are considering.

Just a side note, Carolina has seen a fair deal of Hemsky over the years and they have made some heavy bets lately (Semin). I think there may be interest there, but once again, I would be very, very surprised if the Oilers could pull that kind of deal off.

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#79 T&A4Flames
May 14 2013, 09:28AM
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What's it realistically going to take to acquire CAR 5th overall. Rex suggests the #7, Hemsky and a 2nd. Depending on how you rate Hemsky, would it really take that much?

Similarly, could CGY offer Cammi at $4mil, Sarich and a good prospect like Granlund for the same package that he was asking for (5th overall and McBain)?

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