On the horribly uncomfortable plane ride from Calgary to Minneapolis, I finished up doing my research on prospects for the coming 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and I put together my wish list specific to the Calgary Flames. With three picks in the top 60 this year, for the first time in what seems like eons, the Flames have a real opportunity when it comes to this draft. Calgary picks 13th in the first round and then twice more, 45 and 57, in the second round. Kent’s done a great job with potential targets, and here’s who I’m hoping Calgary looks at with one or both of their second round picks.
Scott Mayfield, Defence, Youngstown (USHL)
It’s a long shot he’ll be available at 45, but if he is, this is a no-brainer to me. Mayfield is a great defence prospect that could go a long way in filling the void in all our hearts after the departure of Tim Erixon. Now, Mayfield and Erixon are different players, but they both possess shutdown skills and they’re both very good skaters. While Erixon has more offensive upside, he doesn’t come with the full physical package like Mayfield does; he’s a guy who has a big frame already and the potential to pack more on to his 6’3, 197 pound body. I like his defensive instincts and I like how tough he is to play against, and if he’s still around at 45, he’d be a great pick for the Flames.
Zach Phillips, Centre, Saint John (QMJHL)
Again a long shot for the mid-second round, but guys fall, and Phillips is a guy who draws different opinions from scouts I’ve talked to. There’s no question he’s one of the most offensively gifted players in the draft, but some scouts wonder how that will translate to the next level, especially with questions about his overall game. What you can’t deny, however, is the vision Phillips has from the offensive blueline in and boasts some impresive versatility, being able to play the right side in addition to playing down the middle. Phillips would definitely be a project-type player, as his skating needs some work, but scouts say it’s progressing. A few offensively gifted projects wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Calgary Flames system.
Phillip Danault, Left Wing, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
I’m starting to get a little worried; two Q players and one US player on this list, which is something Darryl Sutter would never stand for. I’d be fired immediately! What Danault brings is a crazy good work ethic and a crazy good compete level, something a few players on the big team could use a little more of. What this guy lacks in high end skill, he makes up for by always being around the puck and always being involved in the play, usually in a positive manner. Yes, this guy falls under the "character" banner in some ways, which was a hallmark of Sutter drafts, but this is a player who projects to be an NHLer…something that wasn’t always a hallmark.
Dmitri Jaskin, Right Wing, Slavia (Czech Jr)
This is a player who we don’t know a whole lot about, becuase most people haven’t seen him play a ton, but there’s a pretty high ceiling. The number one strength of Jaskin is his tenacity and hard nosed style of play, as scouts point to his ability to cause turn overs and force bad decisions on the forecheck, but he’s also got plenty of offensive ability. There is a lot to be desired in his two way play, which forces Jaskin into the "project" category, but there’s the potential of a possession driving forward in this player. Feaster hasn’t shyed away from drafting overseas in the past, so it wouldn’t be a complete shocker if Jaskin was picked by Calgary. It also wouldn’t be a complete shocker if he’s taken a whole lot higher than 45.
Xavier Ouellet, Defence, Montreal (QMJHL)
The last two guys I chose are high in the skill department, but a little less well rounded than some other potential top 60 picks. However, when looking at the Flames system, an infusion of skill can only help, and Ouellet has no shortage of skill. He’s aggressive and good at moving the puck up the ice, which is a big reason why he was able to tally 43 points with Montreal last season off the blueline. Ouellett is a very strong offensive defenceman who’s seen his all round play improve, but there’s still a lot of high risk, high reward associated. A safe pick with one of the second rounders and a riskier pick with the other might be the way to go if you’re the Flames.
Daniel Catenacci, Center, Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
One of the best skaters in the draft, Catenacci is a high energy player with some offensive upside. While he’s lacking a little in size (5’9, 176 pounds), he certainly makes up for in tenacity and intense play. The guy has really good playmaking ability and he does things at a million miles a minute, making him a potential nice fit with the way Brent Sutter likes his team to play. Good skating doesn’t always translate into lots of NHL points (just ask Matthew Lombardi), but having the speed and work ethic of Catenacci does give you a good shot at the show.
I’m live at the Draft until Sunday, and Kent gets down on Thursday night, so we’ve got plenty of live coverage for you here on the site and with our friends at Sportsnet Radio FAN 960. Listen in for our live show on Thursday and keep checking the site for more exclusive content as we get closer to draft day.