News and Notes – April 8 2014

Gang, I’m back in the saddle after being in New Orleans all weekend for WrestleMania festivities. If you ever get the chance to visit the city, do so.

Anyhow, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening right now, as the Flames prepare for the first of their final three games of the 2013-14 NHL season tomorrow against the Los Angeles Kings.

FLAMES NOTES

The Flames are presently without the services of Ladislav Smid, Dennis Wideman, Tyler Wotherspoon, David Jones, Markus Granlund and Mikael Backlund due to injury, and Matt Stajan and Paul Byron due to personal matters. That’s a lot of talent on the sidelines.

Based on last night’s game, coach Hartley has adapted by rolling four lines almost uniformly. The strategy hedges their bets a bit; they don’t ride their better players too much (and risk burning them out), but they also probably use their lesser lights (such as Bryce van Brabant, Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan and others) more than they typically would.

The Flames have a 34-38-7 record heading into the last few games, exactly where the pre-season over/under for points (74.5) pegged them heading into the season. They’re clustered in with the New York Islanders in terms of year-end standings – Buffalo’s a lock for dead-last, followed by Florida and Edmonton in some order – so the last three games are important for Calgary in terms of draft positioning alone. They’ll most likely draft fifth overall.

NHL’s Central Scouting announced their final rankings today. Players probably available around where Calgary drafts? Europeans include Finnish winger Kasperi Kapanen (Sami’s son) and Swedish forward William Nylander (Michael’s son). Leon Draisaitl, Michael dal Colle and Jake Virtanen are North Americans that could be available at 5. Of course, somebody above could slide.

HEAT NOTES

The Heat won two games this week, creeping ever-closer to cementing their playoff status. They need three points to clinch and have five games left. Sven Baertschi was named Player of the Week for stepping up in a major-league way, putting up seven points in those two games.

The Heat have also added six players on amateur try-out deals: Swift Current’s Coda Gordon, U-Mass Lowell goalie Doug Carr, Tri-City forward Jessey Astles, Prince Albert’s Collin Valcourt, Quinnipiac defender Zach Tolkinen and Clarkson forward Allan McPherson. Valcourt and Astles were both teammates of Michael Ferland with the Saskatoon Blades last season and were probably well-scouted by the Flames. Both are pretty physical players, but neither are offensive juggernauts. Gordon needs a good showing to get a contract and prove that he’s not just a guy on a hot junior line (with Graham Black and Colby Cave).

If the playoffs began now, they’d open against the Chicago Wolves – St. Louis’s farm team (which juuust lost former Heat D-man Mark Cundari to the Flames).

PROSPECT NOTES

Boston College plays Union College on Thursday at 5pm MT. The game will be available on TSN2. Watch the game. Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold could be playing their last college game. But if they win, they advance to Saturday’s NCAA Championship game, which goes at 5:30pm MT on TSN2. Again, THE GAMES WILL BE TELEVISED.

Gaudreau will almost definitely win the Hobey Baker on Friday, while Arnold will be awarded an enthusiastic high-five from Gaudreau for being a good teammate and linemate.

Providence College goalie Jon Gillies will be returning to the Friars for his junior season.

Of the remaining junior kids still active: Victoria (Keegan Kanzig) trail Portland 2-1, Brandon (Eric Roy) trails Edmonton 2-0, Gatineau (Emile Poirier) trails Halifax 2-0 and Drummondville (Ryan Culkin) and Val-d’Or are tied 1-1.

  • RexLibris

    At 5th overall I think the draft board rolls out (assuming no lottery changes):

    1.Reinhart, 2.Ekblad, 3.Draisaitl, 4.Bennett

    I can’t really see any one of those slipping aside perhaps from Ekblad. But if Florida is picking 2nd I think Tallon takes the defender (in spite of his history with the Cam Barker selection), and the Oilers are rumoured to be in love with both he and Draisaitl.

    The Islanders or Sabres then probably take Bennett over a winger because centers can always move to the wing.

    Just my guess.

      • McRib

        Whhhhaaaatttt?!?!?!? There is a reason why Michael Dal Colle is fifth on absolutely every list. He is a clear cut Top. 5 pick there is a significant drop-off in talent after him. He is a legitimate 1996 birthday, unlike Nick Richie a late 1995 birthday who is 6 1/2 months older.

        Michael Dal Colle has an NHLE of 34.88, Nick Richie with another OHL season behind his belt has a NHLE of 29.84. Michael Dal Colle is also very lanky at 171 pounds and has further upside once he fills out.

        If the Flames pick fifth which seems likely I highly doubt any of those Top. 4 players are still around, which means its either Dal Colle or Richie (i.e. Brian Burke) and after watching them both at the Top Prospects game Dal Colle is miles ahead for me.

        Michael Dal Colle is also third in OHL playoff scoring with the season he is having I don’t understand why he isn’t getting any consideration for the Top. 4 to be honest. Leon Draisaitl is almost 8 months older than him, Sam Reinhart is 7 Months older than him. Michael Dal Colle is putting up similar points as the rest of them and has without a doubt the most growth left in game.

        • McRib

          There is a reason why Michael Dal Colle is fifth on absolutely every list.

          Yes. That reason is because he’s a big Canadian boy who “plays the right way”. We see this happen in every draft (but at least Dal Colle was putting up numbers).

          Thing is, the more I look into him, the more I’m convinced drafting him would be a mistake. His center for most of the season was Scott Laughton, who had a 1.6 points per game scoring rate. Dal Colle was at 1.4. Reinhart, Bennett, and Draisaitl are all at or above 1.6, and they all had the highest scoring rate on their team. And it wasn’t close.

          Someone posted a few days ago that Dal Colle scored almost 50% of his points on the powerplay. Another red flag.

          More than that, I don’t understand how anyone was impressed by his performance at the top prospects game (which, when all is said and done, was ONE game, anyway). I wasn’t sold on him going in, and I came out with a worse opinion of him. His skating was brutal, and aside from his shot he couldn’t do crap with the puck.

          I mean, I’m no expert, but I’ve seen nothing from Dal Colle that warrants any excitement at the prospect of his becoming a Flame. Nothing. At all.

          Also, why are you talking about Ritchie? When have I ever said anything about him ever?

          • McRib

            Wow, I disagree, not sure we even watched the same Top Prospects game by your description. I personally have more concerns with Leon Draisaitl’s skating not that its major. Dal Colle was the first player in on the forecheck every shift at the Top Prospects game for me always taking the body finishing his checks…. Not sure how that is “Brutal” Skating? He is also 30-40 pounds underweight once he adds more leg strength skating will improve significantly increasing push.

            I have watched Oshawa twice live this season and in the two games he hasn’t even taken one shift with Scott Laughton?!?! He plays on the second line with Cole Cassels and Dylan Smoskowitz. He is also a big game player that has gone to another level in the playoffs leading team in scoring. In the games that I have watched even strength he is by far the best player on Oshawa without question (Cole Cassels would be the second best). Also must say not a fan at all of Scott Laughton (When was the last time our Canadian World Junior Captain only had one point? His lack of output is a big reason we burned out in the WJ, IMO). I’ve talked to plenty of people out east that are certain Dal Colle is carrying that team and that’s what the eye test told me and his playoff production.

            Who do you like in fifth Nikolaj Ehlers? Basically a Sven Baertschi clone whos played all season with the best player in the CHL (Jonathan Drouin)? Or William Nylander a pre madonna who was kicked off two teams this year? Just can’t see Burke taking either of those players. Top. 5 picks aren’t usally overhyped because “they play the right way” and are Canadian they usually are surefire. Michael Dal Colle reminds me worst case of a Ryan Johansen who is quickly becoming on of the best young players in the NHL. I don’t remember the last time a consensus Top. 5 pick with his size who put up the points he did playing in the CHL was a bust to be honest. Also I don’t know why your so against “Canadian Boys” considering they make up about 56% of all NHLers…. Last year we had this same debate where you perfered Elias Lindholm and I perfered Sean Monahan, gotta say glad we took Sean Monahan. Don’t get me wrong I slightly perfer Bennett or Draisaitl, but at five I just can’t see them being avilable and Dal Colle is miles ahead of everyone else for me, especially Nikolaj Ehlers. The QMJHL has had a major down draft year and people have just had too much time to look at Ehlers, he is so unbelievably hyped for me I am glad Burke is our GM for this draft to be honest.

          • FlamesRule

            You see? That’s my problem with this draft. There’s no way Dal Colle should be a top 5 player. And yet, who else is there?

            That’s why I said I hope someone drafting before Calgary takes him so I don’t have to worry about the Flames getting stuck with him.

            And for the record, I never disliked Monahan. I just thought Lindholm had a higher ceiling, and it’s far, far too early to say I was wrong.

          • McRib

            This years first overall pick and first round depth might not be as good as some other years, but the depth for me of the Top. 5 is still very strong. Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad would all be 2-4 pick every other year. If “MDC” is not a Top. 5 other years he is still a 6-7 pick every year (actually think some years he is a Top. 3, see Jordan Staal, Nathan Horton or Kyle Turris). Whereas other guys in that range this year are easily 10-15 picks other years. Big skilled forwards are just so hard to come by the only place you get them is in the draft with a high pick. Whereas undersized skilled forward can be caught with a steal in the later rounds (i.e. Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund). That’s why I would take a Sean Monahan every year over a Elias Lindholm.

            The biggest thing for me is Michael Dal Colle still neds to add 30-40 pounds. The fact that he is putting up great numbers with that much growth left is what makes me certain he is a Top. 6 forward. If he was already 200 Pounds, I would understand your argument more. Michael Dal Colle is a Mark Jankowski yet already has Sean Monahan numbers (eight months younger during draft day than Monahan was).

            Comparables for me of Michael Dal Colle (NHLE Draft Year 34.88) are Sean Monahan (33.08), Mark Scheifele (32.97), Nathan Horton (30.98), Brayden Schenn (30.93), Kyle Turris (26.21), Jordan Staal (24.60), Ryan Johansen (23.91). Every single one of those guys went in the Top. 7 and all are decent to good NHLers and Michael Dal Colle has every single one of them beat, also he is more underdeveloped than all of them were except Johansen & Turris.

            Oh well agree to disagree if the Flames keep winning he will be had by Winnipeg or Carolina.

  • RexLibris

    Also, Leafs are virtually eliminated from the playoffs in a sort of FancyStats Come Home to Roost kind of way and Gillis gets fired in Vancouver.

    No wonder it is so warm and sunny in Edmonton today, the Hockey Gods have been smiling down upon us.

  • I seriously hope we get a shot at drafting Sam Bennett. I’m a flames fan from Calgary that goes to Queens here in Kingston. I watched alot of junior hockey since there is nothing else to do…but this guy leads teams on his back like no one else. With ridiculous skill and a frame that he can grow into, if this guy is available we should seriously draft him. He never quits and has a fantastic two way game. He might not be as big as a burke player, but this guy plays big. He’s also 6 foot 1

    • RexLibris

      Bennet has been mentioned as a Toews comparable recently.

      Your comments suggests that this is fair in so far as it relates to his junior play.

      Your opinion?

      Aaaaand I see you basically read my mind.

      GET OUT OF MY HEAD! 😉

      • jeremywilhelm

        Oh his play will translate to the NHL no problem. He’s got a mentor and GM in the one and only doug gilmour, he drives the offence in kingston, he plays in all situations. His M.O. is work ethic. Not to mention his already refined defensive responsibility. I just think his compete level fits well with our culture now. The way Bob Hartley is constantly on their case for not taking shifts off, bennett fits that mould to perfection. There’s a reason he’s ranked #1 on NHL central scouting.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I have a sinking feeling Burke takes Nick Ritchie or Virtanen over Dal Colle, which if that’s how he is leaning, might as well win out the rest of the season.

  • Flash

    So people say teams shouldn’t tank because that breeds a “losing” (aka Oilers) culture that is very hard to shake off.

    If that’s really the case though, how did the Avs and Lightning so quickly go from bottom 5 last year to top 10 this year?

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Goaltending methinks. Both those teams were rotten the year they drafted high. Then the Bolts got Bishop and Varlamov turned into a demi-god.

      Although there is some merit to the “don’t breed a losing mentality” argument… I think it gets overblown.

    • Avalain

      The Avs had a lot of changes. Most important of all the changes is that they have a new coach (it’s incredible how much difference a coach can make), but they also have new players like Mackinnon, players actually playing instead of waiting for a contract like ROR, and goalies playing better. Basically, the Avs should never have been at the bottom and wouldn’t have been if management was on the ball and if the coaching was half decent.

      I’m not entirely sure about the Lightning, though.

        • mattyc

          They also have a 93.5% EV SV (score-close). Bets on if that carries over to next year?

          Unrelated: but the Ducks are shooting 10.5% (!) – that’s almost double the Kings (6.0%)

        • piscera.infada

          Stamkos was injured for the majority of the season, and since he’s been back he’s been a shell of what he was – I hope he comes back all-good next year (which I think he will) as I picked him first overall in a keeper league this year. As far as the organization goes, I think they had the inverse-Leafs syndrome in the shortened season. They are nowhere near as bad as they came off last year. In addition, they had absolutely horrid goaltending which sunk them further. I’m not sure they’re as good as their record indicates this year – piss poor conference, extremely good goaltending (likely not sustainable), and a bunch of rookies stepping up.

          • Dayzz

            Well put. I still want to point out that he is still 2nd on TB in goals (24 vs Filppula’s 25), despite missing more than half the season. My point earlier was that he is one of the reasons TB is doing well in a general sense, coupled with various other factors that you mentioned.

            Btw, holy crap what a season Palat is putting up… kinda with we would have picked him up (I mean seriously, 7th round pick!!!)

          • EugeneV

            So, he came back from the broken leg, the day after his linemate was traded, was given the captaincy and went pointless in the first 3 games back.

            In the last 14 games he has gone 10G 5A 15Pts, and in those 14 games Tampa Bay went 9-4-1 and have clinched a playoff spot.

            Man, what a shell.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Looking at the draft rankings I see the name Ritchie, he is a big body and ranked high. I don’t know anything about him. What do the folks here know?

    Also on other issues: Has there been any update on Seiloff’s health or for that matter Granlund. For developmental reasons I would love to see the Heat have a long playoff run and the guys who are injured and having their current cup of coffee could help a lot. Great on Sven being player of the week in the AHL.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Just an idea, haven’t posted on here before but…
    Can johnny gaudreau sign right after he is done in the frozen four? If so he has nothing left to prove in college like many have said. So the flames should do their best to sign him right after, if they can’t get a deal done then what would you guys think of packaging our first and gaudreau to move up in the draft? Maybe it won’t work or some may think it’s other payment I’m not sure but if the guy doesn’t want to be here then we aren’t loosing anything by trading a guys rights who will never wear the jersey.
    Thoughts??

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Package Johnny and our first to move up a few spots in a weak draft??? Your kidding right?

      More like trade Johnny to the Sabres for there first!

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        You’d have to have the sabres drinking some pretty heavy cool-aid to do that. A weak draft sure but if Johnny ain’t gonna sign here moving up is better then drafting 5th and no Johnny

  • The Last Big Bear

    If Gaudreau doesn’t sign with Calgary, his trade value will be… poor.

    If he’s already decided where he wants to play, and has no intention of playing along and signing with the team that holds his rights, how much are you going to pay to acquire his rights?

    Your only hope would be if he’s got more than one team in mind, more than one of them is interested in him too, you let them both negotiate with JG and his agent, and you get some kind of bidding war going between them.

    It’s possible, but sketchy. How much would Anaheim have received for Justin Schultz’s rights if they tried to trade him just before he hit UFA?

    • jeremywilhelm

      It’s possible, but sketchy. How much would Anaheim have received for Justin Schultz’s rights if they tried to trade him just before he hit UFA?

      Anaheim would have traded him, but he announced–very publicly–that he intended to go to free agency.

      IMO a Gaudreau situation (if it exists, which it doesn’t) would more closely resemble that of Corban Knight. Johnny would get a better return, but Knight only got a 4th round pick so… how much better are we talking, really?

  • jeremywilhelm

    Jesus, seriously you guys? Did Chicago cut bait with Kevin Hayes when he didnt sign in his Junior year? He could have gone pro, Chicago may lose him (very doubtful) and hes a FIRST ROUNDER.

    This Johnny Gaudreau insanity is stupid. If he doesnt sign, Burke has over a year to sign him, he isn’t going to get traded away and if he does get traded, be prepared to be dissapointed in his return, because Gaudreau just isn’t worth what you think he is.

  • Burnward

    Just had a random thought surrounding the whole Gaudreau/Burke stuff.

    Given Burke’s role within USA hockey, do you think this helps his case with American prospects?

    Not saying that Burke would necessarily harbour a grudge, but I have to think if I was a kid I wouldn’t want to piss off a guy of Burke’s stature within the national team.

  • Burnward

    I would be very happy if the flames drafted Dal Colle. I don’t know much about Ritchie but a good power forward would be excellent. It appears he is mentally grounded because of his family life.

    I hope the flames draft him if Bennet, Ekblad, Reinhart, and Drisaitl are taken.