Latest at the Hockey Writers: a Flames draft preview

 

 

One year ago, newly-promoted Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster went to the podium at the Xcel Energy Center and pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Drafting 13th overall in the first round, Feaster chose Swiss winger Sven Baertschi. Within the year, Baertschi had dominated the WHL and spent two weeks in the NHL with the Flames during an injury recall stint.

The rookie didn’t look a bit out of place.

Now firmly entrenched in his general manager’s office, the pressure is on for Feaster to once again have a strong draft after selecting Baertschi, NCAA standout John Gaudreau, WHL playoff MVP Laurent Brossoit and others at the 2011 draft.

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  • T&A4Flames

    We definitely need top 6 RW and D. I think we should stay away from any center who projects as a 2 or 3 line C, we have enough of those. Unless Galchenyuk or Grigorenko fall to 14 (not likely) we should be looking to add skill to the aforementioned positions. I am not opposed to trading down if none of the top projected 10 fall to us. That said, I’m also not opposed to trading up if the opportunity is there and a clear win for us.

  • The difficult thing for predicting this year’s draft is that there’s an obvious #1, but realistically anybody can go #2. Or #3. Any of the highly-touted WHL defenders could go early, or drop, and same with the European forwards.

    And the possibility I didn’t entertain here is the chance that Feaster decides he wants another pick in a later round and trades down. I’m not sure that trading up is an option given the team’s lack of assets.

  • T&A4Flames

    This draft is definitely all over the map. Every scouting publication is different. For example, that Finnish kid Teuvo Teravainen could go top anywhere from 5-15 depending on what you read. Same with that Swedish kid Collberg. You hate to keep drafting smallish guys, but it looks like a player with some high skill could fall to 14th for Calgary and right now I think skill is more important than size. Although, again it’s hard to tell, that Latvian guy, Zemgus Girgensons, is a 3rd liner to some and definite top 6 material to other things I’ve read.

    This used to be much easier when THN was all there was!:)

  • everton fc

    If we can find size and speed, either through trades or the draft, that’s the path to pursue.

    Look at Baertschi next to Conroy. He looks tiny.

    Size on the right side, down the middle, on the backend… with speed… That’s our future.

    Easier said than done, of course.

  • Graham

    We seem to have a number of guys projecting as 2nd – 4th line talent, but we are lacking in high end prospects. Given the right opportunity, i wouldn’t mind seeing Feaster trade up, even if it means losing some of our later round picks, or mid level prospects.
    Mid level prospects / players are replaceable through free agency.
    We pretty much need top end talent at any position, but I think our greatest need is at center and on defence (to replace Erixon)

  • Graham

    draft the best player available, the flames need talent at every position and every role. do the dale tallon and stockpile drafts, worked for the hawks, and florida has a bevy of bluechippers.

  • RexLibris

    @ evertonfc and the-wolf

    The forwards with size and speed in this year’s draft are most likely to be picked over by the time the Flames draft. That is the overall problem with the direction of the organization of late. They need upgrades in talent but the wisest way of acquiring those upgrades continues to elude them due to regular season mediocrity.

    This is why I put forward the names of Collberg and Gaunce as potential Flames targets. They aren’t as offensively gifted as their peers, but they have the size and speed and potential to upgrade the Flames prospect depth.

    Looking over Ryan’s list of prospects that the Flames should target, I think Dumba and Reinhart will be non-starters (I don’t think they make it all the way to #14). Ceci is a definite possibility. As is Collberg and Girgensons. Even Faksa, if the stars align.

    I had a look at the Flames roster and prospect list to see what bodies, if any, could be moved for a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Aside from Horak, I don’t see a lot of possibilities.

    There has been some internet buzz about the Flames trading the negotiation rights of Olli Jokinen, but trading the rights to an injured, 34 year-old center who has said he wants to stay in Calgary isn’t likely to net a decent draft pick.

  • Graham

    @ Rex – I see what you’re saying about Gaunce, but Collberg is only 5’1″ and 174lbs. Him or Teevu could possibly fall to 14th depending on which draft rankings you read.

  • Graham

    @RexLibris
    ‘They need upgrades in talent but the wisest way of acquiring those upgrades continues to elude them due to regular season mediocrity,

    The Flames seem to end up in a draft position
    were they are drafting ‘projects’ rather than ‘prospects’

  • RexLibris

    @the-wolf

    5’1″ 174 lbs, man that kid would be like a bullet! You might be wrong, but that would be awesome.

    Suddenly John Gaudreau would have someone to look down upon.

    With the glut of defenseman I suspect that teams with more than first round pick, or who are drafting between 9th and 15th will take a forward, with the idea that they can get a d-man later on. Teravainen is a possibility, but I would be a little surprised if he were still there at #14.

    The European kids are the best bet to slide simply because of distance and familiarity.

    @Graham

    All draft picks are projects, they all need to be tended to as developing players and supported. The Oilers wasted entire generations of picks that were squandered because they were too cash-strapped to run a farm team properly or to otherwise help support and develop their prospects.

    • There has been some internet buzz about the Flames trading the negotiation rights of Olli Jokinen, but trading the rights to an injured, 34 year-old center who has said he wants to stay in Calgary isn’t likely to net a decent draft pick.

      A 34-year old center who wants to stay and has an iron-clad NMC to boot.

  • supra steve

    @KentWilson, @Rex

    Kent and Rex, as is often the case, are the voices of reason here. Unfortunately, I can’t see trading Olli for an asset happening at this point. Only way it could is if Olli knows where he wants to go (other then Calgary) and agrees to a trade to that org.—but why would he not wait for July 1 and UFA status, allowing your new club to keep the asset they would have to trade for your rights. And why would another org. give up an asset if they know Olli favors them already (waived his NMC to go there)? Sorry, just don’t see this bearing fruit.

    Finally, why would the Flames not give him an offer (home town discount the crap out of it) for 2 years and see what happens. If you need to go to 3 years, make sure you get an even friendlier cap hit. He will want a NTC again. Olli likes Calgary and is tired of moving his family every year or two. In the end I think that the Flames could reasonably sign him for 2 yr for $2.5/yr with his NTC, or 3yr @ $2.0 with NTC. Can he get more as a UFA?–Sure. All he needs to do is look at his bank/investment accounts and decide how much more he really needs, and what he (and his family) are willing to do to get that extra $5 million.

  • Based on the successes of the past year (OHLer T.J. Brodie hitting the bigs, Sven Baertschi and other WHLers playing well, USHLer Gaudreau impressing as a rookie) I’d expect the Flames to choose an OHLer (or two), maybe gamble on another USHLer headed to college, and then load up with WHL prospects.

    That said, I have no idea in what order or round they’ll do any of those things.

  • RexLibris

    @steve

    This raises another question: ought the Flames re-sign Jokinen from a positional standpoint?

    Given the limited options available and the current alternatives at that position, I would say, if the contract can be negotiated to offer two years under $3 million a year, it might be a decent signing. Only one thing: no clauses this time.

    Jokinen and Smyth seem to be going through the same thing this summer. They want to stay but the organizations appear to have moved a little past what either player can offer.

  • supra steve

    @Rex

    Only problem, as I see it, is that Olli is just shy of 3 years younger then Smyth. Olli also came off a strong year, where Smyth had a strong start to last season–not so much after that (I think).

    I think the market for Olli as a UFA is way stronger then that for Smyth this summer. That is why I think the NTC may be the clincher to get him to sign for below market value.

    Also, is Smyth married? (did he take the plunge with that 100yr old lady I saw him celebrating her century a few years back?–Man, she loved his hair.) Olli has his family to consider, and if he can’t get a NTC from the Flames, I’m guessing someone else will give him one, and more money as well.

    If the Flames decide they don’t need Olli, then by all means let him go. But, I’m betting they at least make a tepid attempt at signing him. I would rather see Cammi playing his natural position and not filling in at C (as some have suggested).

    • RexLibris

      It was only a superficial comparison. Both are UFAs, both want to stay put, and both are coming off of controversial contracts.

      Smyth is going to have a much-reduced market for his services, as you note. I suspect that he will sign in Edmonton (the word right now, according to Jim Matheson of the EJ, is two years at $2 million per) either right before the draft or after reviewing the initial offers that come in as a free agent.

      Also, Smyth married several years ago. He and his wife, Stacey, have three children, all quite young. A nice family, I saw them out shopping for pumpkins in October.

      Smyth will probably come back and play 3rd line LW next season. Likely with Horcoff as his center. If he is used as a shutdown line that could go bad easily, his legs aren’t what they used to be. The work ethic is going to be key to his success here.

      I agree that the Flames ought to have Cammalleri at the wing. Moving him to the middle, while perhaps intriguing as an experiment, at this point just reeks of desperation. This isn’t like Bowman moving Fedorov to defense.

  • supra steve

    Wow, watching the Memorial Cup Elimination game here and the Oil Kings and Brossoit are getting lit up. Think I can hear the Flames put in Malcom Subban tapes as we speak.

    • RexLibris

      I only had a chance to watch the first period, but in the last few games I could see that Brossoit was struggling with his positioning. It was as though he felt he needed to steal a game (and he said as much in the Journal before the game) for his team.

      From what I saw, Samuelsson, Reinhart, Pelss, Pysyk and Rachinski were the best Oil Kings.

      They had a lot of passengers in this series.

      As they say in Toronto, there’s always next season.