Flames Draft Targets: Dark Horses and Sleepers

 

 

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.

First Round

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.

Second Round

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.

  • Kent,

    I posted previously that I like Jenner, Catenacci and Lowry with one or both of our second round picks. I’m not sure I would use our first round pick Jenner.

    Rattie is cerainly an intriguing prospect. The concensus is that he’s got great stickhandling and passing skills. His skating and defensive play are lacking. Like you, I could see the Flames taking him if they move down in the fraft.

    Rask is also someone with some upside. I understand that he had some trouble this past season but seemed to turn things around at the U18 World Championships. I have a feeling that some team will take a chance on him late in the first round or early second.

    As for other possibilities in the second round, I could see the Flames going with a defenceman and taking someone like a Ryan Sproul, Stuart Percy or Joel Edmunson. The first 2 offer some offensive punch,

    • jakeryley

      Jenner seems like he might deserve one of our second round picks, the name is sort of read though hahaha just kidding. As much as I like the name Lowry (one of my family’s last names), I don’t really want another Eric Nystrom being used as our first round pick. I’d rather have us pick him with a lower pick although he wouldn’t fall that far most likely.

  • jakeryley

    My wish list:

    13th overall: MARK SCHEIFELE or JOEL ARMIA

    45th overall: VICTOR RASK

    57th overall: ALEXANDER KHOKHLACHEV

    …I imagine in order for us to get those guys, they’ll have to fall a few slots behind where they’re slated to go. I’m hoping Khokhlachev drops due to the difficulties dealing with Russian players, but that sounds like a long shot.

    I’d be ecstatic to grab Rask at 45th, hopefully he falls that far. If Rask is gone at 45, I’d use the pick to snag Khokhlachev.

  • Those sound like good choices. I also excluded Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Saad, Tyler Biggs and Joe Morrow from the list.

    Honestly, it could have been a much, much longer post but then no one would have read it.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I’m going to have my proverbial fingers crossed that Grimaldi somehow falls low enough for the Flames to take in the 2nd round (why not? enough off-board picks and it could happen).

  • JR

    I would like to see the Flames trade down, pick up another 2nd round pick, then grab Grimaldi in the first round. Grimaldi could be considered a high risk pick, but with the 2nd tier of players ranging from 10-60 the three 2nd rounders would most likely turn out some promising prospects.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Although a lot of people hate the idea of trading down (and generally I do as well), if McNeill, Schiefele, and Bartchi were all taken (in addition to the top 10 etc etc) by 13, I think I agree with you.

      @Austin: he’s saying the Flames trade their 1st for, say, Chicago’s 1st and 2nd.

  • the forgotten man

    I fear the Flames are going to have a D-man or two at the top of their board when their turn comes to pick. If they keep their pick at 13, there looks to be lots of rearguards remaining.

    Last year Cam Fowler tumbled from a projected #3 slot to 12th, and I recall Ryan Ellis also slid (though that might just be the Summer Solstice drinks) and I get the sense Ryan Murphy will be doing the same thing this Friday as the defenders who are offensively gifted but struggle in their own zone can scare teams with top 10 picks. NOBODY thought Cam Fowler would slide outside of the top 10 last year, and maybe Murphy will do the same this year.

    If Murphy, Beaulieu, Siemens, and Oleksiak are all around at 10 do the Flames trade down, or swallow hard and take the best player at a position where CURRENTLY there is the most organizational depth.

    Everyone would love to see an offensively gifted forward at 13, but the best players available may be defenders. An interesting challenge for Feaster and the Flames brass should it arise.

    Would you be comfy with the Flames taking a defender given the dearth of offensively gifted forwards in the pipeline?

    • I think I’d be comfortable if it was Ryan Murphy. Other than him, I don’t like any of the other defenders you name at 13.

      There are definitely some potentially decent value forwards available a little later. I mean, how much better is McNeill than, say, Ty Rattie or even Victor Rask I wonder?

      • Arik

        Based on what I’ve seen and heard- significantly. Victor Rask just looks to be a player who dominated a year ago based on size and failed to improve since.
        Ty Rattie looks like a one way forward with too many creases to iron out to these eyes.

        I’m not sure why so many teams/fans are overlooking Khokhlachev. He’s a prime example of the birthday effect, turning 18 right before the beginning of the season. That, plus the fact that he’s already viewed as a competitive two-way player (though not quite as responsible as, say, McNeill) and has good skills in almost every category, makes him a no brainer pick to me.

        Moreoever, he came to NA a year before the draft to show that he wants to play in the NHL no matter what. That takes out the so-called “Russian factor” (which by the way strikes me as casual racism).

      • icedawg_42

        I don’t think I’d be too disappointed if the Flames traded down to the #19/#20, got an extra late second or early third rounder range and grabbed Rattie, at #13 I still say take McNeill if he’s around (unless something falls into their lap – I’d consider Zibanejad in that category)

  • Arik

    My vote is for Grimaldi as I’m sure Zibanejad will be gone by 13. After that I’m happy with Armia and then either Phillips, Scheifele or McNeill.

    Watched the Bob McKenzie draft show and then the fantasy draft with Button and McQuire and it amazes me just how all over the map this draft is after about the top 8.

    • Arik

      I still don’t see why everyone is so crazy about Zibanejad. I undertsand that he has very few holes in his game but I don’t really see any really good tools that he owns. I’d much rather pick McNeill at 13 than Zibanejad or Phillips or Scheifele.

      • icedawg_42

        Well, that’s the problem with this draft – no clear consensus. Rankings are all over the map depending on who does them.

        Zibanejad, however, is more of a consensus higher pick. He’s very good in all 3 zones, physically mature and has a lot of offensive tools, but they were not on full display due to where he played.

        Mind you, minus that last part, I guess you could say the same thing about McNeill. It’s tough – spots 9-40 are almost interchangeable.

        But I really like Grimaldi and don’t think his size will be a hindrance. Talent-wise, he’s as good as anyone in the draft, including RNH.

  • icedawg_42

    My picks (Feint Hope & Reasonable)…

    1R-13 (Feint Hope): Mika Zibanjad
    1R-13 (Reasonable): Mark McNeill

    2R-45 (Feint Hope): Rocco Grimaldi
    2R-45 (Reasonable): Victor Rask

    2R-57: Seth Ambroz

    • icedawg_42

      I would be SHOCKED if Grimaldi is available at 45. I think he’s gone in the top 20. Remember it just takes one team to like a guy. Consesus opinion doesn’t matter. That said I love the player, so long as he doesn’t have Rico Fata posters on his wall.

      Watched Seth Ambroz at the World Junior A Challenge in November. He was thought of as a top 15 talent at that point. Had a bit of a tough year in the USHL, and hasn’t taken any huge strides as his fellow draft eligible competitors have caught up to him physically. At #57 that’s the kind of player you get, I guess.

      As for all the forwards being mentioned, let’s keep in mind a sure-fire NHLer on the blueline Is much more valuable to the franchise than an uber-talented forward that can’t make the jump to the NHL.

      I can’t help but think best player available will be a D at #13

      • icedawg_42

        If Feaster drafts a D whose name isn’t Larsson or Murphy at #13 I will let loose a torrent of obscenties the likes of which would produce a look of shock and disgust upon the faces of sailors.

        That is to saw that unless the D is one whose projected to be near elite level in some regard (if not all-around) then I want a bloody forward at #13.

        • T&A4Flames

          I agree JF. The only other D i may include in that group is Dougie Hamilton; he seems to be that all around guy. Still, we REALLY need some talented forwards. Some articles compare McNeill to Getzlaf and Zibanejad to Iginla. I would be ok with either but I think my preference would still be on McNeill.

          • cross16

            @JF

            Take a look at the 2008 Draft (link below). No matter how badly you wanted a forward (imagine with me), Tyler Myers at 12 is an incredible get.

            http://hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2008e.html

            Look at Kyle Beach drafted at 11 by CHI, you think they aren’t kciking themselves by not taking Myers, or even VAN at 10 with Cody Hodgson? Even Bailey, Wilson, Boedker and Filitov (all taken prior to Myers) you could argue in hindsight.

            I think you can get into trouble by picking strictly by positional need.

            I’m not suggesting that the 2008 Draft was a perfect replica of this years spot the Flames find themselves in, but getting the best hockey asset is never a bad thing.

            I think fans need to understand: [best player > best player in CURRENT position of need]

          • cross16

            I’m sure they’re kicking themselves for not taking Jordan Eberle (another forward) as well.

            The Flames need forward talent in the organization more then they need another d-man. IMO as much as the entire draft process is a crapshoot the biggest crapshoot is goalies followed by d-men followed by forwards. I’m not saying take a pass if a potential elite blueline talent falls to you (hence why I said unless it’s Larsson or Murphy) but when I take a look at the blueline talent after those two I don’t see any “wow factor” and without the wow factor I’d rather take a forward.

  • icedawg_42

    Did anyone see that muck draft on TSN by Button and Mcguire? Mcguire said that alot of teams have Sven Bartschi as a 20th – 30th pick. I thought there was a legit shot that he was going top ten.

  • cross16

    I really like Rask but I think they would have to get him out of Sweden to be worth while. I think he is just not quite ready for the men’s leagues over there and I think if his plan is to stay there for a year or two it would be detrimental to his development and reduce the chances he could resemble an NHL prospect. I think ultimately he won’t last until 47 but he could be a flat our steal if he does.
    I think the Flames should also target Ryan Sproul in the 2nd Round. Little raw for sure but has huge potential IMO and could develop very nicely into a top 4 maybe top 3 dmen as he has the raw skills your are looking for they just need polishing.
    I also like Colin Jacobs in the 2nd rounder as well. He has the “safe” label that alot of fans may not like but thats good value in the 2nd round.

  • icedawg_42

    I have it on pretty good authority that Colorado really likes Landeskog and will take him if available.
    So if RNH and Landeskog go 1-2, I think you will see Huberdeau, Larsson, Couturier,Strome and Hamilton go next in some order.
    That leaves a group of Murphy, Zibanejad, Scheifle, Bartschi, and McNeil who I think could be good fits for the Flames in that 13 spot.
    If all those guys are gone and you are looking at Beaulieau, Brodin, Oleksiak, Phillips, or Siemens, then I think you try to move down as none of those guys are heads and shoulders above the rest.

  • T&A4Flames

    I have to say, I’m fairly glad we are not picking 1st because I’m really not sold on many of the ‘top’ guys. If I was Edmonton I would strongly consider trading down. The only top guy I find intriguing is Landeskog. The rest I’m not so sure they would be any better than the next group of 10 or so. Just an opinion and a feeling. Only time will tell I guess.

    • icedawg_42

      I must say that I watched RNH several times vs the Hitmen..and yes the Hitmen were not good this year, but that kid is the real deal. there’s no arguing that…he IS small/wiry though.