The 2012 entry draft is only three weeks away, so it’s time to start looking at who the Flames might be targeting with the 14th overall pick. Last year we managed to more or less focus on the right guy, so here is hoping we can pull the feat again.
This year’s draft is very defender heavy outside of the top two or three consensus forwards. With the defection of Tim Erixon last year and the promotion of TJ Brodie to the big league, Calgary’s organizational depth on the back-end is starting to look pretty thin in the minor and junior ranks.
Two names who might still be around at 14 are Griffin Reinhart and Cody Ceci. Reinhart is Flames prospect Max Reinhart’s younger (but larger brother). He played for the juggernaut Edmonton Oil Kings this year and has been whispered as a probable top-10 talent since he burst onto the scene as a 16-year old rookie defender last year.
Cody Ceci is almost as big as Reinhart and better known for putting up points. His 17 goals and 60 points in the OHL this season was second in the league amopngst defemders, behind only former first rounder Dougie Hamilton. He was a late cut from Canada’s world junior team last holiday season and should be within range once the Flames take the podium.
In addition, there is the high scoring team mate of Sven Baertschi Derrick Pouliot. The 6′ defender managed 59 points in 72 games (good for 5th in team scoring) and is projected to go in the middle of the first round.
Here are many of the defenders the Flames will likely have on their list:
- Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings
- Cody Ceci, Ottawa 67’s
- Matt Finn, Guelph Storm
- Olli Maatta, London Knights
- Derreck Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks
Of course, the club will likely be drafting the best player available rather than considering need in the first round, so it’s possible their pick will be spent on a forward.
One guy the team is probably aware of is Zemgus Girgensons. The Latvian native spent his last two seasons with the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints, the same team Johnny Gaudreau led in scoring in 2010-11, so it’s agood bet the kid is Calgary’s radar.
With Gaudreau tearing things up for Boston college, it was Girgenson’s turn to lead the charge for the Saints this season. He managed 24 goals and 55 points in 49 games. If he’s picked in the top-30, Girgensons will be the first Latvian born player to go in the first round of the NHL entry draft.
The NHLNumbers podcast recently talked to Girgensons about his recent season and hopes for the future. Swing by and have a listen.
Here are all the forwards we will profile leading up to the draft:
- Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque Fighting Saints
- Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers
- Sebastion Collberg, Forlunda
- Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden
- Teuvo Taravainen, Jokerit
- Wild card – Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Ramparts
Taravainen and Grigorenko and good best to be gone by the time Calgary steps up to the podium, but question marks about their size or commitment to play may cause them to fall a bit. This is especially true for Grigorenko, who was formerly considered a top-3 talent before questions about his character and work ethic (plus the ever present "Russian factor") cropped up. Craig Button ranked the 6’3", 85-point center 20th overall in his recent draft list, for instance.
If he somehow falls to Calgary, it’s a gamble they should likely take despite the question marks. Good news is, the team is a lot more likely to take such a gamble under the new regime.
If you have any other names of interest you would like FlamesNation to profile, let us know in the comments or via email.