Race To The Bottom: Three Weeks Out

Ryan Pike
March 29 2014 10:00AM

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It's an off-day today for the Calgary Flames, as they trek eastward for their final five-game road trip of the year. Now's as good a time as any to check out the race at the bottom of the NHL's standings for draft position.

I'll be blunt - Buffalo's pretty awful.

HOW ARE THE FLAMES DOING?

The Flames are slightly over-performing. They've won six of their last ten games, which is obviously (a) more than their season average and (b) better than you'd expect based on their opposition. The big question is "Can they keep this pace up?"

WELL, CAN THEY?

Their last eight games are against Ottawa, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Florida, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. I'm not about to say any are un-winnable. They get Tampa after a long flight, but after a day off, and they get them before Florida (in the front end of a back-to-back), which is probably the scheduling best-case scenario.

The model I'm using estimates that the opposition continues to gain points at roughly the same rate they've done all season (which is how I measure strength of schedule). That equates to four wins for Calgary. They could get five, though.

CAN THEY CATCH ANYBODY?

The model suggests that Nashville is the most likely team to drop down to Calgary's level, based on having the fewest games remaining and a really hard schedule - Washington, Anaheim, San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, and Minnesota. But considering they sit six points up on Calgary right now, they'd need to under-perform and Calgary would need to over-achieve.

Carolina, Ottawa and Winnipeg are fairly close, but they've built up enough of a points cushion that they'd need to implode entirely for Calgary to catch any of them.

THE MODEL'S PROJECTED BOTTOM NINE

  1. Buffalo - 48 points - 9 games left, .588% strength of schedule - 56.6 points projected
  2. Edmonton - 61 points - 8 games left, .631% strength of schedule - 67.8 points projected
  3. Florida - 62 points - 8 games left, .533% strength of schedule - 70.4 points projected
  4. NY Islanders - 66 points - 9 games left, .499% strength of schedule - 76.3 points projected
  5. Calgary - 69 points - 8 games left, .531% strength of schedule - 77.6 points projected
  6. Nashville - 75 points - 7 games left, .613% strength of schedule - 81.4 points projected
  7. Carolina - 73 points - 9 games left, .561% strength of schedule - 82.1 points projected
  8. Winnipeg - 75 points - 8 games left, .607% strength of schedule - 82.2 points projected
  9. Ottawa - 74 points - 9 games left, ..530% strength of schedule - 83.4 points projected

SPORTS CLUB STATS PROJECTION

Same projection, except using Sports Club Stats' percentages and weightings. Their model is much more complex than mine.

  1. Buffalo - 100% chance
  2. Edmonton - 65% (Florida 34%)
  3. Florida - 59% (Edmonton 32%)
  4. NY Islanders - 60% (Calgary 28%)
  5. Calgary - 52% (Islanders 26%)
  6. Nashville - 31% (Carolina 19%, Winnipeg 18%, Ottawa 12%, Calgary 11%)
  7. Nashville - 25% (Carolina/Winnipeg 21%, Ottawa 16%)
  8. Winnipeg - 20% (Carolina 19%, Ottawa 18%, Nashville 17%)
  9. Ottawa - 18% (Carolina/Winnipeg 15%, Vancouver 12%, Nashville 10%)

SUM IT UP

Most likely, the Flames draft fifth overall, pending the draft lottery. This is unlikely to change, even if they win a ton to close out the season.

    51a8cdc527ce12d222fdc583f3cf4368
    Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
    Avatar
    #1 BurningSensation
    March 29 2014, 10:39AM
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    Nicely done Ryan!

    A couple of questions;

    - If we draft 5th, what are the odds we win the lottery? - What are the odds we draft 5th? - What are the odds we draft 6th?

    At 6th overall, and presuming that; Reinhart, Ekblad, Draisatil, Bennett, and Dal Colle are all off the board, is the obvious pick Virtanen?

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    #2 Jeff In Lethbridge
    March 29 2014, 10:58AM
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    I predict buffalo wins all remaining games and Edmonton loses all. They have proven to be very good at winning draft picks.

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    #3 Parallex
    March 29 2014, 11:03AM
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    @BurningSensation

    If we are in 5th position pre-lotto our odds are 8.1%. the odds on us drafting 5th post lotto are the cumulative odds of position 1-4 (68.7%) plus the odds of New Jersey, odds we draft 6 are the cumulative odds of position 6-14 less New Jersey.

    I wouldn't draft Virtanen at 6... I'd probably try to trade down a few spots and take Fluery.

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    #4 suba steve
    March 29 2014, 11:03AM
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    @BurningSensation

    30th place: 25.0% 29th place: 18.8% 28th place: 14.2% 27th place: 10.7% 26th place: 8.1% 25th place: 6.2% 24th place: 4.7% 23th place: 3.6% 22th place: 2.7% 21th place: 2.1% 20th place: 1.5% 19th place: 1.1% 18th place: 0.8% 17th place: 0.5%

    If we end up at 26th, 8.1% chance we draft first, 68.7% we draft 5th, 23.2% we draft 6th.

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    #5 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 11:59AM
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    My money is on NYI over performing and catching us. They're in a similar situation to us with lots of young guys in their lineup. I watched their game against Tampa the other night & they worked hard all game.

    With Smid out, we're thinner on the blue line. On top of that, Flames haven't played as strong on the road this year. We're about to play 5 games in the next 9 days on the road, 3 of them against teams fighting for a playoff spot.

    We'll see how it all pans out. At this point in the season, with not a whole lot left to prove, i wouldn't be mad about some hard fought, 1 goal regulation losses ;)

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    #6 RexLibris
    March 29 2014, 11:59AM
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    @BurningSensation

    Virtanen might be the best option and given the Flames' shortage, to put it mildly, of RW prospects, perhaps a bit of good fortune as well.

    They have Backlund and Monahan down the middle, are developing wingers in Baertschi and Gaudreau (not to mention Roy and Klimchuk) and could add Virtanen as well.

    Not a bad collection. Nothing stellar on paper, but a slow and steady accumulation of prospects that can be allowed to develop at their own pace.

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    #7 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 12:02PM
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    Let it be known that I will be at the Leafs/Flames game Tuesday in full Flames gear cheering for the boys. Would love to see them spoil what's left of the Leafs playoff hopes. Pray for my safety haha.

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    #8 Bean-counting cowboy
    March 29 2014, 12:08PM
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    RexLibris wrote:

    Virtanen might be the best option and given the Flames' shortage, to put it mildly, of RW prospects, perhaps a bit of good fortune as well.

    They have Backlund and Monahan down the middle, are developing wingers in Baertschi and Gaudreau (not to mention Roy and Klimchuk) and could add Virtanen as well.

    Not a bad collection. Nothing stellar on paper, but a slow and steady accumulation of prospects that can be allowed to develop at their own pace.

    We have two Roy's in our system, neither of which are wingers.

    I would also add Poirer onto that list of up and comer wingers.

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    #9 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 12:14PM
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    Kapanen is a guy that intrigues me, especially if we fall a few spots in the draft.

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    #10 MichaelD
    March 29 2014, 12:56PM
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    Awesome work. Does this mean people can stop whining about draft position and winning games, and just start enjoying the last few of the season.

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    #11 Primo
    March 29 2014, 01:01PM
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    In my view Poirier is the top rated Flames prospect on RW.

    I have not been following Junior hockey much although Virtanen intrigues me. Does anyone know why some have rated him as low as 40th?? Is there an attitude issue ? other?

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    #12 CanadianManiac3
    March 29 2014, 01:06PM
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    Due to the flames probably ending up drafting around that 5 spot. I would take one of Dal Colle, Perlini or Draisitl. All of them are classified as LW but they can also play C. The most intriguing part about these guys is that they are all big players, Dal Colle 6"2, Perlini 6"3, Draisitl 6"1. You have to think that come draft day one of these guys will be in the flames system.

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    #13 Chambers
    March 29 2014, 01:11PM
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    @CanadianManiac3

    I doubt any of those guys will be available. Caroline and Nashville are tanking big time. More so than Ryan thinks!

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    #14 Flames15
    March 29 2014, 01:28PM
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    Being a die hard Flames fan, born in Toronto. Screw the "tanking" mentality for just one game - Tuesday Vs Leafs - Boy, would it be fun to put the nail in the coffin for the Leafs' playoff hopes Tuesday night. Wish I could go to the game, but $120/ticket for standing room only...

    Welcome to Toronto.

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    #15 Bean-counting cowboy
    March 29 2014, 01:28PM
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    Chambers wrote:

    I doubt any of those guys will be available. Caroline and Nashville are tanking big time. More so than Ryan thinks!

    I'm not convinced:

    Last 10 games: Carolina: 5-5-0 Nashville: 5-4-1 Calgary: 6-4-0

    Nashville is up 6 points, Carolina 4. Carolina has one game in hand on Calgary to rack up points.

    It might get closer than it is now, but I still think Calgary ends up with fewer points than those teams come the end of the season.

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    #16 Stubblejumper
    March 29 2014, 01:31PM
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    Nice article yesterday in HP about Johnny Gaudreau

    http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/105793/bcs-gaudreau-both-earns-and-embraces-johnny-hockey-moniker/#more-105793

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    #17 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 01:49PM
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    So apparently we just signed another 4th liner?

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    #18 Colin
    March 29 2014, 02:17PM
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    For those that want to follow along with Jankowski and Gillies: http://www.ncaa.com/game/icehockey-men/d1/2014/03/29/providence-union-ny

    Doesn't look good for them however down 2-0 in the second.

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    #19 Kmp
    March 29 2014, 02:25PM
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    @Colin

    Union is taking it to them, quicker and move the puck out of their zone effortlessly.

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    #20 Kmp
    March 29 2014, 02:31PM
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    BC up 3-0 2 goals for Gaudreau.

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    #21 Colin
    March 29 2014, 02:32PM
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    dotfras wrote:

    So apparently we just signed another 4th liner?

    What is this in reference to? I do not see anything about any signings.

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    #22 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 02:42PM
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    @Colin

    Bryce Van Brabant - Big Checking LW from Quinnepac of the NCAA.

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    #23 Parallex
    March 29 2014, 03:23PM
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    dotfras wrote:

    Bryce Van Brabant - Big Checking LW from Quinnepac of the NCAA.

    Meh, sounds like farm-team depth from what I read. But whatevs... better a NCAA guy who might be something more then a career AHL guy who won't I guess. Was more hoping we could pick up a D-man or two from the NCAA rather then checking forwards. Got plenty of reserve list spots so no worries there.

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=123961&encode=TRUE

    Can't seem to find a decent scouting report out there on the interwebs.

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    #24 Tony
    March 29 2014, 03:24PM
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    Johnny with first career hat trick! 1 assist as well.

    Bill Arnold with 4A

    5-0 BC

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    #25 BobbyO
    March 29 2014, 03:29PM
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    @Parallex

    Let me see if I understand....you can't seem to find any credible information on this kid. He doesn't fit your personal desire for a D-man or two...so you have labelled him "a farm-team depth defenseman".

    Great analysis Mr. Snow.

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    #26 Parallex
    March 29 2014, 03:35PM
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    @BobbyO

    *Rolls Eyes*

    Ok... hostile much. Go take a Percocet maybe it'll help with whatever issues you have.

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    #27 RexLibris
    March 29 2014, 03:36PM
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    @Bean-counting cowboy

    I'd forgotten about Olivier Roy.

    And darn it, Poirier was the one I was trying to remember but for some reason I'd confused him with Marco Roy, the Oilers' prospect.

    My mistake.

    In any case, most prospect lists I've seen have the Flames RW depth as Poirier, Eddy, and Harrison. They could use a Virtanen or someone similar.

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    #28 Primo
    March 29 2014, 03:38PM
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    Here is a great article on the new Flames signing today.

    http://www.nhregister.com/sports/20140212/quinnipiac-bruiser-bryce-van-brabant-now-hurting-opponents-with-offense

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    #29 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 03:40PM
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    Yeah we def need help at RW.

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    #30 Primo
    March 29 2014, 03:44PM
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    Another article confirming the signing.

    http://www.nhregister.com/article/20140329/SPORTS/140329318?source=jBarPopUp

    dotfras...nice catch!

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    #31 Primo
    March 29 2014, 03:49PM
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    dotfras wrote:

    Yeah we def need help at RW.

    Reminds me of a former 1st overall draft choice of the Flames George Pelawa who was unfortunately killed in a vehicle accident in 1986 prior to his first game.

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    #32 ChinookArch
    March 29 2014, 04:09PM
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    @Primo

    This was just confirmed by the Flames.

    You have to think that Calgary's relative success this year and having Gaudreau coming into the fold soon is of great interest to many NCCA players. Nice pick up, hopefully he becomes something long term.

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    #33 BurningSensation
    March 29 2014, 04:14PM
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    Primo wrote:

    Reminds me of a former 1st overall draft choice of the Flames George Pelawa who was unfortunately killed in a vehicle accident in 1986 prior to his first game.

    As one of those old enough to remember the Pelawa tragedy, I also remember that big George was something of an offensive force who also happened to be built like an XL version of RJ Umberger.

    He was freaking enormous, but had hands of silk - the ultimate power winger.

    We will be exceedingly lucky if Van Brabant is half the offensive force Pelawa would have been.

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    #34 Tony
    March 29 2014, 04:15PM
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    BC up 6-1 in the 3rd.

    Scoring changes:

    Johnny G - 3G and 3A Now leads the NCAA in Assists(40) as well as Goals(35) and Points(75)

    Bill Arnold - 1G and 3A Now tied for second in NCAA in Assists(39).

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    #35 beloch
    March 29 2014, 04:17PM
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    @Primo

    His NHLE is 18.5. Given that he's 22, his ceiling will probably be on the fourth line. The articles about him suggest he's a defensive player who isn't afraid to drop the gloves. He seems to check all the boxes for an enforcer with above average hockey ability.

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    #36 Primo
    March 29 2014, 04:17PM
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    @BurningSensation

    Exactly my thoughts! Soon as I looked at this kids picture it did indeed remind me of Pelawa and the unfortunate circumstance. Body frame is identical, like you I hope he has similar skill!

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    #37 Primo
    March 29 2014, 04:24PM
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    ChinookArch wrote:

    This was just confirmed by the Flames.

    You have to think that Calgary's relative success this year and having Gaudreau coming into the fold soon is of great interest to many NCCA players. Nice pick up, hopefully he becomes something long term.

    Agree! The list is impressive...Hanowski, Augostino, soon to be (fingers crossed), Gaudreau, Arnold, Gillies, Jankowski, Gilmore, Harrison.

    Just prior to the 1989 Flames Stanley Cup Championship, Cliff Fletcher followed the same path and signed a number of college graduates...Jamie McCowan and others!!

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    #38 backburner
    March 29 2014, 05:04PM
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    My apologies for veering off the topic here... but Iggy scored his 30th this season... 12th time in his career. Tied with Guy Lafleur in goals. It would be nice to see him hoist the Cup this year.. Congrats Iggy!

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    #39 MichaelD
    March 29 2014, 05:30PM
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    backburner wrote:

    My apologies for veering off the topic here... but Iggy scored his 30th this season... 12th time in his career. Tied with Guy Lafleur in goals. It would be nice to see him hoist the Cup this year.. Congrats Iggy!

    Don't know why you got a trash. I agree, I'm cheering for Boston out of the east, blues out of the west. Nothing would make me happier to see Iggy and his humble ear to ear smile lift the cup

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    #40 aloudoun
    March 29 2014, 05:39PM
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    No no to Virtanen. When he's on he is good but he is off a lot of the times. A no show. He hasn't shown up yet for the Hitmen this post season.

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    #41 Chambers
    March 29 2014, 06:49PM
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    aloudoun wrote:

    No no to Virtanen. When he's on he is good but he is off a lot of the times. A no show. He hasn't shown up yet for the Hitmen this post season.

    Thanks you answered my earlier question as too why some scouts have ranked this guy 41st. I would really think twice why I would potentially waste my 6th overall in a critical rebuilding year despite his good size!

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    #42 T&A4Flames
    March 29 2014, 07:03PM
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    aloudoun wrote:

    No no to Virtanen. When he's on he is good but he is off a lot of the times. A no show. He hasn't shown up yet for the Hitmen this post season.

    Yep, he's inconsistent. He's also a kid, a prospect with a late b-day. 45goals and 26 assists. I'm pretty sure I would take a chance that we could work on his inconsistencies. He's a pure finisher, and when you consider what we have coming up, Gaudreau, Baertschi etc. smaller guys that have strong play making abilities, Virtanen could fit in very well on the right side with his size and strength.

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    #43 T&A4Flames
    March 29 2014, 07:06PM
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    And yea, good stuff getting a big winger. But when are we going to look at guys that, oh I don't know, CAN PLAY THE RIGHT SIDE, D or O? Why are we not deep into a guy like Christian Folin? A big 6'3" right shooting offensive Dman?

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    #44 dotfras
    March 29 2014, 07:47PM
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    ISLANDERS WIN!

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    #45 Kevin R
    March 29 2014, 07:53PM
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    T&A4Flames wrote:

    And yea, good stuff getting a big winger. But when are we going to look at guys that, oh I don't know, CAN PLAY THE RIGHT SIDE, D or O? Why are we not deep into a guy like Christian Folin? A big 6'3" right shooting offensive Dman?

    For a 5th or 6th overall???????

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    #46 MichaelD
    March 29 2014, 07:53PM
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    T&A4Flames wrote:

    And yea, good stuff getting a big winger. But when are we going to look at guys that, oh I don't know, CAN PLAY THE RIGHT SIDE, D or O? Why are we not deep into a guy like Christian Folin? A big 6'3" right shooting offensive Dman?

    It sounds like teams have already been told no, so I assume Calgary isn't coming up in rumours cause the were told no.

    I don't know a whole lot about Virtanen, but being inconsistent does he show signs of character? or is that completely a hunch on his goal scoring touch

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    #47 mattyc
    March 29 2014, 08:12PM
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    Glorious tidbit:

    Tonight could be the night both the Leafs and Canucks get their 'lights out' moment for the season.

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    #48 T&A4Flames
    March 29 2014, 08:14PM
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    @Kevin R

    He's a college free agent. Apparently EDM and a few other teams are pursuing him hard. I haven't heard at all about CGYbeing in the mix. These are the players we need aren't they. Not more truculent LW.

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    #49 T&A4Flames
    March 29 2014, 08:16PM
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    MichaelD wrote:

    It sounds like teams have already been told no, so I assume Calgary isn't coming up in rumours cause the were told no.

    I don't know a whole lot about Virtanen, but being inconsistent does he show signs of character? or is that completely a hunch on his goal scoring touch

    Sorry, I've been referring to this Van Brabant guy.

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    #50 T&A4Flames
    March 29 2014, 08:23PM
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    Also, I hope Burke is taking a hard look at Mitch Holmberg of the Spokane Cheifs. 72 games, 62 goals,56 assists. RW. We some offensive RW prospects BIG TIME!

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