Post-Game: Beaten By The Buds

Ryan Pike
April 01 2014 07:46PM

It was a close, tight-checking game at the Air Canada Centre this evening, as the Flames continued their road trip in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. Despite keeping the score low, the Flames continued some of their defensive dodginess and dropped a close game by a 3-2 score.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period featured the NHL debut of Bryce van Brabant (of the Morinville van Brabants), a few nice scoring chances for each side...and not much else. Van Brabant took a penalty and the Flames killed it without surrendering a strong scoring chance. Chad Billins got several good looks but seemed to be waiting to pass the puck and couldn't get a shot off. Phil Kessel blocked a few shots (two according to the scoresheet) and didn't enjoy it. Toronto led in shots (7-5), shot attempts (18-15) and face-off wins (8-3).

Early in the second frame, an uncharacteristic defensive lapse by Giordano and Brodie led to Toronto opening the scoring. Jay McClement snuck into the slot and Cody Franson – kept to the outside but not checked closely – found him for a quick tap-in past Ramo to make it 1-0. The Leafs had a couple more excellent chances – Ramo stopped Kadri and Kessel – and the game evened out after the Leafs pressed early. The Flames generated two shots past Jonathan Bernier; one of 'em was in off a Curtis Glencross high stick, but they successfully tied things up when T.J. Brodie used his skills to put a two-line outlet pass on the stick of Matt Stajan, who split the D and put it past Bernier. The Flames led in shots (9-6) and shot attempts (21-14), while Toronto had a slight face-off edge (15-13).

Early in the third, the home side broke the deadlock: the Leafs came in on an odd-man rush but Flames covered well; but Brodie blocked Dave Bolland pass towards the slot...into his own net. Ugh. 2-1 Leafs. A little bit later, the Flames were victimized by some shabby coverage in the offensive zone; Brodie pinched but nobody covered his spot at the point; David Clarkson got a breakaway through the hole in coverage and scored. 3-1 Leafs.

Karri Ramo stood tall on a few subsequent Leafs chances and then answered back. Colborne found Russell by the face-off dot with a nice pass (after some great puck protection) and with Sean Monahan screening, Russell put it past Bernier to cut the lead to 3-2. The Flames pressed late, including a great chance for Curtis Glencross, but Bernier stood tall and the Leafs won the game by a 3-2 margin. Toronto led the third in shots (10-8), Calgary led in shot attempts (22-21) and face-off wins (16-15).

HOW WAS VAN BRABANT?

He barely played in the later stages of the game, and he took a penalty in the first. He was okay, I guess. I'd like to see more out of him before I come to any conclusions, though. He did seem to use his size well in the corners early-on, so that's a positive.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

The Flames were fairly mediocre for long stretches against Ottawa and they lost by three. Tonight they were mediocre for a shorter period – particularly in their defensive coverage – and lost by one.

T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano had an uncharacteristically poor game – not out-and-out bad, just not great by their standards – and it's tough for the team to perform too well without their aces being at their best.

RED WARRIOR

Joe Colborne has been so much better as a winger than he was as a center, and I thought he had one of his better games. His puck protection on Kris Russell's goal was superb.

SUM IT UP

The Flames (31-38-7) have six games remaining in the 2013-14 season. They head south to sunny Florida for a meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning (41-25-9) on Thursday and the Florida Panthers (27-41-8) on Friday.

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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.
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#1 ChinookArch
April 01 2014, 07:58PM
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Too bad. I was really hoping to watch the Flames battle back and pull the hearts right out of each Leaf players' chest. I watched quite a few TO games and this is the first time all season, that I watched them actually play defense. They're not particularly good at doing so, but Bernier was good when he needed to be.

Good choice for the Red Warrior tonight, Colburne continues to get better on the wing, and has been solid when playing without the puck.

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#2 cgyokgn
April 01 2014, 08:09PM
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Yeah, was hoping we could pull this one out... had some chances at the end. Toronto got some help with the out-of-town scoreboard, with Washington losing (5-0!) and Columbus losing in OT. NYI won tonight so we've slipped/climbed? to 4th "pick."

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#3 dotfras
April 01 2014, 08:16PM
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Colborne looked great.

Russel had a strong game as well.

Ramo was fighting the puck.

Toronto shut down the middle of the ice well all night long.

Van Branant has 1 nice shift where he was working hard in the corners. Our 4th line didn't even have a shift the last half of the game.

Would have loved to see the win, but I'm ok with moving into 4th (last) overall.

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#4 FlamesFan1489
April 01 2014, 08:48PM
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I guess a positive with having Billins in the lineup is he will help us in our draft position! Jokes aside, Billins looked very nervous with the puck, which is understandable when you're called up to the bigs, but as an offensive defenseman that is not going to help at all.

Was hoping the boys could pull it off and crush the Leafs' playoff hopes (could have been a 3rd Canadian team we spurned this year) but no matter what, if the guys play hard its a win-win for Calgary in the last 2 weeks of hockey.

Button believes Reinhart could slip in the draft coming up but with his performance singlehandedly taking out our Calgary Hitmen, I can't see him slipping out of the top 3 (I would say top 2 but you'd have to think Edmonton is picking Exblad, ya?).

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#5 FlamesFan1489
April 01 2014, 08:49PM
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Ekblad not Exblad whoops hahaha

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#6 RexLibris
April 01 2014, 08:59PM
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@ChinookArch

pull the hearts right out of each Leaf players' chest.

See, there's your problem right there. Hearts are not standard issue for Leafs players.

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#7 RexLibris
April 01 2014, 09:06PM
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@FlamesFan1489

If I had to pick someone sliding out of the top three it'd be Ekblad.

I think Buffalo takes Reinhart (assuming no change in draft position from what it is today), and Edmonton takes Draisaitl. Florida then probably chooses between Ekblad or Bennett. All things being equal, I think they might take Ekblad, but Tallon has been burnt taking a defender 3rd overall before (Barker) and may decide to go with the forward. That leaves either Calgary, the Islanders or Buffalo choosing 4th and it is entirely possible that Ekblad, Bennett or Dal Colle is available there. If it is Buffalo, I suspect they take Ekblad and walk away laughing. Islanders, probably go with Dal Colle. Flames, I think Burke could go either way between the big defender or the nasty forward in Dal Colle.

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#8 Jeff In Lethbridge
April 01 2014, 09:43PM
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As brodie and gio go, so go the flames. this kinda bears out the stats blog posted today saying these two (plus mickis) carry the team

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#9 SeanCharles
April 01 2014, 09:50PM
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Brodie and Gio looked slightly off tonight in front of friends and family...

They have been getting a lot of recognition lately too..

This hiccup will be a lesson for them as they continue their ascension!

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#10 Tony
April 01 2014, 09:52PM
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From sureLoss on Calgary Puck:

Breen has been recalled according to AHL transactions page:

http://theahl.com/stats/transactions...&f_team_id=379

also Paul LaTour who covers the wolves reports cundari has been recalled but it isn't on the transaction page yet

Quote: Paul LaTour @platour68 Just got word #chicagowolves have lost defenseman Mark Cundari. Flames called him up to Calgary.

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#11 Tony
April 01 2014, 10:00PM
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#12 Danglesnipecelly
April 02 2014, 12:24AM
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RexLibris wrote:

If I had to pick someone sliding out of the top three it'd be Ekblad.

I think Buffalo takes Reinhart (assuming no change in draft position from what it is today), and Edmonton takes Draisaitl. Florida then probably chooses between Ekblad or Bennett. All things being equal, I think they might take Ekblad, but Tallon has been burnt taking a defender 3rd overall before (Barker) and may decide to go with the forward. That leaves either Calgary, the Islanders or Buffalo choosing 4th and it is entirely possible that Ekblad, Bennett or Dal Colle is available there. If it is Buffalo, I suspect they take Ekblad and walk away laughing. Islanders, probably go with Dal Colle. Flames, I think Burke could go either way between the big defender or the nasty forward in Dal Colle.

Define "nasty" Dal Colle has 34 PIM on the season and I believe was just nominated for the OHL's version of the Lady Bing.

Or is your street slang coming out and you mean nasty as in sick or phat? Also you have Buffalo picking all over the place, I'm confused....

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#13 beloch
April 02 2014, 12:36AM
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The Flames were 55.7% in 5on5 fenwick and 56.5% overall. That is respectable. The team that's most famous for defying advanced statistics did it again and the Flames, once again, are slumpbusters!!! It does feel a bit dirty, not unlike that scene from Rio Grande where an alcoholic Dean Martin digs a silver dollar out of a spittoon for just one more fix. However, the Islanders won one tonight and passed the Flames in the standings with a game in hand! The Flames are currently slated to pick fourth and Leafs' fans can delude themselves for just one more game. It may not have been the win we wanted, but perhaps it's the win we needed.

The swede-led ALPS (anti-lottery-pick-squad, and damn this would work better if Backs was swiss), had corsi's of 69.2% (squid), 67.6% (Backs), and 61.8% (Byron). Giordie LaForte went 60.4% and 68.0% on the night in spite of that one gaff. Colborne had a damned good night too, with a CF% of 58.1% despite getting an offensive zonestart percentage of just 22.2%, although he did face buttery soft competition, as per usual. Bryce van Brabant was deployed in almost identical circumstances to Westgarth (i.e. heavily sheltered), but his corsi for was 4.7% better! Unfortunately, it was still just 33.3%. McG faced slightly tougher (but still buttery soft) competition and destroyed the other goons with a CF% of 45.5%! Yeah... Not an inspiring game for Brahbie, but at least he beat one of the goons in his NHL debut.

I think I'm going to go find a Maple tree to urinate upon now. Goodnight gents!

P.S. Do let me know if any TNG fans out there actually caught the reference...

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#14 SydScout
April 02 2014, 01:05AM
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Forgive my ignorance if this has already been analysed, but has anyone done the stats on Colborne as a C versus wing?

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#15 KetchupKid
April 02 2014, 01:55AM
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Call up Breen. Start BackDonald for the rest of the season. A top four pick would be stellar.

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#16 beloch
April 02 2014, 03:32AM
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SydScout wrote:

Forgive my ignorance if this has already been analysed, but has anyone done the stats on Colborne as a C versus wing?

A brief googling suggests he was swapped around Jan. 24th, so....

Before: CF: 45.6% QoC: 27.7% ZS: 59.4%
After: CF: 46.0% QoC: 28.1% ZS: 48.6%

There hasn't been a big change in his possession, but he's facing slightly tougher competition while getting substantially fewer offensive zone starts. If you look at a 10 game rolling average of these stats over the course of the year he's gone up and down quite a bit. There wasn't a clear and sudden improvement as soon as he was swapped to the wing. His biggest improvement of the season happened in January before he was swapped, which happens to coincide with the whole team's precipitous improvement.

In short, there wasn't a clear-cut step forward when he was swapped to the wing. He does appear to have gotten gradually better over the course of the season, but it's possible that's at least partially driven by the improvement of other players on the team. I'm a wee bit surprised by this, since he looks clearly better to my eye on the wing. Wishful thinking?

Personally, I'd be ecstatic with Colborne if he were Monahan's age, or even 21 or 22. However, he's 24. He's old enough that his potential for further development is probably quite limited. The only thing that suggests he might still improve a bit is that he doesn't have much NHL experience (90 games so far). I'd temper your expectations for this kid. Yes, he was a steal for a 4th rounder, but he's probably not going to be good enough to hang with Monahan for much longer. He's probably bottom six material.

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#17 ultrathinzigzags
April 02 2014, 05:33AM
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well well well Joe looks like you have a whole bunch of people getting on the C-Train all of a sudden

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#18 SydScout
April 02 2014, 06:11AM
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@beloch

I cant find reason to disagree with your comments re tempering expectations. Particularly in light of previous articles around peak age (http://flamesnation.ca/2012/5/11/the-flames-roster-donut)

But the rise of Joe Colborne is something that may come less in a meteoric way. He is a big boy, at 6'5, and while has never produced an output that commands attention in the way of a top-five-draft-pick-potential star, he has consistently, gradually improved.

Consider this - he may well fit nicely on an Arnold / Gaudreau line. That size, with a small guy, helps immensely and in fairness he can thread the needle beautifully at times with his hands and vision. This thought particularly holds in these BC guys first few years when they are likely on or around the second line.

If he can continue with to progress to an output of ~35/40 points per season with the current level of talent on this roster (he's sitting around 30 now with 27 points in 74 games), then you may be looking at trade bait in a couple of years for late first round or early second round picks. Or just a keeper for a team on the up.

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#19 ChinookArch
April 02 2014, 06:50AM
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@RexLibris

Buffalo has some good young prospects at defense already, and if they want their fans to keep buy tickets, they'll need to score more goals next year. My bet is they'll will opt for Draisalt for their first pick, leaving Ekbald for Edmonton. If the Oilers brain trust pass on him, the city will implode.

As a Flames fan, I hope the Oilers miss on Ekblad, but it doesn't look good.

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#20 Primo
April 02 2014, 07:39AM
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RexLibris wrote:

If I had to pick someone sliding out of the top three it'd be Ekblad.

I think Buffalo takes Reinhart (assuming no change in draft position from what it is today), and Edmonton takes Draisaitl. Florida then probably chooses between Ekblad or Bennett. All things being equal, I think they might take Ekblad, but Tallon has been burnt taking a defender 3rd overall before (Barker) and may decide to go with the forward. That leaves either Calgary, the Islanders or Buffalo choosing 4th and it is entirely possible that Ekblad, Bennett or Dal Colle is available there. If it is Buffalo, I suspect they take Ekblad and walk away laughing. Islanders, probably go with Dal Colle. Flames, I think Burke could go either way between the big defender or the nasty forward in Dal Colle.

McTavish already on record that he will draft Ekblad if available. He somehow dreams of Ekblad / Nurse combination in the future. I personally think he will not be around to realize that dream and should seriously consider packaging that pick for some veteran help on that sorry sick team!

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#21 Willi P
April 02 2014, 07:48AM
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Danglesnipecelly wrote:

Define "nasty" Dal Colle has 34 PIM on the season and I believe was just nominated for the OHL's version of the Lady Bing.

Or is your street slang coming out and you mean nasty as in sick or phat? Also you have Buffalo picking all over the place, I'm confused....

Buffalo has the NYI 1st pick (either this year or next, New York's choice) so Buffalo will likely pick 1st and 4-5th. I think the Islanders will keep next years' pick for a lottery chance at McDavid

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#22 BurningSensation
April 02 2014, 08:00AM
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@beloch

"Giordie LaForte"

I see what you did there....

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#23 BurningSensation
April 02 2014, 08:15AM
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I suspect the draft will go like this;

1. Buffalo - Reinhart

2. Edmonton - Ekblad

3. Florida - Bennett/Draisaitl

4. Calgary - whoever Florida doesn't pick.

I also suspect that Burke will take a run at Buffalo's #1 overall.

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#24 Baalzamon
April 02 2014, 08:22AM
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@beloch

P.S. Do let me know if any TNG fans out there actually caught the reference...

*sheepishly raises hand*

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#25 seve927
April 02 2014, 09:01AM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I suspect the draft will go like this;

1. Buffalo - Reinhart

2. Edmonton - Ekblad

3. Florida - Bennett/Draisaitl

4. Calgary - whoever Florida doesn't pick.

I also suspect that Burke will take a run at Buffalo's #1 overall.

Why? I don't think most people think there's much to pick among the top 4. Why do you think he'd give something up to move up?

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#26 wot96
April 02 2014, 09:05AM
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@SydScout

I had thought that Gaudreau would be best placed on a line with a buzzsaw or a power forward on the other wing. Poirier, in a few years, or Glencross maybe. I thought Ferland, if healthy might be a good choice too.

I am not really sure why the Flames would play Arnold and Johnny together, despite college chemistry, given the differences in projected upside.

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#27 seve927
April 02 2014, 09:08AM
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What's the deal with Mark Fayne? I never hear much about him. He's a UFA at 26, and looks like he'd be a perfect fit here. Why do I not hear much about him? Are the Devils trying to re-sign him?

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#28 Jeff Lebowski
April 02 2014, 09:35AM
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I know this is a silly exercise but if this year's draft crop were mixed with last years' would there be no 2014's cracking the top 5? 10?

Where would Reinhart - Draisaitl - Bennett rank with Mackinnon, Barkov, Lindholm, Monahan Ekbkad with Jones, Nurse

Dal Colle with Drouin

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#29 Girão
April 02 2014, 09:40AM
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Last night he was like "Cool-burn"!

OK, that was awful.

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#30 Heisenberg
April 02 2014, 09:59AM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I suspect the draft will go like this;

1. Buffalo - Reinhart

2. Edmonton - Ekblad

3. Florida - Bennett/Draisaitl

4. Calgary - whoever Florida doesn't pick.

I also suspect that Burke will take a run at Buffalo's #1 overall.

There is only a 25% chance that the draft order stays in tact (75% chance someone else wins the lottery) even if these bottom teams finish in the order you put them in........a lot can still change. Ie the flames actually get lucky for once and win the lottery!

WW

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#31 McRib
April 02 2014, 10:06AM
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@Jeff Lebowski

I actually like this year’s Top. 5 compared to last year, although I would give a slight edge to last year’s because no one this year is on the level of Mackinnon. Other than that everyone is right up near the rest of them though, IMO. Leon Draisaitl and Michel Dal Colle have really elevated there games of late which helps a lot with the Top. 5 depth this year.

After the Top. 5-10 Picks this years talent level takes a HUGE drop off from last year (especially once you hit the 11-30 range). Madison Bowey went 53rd last year he would have easily been a 20-30 pick this year and was the 7th WHL defender taken last year he would be the 2nd this year (after Haydn Fleury). Emile Poirier was the 6th QMJHLer taken last year he would easily be a consensus Top. 15 this year and the 2nd QMJHLer taken (after Ehlers).

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#32 McRib
April 02 2014, 10:41AM
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Here are the 2013 NHL Drafts Top. 7 Players According to Draft Results (PPG/NHLE): Mackinnon (1.70/39.14), Barkov (0.90/44.28), Drouin (2.14/49.2), Jones (0.92/22.58), Lindholm (0.62/47.97), Monahan (1.32/36.2), Nurse (0.603/14.83).

2014 NHL Draft Top. 7 Prospects: Reinhart (1.75/43.05), Ekblad (0.91/22.48), Bennett (1.60/39.27), Draisaitl (1.64/40.36), Dal Colle (1.42/34.88), Ehlers (1.65/37.9), Fleury (0.66/16.17).

Judging just by Offensive Projection using NHLE for this years draft compared to last years Sam Reinhart (43.05), Draisaitl (40.36) & Bennett (39.27) are all greater than Nathan Mackinnon (39.14). No one comes close to Jonathon Drouin or the two European Players Lindholm/Barkov. (I think NHLE is too favorable to European Pro Leagues), but guys like Draisaitl/Dal Colle have much better size than Drouin/Lindholm anyway.

Seth Jones (22.58) is only slightly higher than Aaron Ekblad (22.48) and Jones was a late birthday. Haydn Fleury is higher than Darnell Nurse. Both Leon Draisaitl and Michael Dal Colle have better offensive numbers than Sean Monahan (although they are not nearly as NHL Ready). Judging by this considering who had the best Size/NHLE combination last year (Barkov), I think Leon Draisaitl could be a suprise 2-3 pick this year. Regardless you would be hard pressed to say that last years draft is way ahead of this years when the Top. 4 forwards this season all have a higher NHLE than Nathan Mackinnon. Judging by this my Mock Draft would be 1) Reinhart 2) Ekblad/Draisaitl 3) Draisaitl/Ekblad 4) Bennett 5) Dal Colle.

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#33 McRib
April 02 2014, 10:41AM
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#34 dotfras
April 02 2014, 12:20PM
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Bennet & Dal Colle are the youngest of the top group. Does age play any factor in draft philosophy/methodology?

I think any way you slice it we are drafting a Left Handed C in the 4/5 spot - unless of course Burke pulls some draft day magic.

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#35 Primo
April 02 2014, 09:32PM
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seve927 wrote:

Why? I don't think most people think there's much to pick among the top 4. Why do you think he'd give something up to move up?

Because most people have seen Reinhart play and this guy is the real meal deal!!!!!!!!

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