Now that "the most important draft in organizational history" is over it’s time to pick through the wreckage a bit…
– Although I half expected the Flames to deal at least one of their first rounders for some sort of return (or at least waste one on something stupid like a goalie), the team did good work in getting three 70+ point forwards. Sean Monahan was the natural choice at six, even though there are questions about his true offensive upside in the show. As we mentioned in his draft profile, Monahan was the 67’s offense this year, but he was also very dependent on the PP to get his points, which is a pair of mixed signals.
There’s no question Monahan is NHL-sized already and has played in the toughest circumstances as a pivot in junior. He should more or less leap fully formed into the NHL down the road.
– On that note, I’m almost certain that the Flames are going want to sell hope this upcoming season, meaning they are going to push Monahan onto the parent roster to start the year. As relatively complete as the kid’s game is already, that probably doesn’t make sense from a hockey perspective – Monahan has yet to truly dominate junior in the Taylor Hall/Steven Stamkos sense, so there’s no reason to assume he’d be able to make the jump and be an impact player right away. In addition, the Flames aren’t going to win anything next year anyways, so burning a year of Monhahan’s entry-level contract so he can play 3rd/4th line minutes while the team struggles is a waste.
Like many tweener kids, Monhahan would likely be best served as a 19-year finding his legs in the AHL to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, thanks to the arrangement between junior and pro hockey, he is ineligible to play in Abbotsford, so it’s either Calgary or Ottawa for Sean next year. And unless he’s, say, Gabriel Landeskog, Monahan should definitely go back to Ottawa.
– The 22nd pick, of course, is much more contentious. Emile Poirier was well down the list of most consensus scouting firms. Which isn’t to say that other NHL teams didn’t covet him, although it certainly suggests he could have been had later. Of course, the real issue (like the Jankowski move down the year prior when Teuvo Teravainen was still available) was the presence of a much higher ranked talent in Hunter Shinkaruk.
The Calgary kid and Medicine Hat Tiger was considered a top-10 talent by many heading into the season. He took a marginal step backwards, though, after scoring a mind-boggling 49 goals and 91 points in his draft-1 season. This past year, he "only" managed 37 goals and 86 points (and a much worse -13 rating), which, when combined with his less than ideal size (5’10, 180) seemed to scare a lot of teams off, including the Flames.
Still, Hunter’s 177 points in his past 130 games was easily one of the best two season totals of any draft eligible junior player in 2013. Although it’s somewhat worrisome to see a kid run in place, it’s also indicative that he put together back-to-back 85+ point seasons.
Poirier, on the other hand, is much more flash-in-the-pan relative to Shinkaruk. The December, 1994 birthday winger has only played two seasons in the QMJHL so far (one fewer than you would expect of a soon-to-be 19 year old) and was only a 15-goal, 40-point player as a rookie in 2011-12.
His ascension up the depth chart on a bad Gatineau team was capped off by a playoffs that saw him score 10 points in 10 games. The steep slope of his improvement may be what convinced the Flames to go "off-board" at 22 to pick him. On top of having good size, good speed and high-end passing ability, Poirier also led his club in scoring by 16 points over second place Tomas Hyka (although Kyka only played 49 games).
So there’s some things to like about the kid. I will go through his numbers in more detail this week to determine his team% and ES/PP splits.
The red flag here is how small of a sample we’re talking about. Poirier came out of nowhere after being a just okay 40-point QMJHL rookie in his 17-18 year old season and the basis of his rise seems to be a very strong second half of a year and a 10-game playoff run. Relative to Shinkaruk, Poirier’s body of work is much smaller and therefore much less proven. For example, Hunter scored 16 goals and 42 points in 2010-11 as a 16-17 year old, a year before Poirier even made major-junior. Keep in mind that the Quebec league tends to be a bit easier to score in as well.
We won’t know for years if the Flames made the right choice in this instance. The guy they took had some things to like, but there’s certainly some risk involved.
– Morgan Klimchuk was much less of a question mark choice at 28. The only guy to outscore Klimchuk on the Regina Pats was three years his senior. The next guy on the scoring list was a full 30-points back with just 45 points in 46 games. Klimchuk is not very big and most scouting reports say he’ll need to up his strength and size to make it past junior, but nabbing a 36-goal, better than PPG guy at the end of the first round is decent work.
– After round 1, there isn’t much to talk about. Feaster failed to nab any other early-to-mid picks so it’s even more baffling that the organization decided to use their lone choice between 30-100 on man mountain Keegan Kanzig. The 6’7", 240+ pound defender, by all accounts, is a guy who can’t really skate, can’t handle the puck and has no offense to speak of. He was ranked in the 190’s amongst North American skaters by Central Scouting. Corey Pronman didn’t rank him in the top-100 either.
The only thing you can really say about Kanzig is he is huge, mean and can drop the gloves with anyone. Which is a description of Derek Boogaard and John Scott, but not of anyone who is actually useful at the NHL level. I woudn’t even endorse using a 7th round pick on this type of player since they can generally be had via free agency or waivers quite easily, so wasting a top-90 pick on him is flat-out mystifying.
Organizationally, Chris Breen is comparable, except that he is 20-pounds lighter and doesn’t tend to rack up the PIM’s like Kanzig. Remember, Breen was signed as a free agent out of junior after being undrafted and, at 24 years old, has yet to play a single NHL game.
BTW – Jordan Subban and JC Lipon were both chosen AFTER Kanzig yesterday.
– Eric Roy is probably the only Flames post-first round pick with any hope of doing anything. As mentioned yesterday and in his darkhorse profile, the kid has a lot to learn in the defensive end, which is naturally a major concern for defenseman as they try to transition to the pro game. If someone can reach Roy and teach him how to play in his own end, however, he has the tools to make some noise.
– Beyond that, the rest of the picks are typical 6th and 7th round long-bombs. We can’t say much about them at this point and they probably aren’t worth discussing until they have at least a draft+1 season under their belt.
– Overall, Calgary beefed up their collection of offensive prospects via the first round, which is good, but it doesn’t look like they got much value beyond that this weekend, aside from maybe the Roy gamble. What’s additionally surprising about the Kanzig and Poirier picks is that the team didn’t attempt to trade down and beef up their number of selections in return. It’s a good bet either guy could have been had a little later on givn their general standing amongst scouts (especially Kanzig), so it’s odd the team wasn’t able to move down a tad and one or two more 3rd/4th/5th rounders. Oh well.
– I’m also a bit disappointed the Flames weren’t in on one of Cal Clutterbuck or Michael Frolik. Clutterbuck was had for Nino Niederreiter, so it’s understandable that the Flames couldn’t match return, but Frolik (a long time trade target of mine) went to Winnipeg for just a 3rd + 5th round picks. Frolik was had for Kanzig and Roy more or less.
He might never be a 20-goal scorer again, but Frolik is a young, useful bottom-6 possession/PK guy who would be cheap to sign and could firm up a team’s forward depth for years to come. He certainly wouldn’t be the difference maker for a rebuilding club like the Flames, but his addition would have been a small step in the right direction.
The good news is the Hawks gutted some of their bottom-6 depth (Bolland and Frolik trades) and signed Bickell to a bad deal this weekend, which weakens them and also means the Flames can’t go out and sign Bickell to a bad deal themselves. Word is capable middle rotation winger Viktor Stalberg is also on the outs in Chicago and he would make a much more sensible target for the Flames to sign come July 5.