Mark Jankowski and Feaster’s Gumption



The Flames by just about any measure did not have the best draft on Friday and Saturday. Nor was it the worst, despite a lot of the immediate reactions to some of the moves (including my own). But there is one thing that can absolutely can be said about it- in particular the first round: it was by far the most interesting draft.

In a way, we should have expected Calgary to go a little bit off the board. We should have expected them to trade down, given the number of times Feaster referred to wanting a 2nd round pick. But when the fourteenth selection rolled around and both Teravainen and Girgensons were available, the obvious move seemed to be drafting someone that was available, which is why so many fans were shocked when Feaster traded down. And then again when Feaster chose to pass up one of the best defenders in the draft in Olli Maata at twenty-one, people were even more shocked – especially given how far off the board Feaster apparently went.

So how should we feel about the selection of Jankowski? Thrilled? Worried? What happened to make the Flames take such a huge chance? What does this say about the Flames?

How Did the Flames Get Here?

The Flames got to the point of taking Mark Jankowski at 21st overall with one thing: GIANT BALLS OF STONE.

No matter what, whether it was a good choice or an incredibly poor one, that pick took balls. They took a player because they really truly thought he was a good bet. Flames brass knew he played in a lesser league, they knew there were a lot of unknowns, and they decided he was the player for them, even at the cost of Teravainen. They twice passed up higher ranked players for Jankowski. Given the media climate towards the Flames lately, that really takes some big boulders.

It shows an incredibly amount of faith in two things as well: their scouts (who, admittedly, have been very good the past couple drafts) and the PUCKS system, which they now use to help with drafting. The other thing to keep in mind is that they didn’t necessarily view it as "Jankowski > Teravainen". Instead it’s likely closer to "Jankowski and Sieloff > Teravainen". If the trade for the second rounder didn’t materialize, it’s possible the Flames would have either Teravainen or Girgensons in the fold.

Given the number of positive reports on Sieloff’s defensive acumen and abilities, as well as my own positive (albeit limited) viewings, it’s possible the Flames think they’ll come out much further ahead on the trading down and taking of Jankowski.

How Should We Feel About This?

I’m going to stick with "confused". On the one hand, it’s great seeing the Flames take guys purely because of hockey ability and offensive awareness, rather than size, grit, and "character". Even the reaches tend to occur for the wrong reasons: guys who succeed in junior or high school because they grew too fast too soon, guys who look like they succeed because they play next to much better players (*cough*Nemisz*cough*), and overagers who succeed because they’ve just been playing at a particular level for so damn long.

But for all those good things, it’s still a consensus reach. Even if trading down to get two players is a net positive, it’s far likelier that Maata will be even more of a positive for a team – and sooner too, given Jankowski’s college plans.

That said, Jankowski was the youngest player taken in the draft. He was nearly a year younger than Yakupov, which means he has more space to develop than a great deal of the other draft picks. It also means there’s a lot of space for him to not pan out.

At the end of the day, this will likely be Jay Feaster’s defining moment as GM of the Flames. Darryl Sutter’s was the Phaneuf trade, for better or worse. Craig Button will likely be remembered for letting both Savard and St. Louis get away from the Flames before becoming All-Star players. Jay Feaster will be remembered for either the brilliant Jankowski pick or the horrible passing up of Teravainen/Maata. It seems likelier to be the latter, but maybe, just maybe, the Flames know something nobody else does.

Like how awesomely awkward Jankowski’s photos are.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I will hold out being upset about this draft for about 3 years. I mean, I didn’t particularly like last years draft either, then I grew to realize how awesome Baertschi actually is and how much Granlund might just have, and how amazing Gaudreau could possibly be.

    • jeremywilhelm

      In 2003 the Oilers thought they were really smart, had a great read and just HAD to have a player that others had ranked lower.

      So they traded down in the first round (I believe around 16th or 17, down to 22nd).

      The guy they got? Marc Antoine Pouliot. Who? 10 years later he is griding his way onto the 4th line in Phoenix, mustering a huge 4 pts this season.

      The guy(s) the Oilers passed up in their ingenious trade down? Zach Parise (17th), Ryan Getlaf (19th) and Brent Burns (20th).

      I agree, this took big nuts, but the risk/return ratio is so low its just stupid.

  • It is way too soon to judge this draft. Weisbrod and Button are clearly jacked on Jankowski, and their drafting over the last 2 years seems to have been fairly respectable. They have a plan for the kid’s development and it seems like a good one. Although, I would love to see him play CHL for a couple of years and then move on to Abbotsford.

    It sounds like Teravainen is a couple of years away, and I don’t think anyone expects Girgensons to be a Calder candidate in 2012/13. We weren’t going to get a short term offensive solution picking at #14 in this draft.

  • “If the trade for the second rounder didn’t materialize, it’s possible the Flames would have either Teravainen or Girgensons in the fold.”

    The way both Weisbrod and Feaster talked following the draft it sounded to me like they were taking The Big Jankowski regardless.

  • RKD

    It’s not the end of the world with this pick. Jeremy Roenick and David Backes were both drafted out of high school.

    I’m not saying Jankowski will turn into Roenick or Backes. However, after some research I found out Jankowski had point totals of 73 and 94 compared to Roenick who had 65 and 84. Mark also had more points than Backes in high school.

    Mark still has a long way to go, drafting right from high school is a risky move but maybe upper brass feel this guy can be really good down the road.

  • The Flames seemingly always wanted Jankowski. They managed to get Jankowski AND Sieloff, instead.

    The six North American skaters the Flames drafted were ALL ranked 66th or better by NHL Central Scouting, too.

  • The comments Feaster made about this kid after the draft was foolish at best. However the pick itself seems to very very well researched, only time will tell know if it was a the right risk to make.

  • jeremywilhelm

    the Flames weren’t the only team who had wonky rankings completely different from everyone else’s. (related: based on comments after the draft, I’m convinced they had Jankowski in their top 5. Also, I read in this article that they had Sieloff 20th: ).

    Did anyone anywhere (other than TSN) see Reinhart going 4th? I don’t think anyone but (apparently) the Ducks had Lindholm ahead of Dumba. Pouliot 8th, Koekkoek 10th. Forsberg dropping to 11th. It’s not just the top 10 that went weird, either. Tom Wilson ahead of Teravainen? (terrible pick by Washington). Scott Laughton 20th (same # of points as Coda Gordon).

  • supra steve

    You call them wonky rankings, I call them different rankings.

    why bother with a scouting staff if you are just going to refer to central scouting (or Craig Button’s) list as the gospel?

    Pretty much every year there is a large handfull of 1st rounders that are a complete bust (as far as NHL careers are concerned). I’m sure this year will be no different. Picking Matta, Teravainen, or Ceci would not have necessarily reduced our chances of selecting a “bust” player down to zero. Happens every year, Calgary has certainly suffered more then their share of that type of pick. The guy we got (despite a lot of complaints) was/is a highly reguarded prospect that in all likelyhood would not have been available with our 2nd round pick. Flames saw their guy and they not only got him, they got another prospect with real potential. Good for them. Matta was projected (on this site) as a potentially solid 2nd pairing D-man, who can honestly say that Sieloff couldn’t be his equal in 5 years?

    • supra steve

      in saying “wonky rankings” I wasn’t being negative. necessarily. I’ve been one of the more positive posters on here about the Jankowski pick (which is unusual for me).

  • supra steve

    As close to pure optimism as you can find these days in the flames management , i love it Arik, ” it’s possible the Flames think they’ll come out much further ahead”

  • supra steve

    Articles I have read say the Flames may have one upped a number of teams who thought they could get Jankowski a little later. Only in Edmonton and Calgary are people viewing the Flames move to get Jankowski and a very solid player in the 2nd round as a bad move.

  • Truculence

    Quite frankly, I was hoping the Flames would trade their first round pick for a top-6 NHL player -the reason being how few forwards´or defencemen had first line or first pairing potential.

    I mean, people are raving about Faksa and Girgensons, but I have yet to read a single scouting report that does not see their ceiling above that of second line center -and that`s if the stars align and they translate their slightly above average scoring ratios to the NHL. Quite frankly, I think we already have a player in their mould: Reinhart. He plays a gritty two-way game, has elite-level hockey sense, and posesses decent scoring upside required of a second-line center.

    As for Teravainen, I personally would have loved to draft him, but he also presents a huge gamble. What are the chances he can transfer his exciting game effectively to the NHL? The bigger European rink and the less physical brand of hockey played in Finland are conducive to his style, but what of North American hockey where you have to constantly fight for space? I`m not saying he can`t be the next Parise or Eberle, but he might also follow in the footsteps of a plethora of young, skilled forwards who could not reproduce past successes at the NHL level. In fact, we have already taken a gamble in this regard with Gauderau, who also possesses blinding speed, play-making abilities, and a killer wrister. No need to make the same gamble twice in two years, imo (yes, I know Teravainen is taller and has a few pounds on Gaudereau, but both rely on their elusive speed and playmaking to survive, not their slight builds).

    Finally, Jankowski presents the right type of risk: a boom or bust prospect who may be a first line center, unlike Girgensons and Faksa. He`s got the raw talent and physique reminiscent of a young Vincent Lecalvier. He has enough upside to justify taking him in the mid-to-late first round, and has convinced me that not trading the pick was a good bet.

    Yes, he may not turn into what we all hope, but he is a type of player we did not previously have in the prospect pool. I for one am excited and can`t wait to follow the kid`s development next year.

  • supra steve

    Feaster and Co were so focused on finding that needle in the haystack, that they ignored the 2 thouroughbreds that were just standing out there in plain sight. And doesn’t it seem a tad suspicious how Feaster seemed to put that pick on Weisbrods shoulders? It pretty much absolves him of the majority of the responsibility if Jankowski is a bust.

    • “And doesn’t it seem a tad suspicious how Feaster seemed to put that pick on Weisbrods shoulders?”

      He didn’t just seem to, he said it outright. he did the same thing (and continues to do it) in the last draft with Sven Baertschi (via Tod Button). As well as Gaudreau. Feaster continues to give the scouting staff ALL the credit for Sven. It’s not suspicious at all since it appears to be 100% true. At the end of the day, Feaster’s still the one who hired Weisbrod (and kept Button).

  • Franko J

    Jankowski came as surprise to most bloggers to FN. Me being one of them.
    At first I didn’t like the move at all. Let me just say if my TV was sensitive to swearing it would be in councilling for a very long time. Believe me there were a few other bloggers who were disenchanted with my comments. However after a few days as I begin to analyze what Calgary did on draft day I am now in the very much in the ” wait and see” approach. With the mindset that Feaster will be forever tied to this draft. In a few years he will be either the architect of a Stanley Cup Championship or be on TSN as an analyst at the draft.

    Hey Coates thought Fata probably was the second coming of Pavel Bure.
    Craig Button thought Nystrom would be next Nystrom.
    Sutter thought – well let it be said he thought.
    In the end and after each draft there will be high risk / high reward picks. And there will be the middle of the road safe picks. Yet ultimately it is up to that individual 18 or 19 year old player who will make the GM look like the genius
    or an idiot. Now it is up to Jankowski to decide if he is going to be the next Fata or Sakic. .

  • Franko J

    @ Frank

    Just like for the past decade trying to find that elusive center for Iginla, the Flames lose focus on the bigger prize and have missed out on opportunity. Then again you can say that about any professional sports team. It is always going to be about EGO and PRIDE with the ownership. Oh yeah MONEY too.

  • Im not particularly swayed by the “Feaster’s trying to hedge his bets” theory I see popping up.

    Feaster went all-in on this pick with his explicit claim that Janko wll be the best player in the draft down the road. It’s a quote that will perpetually hang over his head if the kid does anything less than shine.

  • everton fc

    As someone who wanted Girgensons, I’d take him at a ceiling of 2nd line centre, not primarily for his size and physical style of play… But because he’s a leader.

    We lack leadership in the room. We need guys with character.

    Which is why I am warming to the 2nd pick, Sieloff. To me, he seems to be a leader. Looking forward to him w/the Spitfires. If he becomes another Bob Boughner, then he was a good pick.

    No matter how you slice it, Jankowski is a real dice role. I’m still not convinced it’s a prudent pick. I tend to agree we need guys 25-28 who are skilled.

    Trouble is… We have no assets to move, outside Bouwmeester, as Iggy and Kipper are untouchables…

    Or so it seems….

    The Sabres look pretty darn good down the middle for some time if their first round picks pan out. I, for one, think they will.

  • xis10ce

    I see it like this: oh course Feaster is going to say “Right it down, we’re making the playoffs” and “In 10yrs Mark will be the head of his draft class” in the same way a parent thinks their kid is the smartest and best looking in their class.

    Time will tell, but for now I’ll take the GM’s bs with a grain of salt. I mean what are the odds a GM comes to the mic after their draft pick and says, “we think soandso is going to be meh so we decided to pick him”.