Flames 2012 First Round Targets



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.

The Defenders

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:

The Forwards

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:

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.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Nice write-up, quick question what’s your take on Sebastion Collberg? There have been a few drafts recently which point to Collberg being available at the 14th spot, do you think Collberg is a better option than say Girgensons?

    Also, with the potential for Girgensons has he committed to a College? I’d be curious if that’s a factor in a choice. Fans will want immediate results with a First rounder and if he’s committed to a college I’m wondering if that will influence their choice. (my apologizes if that’s covered in the podcast interview as I haven’t had a chance to listen to it).

    • I haven’t really investigated Collberg too deeply. Part of the problem is he spent much of the season in the SEL and didn’t put up any points (which happens to teens in that league) so it’s hard to really evaluate him from afar. I plan to talk some scouts/draft guys to get a better read on him.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the College thing when it comes to a first rounder. While middling prospects typically spend the full 4-years in college, high end guys almost always turn pro after year two or so.

  • RexLibris

    Given many of the rankings and approximations I have seen to date on the draft order for this year, the names that I suspect are most likely to be called out for the Flames this June would probably be:

    Finn, Maatta, Pouliot at defence and Gaunce, Collberg, Girgensons, and Aberg at forward.

    I know that many are saying after the first overall player, everybody’s list is varying widely. I suspect even the first overall is beginning to vary as well (Murray, Yakupov, Galchenyuk).

    Given the Flames glaring needs at all prospect positions my prioritization of these players would be: (Grigorenko if available, by all means, said to be more talented than Yakupov but lacks consistency) Faksa, Collberg, Girgensons, Maatta, Ceci and Finn.

    The Flames need another center prospect first and foremost, in my opinion, followed by a high-end offensive winger, and then a steady offensive defensive prospect.

    With respect to Reinhart I am putting some stock into the idea floating around right now that the Oilers are talking to Carolina about trading Hemsky for their pick, 8th overall, with Reinhart being the draft target.

    Despite this not being a particularly strong draft, the Flames do have something working for them in that the glut of defensemen will dilute the pool enough that by #14 they ought to have a slightly wider range of choices available than might otherwise exist in an equally average draft year.

    Also, I suspect that Mark Jankowski is a name that some Flames fans will ask about here.

  • RexLibris

    I like Collberg and Girgensons, but the draft is really wide open. Amazing the difference in opinion in Girgensons, for example, depending on what you’re reading.

    Easier back in the old days when THN was all we had:)

  • @ RexLibris

    Wow, Hemsky for the 8th pick? Carolina’s GM must have been hit in the head pretty hard to consider that.

    If Hemsky gets the 8th overall pick, what could Iginla get the Flames?

    That sounds like such highway robbery – why are people trying to help the Oilers this much?

    Also, looks like Vokoun signed in Pittsburgh for 2 years @ $2M per. Guess that eliminates another option for the Flames backup if they trade Kipper.

    • I dont think they would be doing that. When I noted drafting for need, I was speaking about the general lack of quality blueline prospects in the org. Below TJ Brodie, the Flames have Wotherspoon, Breen, Ramage…and that’s about it, aside from the collection of AHL tweeners like Connelly, Wilson, etc.

      The club has lost a lot of young defenders to attrition over the last few years. Negrin, Pelech and Erixon were all top-10 prospects in the system not too long ago and none of them are around now for various reasons.

  • supra steve


    Last year the Flames were rumoured to be getting Buffalo’s first and more for Regehr, and most of us thought it was possible at the time. In the end, reality dictated a different return. I think we may be seeing the same thing with the Hemsky rumours coming out of Edm.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Yep, I know you want to draft BPA, but this draft, after top 3, has a very level playing field for BPA. I would think the team would gamble on a chance at an excellent two way Dman like Ceci, which the prospect base is serisouly lacking. I think we will see Ceci have a pretty dramatic rise next season in the OHL. I see him in the same kind of mold as Brayden Mcnabb.

    Edit: Ceci is old for this draft, so I could see him spending only next season in the OHL before making the jump to AHL, then NHL.

  • RexLibris

    @FOI, the-wolf, Colin, steve

    I know, it doesn’t sound like a straight-forward deal to me. Hemsky, while still a top-six RW in my opinion, has many questions from opposing GMs to be comfortable in making that straight a swap.

    I think if something like that were to occur it might have to be Hemsky and Anaheim’s second round pick for 2013 for that pick.

    The rumour goes like this: Rutherford wants a top-six forward to play with Staal, he has a history of dealing with Edmonton and still has a feeling of what Hemsky can do from the series in ’06.

    I’ll put it this way, I can more easily see the Oilers moving Paajarvi to Anaheim or Minnesota for their 6th or 7th, than Hemsky to Carolina for the 8th.

    At this point I suspect these rumours exist because Rutherford has asked about Hemsky and Tambellini has asked about the 8th overall pick, not because those two assets are considered of equal value.

  • @steve

    My understanding about that Regehr-for-a-first deal was that it was going to go down exactly as that – Buffalo’s first + more for Regehr. The problem was that Regehr put the screws to the Flames and didn’t waive his NTC/NMC until after the first round had ended. This was part of the reason the Flames didn’t get a 1st and had to give up a pick to get rid of Kotalik.

    At least that was how I saw it go down.

    Either way, Gaustad got a low first for being a rental and Kyle Quincy was also worth a low first. Like RexLibris said, this was probably just the two GMs kicking tires and if a Hemsky for an 8th pick, 1st rounder from Carolina is truly in the works, there is probably more to the deal than just a player and a pick.

  • Good read Kent. I’m interested to read the forthcoming profiles, especially for a guy like Taravainen. He seemingly came out of nowhere, and guys like that always make me a little wary.

    Would love it if the Flames could add another Reinhart, but unfortunately the chances Griffin will be available at 14 are slim to none.

  • RexLibris

    @Fireonice: Interesting. I cant understand why Pitt would do that. Fleury is young, expensive, yeah he sucked last playoffs but that would be like us signing Vokoun to backup Kipper. Doesnt make sense to me. Wonder if Pitt are looking at trading Fleury? Your right Vokoun would be an excellent signing for a team like Chicago or Toronto who are still waiting for some young guys to cut their teeth & establish themselves. Never would have fathomed Pitt signing him, especially because they need all the cap space they can get with their big 3 contracts coming up.

  • RexLibris


    Tampa Bay, Columbus and Toronto all need goaltending. Fleury to Tampa Bay? Toronto?

    Fleury can submit a list of trade-to teams, and I’m not certain of how many or if either of those teams would make his list.

    That being said, Vokoun may just be a depth signing for the Penguins. Fleury had a bad post-season, Vokoun mught give him some more rest during the regular season, if that is what Shero felt contributed to a poor showing.

  • @ Rex: Yeah I get the spin that Vokoun is a great depth back up. I dont think Fleury got burnt out, he plays what 65-70 games consistently, he’s young, he just played like crap. If they won the Cup or even made a few rounds, would they have done this? 7.0 mill on 2 goalies when you have Letang due for a big raise, you have Crosby & Malkin to resign & Staal will probably be looking for more money after next year as well. I dont get it. Wouldnt they be better just playing a young up & coming goalie in their system or make a deal for the likes of Lindback or Irving or Bernier who you want to play 20-25 games next year. A 5.0 mill goalie should be expected to play at least 60 games in a season, I would think.

  • Maybe the Penguins are going to trade Staal instead of Fleury… or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Either way, no chance of them fitting Staal/Malkin/Crosby all under their umbrella along with $7M in goalie fees and percocet.

    I wonder of Yzerman would be willing to deal their 1st rounder from Detroit + player and/or prospect for Kipper. I know he’s said he doesn’t want old and proven, but maybe that’s a load of BS. We get a low first and someone like Connolly or Purcell and they get a goalie who can stand on his head without breaking his hip.

    • We’ll look at Jankowski, but I’d be surprised if he goes in the middle of the first round. He has come out of nowhere because of his huge growth spurt, but he also played in third tier league – meaning the perception of his abilities may be somewhat skewed.

      If Calgary had a low first rounder or a second rounder, I’d be a lot more interested in their targeting him.

  • Here’s a thought. Maybe when the Flames said they weren’t a cap team, or close to the cap, they didn’t mean they would be under the cap… nothing like going $5M over the cap because you’ve somehow traded for Kovalchuk and Nash in one fell swoop and only managed to dump your $600K kids.

  • RexLibris

    If Griffin Reinhart or Cody Ceci is available to the Flames at their pick, they should scoop ’em! But it is strongly suggested that the Flames take the best player available at 14th, regardless of the position he plays.

    I do not agree with the statement in this article that the Flames are thin at defence in their system. Isn’t it fact that Joey Leach, a young man I thought had made great strides in the two years since his draft selection, was not signed due to such depth? The Flames have a number of reasonable candidates in their stable including (in no particular order) Ramage, Breen, Connelly, Wotherspoon (perhaps even Brady Lamb, but have not seen him play) that I would rank ahead of Leach, granted, but none that would rank ahead of Griffin Reinhart or Cody Ceci.

    • Of the group you listed, Brady Lamb is probably the best, which is saying something. Ramage and Breen are longshots to do anything meaningful at the NHL level, Connelly is a 26 year old tweener and Wotherspoon is another guy with limited upside. I wouldn’t place money on any of them being a top-4 defender in the bigs and I’m not even sure a single one of them will become a regular NHLer at all.

      So there is “depth” in that there are bodies in the system, but it’s the sort of depth any organization could gather by wading into the UFA pool or trading mid-round picks and failed signings for.

  • RexLibris


    a) pillows or cinder blocks? Just wondering in case you break something and can’t type a comment for awhile after draft day.

    b) nice, I like it.

  • RexLibris


    From Elliott Friedman’s 30 thoughts:

    “George McPhee did Tomas Vokoun a real favour, since last year’s free-agency period was not kind to the goalie. Two guys who know him very well jumped at the opportunity. Ray Shero was assistant GM in Nashville when Vokoun was there, while Randy Sexton, who is the Penguins’ assistant director of amateur scouting, was Vokoun’s GM in Florida. Marc-Andre Fleury averaged 65 games during the past four seasons, and Pittsburgh wants to get that down by about 10. Brent Johnson’s attitude made him a great backup for almost three years. Unfortunately, his play slipped last season. You could see Dan Bylsma was uncertain about using him in the playoffs.”

    Fleury down to roughly 55 games a season? Hip issues maybe? Who knows, but it is interesting.

  • RexLibris

    Well the 2010-11 season he was horrendous at the start, I know I traded him in my hockey pool, Crosby defended him & then he finally turned his game around in Dec. I dont think there are any injury issues, he had a relatively healthy season this last season, I think there definitely is a confidence issue. Interesting indeed.

  • Franko J

    Plenty of mock drafts have the Flames drafting either Lindholm, Maata, or Gaunce.

    I would like the Flames target:

    14th pick, another roster player to Colorado for Duchene. Wishful thinking.
    Or Bouwmeester 14th pick to Carolina for 8th pick and 2nd or 3rd round pick.
    Or Granlund , 14th pick to Minnesota for 9th pick and 3rd or 4th pick. Just fantasy.

    After the top 3 or 4 in this years draft,cv picks 6 to 30 are very interchangeable. IMO, stay clear of Russian players. If Calgary holds the 14 spot I would target Faska, Girgensons, or Collberg. Build through the middle. Speed and skill. Girgensons reminds of a player like Kopitar. Faska is like Hossa and Collberg like Alfredsson.

    Sven Bartschi might be too young to lead the Flames now but he is the future for this team, if I am Flames management I would target picks who are going to possibly mesh with him.


  • smith

    I am not sure I would give up a second for Hemsky’s contract. He has produced less than Glencross in the last 3 years and is payed over twice as much. Plus he is not gritty, physical, a good penalty killer, strong leader or anything else as far as I can tell. 36 points in 69 games last year. Ow..