An extra reason to consider Alex Nylander at sixth overall

Ryan Pike
June 02 2016 03:45PM

Alexander Nylander is probably going to be Calgary's first round pick on June 24.

That's the main takeaway from this week's 30 Thoughts column from Sportsnet's guru Elliotte Freidman:

Matthew Tkachuk is “gaining momentum,” as one executive put it, days after the London Knight bulled his way through the Memorial Cup. You know the NHL’s preoccupation with skilled power forwards, and he certainly qualifies.

Conventional wisdom is Auston Matthews goes first to Toronto, with Patrik Laine following to Winnipeg. I think we all expected Jesse Puljujarvi to go third, but it sure sounds like Tkachuk is pushing his way into the picture.

If you follow the general progression, Tkachuk perhaps going to Columbus would potentially bump Jesse Puljijarvi down to Edmonton at fourth overall and Pierre-Luc Dubois to Vancouver at fifth overall – presuming neither team throws a wrench into things by electing to grab a defender with their picks. And presuming that the Flames don't go off the board and grab a defender at sixth overall, Nylander is the logical fit.

Moreover, choosing Nylander may be a really savvy move for reasons beyond the fact that it'd be a homecoming for the Calgary-born player. He could also qualify for the unicorn of CBA oddities: the five-year entry-level contract.

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Conner Bleackley will go back into the draft

Ryan Pike
June 02 2016 10:00AM

Yesterday was June 1, the annual deadline for North American, non-college NHL Draft picks from two years ago to sign with their clubs or opt for other options. While the usual deluge of mid-to-late round picks from the 2014 NHL Draft will go back into the draft pool, a bigger splash was made in the form of the Arizona Coyotes deciding not to sign Red Deer Rebels forward Conner Bleackley.

Bleackley, 20, was originally selected in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2014 Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. From that point, he had a few bumps in the road. From our friends at NBC Sports:

Upon getting drafted, Bleackley’s Red Deer coach, Brent Sutter, said the kid wasn’t ready for NHL hockey. Bleackley then arrived at his first Avs camp out of shape, and was sent packing early. Colorado balked on signing him, and shipped him to Arizona as part of the Mikkel Boedker trade at this year’s deadline.

It doesn't sound good. Bleackley's return to the draft pool nets Arizona a compensatory second round pick, which will be 53rd overall – the same spot Bleackley was chosen in 2014, but a round later – and push everybody's subsequent picks back by one. The Flames will now select sixth, 35th, 54th, 56th, 66th, 96th, 126th, 156th, 166th and 186th overall, pending the inevitable trades.

With all those picks on the docket, might the Flames consider taking a flyer on a player from High River?

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Flames Darkhorse Targets 2016: Jake Bean

Ryan Pike
June 01 2016 08:00AM

I went to most of the Calgary Hitmen home games this season and I saw a lot of Jake Bean.

My really brief assessment? Man, the kid has some talent. He's the son of the Flames COO, John Bean, and has obviously spent some time around the rink and gotten a chance to see first-hand what it takes to be a high-end Western Hockey League player and future NHLer.

But it's easy to think that you know what it takes, and it's super-hard to actually do it. Through two seasons in the Dub, Bean has emerged as one of the better puck-moving blueliners in the WHL and will likely be the first WHLer drafted in the 2016 NHL Draft. With the Flames owning the sixth overall selection, could Bean be a fit?

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Flames Second Round Targets 2016: Sam Steel

Ryan Pike
May 30 2016 08:00AM

I can remember hearing about Sam Steel a few years ago, dating back to him being drafted second overall by the Regina Pats in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. In the three years since, Steel has carved out a reputation for himself as a damn fine junior hockey player.

The Calgary Flames have three second round selections in the 2016 NHL Draft – 35th overall, 53rd overall and 55th overall – and Steel could be a good fit with one of those picks.

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14 drafts of Tod Button: a trip down memory lane

Ryan Pike
May 29 2016 08:00AM

The Calgary Flames promoted Tod Button to the role of head scout in the fall of 2001, replacing Ian McKenzie. He had been with the organization since 1997 and was promoted to the top job by his brother, Craig.

This will be Button's 15th draft as the Flames' top dog in the scouting department. How's he done over his previous 14 kicks at the can?

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