Weak Drafts: Truth or Myth?

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: no
draft outright sucks. No draft is exceptionally worse than another. Yes, some
drafts yield more superstars than others, and some appear more “sexy”
before the fact, than others, but in general, every draft is about the same in
terms of their yield. What does differ from year to year, is where that talent
is found, and the amount of star talent resulting. Sometimes all the quality
NHLers come from the 1st round, while sometimes the majority are drafted in the
later rounds. One thing remains consistent: every single draft contains quality
NHLers, the key is finding them.

1999 and 2002 have been dubbed as two of the worst draft
years in recent memory, and although they were both heavily saturated with busts
and disappointments (thus garnering the “terrible draft” label),
there were still a number of quality NHLers who emerged from them. 2003 was
labelled as the “mother lode” of NHL Drafts, and while it did produce
a staggering number of stars, its success rate remained on the average. To get
a gist of the contrast in quality between draft classes, here’s a look at some
basic statistics of each draft class from 1999 to 2009.


Number of Drafted Players

Percent of Draftees to Play in the NHL

Number of NHL All-Stars

Number of 1st Round Picks to Play Over 250 Games





























































 *2009 All-Star
Numbers and 1st Rounders to Play Over 250 Games data was not used in the Average because of
how young the careers of many promising players in that class are.

Looking at that chart, you’ll immediately notice that with
the exception of 2002, the percentage of draftees to lace it up in the NHL is
pretty consistent across all 10 drafts, and the amount of 1st Round Picks to
play over 250 games (which I used as a benchmark to determine established
NHLers) is also tremendously consistent. Of course, there’ll be some variation
in all these categories from year to year, but outside of one or two anomalies,
it appears every draft will consistently yield the following: approximately 90 full
time NHLers (assuming there’s 211 players drafted which is the norm now) and 8
NHL All-Stars.

Every team is allotted 7 picks, one in each of the 7 rounds
of the draft, to do what ever so choose, with. Assuming the team exercises a
selection on all seven, it’s very possible they land multiple NHLers who’ll
play over 250 games, and an NHL All-Star with their 1st Round Pick. In every
single draft from 1999 to 2008, a player selected outside the Top 30 turned
into a cornerstone, All-Star type, skater. If an organization has multiple
selections in the 1st round (like the Flames did last year), the chance of
selecting multiple All-Stars should also increase, if you’re examining the raw
numbers. And that, brings me to my next point.

The quality of a draft is determined by the quality of each
individual organization’s scouting staff and scouting practices, rather than
the players available themselves. It’s a customized system, not a one size fits
all. Even with all the home runs sitting in the first round of the 2003 Draft,
there were still a handful of misses. If the proper work hasn’t been done from
a scouting perspective, the so called “strength” of the draft is
meaningless, you’ll probably screw up your picks either way. There will always
be diamonds in the pile of rocks, you just need the proper supplies and
techniques to find it. If you rely on the entire pile being comprised of
diamonds to get your hands on one, you’re going to have a tough time. Sure,
occasionally the “sure-fire” prospect doesn’t work out (see: Nikita
Filatov), but more often than not, this isn’t the case.

The Flames have recently piled considerable resources into
scouting and have put more of a focus on the recruitment and developmental side
of the organization, in an effort to breed more home grown stars. This gameplan
– at least on the surface – appears to be working.

The change in philosophy came with Jay Feaster taking the
helm and reviewing his entire scouting corps. He  made small tinkering moves, leaving Todd
Button on as Director of it all and hiring good personnel to surround him. The
saying “you get out, what you put in” rings true for the Flames, will
three straight, dare I say stellar, looking drafts. The 2011 class featuring
the likes of Sven Baertschi and Johnny Gaudreau, and is already paying dividends,
with 4 of the 5 draftees having skated in the NHL, while the one who hasn’t
having been dealt for an established NHLer. The 2012 Draft will always been
controversial because of 21st overall selection, but 3 of the 7 draftees have
NHL deals and Jon Gillies and Mark Jankowski are all but guaranteed contracts
whenever they choose to leave college. The biggest fruit of the 2013 NHL Draft
is already a 20 goal scorer in the NHL. A decade from now, experts and writers
could dub any one of these drafts as “poor” or “shallow”,
but it won’t apply to the Flames because they (most likely) scored themselves a
few quality players. They found the diamonds amongst the coal. And it had
nothing to do with the calibre of the draft class, but everything to do with
the scouting and work they put into it.

Same applies to the 2014 Draft. It may not set any records
in regards to the number of NHLers it graduates, and it may not deliver 24 NHL
All-Stars, but it will most certainly supply a select group of National Hockey
League teams with a number of quality hockey players. Some believe that the
Calgary Flames are unlucky to land such a high pick this year because the draft
is “weak”, but fact is the Flames have a great shot at landing a top
player all the same.  For hockey fans,
the concern shouldn’t be aimed at the “quality” of the 2014 Draft class,
but instead at their respective scouting staffs. Do you trust the men at the
helm of your teams scouting staff? Do you believe they’ve done their homework
and are in a position to secure one of the big fish to emerge from this class? From
a Flames perspective, the last few seasons have me confident that they have
“read up” on the class and have strongly educated opinions on most
every single player of note that will soften their chances of missing picks. The
2014 NHL Draft, like all its predecessors, will provide. The question is, who has
properly prepared themselves to cash in?

  • McRib

    Looking at the number of stars produced in 2003 that draft still stands out as phenomenal, average percentile or not.

    I agree with the article. Nothing I hate more than hearing that the draft is a crapshoot. If that’s the case, why even have scouts?

    Obviously it’s not the case, because certain teams pick consistently well and cetain teams pick consistently poor.

    Of course, to go along with all of the tools that needs to be employed to have great drafting, it’s imperative that just as much effort and resources go into development.

    What really amazes me is that almost every draft there seems to be a player who has size, speed, skill and hockey IQ that for some reason gets rated low with no real explanation an then becomes a star. Charlie Coyle and Tomas Hertl immediately jump to mind.

    In other words, there’s always quality players to be found, as the article points out.

    • McRib

      Tomas Hertl was an odd case I think it was because he was playing in the Czech Men’s league, a league few prospects are drafted straight out of these days. I remember watching the Czech World Junior Team in Calgary where he was playing with Radek Faksa that year. At the time Faksa was a consensus Top. 15 pick, but I remeber liking Tomas Hertl waaayyyy more.

      I think both Tomas Hertl and Charlie Coyle were missing leg strength and some coordination their draft years having just grown to 6’2″+. I think teams underestimate this fact that once a kid adds leg strength skating is only going to improve. Good scouts pick up on that and it is no coincidence San Jose drafted both of those players.

  • BurningSensation

    I love the chart. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. First, there is a big difference in the quality of an All Star. Phaneuf for example isn’t Crosby. Second, playing a game in the NHL is a poor indicator of success. Agostino, Hanowski, Breen, etc have all played a game in the NHL. That doesn’t mean any will be regular NHL players.

    I agree that the term weak draft gets thrown around too much. But there is definitely a difference in the quality of players from different draft years. A quick scan down the list on NHL.com and the NHL DB shows us that.

  • MattyFranchise

    Ok one thing I can’t figure out: where the hell does the extra pick come from? Seven rounds times thirty teams is 210 draft picks. How did they get to 211?


    Playing half a season worth of games is a lot easier than sticking it out for over 250 games. I think that 250 games is a reasonable benchmark for what would constitute a successful NHL career.

    • McRib

      The extra pick comes from compensation picks, every season a few extra picks are rewarded or not depending on the year. For example Winnipeg got a late second rounder last year because (Atlanta) they didn’t sign their former first round pick Daultan Leveille. It’s a bazaar rule and basically rewards teams for drafting horribly.

  • McRib

    “Some believe that the Calgary Flames are unlucky to land such a high pick this year because the draft is “weak”

    Outside of this draft missing a consensus first overall pick (Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid) I think the Top. 5 is as strong as it normally is. Depending on the season the late first round and some lower rounds can offer slightly more value than others, but good teams like you pointed out usually find ways to get those players. The draft is never void of talent completely that is for certain. The Top. 5 usually produces four or five quality players from year to year. I think the Flames are in a great position to catch a player falling like Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart and if not secure a Leon Draisaitl or Michael Dal Colle. Who are similar to guys like Ryan Johansen, Brayden Schenn or Mark Scheifele in previous years and would be in the 3-6 range any other year for me. Actually if Leon Draisaitl or Michael Dal Colle were more physically developed I think they would be getting more consideration for Top. 3 to be honest. Both put up great numbers this year, but have fairly average skating because leg strength is not there yet. Leon Draisaitl in particular greatly improved his skating this season from last and I can only see him doing the same this offseason to next. Michael Dal Colle reminds me of a Ryan Johansen or Kyle Turris where they were bean poles during draft years. Yet both have turned into guys that look like they will be 65+ points guys down the road.

      • McRib

        Have you looked at his legs they still are twigs… Hahaha. He is only going to develop even more, IMO. I’m 6’2″ myself and have to tell you I would have to run in a garbage bag for a month straight and not eat anything at all to even get close to 210 pounds. I have 9% body fat and fluctuate from 245-250 pounds. For a person with a frame conducive of adding muscle like him and from experience I think a playing weight of 225-230 is much more likely. I obviously have more bulk than most NHLers would want, but looking at his Quads and having grown late myself there is more power there for certain. I also think he looks taller now than 6’2″ to be honest. For these reasons I actually think a team like Edmonton or Florida might take him. Even if he has started to add weight coordination takes awhile to come around as well, skating is only going to get better.

        • Christian Roatis

          I don’t know, I’ve seen him before and after games in shorts and they look pretty damn solid. The way players wear their shin pads can lend an illusion of skinny or fat legs. His skating is definitely a concern for me, though.

          • McRib

            The biggest thing for me is his skating improved from last season to this year, so he seems to be aware of it needing to get better and I think it will continue to do so. I guess only time will tell, but considering his frame/reach and extremely high Hockey IQ he doesn’t need to be the best skater in the world, IMO.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Regarding skating, I’ve been watching Monahan’s progress through the year. If you looked at video of Monahan from last year or during Oct/Nov versus March/April I think you would see a noticeable improvement. Overall his skating was slightly below average when drafted..not efficient, lacking power and glide, kind of an awkward gait.

            While he still has some of those traits overall his skating has at least become average to slightly above average, as noted by his breakaway in the Vancouver game.

            Draisaitl would also hopefully develop further to get stronger, smoother and faster in the same manner.

      • McRib

        Outside of the Top Prospects game, I’ve only seen him play in spurts here and there, but I’d have to agree with McRib. While he’s physically big, his skating is average, almost slow sometimes. He has bulk, but needs way more strength. He may evenneed to shed some of that weight while getting stronger in order to fulfill his potential.

        It’s been reported that BB doesn’t like him anyways. Not sure why, just some comment that he was “big and not much else.”

        • Christian Roatis

          His skating is most definitely a problem, I agree. My point is he doesn’t exactly have a lot of room to further develop physically. Add strength, sure. But the guy is 210lbs at 18 years old. He probably plays at around 215-220, so what you see is what you get right now from a size perspective.

          • McRib


            That’s why I think he may need to actually shed weight while trying to gain strength. If he adds another 10 pounds it’s only going to make him slower.

          • McRib

            6’2″+ 215 pounds is still very lanky for someone with a Mesomorph body composition like Leon Draisaitl. I am 6’2″ and if I was that weight I wouldn’t have an ounce of muscle.

            Considering I think Leon Draisaitl already looks like he is on the better side of 6’2 1/2″-6’3″ would compare him in a range of Ryan Johansen who is playing at 223 pounds (more of an Ectomorph) to Jaromir Jagr playing at 240 pounds. Even if you put him at the low end of that range at 225. That’s 15 more pounds not to mention he still is likely carrying 10 pounds of baby weight that can be turned into muscle as well. Even on the low end of adding 20 pounds of pure leg strength that is significant for me. Weight also comes quicker than actual strength, I remember when I hit 21 years old I didn’t add any more weight, but I started lifting a lot more. Muscles take longer to develop you actually don’t peak until 30. Judging by his build and wide shoulders I think he ends up closer to 230, even in NHL shape he has a very bulky (Mesomorph frame). This is obviously a subject I am interested in being a bit of a gym rat, so I apologize for beating the issue to death, Hahaha. Great article though in general your right about people over stating “weak drafts”, I am just a stickler for body building. Haha.

        • piscera.infada

          I’m torn on Draisaitl. The few games I’ve seen him live he’s really impressed me. I get the “skating issues” argument, but I also think that’s a workable issue to have. His vision (and then execution) is unreal however – that’s a trait that can not be taught, if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. For that reason, I think he is miles ahead of Dal Colle – at least if I was running the draft. So, if the early mock-ups of order come to fruition, I take Draisaitl 10 times out of 10 over Dal Colle. I definitely don’t rule out the possibility of one of the “big three” falling though. Fingers crossed.

  • Christian Roatis

    Sorry, but I also remained unconvinced by this article. As an earlier commenter pointed out, the data is too shallow on the draft class analysis. It then goes on to assert the proposition that teams have a discernible difference in scouting talent – but no data to back up the assertion. I would be damn interested to see if there is a meaningful difference between teams’ draft records. I once tried to break it down and couldn’t get past the undeniable fact that the number one predictor of whether a team got good players at the draft was draft position.

  • Burnward

    Good article, but I think there are certainly some drafts that are stronger than others.

    I think the reason the numbers are so similar is that the scouting process has become a science.

    The better players are more often identified correctly now, lending to less busts and more NHL-capable players being selected early.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I think “weak draft” can be more nuanced than is easily ascertainable by the surface numbers. Your analysis does give a good basis of the fact that, in general, each draft will reliably produce NHLers as well as a small number of high level ones.

    What I’d like to see is a couple of other additions to this: average number of points produced by forwards and defencemen over a ~7 year period following each draft, as well as a distribution of where the high-end players are picked (e.g. spots 1-10, 2-20, 3-30, and then round 2, 3, and 4-7). The former would help further determine whether some drafts are weaker on offensive talent. The latter, which I think could be key (but it’s more a hunch than anything) is that I believe in some drafts the talent is more easily scouted than others – so those drafts where a larger proportion of the higher-end players end up being late round surprises might be considered weaker drafts, as they’re even greater crapshoots than normal.

    • Christian Roatis

      I was going to add in points but decided against it because the class of ’05 obviously has more points than ’08 just because of GP. Could’ve looked at PPG I suppose.

      • SmellOfVictory

        PPG may not work well either, because it wouldn’t account for guys who have only played a half dozen games but played all on a hot streak.

        That’s why I was thinking over a 7 year span, from draft year +1 to draft year +6. And then you’d just have to exclude 2009 onward (since that’d be 5 or less years post-draft).

        Ooh! Or you could do PPG, as well as average number of games played. That sort of balances it out.

        Either way, I love suggesting ways that other people can do more work for my interest. Haha. It’s something I’d do as well, but I haven’t found a resource that explicitly lists that sort of thing in a total format, and I don’t have the coding skills to write a script to parse the data for me.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I’m hoping that we win the lottery obviously. Because then we get the pick of the bunch. IMO, the best spot to be in this draft is #3, because then your work is cut out for you. You get whoever isn’t picked out of Reinhart Bennett and Ekblad. I just hope One of the teams in front of us goes a bit off the board like what Florida did with Barkov last year!

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I agree. I’ve had the exact same thoughts lately.

      I keep thinking one of those three does fall to us. If Ekblad is gone before Edm picks then I think they go with Draisaitl. There was a comparison done on Oilers Nation a while back between RNH & Reinhart in their draft year. Not much diff b/w the two when it comes to size and everything, except I think Reinhart had less points on PP and more even strength points (good sign). Very similar players and Edm doesn’t need another RNH. I think one of Bennett or Reinhart falls to us at 4 depending on who Buffalo picks.

  • RexLibris


    I did something similar in building a table of every draft selection from 1979 to 2008. It was designed with draft efficiency in mind, so I used the 200+ NHL games as a benchmark and then broke things down from there based on team, round, annual and five-year windows, records under GMs and then long-term franchise history averages.

    There were good teams and bad, and a lot in middle.

    The interesting thing was that the average came out to about 20%, give or take, so approximately 1.7 players per draft year became regular NHLers.

    Loading up on picks didn’t produce any increase in efficiency, or even an increase in real numbers, and a team could be snakebitten one year and return to productivity the next.

    The percentage that I found for 1999 and 2000 was around 14% of those selected became NHL players, and that the first round was especially hazardous for teams relative to that round in other years.

    Oh, and if I had to place a bet, if Ekblad makes it past Florida (which he might) my guess is the Flames get him at #4. The Oilers love Draisaitl and I suspect Buffalo takes Reinhart.

    Florida and the lottery are the key pieces here. Lottery notwithstanding, Tallon could make everything change with his pick.

    As I understand it, the Oilers’ draft board looks something like 1. Reinhart 2. Draisaitl 3. Ekblad 4. Trade the pick

    Also some rumours out there that the Oilers would explore trading the pick + for Spezza. Not my choice, but it would make things interesting for Flames fans as they wait for #4.

      • RexLibris

        An aversion to drafting defensemen too high and the desperate need within the organization for a center.

        They have scads of blueliners on the way, but after Nugent-Hopkins the most promising Cs they have are Yakimov, Khaira and Chase. None of which project to be 1st or 2nd line centers.

        Also, Draisaitl has been repeatedly compared to players like Kopitar and Thornton (Joe) while Ekblad most often is compared to Chris Philips. With all due respect, I think the team can aim a little higher than that.

        I know many feel that the Oilers’ biggest weakness is on the blueline, and in so far as the NHL roster is concerned that is true, but they need a 26 or 28 year old 1RD, not an 18 year old one.

        They are screaming out for a large center, really have been since they traded Jason Arnott, and I think that Draisaitl projects well for the team, given that he’d most likely end up on a line with Nail Yakupov and David Perron.

        Compare this year’s draft to 2009 when it was Tavares or Hedman. The Avalanche ended up with Duchene 3rd overall. The Oilers could very well end up in a similar situation depending on how Tallon chooses.

        Of course, all of this sets up for the Flames and the impact that Brian Burke will have on their draft board. Let’s imagine that it goes Reinhart, Ekblad, Draisaitl. Does Burke take Bennett or go with Dal Colle? Does he reach down a little and take Fleury because the Flames are short on high-end defensive prospects?

        The smartest move would be to take Bennett, but there are other options available as well.

        For the Oilers, the lottery and Tallon decide where they go to a fair degree. For the Flames, I’m really not sure because we haven’t seen Burke run their draft board just yet, and in spite of what scouts say, it is the GM that makes a lot of decisions on draft day, especially with a 4th overall pick.

        • McRib

          I agree with you and think there is a good chance the Oilers take Leon Draisaitl, as your biggest need for me is for a big skilled players up front.

          I understand a larger team on average doesn’t necessarily translate into more wins, but all good teams have a few big forwards with skill that can fit into the top two lines and help their lines to dominate the corners and puck possession. (Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, David Backes, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, etc). This is something that makes Jonathan Toews so valuable as people underestimate the fact that he is 6’2″ 210+.

          The Oilers also have a lot of very solid defensive prospects Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Gernat, Martin Marincin, etc. Not to mention Justin Schultz. Even though defense is likely the biggest weakness right now it isn’t going forward. Also not sold on Aaron Ekblad at all he just seems like an early bloomer that has peaked physically years ago. Whereas with Leon Draisitl I think there is a lot more room for growth (as he was still growing up to a year ago, which means muscle development is still happening and he is still getting used to big frame). Aaron Ekblad has never really wowed me ofensively at Top Prospects Game or at World Juniors outside of maybe one nice where a goalie was screened. Floridas GM has also been burned by taking defenders high in Cam Barker and the team more recently in Erik Gudbranson which is interesting and for that I think Ekblad could fall. Also a team with RNH, Hall, Ebbs doesn’t need a Sam Bennett as badly as a Leon Draisitl, IMO.

        • Ekblad most often is compared to Chris Philips.

          This is, quite literally, the first time I have ever seen this comparison.

          Does Burke take Bennett or go with Dal Colle?

          He’d better take Bennett. I’m not even convinced that Dal Colle is the 5th best player in this draft much less the 4th.

        • McRib

          “Of course, all of this sets up for the Flames and the impact that Brian Burke will have on their draft board. Let’s imagine that it goes Reinhart, Ekblad, Draisaitl. Does Burke take Bennett or go with Dal Colle? Does he reach down a little and take Fleury because the Flames are short on high-end defensive prospects?”

          From what I have heard Bryan Burke is a big Sam Bennett fan so I think he is a sure thing if he is still around, but I kind of think he goes second as Florida really doesn’t seem to be a fan of taking defenders high.

          Even though what Michael Dal Colle is doing in the OHL playoff is impressive (3rd in scoring) helping Oshawa sweep to advance to the Conference Finals with Scott Laughton out of the lineup the past three games. I think the Flames end up with whoever is left after Bennett, Ekblad, Draisitl. I actually think there is a good chance Ekblad falls to us and to be honest I would rather Michael Dal Colle over him.

          • McRib

            From what I have heard Bryan Burke is a big Sam Bennett fan so I think he is a sure thing if he is still around, but I kind of think he goes second as Florida really doesn’t seem to be a fan of taking defenders high.

            Interesting. I’ve speculated this before, based on Bennett’s play style, but I didn’t actually know. Is there anywhere specific you heard about this?

          • RexLibris

            It has been repeated on the air here in Edmonton several times since late December (so basically since Oilers fans started looking seriously at the draft).

            Button has, I believe, mentioned it. As have a few other in the MSM. The comparison extends in so far as they believe that Ekblad is dominating junior based on his size relative to the field and that he projects to be a very good, safe defenseman for many, many years. Just perhaps not a spectacular one.

            That being said, Hedman was a stud, Barker was a gem, Johnson was a can’t miss prospect (some even said Pronger 2.0) and Doughty’s fitness levels at the combine were considered terrible…so whoever gets him may not really know what they have until 2017 or later.

          • RexLibris

            True, but the point was that the narrative going into the draft can be right or wrong. The level of hyperbole doesn’t make it more or less likely to be true.

            In that list I mentioned there were studs and duds, but in every case they were enviously anticipated NHL talents.

            I’m not a big fan of the Oilers picking Ekblad for two reasons: they need C depth more than D depth and it could convince management that he is the cure to their current defensive shortcomings (if an 18/19 year old d-man is the answer to your problems, then you are in deeper than you realize).

            For the Flames I think Ekblad is a great fit. They can shelter him behind Brodie and Giordano and let him eventually take the mantle from Giordano in a few years. Perfect. For the Panthers he even makes sense.

            Not for the Oilers or Sabres, though.

          • RexLibris

            I try to stay away from arguing that prospect X is better than Y simply because I’m not a scout and I suspect neither is the person with whom I am debating. If they are a scout, and I’m still arguing, then I’m probably concussed or inebriated. Or both.

            Scouting is incredibly difficult. I give full marks to those who can make a living at it. Those who can do it well, amazing.

            As it relates to this draft, I’m working off of history and some basic principles of which prospect appears to be overcoming the challenges of their peers and by what means. Hence my hesitation towards Ekblad.

          • Christian Roatis

            Well, working for FutureConsiderations I’ve been afforded the chance to see every one of the top prospects this year at least once except for Sam Bennett, live. I’m with you, I don’t like to argue about prospects I haven’t seen.

        • The Last Big Bear

          All this tells me is that the Oilers should trade their pick+ for an established centreman.

          Drafting an 18 year old and expecting him to grow into a 1C or 2C role as he’s thrown into the deep end is exactly how they got into this mess in the first place.

    • SmellOfVictory

      If Ekblad falls to the flames at #4 I will reenact the final dance scene from Flashdance in my living room. It will be embarrassing but I won’t care because I’ll be too incredibly happy.

      I also have no idea why the oilers would pass on Ekblad in favour of Draisaitl. No disrespect but Ekblad fills an organizational need while Draisaitl is just more of the same thing they’ve done at the draft for like… ever!

      • SmellOfVictory

        Maybe becuse Katz is running the show. He heard Yakupov was Bure and now Driasatl is Jagr. How do you pass on Bure and Jagr? Even as a Flames fan who hates the Oilers with pure venom, they’ve disappointed me.

        • RexLibris

          Meh, Katz made the call on Yakupov and really, it is a little too early to tell if that was right or wrong.

          That being said, get your facts straight. Draisaitl is the German Gretzky*, man. Come on.


          *For the record, I hate that moniker and I hope it gets forgotten by draft day.

          • McRib

            Buffalo seems interested in Draisatl as well. I buy your argument about the Oilers wanting to add another big forward to the top 6. So, if both teams want him, do you think the Oilers would be prepared to give Buffalo something to stay away from him? No idea what that would cost.

            Also, how much truth do you put on the Spezza rumors?

          • RexLibris

            I’m not sure they’d do much. Buffalo is interested in Draisaitl, but they have Grigorenko and Girgensons already. Reinhart looks to me like he is probably a hair above the rest and so I think they take him.

            Florida isn’t lacking size either after taking Barkov last year and Huberdeau earlier. They may look at Ekblad to pair with Campbell as a mentoring partnership.

            The Oilers are picking 1st, 3rd or 4th, and only in the 4th slot do I think they have a serious chance of not getting Draisaitl.

            Spezza to the Oilers has been a rumour since two hours after fire was discovered. It makes sense to a certain degree, but Spezza is a UFA next year and has some back injury history. I think this is somewhat a case of outsiders looking in and saying “we can give you a quick fix for that tantilizing asset that would serve our team so well”.

          • RexLibris

            Agreed, I don’t think Spezza appreciably improves the Oilers nor do I think he’d re-sign there anyways.

            Correct re: Sabres too, but you can never have too many huge skilled centers.

      • RexLibris

        See above.

        In a nutshell, they need a C more than a D a few years away from peak performance.

        Also, drafting D this high is dangerous. Their development path is often more treacherous and delayed than forwards.

  • T&A4Flames

    I just can’t find enough to like about Draisaitl. I still maintain that if he is the guy that is there at #4 or #5, we try to trade down a few spots, pick up another asset (hopefully 2 1sts from ANA) and take either Virtanen, Tuch or Fleury. I just dont’t see a big enough difference between these players to take one that is not ideal for our rebuild. They all have things to work on.

    • T&A4Flames

      Agree. I wonder, in 10 years, how much of a difference there will be between Ekblad and Fleury? For another pick, I’d trade to down to still take Fleury. Although BB has indicated thre’s only D in the top 10 so maybe I’m overrating Fleury or not appreciating Ekblad enough.

  • BitGeek

    The one thing we’ll never really know, is how many draft picks end up in poor development programs of the organizations that draft them. Maybe a potential NHL’r flounders due to a sub-par program and never makes it to the show. Maybe a development coach takes a dislike to the player and puts them in circumstances that swamp the player or make them look horrible. Given the right development track they might have made it.

    Of course the other side of that coin is that development programs might be getting better at developing talent, and we might be seeing more potential NHL level players than we would have in the past, thus boosting the numbers.

    The other question I have is how many players that get drafted are buried under organizations that have tons of talent in their pool. Maybe they become disillusioned with their possible opportunity to make it to the NHL and quit before being traded or getting their shot.

    I’m sure the numbers are low for each of these scenarios but who can tell for sure?

  • McRib

    Heard on the radio today that the flames were involved in 57 out of 82 games that were either decided by one goal or had an empty net goal scored at the end of the game. I know we arent a playoff team, but if the work ethic stays with this team and they are able to bring in players who buy into the system that have some upper end talent, and ramo truly establishes himself next year as our guy, then are we that far away from being in the playoff mix?
    If we are needing the higher end talent should BB be looking to move up in the draft? If we somehow had the opportunity to draft Ekblad would you want the flames to take him, or should we be looking at the forwards? If we somehow ended up with Ekblad i would love to see this team make a play for another first round pick to take a chance on Virtannen or maybe a guy like Nylander.

  • McRib

    Not sure if anyone read this article, but solid insight from Buffalos GM doesn’t seem to be a fan of Aaron Ekblad and is a big fan of Sam Reinhart. He also realy likes Leon Draistil (I think a lot of teams do after how he came on in the second half). If Seth Jones can fall to 4th, I think Aaron Ekblad is likely too as well. If Florida doesn’t pick him I think Buffalo and Edmonton are both passing. Of the two Seth Jones is a far better prospect in my opinion.

    “Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray not sure if Aaron Ekblad is a “franchise” player”


    • RexLibris

      If Ekblad falls to Calgary, what a blessing. This team is in dire need of a blue chip defensive prospect & we even have the 2 years to let the kid grow into a 3-4 spot behind Gio & Brodie. Murray may not think he is a franchise dman, but then the pressure is way higher to hit a homerun with the #1 overall versus the #4. So we get a very good defense with potential to be a franchise dman dropping to our laps. Dropping to 4th has put the Flames in an excellent position. This draft is nothing but a win win for us.

  • McRib

    Burke said that he likes the forward class in this draft, specifically Reinhart, Bennett, Draisaitl, and Ritchie. Anyone know much about that Ritchie guy? Either way I see Buffalo taking Reinhart, Florida could take a chance on Ekblad, which would mean the Flames get either Bennett or Draisaitl. If that’s the case, get Bennett all day everyday.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I don’t see the value in trading up this year. More likely someone could fall to us that we would have been happy drafting that high up anyway.

  • Burnward

    We’re going to get another young stud.

    Regarding Ekblad, all I saw of him this year was at the World Jr’s and I thought he carried that defense corps.

    I would be thrilled to get him at four. But I think we sit pat and take the BPA.

    • RexLibris

      Pietrangelo went 4th in ’08 between Bogosian and L. Schenn. That worked out alright.

      And yes, at #4 it is probably best if the Flames stay put. They are fortunate that they landed there, as the draft is considered to be about four prospects deep on the elite side before dropping off a touch.

      Meanwhile, the Islanders have some thinking to do.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Im pretty sure MacTavish has already gone on record saying that he wants to draft Ekblad.

    That was a few months ago, so things may have changed, but I’d be pretty surprised if Edmonton passes on poor ‘ol Aaron.

    • RexLibris

      I haven’t heard MacTavish say anything decisive. Ekblad has been lauded, but so has Draisaitl and Reinhart.

      The Oilers leak this stuff annually. Two years ago it was all Grigorenko, then Murray. The year before that it was Nugent-Hopkins ahead of Couturier with Larsson only tangentially in the conversation.

      All the talk from the usual suspects (Bob Stauffer, Jim Matheson) has the Oilers gaga over Draisaitl (whom they got to see plenty of during the Oil Kings/Raiders series) and then Ekblad.

      It is a very strong possibility that Sam Gagner gets dealt this draft and this opens up a gaping hole on the 2C spot that not even Steve Tambellini could ignore.

      The best guess is that the Oilers are weighing the options of trading the pick as part of a package that includes a roster player for a 2C and a defenseman, that they select a C and then go hard to sign a 2C UFA this summer, or even trade the pick for Jason Spezza.

      I think Ekblad is a safety net, if they fall to 4th due to the lottery, and he is still there and there are not trade offers that strike their fancy, then they’ll gladly take him and move along. But if they have a choice, I think they’d take Draisaitl or Reinhart ahead of him. Again, this is all based on the many media reports and “musings” of the usual organizational insiders.

  • Franko J

    Picking the lowest in team history, I’m really excited which player will fall to the Flames. If you observe the draft since 2008, at the fourth pick there has been 4 D and one winger and one centre. With 2 out of the 4 D heading into the draft at one point a potential # 1 choice. Therefore if history remains consistent the selection very well could be a D. If not, at the very least the Flames will end up with a very good player regardless. I just think the team needs more skill and size on “Right side”. Too bad {at this point} the Flames only have one selection in the first round because I think as you move down the draft board there are few other players who can enhance our prospect pool and fill some needs.

  • RexLibris

    Darn it, then Lowetide has to go and throw me under the bus by saying the Oilers love Ekblad ahead of even Draisaitl. 😉


    Oh well, I guess I was getting something different from the media narrative. Must’ve been the semantics, yeah, that’s it.

    Also, ISS final rankings out.


    Dal Colle at #3. Interesting. Flames at #4 may give them some choices, but I still think it’d be murder to be in the #5 or #6 slot unless someone slides considerably.