While we have profiled a number of players ranging from Sven Bartschi to Ryan Murphy, the truth is there are still a number of possible picks for the Flames in the first round. In addition, the club has two more picks inside the top-60 thanks to the Erixon trade and may even choose to add another asset or two by trading down or moving a body.
Unfortunately with the draft mere days away we don’t have time to do an in-depth profile of every possible top-60 Flames target. To compensate, I have put together this list of potential Calgary "sleepers and darkhorses". Feel free to add any more names or details in the comments as you see fit.
Ty Rattie – RW – WHL
NHL CS: 17th NA ISS: 28th overall Corey Pronman: 21st overall
A frequent linemate of Sven Bartschi in Portland, Rattie managed just six less points than Bartschi during the regular season. Like Bartschi, Rattie isn’t overly big standing 6′ but only weighing about 170 pounds, and Corey Pronman notes that his physical game is below average currently as a result.
Rattie’s strengths according to most scouting reports are his agility and puck skills, making him consistently dangerous. His counting numbers were some of the best amongst draft eligibles (he tied Max Reinhart despite playing 5 less games and being a year younger), although the caveat of playing on a very strong team applies here.
Rattie looks to be a middle-first round pick according to the consensus outfits, although ISS has him 28th. He should be around when Calgary comes up at 13. He’s also a guy the Flames could probably trade down and still acquire, assuming they stay in the teens.
Duncan Siemens – D – WHL
NHL CS: 10th NA ISS: 12th overall Corey Pronman: 62nd overall
One of the youngest draft eligible players this season, Seimens was born in September 1993, but is already a WHL veteran thanks to making the Saskatoon Blades as a 16-year old in 2009. The kid is already 6’3" and 200 pounds and he put up 5 goals and 43 points for the Saskatoon Blades to boot.
Most scouting reports talk about Siemens impressive size, skating ability and punishing physical game first. Those are a nice combination to have on the back-end and I also consider his youth and resume in junior thus far to be big check marks. Both central scouting and ISS like Siemens a lot, with the former ranking him 10th in NA and the latter 12th overall. Interestingly, Pronman doesn’t like Siemens nearly as much, dropping him outside the top-60. His divergent opinion is based on a couple of notable weaknesses:
Duncan’s puck skills are fringe and while he does try to hold onto the puck he looks awkward while doing so. His passing ability is decent and he will be able to execute breakouts fine at the next level. His offense at the WHL came mainly from his hard slapper and what he was able to generate off his skating ability on the rush, however I’m not very confident he’s going to put up counting numbers in the NHL because of his lack of ability with the puck. In addition, his hockey sense is on and off where at times he seems very collected and aware with and without the puck, while there are other times when he’ll go way out of position to deliver a hit and surrender a scoring chance in the process.
Mediocre puck skills and hockey sense are certainly a bit of a red flag, but the rest of the package is there. Anyone who picks Siemens will do so hoping they can bank on his obvious strengths but improve his weaknesses. He may or may not be around when Calgary picks given the fact he’s widely considered the 4th best defender available behind Doug Hamilton, Nathan Beaulieu and Ryan Murphy
Boone Jenner – C – OHL
NHL CS: 18th overall ISS: ? Corey Pronman: 32nd overall
A big, strong centerman out of the OHL at 6’2" and 204 pounds, Boone Jenner has probably the coolest hockey name out of any draft hopeful this June. He had pretty good counting numbers for the Oshawa Generals this year, scoring 25 goals and 66 points in 63 games, although those totals are obviously a step back from many of the targets we’ve discussed so far.
Central Scouting has Jenner the highest at 18th in NA, while ISS and Pronman grade him below the top-30. The reason is Jenner probably doesn’t have the offensive ceiling that projects to a top-six role in the NHL. Most scouting reports talk about his willingness to work and good two-way play. His size obviously makes him one of the better physical players on the ice and the word is he is an extremely hard worker and good teammate.
Pretty much everything else is described at average at best: skating, vision, puck-handling and shot. Jenner sounds like the type of pick the Flames would have focused on five years ago, but he’s not the guy to target this time around – at least, not at 13.
Rocco Grimaldi – C – USHL
NHL CS: 32nd NA ISS: 15th overall Corey Pronman: 10th overall
Grimaldi is one of the most compelling figures this coming weekend. Standing at just 5’6" and weighing 165 pounds, Grimaldi is relatively tiny. It is exceedingly rare for players that diminutive to show up anywhere before the third round in the entry draft or on consensus lists. Look no further than Jordan Weal, who tallied over 100-points in his draft season for the Regina Pats (and another 96 this season), but nevertheless fell to the third round because he is "only" 5’9" and 165 pounds.
Despite the severe handicap of his size, Grimaldi pops up on a lot top-30 lists, even cracking Pronman’s top-10. Every scouting report I find on the guy positively raves about his package of skills: high-end speed and skating, sneaky puck-handling, great vision, excellent shot etc. The words "dynamic", "difference maker" pop up a lot. In 54 games for the the States U18 development squad, Grimaldi totaled 34 goals and 62 points*, good for the team lead.
In addition to high-end offensive skills, Pronman notes that Grimaldi is actually quite adept defensively and hard to knock off the puck thanks to his stocky frame and high compete level:
He’s solid defensively, and is effective at even-strength and on the penalty kill in that regard. Grimaldi’s intangibles are off the charts; he simply flies up and down the ice and does whatever it takes to get the puck off players. Despite the 5’6" frame, he regularly challenges players much bigger than him and wins his fair share of battles although not enough to erase the liability. The frame will continue to hamper his absolute potential for his entire career, but if there was ever an ideal model of a player who could overcome being well below-average size-wise, that player would be Rocco Grimaldi.
Flames fans will apologize if this description reminds them of one Theoren Fleury, who remains one of the very best players this franchise has ever seen. It’s impossible to know now if Grimaldi will be able to translate his abilities to the pro game the way Fleury did, but one can’t help get excited about a player with the above description. I have no idea where Grimaldi will go, however: he may be snatched up somewhere in the first round or he may be available much later because teams would rather "the full package". I guess we’ll see.
*stats according the Hockey News. I find different numbers for Grimaldi all over the web for some reason.
Daniel Catenacci – C – OHL
NHL CS: 37th NA Corey Pronman: 53rd overall
I was first made aware of Cattenacci by @gottitoti on twitter, who swears Daniel is very comparable to Michael Cammalleri. Like Grimaldi, Catenacci is smaller player (5’10", 180 pounds) who put up some nice offensive numbers (26g-45a-71pts). Catenacci led the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL in scoring this season despite being 17-years old, but also garnered 117 penalty minutes, which is rare for a smaller, offensively focused player. I don’t know of that means he’s feisty or just tends to hook a lot of people.
Victor Rask – C – SWE-1
NHL CS: 12th EUR Corey Pronman: 41st
Rask was considered a top-10 type talent heading into this year, but a limited role in the Swedish League-1 (a tier below the SEL) and apparently indifferent play has dropped his stock like a stone. He’s already got an NHL frame at 6’2" 200 pounds and scouts swear he has a strong collection of offensive tools. Unfortunately, he appeared in just 37 games for Leksand of SWE-1, scoring five goals and 11 points with minimal ice time.
Mikael Backlund fell into a similar sort of role during his pro career in Sweden – never really good enough to usurp other guys as a teenager, nor to make the leap to the SEL and he’s turned out okay. Rask probably isn’t a good bet in the first round given his so-so season, but might be worth a gamble later on.
Markus Granlund – C – SM-liiga JR.
NHL CS: 9th EUR Corey Pronman: 69th overall
The little brother of one of the best prospects around right now (Michael Granlund), Markus isn’t quite up to the level of his sibling but seems to be a legit prospect in his own right. In 40 games for HIFK U20 (SM-liiga Jr.) Granlund scored 20 goals and 54 points. A smaller guy at 5’10" and just 165 pounds, Granlund is known for his good on-ice vision, creativity and playmaking abilities. Unfortunately, his skating is widely regarded as below average as is his physical game, which is why he drops into the 50-60 range on most lists.
Adam Lowry – LW – WHL
NHL CS: 58th NA Corey Pronman: 75th overall
Son of Flames coach Dave Lowry, Adam is a big kid (6’4") who projects to a checking type role in the NHL thanks to his size and above average hockey IQ. The reason he falls outside the top-60 is a collection of fringe level physical tools, including his skating. He managed just 18 goals and 45 points in 66 games in the WHL this year, which shows he probably doesn’t have the chops to score at the professional level.
Stefan Noesen – LW – OHL
NHL CS: 35th NA Corey Pronman: 47th overall
Noesen co-led the Plymouth Whalers in points this season, scoring 33 goals and 77 points in 67 games played. The reason his counting numbers don’t have him higher according to the scouts is poor skating and a "meat and potatoes" style game, meaning more grinding than flash and dash. He’s known for his good work ethic and pure determination, but tends to be a bit list in the open ice at times.
This is just a broad sampling of the guys available and hardly exhaustive. As mentioned, additions to the list are welcome.
Finally, make sure to join us this weekend for the draft, starting this Thursday night when Flamesnation radio will mark it’s debut on the FAN960. Pat and I will be talking the draft and will take comments, suggestions and questions via the web, twitter and carrier pigeon (if at all possible). We’re hoping to bring you as much news and access from inside the draft as possible, including pictures, a live chat during the first round and some more radio work and recorded audio. Make sure to swing by and have some fun.