FN Weekend Open Thread – First Round Targets



We’re still working our way through the season review stuff, but that will be over shortly. Obviously the really big focus this summer will be the first round of the draft: not only do the Flames have 6th overall, but they will also have two more picks (likely in the mid-to-late ’20s).

Previously we’ve only had to profile a handful of potential first round targets, but the pool of potential future Flames is obviously much bigger this year. As such, we need some help narrowing down the target list so we can start putting the profile series together.

Top Tier

This is the group near the top of the list. We can probably skip the top-3 (MacKinnon, Jones and Drouin) since it’s unlikely they’ll be in range, but the guy in the poll at right will probably all be looked at in detail: Barkov, Lindholm, Nurse, Nichushkin, Poluck, Monahan and Shinkaruk. We’ll pay particular attention to the like of Lindholm and Monahan, since they are the consensus choice(s) currently. 


Here’s where things get messy. With the Flames secondary picks probably falling around 25 give or take a few positions, the club will have a wide spread of options, depending, of course, on how the rest of the draft proceeds.

To give you an idea of the possibilities, take a look at the recent mock draft at NHLNumbers. JT Compher and Kerby Rychel are Calgary’s later picks in this hypothetical exercise, but there are many names who might be within range in June (Bo Harvat, Max Domi, Robert Hagg, Antturi Lehkonen, Alex Wennberg, Anthony Mantha, Ryan hartman, Mirco Mueller, Curtis Lazar, etc.).

We could profile guys forever, but instead we’ll use your input to whittle down the skaters* to focus on. So let us know in the comments who you’d like to see FN research going forward. We’ll concentrate on the players who garner the most interest.

*Goalies shouldn’t be taken in the first round and will therefore be ignored.

  • BurningSensation

    @Rex Libris

    Yeah, I’m definitely in the camp hoping that Nichushkin slips to pick #6. I confess a strong preference for the big ‘Frank Mahovolich’ types who have ‘fear-my-wingspan’ moves (Jagr, Malkin, Nash, etc.).

    I would love to get MacKinnon (or Drouin), but recognize that is all but impossible. Barkov? Fits us to a T, so I am hoping like mad he slips.

    If I had a nickel every time I read an Oiler fan propose “Gagner+something = #1 Defenseman!” I’d be a zillionaire.

    • RexLibris

      Mahovlich still resonates with fans. A credit to his skill.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Nichushkin slide to 6th. Not sold that the Flames take him, but I expect he’ll be there. Carolina is the wild card as far as I can tell.

      For what its worth, I expect it’ll go Jones (COL), Drouin (FLA), MacKinnon (TBL), Barkov (NSH).

      If we were to go out on a limb and suggest that the Hurricanes take Nurse that leaves some very attractive options for the Flames. They could (perish the thought) trade back with the Oilers and pick up a 2nd round pick in the deal and still possibly take the player they want.

      I suspect the Oilers will try to move Hemsky at the draft. Not sure for what or to whom, but there are always talks on the floor and with the whole thing taking place in one day this year it could open things up to a little more wheeling and dealing.

      Gagner has some value but he is not the equivalent to an established top defenseman right now. That being said, I wouldn’t put it past MacTavish to give Nonis a call on Gardiner, if only because Carlyle has his head up his tukhes on the young blueliner and I have to wonder about the ability of any GM who would keep that man employed in the NHL today.

      So I guess then I’d owe you a nickel? 😉

  • loudogYYC

    Nicushkin is a brutal risk for the Flames to take, mostly because of that damn Russian factor. Some billionaire is gonna offer him huge money to stay in the KHL and the Flames will lose all value in that asset.
    Flames need a centre more than they need a winger, there will be more than a few centres likely available at 6, so that pick should be a safe one. Take risks in later rounds.

  • loudogYYC

    Need to draft entire first round by country.

    Canadian – Monahan, Gauthier, Mantha

    Russian – Nichushkin, Zadorov, Zykov

    Swedish – Lindholm, Hagg, De La Rose

    Finish – Barkov, Ristolainen, Lehkonen

    Swiss – cant waste the first pick on a Swiss player but you can draft Mueller and then trade for Neiderreiter (or vice versa)

  • loudogYYC

    Flames have to be looking at the fact that they have not had a franchise type center since Nieuwendyk and they need to use their first round pick on one of Barkov, Lindholm, or Monahan. Probably whichever one is left over.

    Similar to 2003 when everybody knew they were going to draft a defenseman and it was just a matter of whom would be left over between Suter, Coburn, and Phaneuf.

    To go with the Russian just seems like too big of a risk for this organization at this time.

  • BurningSensation

    @shutout, @loudogYYC

    Rebuilding a franchise means taking the Best Player Available – not ‘guy who fills a current need’.

    Drafting a center just because you have a hole in your roster there means you’ll take the next Petr Nedved ahead of the next Jaromir Jagr.

    Now, Nedved is a nice player and all, but I would draft the Jagr every, single, time.

    Keep in mind too, that we haven’t had a franchise RW since Iginla was traded.

    The fact we have needed a C for so long isn’t a reason to avoid taking the possible franchise RW we also happen to need.

  • T&A4Flames

    I would consider offering Gio (+) if necessary to CAR for their 1st and possibly McBain. I’ve been reading that CAR is planning on spending more and that The organization may have soured on McBain. Then we can draft 2 of Barkov, Monahan and Lindholm.

    Then we look to move up into the top 15 by trading 2remsing 1sts or by acquiring salary or combination (most likely) and draft 1 of Ristolainen or Pulock.

    • BurningSensation

      You think Carolina would trade their 1st for Gio?!? That’s crazy.

      We have no asset that could get one of the top 5 picks. Carolina wouldnt trade that pick for any player we have. maybe not even any combination of players…

      I think as fans we are collectively overvaluing the St Louis/pens picks and devaluing those coveted top 3 picks. It’s a lot of fun to dream of trading up but it’s just crazy talk…

      Maybe I misunderstood??

      • T&A4Flames

        I just said I would consider offering him….+. I didn’t say they would go for it.

        From what I’ve been reading, it seems that Gio may fit the bill for what they want. But, if, and again that is a big “if,” they are willing to move the 1st, it likely takes more.

      • BurningSensation

        I think you are correct. On Oiler bards the fans all want to move Hemsky or Gagner +1st to move up, and I think just about everything the Flames might offer would sound just as unappetizing with a few exceptions;

        – Feaster puts Baertschi on the table (is this a nightmare? or just panic inducing to consider? Would you be ok with a Baertschi+ something to Nashville for Barkov at #4, and we still get a Monahan, Lindholm, Nichushkin, or Nurse at #6? Building a franchise around two pivots like Barkov and Monahan is not insane. I’d be in the fetal position for a week but I could talk myself into a Baertschi deal being ok).

        – Nashville takes someone other than Barkov, and we send Carolina TJ Brodie in some sort of pick heavy package (2 1sts and Brodie for Carolina’s pick? That has to be in the ball park, doesn’t it? Maybe not after today’s overseas adventure under Lindy Ruff.)

        – Feaster uses some combination of; a decent roster player, an incoming salary dump, our late 2 1st rnders, next years 1st, a prospect not named Gaudreau or Baertschi, sorcery, Jedi mind tricks, etc., to get a 1st somewhere between 8 and 15 and snag someone who is falling (say, Monahan)

        • Unless we are talking about flipping our 6th pick I honesty don’t know if ANY trade would get Carolina’s pick… I believe most people are hoping we keep 6th AND somehow target Carolina. I think this is impossible.

          It would take a legit player (Gio) + a legit prospect (Baertschi) at a minimum. Thats a hefty price to pay for us, and I still don’t think Carolina would do it… Why would they want Baertschi when they could have their own prospect with their full ELC and a much higher potential ceiling.

          An above average prospect (Sven) + Gio does not equate to a potential superstar prospect on an ELC.

          Now if we are talking about flipping our 6th pick + Sven, we could move up IMO, but its just so expensive and counter productive.

          PS – Suck it Vancouver. Couldn’t have gone down any sweeter than Schneider getting yanked. Wonderful.

  • I see Carolina very much in the window of “win now”.

    This leads me to believe they’d consider moving their pick for a good offer.

    Gio AND someone else who is decent would be having to go the other way.

  • BurningSensation


    I agree with the idea that you take the best player available. And the three centers that I am looking for are generally considered the next three best players to take.

    When you are evaluating best players you have to look at position because centermen are a lot more valuable than wingers. Name a team whose best player was a winger that has won anything substantial. Jagr won in Pittsburgh, but it was Lemieux (centerman) that was the star that drove that team not the winger. As for drafting a replacement for Iginla, what had the team ever won with Iginla that would make you think that it is a position of that much influence that you would overlook taking a higher rated centerman in the draft?

    I am just hazarding a guess that you are taking about Nichushkin when you are playing devils advocate and arguing about taking Barkov, Lindholm, or Monahan. In this case you have to take into account the issues with Russian players over the last half dozen years and while there is high potential reward there, there is also a lot of high potential risk. And with a bare of an organization as there is in Calgary right now, you cannot afford to take those kind of risks when there are players just as good, more valuable, and less risky that you can take.

    Lastly, the fact is that centermen are more valuable than almost any other position, and elite centermen are harder to trade than most other positions, so you need to draft them. Not because there is a hole in the lineup, but because they are rare and hard to find. Especially picking 6th overall. When they come around you should be doing all you can do to draft them, and as many of them as possible. Wingers are the least valuable commodity in the NHL and this needs to be taken into account when ranking and drafting players.

    • BurningSensation

      “Name a team whose best player was a winger that has won anything substantial”

      An argument could be made for Anaheim and Corey Perry (& Teemu Selanne).

  • Truculence

    I am amazed that so many people have an opinion on who should be taken. How many have seen these guys play in person or have seen more than a couple highlight reel goals on youtube? Its also amusing how most everyone is just regurgitating what they have been force fed by some media outlet. What I would like is for someone to have an opinion outside of the box and say the flames should take someone who central scouting has ranked at 128th and why he/she should be the flames first pick. Comon I come here to read stuff other than what I see on TSN. Lets come up with some originality here!

  • BurningSensation


    “I am just hazarding a guess that you are taking about Nichushkin when you are playing devils advocate and arguing about taking Barkov, Lindholm, or Monahan. In this case you have to take into account the issues with Russian players over the last half dozen years and while there is high potential reward there, there is also a lot of high potential risk. And with a bare of an organization as there is in Calgary right now, you cannot afford to take those kind of risks when there are players just as good, more valuable, and less risky that you can take.”

    Calgary actually should have won a Cup with Iggy if not for the bad call on Gelinas’ GWG.

    If the choice is between a guy I know will be a solid #2 (say Mike Fisher) or a guy who could be a Russian Rick Nash,with a healthy risk he might be the Slavic Jason Bonsignore, I take the 2nd guy.

    A team built around 2nd line centres I’ve seen before (too often). if Nichushkin is a home run swing rather than playing it safe and bunting by taking Monahan, I’m ok with that even if it means we strike out more often.

    Lastly, we took a two-way C at pick #6 once before, even the safe choices don’t always work out.

    • Truculence

      Since you are such a Nichushkin booster, I would assume you have seen him play? I would also assume that you have seen Monohan play, as well, since you consider him inferior?

      Truth is, you just went to a couple of rankings sites who raved about Nichuskins’ projected offensive ceiling. And the fact that you talk about Monohan as the next Fischer is a bit hilarious, as Nichuskin could very well be the next Radulov.

      I’ve watched Monohan play in the Canada-Russia series, as well as in the OHL multiple times. The guy has a killer shot and elite play-making ability, in addition to a great two-way game. In other words, as a center he impacts the game at both ends of the ice, and most scouts at McKEens and the hockey prospect have asserted that he, at the very least, projects as an above-average 2nd line center. However, if he continues to improve on his skating, most agree he will become a 1st line center. I would consider that a better gamble than a Russian winger who has never played on a smaller ice surface, and has signed a contract in the KHL for the next two years. Plus, I totally agree with shutout: two-way centers like Kesler and Bergeron are more integral to winning championships because of their 200ft game than wingers. A fifty goal scorer is a nice piece to have, but they do not drive possession like centers do.

      And, above all, stop talking about “franchise players”. Hell, there are no more than 20-30 such players in the NHL right now, and to consider any kid a franchise player b4 they have even played a single NHL game is a bit presumptive.

      None of us are scouts, and there are no certainties even amongst the top five. Monohan may just be a 2nd line center; Nichuskin could turn out to be a skilled winger with a horrible two-way game or a 25-30 goal scorer. Scouts are paid for their opinions, we can only surmise off their projections.

      So let’s just sit back and hope that the Flames scouts, who have made a career out of projecting talent, will select the best player available, rather than boldly declaring so and so will be a “franchise player” and that the Flames better select him or else.

      • T&A4Flames

        It would help your point if you spelled Monahan correctly.

        (I realize grammar policing is unpopular, but this is a player’s name, one that can easily be looked up in four seconds. I know how much I dislike it when people spell my name wrong. How about you?)

        • Truculence

          I really don’t know how that would help my point, as everyone can discern who I am talking about.
          Secondly, it is called “misspelling” a term, not incorrect grammar. Grammar refers to the rules and institutions policing the structure of a given language, not the correct pronunciation or spelling of the terms that make up its nouns, verbs, etc.

          Thirdly, this is a comment section for a blog. Get off your high horse.

    • T&A4Flames

      Which is why when you look at multiple draft predictions, no 2 are the same. That is also what makes this such a great topic and debate; so many different opinions being bantered about.

  • BurningSensation


    “So let’s just sit back and hope that the Flames scouts, who have made a career out of projecting talent, will select the best player available, rather than boldly declaring so and so will be a “franchise player” and that the Flames better select him or else.”

    I’m firmly in the camp of taking Best Player Available. I’m not hating in Monahan by any stretch, and won’t be disappointed if he is our pick (though I prefer Lindholm’s skating and offensive stats).

    I’m not in man-love with Nichushkin either, I just don’t want us to dismiss him because he is a winger, or Russian. If he’s the BPA at #6 I want us to take him.

  • You would think that Tampa, Carolina need defense and might be willing to move down. Same goes for Buffalo and they 2 picks at 8 and 16.

    Not sure what it would take to flip with Tampa, but McKinnon would be a great pick. Not sure what the advantage would be flipping one spot with Carolina, but I like the idea of Gio and number 6 for Mcbain and number 5.

    How about number 6 and Pitts 1st for 8 and 16 hoping either Monahan or Lindholm is still there at 8.

    • T&A4Flames

      I’m not sure we would have to give up the PIT pick in that deal. Maybe we would have to throw in our 3rd. It would likely take a 2nd but we don’t have one.

      Maybe #6, #29-30 for #8, #16 #38 (i assume for BUF 2nd rnd).

      • T&A4Flames

        Does this team really need volume of picks or quality of picks? I think we need both to be honest, but in terms of priority, I’d much rather have 1 elite pick, than two middling picks.

        We already have some solid middling prospects. Sven, Johnny G etc. These guys can fill out the middle of our future roster (2nd line players).

        What we have absolutely zero of is elite prospects. Unless we plan on tanking again next year this year is our only shot at an elite player (I support tanking next year, although I realize most fans loathe the concept).

        Feaster should do everything humanely possible to move up. I’d offer anyone not named Brodie, Backlund or Baertschi. Not necessarily because those guys should be untouchables, but because it defeats the purpose to trade away our only young prospects.

        All that to say, the simple solution is to go for a top 5 pick next year. If that’s the plan I’d be supportive of flipping #6 into 2 picks by trading down. But if mgmt really is serious about turning this thing around fast, all that does is ensure we play the next 10 years with zero superstars.

  • T&A4Flames

    I’m not really in favour of trading any picks up or down… let’s keep this simple. We need prospects in all areas particularly at Centre, Defence and RW. My hopes would be for:

    Lindholm/Monahan with our first pick

    Morrissey/Hagg with our 2nd

    Hartman/Compher with our 3rd

    The only trading I could possibly stomach would be to move back a spot or two to pick up a 2nd round pick if we knew that we could still get our guy.

    • T&A4Flames

      I agree with the last line. I still think another 1st and certainly a 2nd could be acquired.

      There are a number of salary dumb type trade I would explore. 1st and foremost, would MTL make a trade where they dump Kaberle and return our 2nd?

      Guys like Timmonen, Legwand, Komisarek and hell, even Jokinen are guys that certainly are not living up to contracts either by poor play or injury that have 1 yr left on contracts.

      From our end, if ownership is willing to eat some salary, Cammi at $4mil for 1 season seems like a valuable commodity; multiple 30 goal scorer. He could net us a mid 1sr rnd I think.

    • Parallex

      I dunno… I think I’d be willing to trade up to four depending on the cost.

      Regardless I kind of hope that after we get one of Monahan/Lindholm (or Barkov if he somehow falls) that we get a winger like Rychel or Mantha and then hopefully snag Morin (6’7 210 two way d-men don’t grow on tree’s).

  • T&A4Flames

    Okay, what am I missing? You said earlier that we don’t have the assets to trade up. Now you are saying that Feaster should do everyting possible to do so. So you don’t think CAR will trade the 1st but, are you saying that 1 of COL, FLA, TBL or NAS would trade their 1st? If so, what are you thinking Feaster could/would move to get that 1st?