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.

  • Dream scenario: Jones, Drouin, MacKinnon go 1/2/3, then Nashville, with Filip Forsberg already in the fold, opt for Lindholm & Carolina stunningly leave Barkov there for Calgary at 6 (which incidently, is what THN has happening).

    Although, I guess if we’re pitching dream scenarios… trade up for MacKinnon.

    • Tommynotsohuge

      I’ve seen Lazar play quite a bit this year. This guy is a true competitor. He isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He absolutely crushed Roach a few times in this past series. If he could drop to the 20s, we’d be stupid not to take him.

  • RexLibris

    Back around January I had done up an article about depth picks the Oilers could target in the 2nd round. Some of those names may be worth mentioning here as late 1st round picks:

    Fredrik Gauthier, Tristan Jarry, Samuel Morin, Kerby Rychel, Hudson Fasching, Jonathan Ismael Diaby, and Oliver Bjorkstrand.

    I’m not saying the Flames should pick off that list for the last two 1st round picks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one of those names taken.

    If I were running the Flames draft board I’d probably pick Monahan, Lazar and Morin. A Center, winger (even though Lazar plays center his game is made for a power forward), and a big, nasty defenseman.

    Nichushkin is a great prospect and could be among the top three of his draft class, but the Flames can’t afford a gamble at that spot. They need money in the bank and Monahan or Lindholm are the surest bets at a crucial position. Hope they don’t take a defenseman at #6.

    • BurningSensation

      How is Nichushkin a ‘gamble’ at #6 when he is ranked as high as #2 on many draft boards? Because he ‘might’ prefer to play in the KHL? As far as I know exactly one guy has spurned the NHL to have his full career in Russia (Radulov), and the only other player who might be considered to be a risk is Kuznetsov – but he has pledged to come over after the Olympics (for the simple reason that the Russians are asking all their best young players to stay in the KHL or risk their spot on the Olympic team).

      The real risk is that you leave an elite talent on the board for someone else to take while drafting a lesser player for yourself.

      Given that Feaster and Weisbrod aren’t afraid to swing for the fences I’d bet money that if Nichushkin is there at #6 they take him.

      • RexLibris

        I’m as impatient with the proverbial “Russian Factor” as anyone, basing draft eligibility on nationality is odious to me.

        What factors into my suggesting that Nichushkin is a gamble is that he is, so far as I know, the only player listed here who currently is signed to a professional contract in a rival league.

        Leaving aside issues of xenophobia and nationalism which often play into the hyperbole surrounding specifically elite level Russian players at the draft, I believe that taking Nichushkin would be a gamble for a team like the Flames who also need a center more than a winger.

        If, for any reason, he were to decide to stay in Russia to play for another two years, could Feaster and Weisbrod really be in a position to risk that? It would likely benefit the Flames in the long run, but could push those two closer to the exit door if they can’t show subtantial improvement next season.

        I don’t think that at #6 the Flames will be left with picking a lesser player over Nichushkin.

        For the sake of full disclosure, my preference for the Oilers’ pick would be one of either Monahan or Nichushkin. But the Oilers could afford to absorb an absentee 1st round pick at forward for a season or two.

        • BurningSensation

          Given that most players require at couple of years to develop after being drafted (see Baertschi), having Nichushkin stay in the KHL where he is comfortable to refine his game doesn’t bother me in the least.

          It’s only a team like the Oilers that insists on rushing every 1st rounder into the NHL ASAP.

          The other issue you mention is that Nichushkin is considered a winger. Initially this was a concern for me too, but there are two reasons this doesn’t bother me much anymore;

          – when he has played on the wing it was as a RW, a position that Calgary has almost no solid prospects at.

          – he has apparently played a not inconsiderable amount of time at C both at the Jr level and in the KHL.

          For me it comes done to his offensive ceiling – and every scouting report I’ve seen has him as one of the 2 or 3 best offensive players in the draft.

          Feaster and Weisbrod took Jankowski knowing they would have to wait and see what he looks like after a couple of years, I can’t imagine they would pass on Nichushkin just because he won’t arrive next fall to compete for a roster spot as an 18 year old.

          • RexLibris

            If Feaster and Weisbrod take Nichushkin I’d applaud their chutzpah. More so than the trade down for Jankowski.

            I’m certain that if the Flames had been in a position to select one of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nail Yakupov they would have certainly left them in junior to mature.

            The list of 1st overall players who were not playing in the NHL the following year is not very long and the most recent example is Erik Johnson. Prior to that you have to go back to Bryan Berard in 1995 to find one that was returned to junior after being drafted.

            True, the Russian information on positions is, shall we say, vague at best. And often they have forwards who are expected to play all forward positions depending on the coach’s system and linemates. With regards to that I would expect that the scouts have an eye on which position best suits his game.

            I won’t argue that the Flames need RWs. Desperately. They have ignored that position for decades.

            I’m not suggesting that the Flames would be silly to take him. He could very well be the 2nd best forward prospect in the draft based on skill alone, behind Drouin. I just argue that given the Flames almost complete lack of center prospects, given the limited ceiling of Reinhart and the question marks surrounding Jankowski, the best bet might be to take the franchise center if he falls in your lap.

            If the Flames get another crack at one of the top three draft spots either next year or the year after, and somehow have a chance to take either Sam Reinhart or even Connor McDavid, it isn’t as though you can have too much talent down the middle.

            Then again, perhaps another team decides they want the big Russian and take a gamble with him before #6.

            I can see Weisbrod passing on Nichushkin if they feel that there is a better talent-for-position fit with another prospect.

            That being said, this is all pretty much academic as none of us know what their draft board looks like and we don’t know what other teams may do between 1 and 5. Although I think we could probably say with certainty that Nashville will not be interested in Nichushkin, regardless of skill.

          • You’re obviously not looking in very many places then, because I’ve seen Nichushkin listed in every possible combination of forward positions. Generally (fyi) if a player plays all 3, he’s lazily listed at LW for no particular reason (or RW if he has a right handed shot). Nichushkin played RW at the WJC btw.

  • BurningSensation

    I think the flames MUST target a C with their first pick. I’d like to see them trade up a couple of spots to get Barkov, but i’d be fine with Monahan, or Lindholm.

    After that it’s a bit of a crap shoot based on where they’re picking, and whether they’ve still got two more picks after the first one.

    I’d like to see them target a defenseman like Hagg, or Bowey. I’d also love to get Ryan Hartman if he’s still on the board.

    Unfortunately, after years of being abused as a Flames fan, i’m kind of just waiting to be embarrassed by a boneheaded move by management. So all of this speculation is based on competent and rational thinking by the flames brass…something i just can’t bring myself to expect.

    • You’re going to love when Feaster & Co. trade 1 or 2 of those 1st rounders for Ryan Miller and/or Vincent Lacavalier.

      I’m surprised the Avalanche are “expected” to pick Seth Jones. I understand he’s top ranked and a damn good player, but the Avalanche have a bunch of really good young D-men, lead by former first overall pick Erik Johnson. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to pick up a #1C and then dump someone like Stastny or ROR for a good D-man who is ready now?

      If Feaster hadn’t signed ROR to an offer sheet, might they have been able to fleece COL in a Blouwmeester trade?

      • BurningSensation

        The Erik Johnson trade has been an unmitigated disaster for the AV’s.

        Johnson’s offense has all but abandoned him completely, and he isn’t a high end shut down guy, while Shattenkirk has developed into on of the better offensive D-men for St Louis, and Stewart appears to be at least a serviceable power forward. .

        The notable guys on D that they have coming along are Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie, but both are offense first types and leave lots to be desired in their own endzone.

        Factor in that Jones is essentially a Denver kid, plays a position of weakness for the Avs, and is widely considered the BPA, and I think it is a slam dunk they take him.

        The problem the Avs have with Stastny is two fold, A. he is very expensive, and B. he hasn’t been very good since signing his contract. He’s a candidate to be bought out more than he is to be traded. ROR is value for his deal (see Corey Pronman’s post on the ROR offer sheet at Hockey Prospectus), so I expect they will keep him (and for that matter because they matched the offer sheet they are prohibited from trading him for another year).

  • BurningSensation

    My prediction on the top 5:

    1-2-3 in some order: Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin

    4. Barkov-Nsh
    5. ????

    Carolina is the real wild card here, they could take anyone from Nurse, to Zadarov, to Nichushkin to Monahan or Lindholm. I’d be surprised if they targeted a C for that pick (specifically Monahan or Lindholm, as Nichushkin can play RW), but there is absolutely nothing certain about where they will go. I’d even put it at even odds the pick could be traded for.

    Assuming then that Calgary has a choice of: Nichushkin, Lindholm, Monahan, I’d rank them in that order of preference.

    Whatever risk there is with Nichushkin I think its worth it at pick #6 given there are lists who have him as high as #2.

    I have Lindholm slightly favoured to Monahan because of the perception that Lindholm has a higher offensive ceiling and is a better developed skater vs Monahan.

    I would agree that we should ‘say No’ to goaltenders in the 1st, even if Fucale is hanging around at the end of the draft. It’s the one position (along with LW) where we have some depth in the system already.

    For later round picks, I agree with those who like Bo Horvat, Max Domi and TJ Compher. After reading the Red Line Report on Anthony Mantha I can see why he projects as a late rounder rather than much higher up where his #’s suggest he should be. If he’s our last pick in the 1st I’d be OK. Erne, Zykov and Rychel all would make fine power-winger projects IMO.

    Dream board: Nichushkin (or Barkov if he miraculously slips to us), Zykov and Erne.

  • I’m not convinced the Flames will pick 3 times in the 1st round. But if they do, I’d suspect 1 D & 1 US based (USHL/NCAA/USNTDP) guy, perhaps 2 birds with 1 stone (McCoshen/Santini).

  • After Barkov, Monahan & Lindholm, I’d like to read more on:

    Curtis Lazar, Bo Horvat, Kerby Rychel, Alexander Wennberg, Jacob De La Rose, Valentin Zykov, Madison Bowey, and then of course a few guys out of the US/NCAA like JT Compher, Ian McCoshen & Steve Santini.

    And everybody else, too. Get to work!

  • T&A4Flames

    Although always rated behind Lindholm I still think Monahan has a greater chance to be a 1C and brings it in terms of size, 200′ play and the ability to make those around him better. He was top 3 on lists a year ago and was dominant in the CHL Siper Series. A year ago he’d have been a top 5 pick.

    Agree that Nichushkin needs to be looked at closely though.

    Also glad to see others are high on Zykov. I think he’s very underrated. Calgary should easily be able to grab him as he’s listed bottom of the 1st on most lists I’ve seen. But he’s a big RW who can skate and score and works hard.

    I also think we could get Domi and that he’ll play in the NHL for sure.

    Monahan, Domi and Zykov is my wish list.

    I also like Wennberg and think he has more potential than Lindholm.

    Nurse, Zadorov and Hagg are all fine D prospects as well.

    Stay away from Gauthier, Mueller and Lazar.

  • T&A4Flames

    I should clarify that I wouldn’t be upset if we got Nurse or other specific players. However, given what I see as our organizational weaknesses, if Nurse and Ristolainen were both available, I would take Risto.

  • T&A4Flames

    The strength in our system right now is at LW and goal. Our weaknesses are, obviously, at potential 1st line centres, right shooting RW and right shooting defencemen, more of the puck moving type. Not to mention size. Our best prospects are smaller.

    With that said, I would like to see the Flames, and subsequently FN, target guys that cover those areas. Alexandre Barkov, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Fred Gauthier for centres. For D, Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Pulock, Madison Bowey would be my 1st choices, depending on where they end up in the draft. I would look at Steve Santini as well. The best RW options seems to be Valentin Zykov and Justin Bailey.

    If we were able to move up to get a 2nd top 10, I would be ecstatic if we came away with Barkov and Ristolainen.

    • BurningSensation

      If we were able to move up and get one of Zadorov or Routsalainen with our second pick that would be tremendous. Many people do not feel Gauthier has a very high offensive ceiling and was not very good at the U18 tourney and neither was the Russian.
      Lindholme – 1st. I have this feeling that Barkov may fall to 6 and I don’t think the Flames would pass him up. I like Lindhome personally.
      A trade up to get one of those top 5 def with our second pick. Nurse, Jones will be gone but Routselainen, Zadorov and Poulouk look to be very promising. If def goes early, that would mean that Domi or Skinkaruk have slipped and that wouldn’t be so bad. Third pick – Rychel. I think he will slide and that pisses him off to the point that he will spend the next 12 years proving everyone wrong as he is a tremendous competitor.

  • the forgotten man

    O/T…reading TSN online and laughed when I read some of their synopsis of the Penguins game last night…”Iginla had two assists last night, but was torched possession-wise”. Pretty much sums up his contribution the last 3-4 years with the Flames. Pad his personal stats but an overall drag on the team…so happy he is gone, and with selling his house hopefully not coming back.


    I think we need to look at Nichuskin just as seriously as Lindholm, Monahan, or Nurse. There’s always the chance that we trade up to Tampa or Nashville’s spot but that is fairly unlikely. What are the chances of us picking up another first round pick, in exchange for a roster player. I know the mandate is to make the playoffs next year, but a lot of guys we won’t be re-signing when their contract expires anyways. I could see Mactavish doing something stupid like trading away like their seventh for one of our lower picks if we threw something else in. Thoughts on that? By the way we should not take any goalies in the first even if Fucale is their at 30. NO GOALIES.


    I think we need to look at Nichuskin just as seriously as Lindholm, Monahan, or Nurse. There’s always the chance that we trade up to Tampa or Nashville’s spot but that is fairly unlikely. What are the chances of us picking up another first round pick, in exchange for a roster player. I know the mandate is to make the playoffs next year, but a lot of guys we won’t be re-signing when their contract expires anyways. I could see Mactavish doing something stupid like trading away like their seventh for one of our lower picks if we threw something else in. Thoughts on that? By the way we should not take any goalies in the first even if Fucale is their at 30. NO GOALIES.


    If the Flames first round can go, Lindholm, Hagg and Zykov I will be ecstatic.

    I think the most important thing is for the Flames to make safe picks and gamble with any other round, they have to make sure at least 2 out of the 3 make the NHL and are impact players.