A Look Ahead To The Draft

We’re just shy of five weeks out from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and six weeks out from the Calgary Flames annual development camp. With no World Championship games today, why not take a glance at how things are looking overall?

The Flames presently have seven picks at the 2014 Draft. They shake down thusly:

  • 1st round – 4th overall
  • 2nd round – 34th overall
  • 2nd round – 57th overall (from Colorado)
  • 3rd round – 64th overall
  • 3rd round – 86th overall (from Pittsburgh)
  • 6th round – 178th overall (from Anaheim)
  • 7th round – 184th overall

I’d imagine the Flames would love to recoup some mid-round picks, but the question is “What do they have to move to get ’em?” I don’t think much, so I’d be surprised if they get a fourth or fifth back. But five picks in the top 90 is exciting.

The NHL announced their scouting combine invitees, which can give an idea of what players may go in the top 100 or so. The 75 top-ranked players from Central Scouting’s list were invited, along with roughly 45 players decided on by the NHL teams themselves. Based on this (and my gut), names you might hear (e.g., names with buzz and one or two attributes the team might want):

  • 1st round: Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart or Michael dal Colle
  • 2nd round: Reid Gardiner, Connor Bleackley, Chase de Leo, Thatcher Demko, Ville Huuso, Brett Pollock, Aaron Haydon, Brett Lernout, Travis Sanheim or someone else
  • 3rd round: Daniel Audette, Aaron Irving, Keegan Iverson, Alexis Vanier, Ben Thomas, Mason MacDonald or someone else

We’ll obviously get into the hows and whys of why the Flames would want any of these guys – the first round discussion will be vested in “because they’re the three best guys left at 4th overall” – but the rest will be a fun thing to debate. Also, do the Flames draft a goalie? And when?

The Flames have quietly amassed a pretty diverse prospects group, and have largely done so by drafting different types of players, but primarily from the WHL and the Eastern United States. For a glance, here’s the players likely being invited to development camp – it’ll show you where they’re thin, too. Players with league in brackets aren’t pros.

  • G: Jon Gillies (NCAA)
  • D: John Gilmour (NCAA), Rushan Rafikov (MHL), Keegan Kanzig (WHL), Eric Roy (WHL), Tyler Wotherspoon, Patrick Sieloff, John Ramage, Brett Kulak & Ryan Culkin
  • F: Morgan Klimchuk (WHL), Tim Harrison (NCAA), Matt Deblouw (NCAA), Mark Jankowski (NCAA), David Wolf, Johnny Gaudreau, Bryce van Brabant, Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino, Markus Granlund, Josh Jooris, Corban Knight, Sven Baertschi, Emile Poirier, Max Reinhart, Michael Ferland & Turner Elson

One goalie, not a lot of skilled puck-moving defenders, and the forward group remains high on two-way forwards, but light on high-end skill and also on crash-and-bang.

Hopefully the draft fills some of those holes.

  • mattyc

    If we manage to get Connor Bleakly or Thatcher Demko in the second round I’ll be ecstatic. Demko looks like a really solid goaltender, although with Ortio and Gillies I think we already have two strong young prospects.

    As for our fourth pick, I’m really hoping for Reinhart or Bennett. For some reason I really, really don’t want dal Colle. I would much prefer Draisaitl or Nylander before him.

    I’m sure someone posted this earlier, but http://www.mynhldraft.com/2014-nhl-draft-prospect-rankings/ has all the draft lists that are released which is pretty cool to check out.

    I’m really, really excited for the draft this year. I just wish it was June already!

    • Parallex

      I think I’d rather spend those 2nd rounders on D-men. Our defense prospects are underwhelming IMO and we need more depth in that area (and Goalies are too hit’an’miss to spend top 60 picks on).

      Personally I’m hoping we can get two of McKeown, Glover, Pettersson, Dougherty, Martin, and Sanheim in the 2nd round. I imagine we’ll end up taking a goalie in the 3rd.

      • mattyc

        hmm, fair enough. I do remember seeing Sanheim and McKeown both in many (some may be a more appropriate word) top 30 lists, although I also head a rumour that McKeown’s stock has fallen. I would be very happy to see us net either of those two.

        I agree goalies are unpredictable, however I have heard very positive views regarding Demko. Regardless, I’m not upset if they don’t pick him, but I wouldn’t be too upset if we managed to get him with our Colorado pick (I’d like to think of it as flipping Reto Berra for a more valuable goalie prospect).

        Good picks though! I definitely agree we need an upgrade in our defensive prospects.

        You guys may also enjoy reading this article: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/108037/bright-future-apparent-after-strong-2013-14-season-for-calgary-flames-prospects/

        It is a review of Calgary Flames prospects, with some very nice things being said about our young group!

      • mattyc

        I think I’d prefer focus of FWDs mainly because of how much trickier it seems to be to nail a D pick (unless you get lobbed a Seth Jones or Ekblad type). I’d prefer just accumulate better assets and trade to fill needs later.

      • T&A4Flames

        Dmen or RW. 2 guys that have bounced around in draft order that I hope fall to us are McKeown and Pastrnak.

        4th overall my hope is that either of Ekblad or Reinhart fall to us. I think they are the BPA as well as the ones that may best fit our team. I prefer Draisaitl over Dal Colle. If he lives somewhat up to the comparisons of Kopitar, I would love that. I would still love to find a way to grab Virtanen. The more it see/read the more I like.

        Also, with the COL 2nd I would like Jack a Glover. 3rd rounder, Ben Thomas would be nice.

        • FeyWest

          If he lives somewhat up to the comparisons of Kopitar, I would love that.

          I always thought Draisaitl was more like Joe Thornton. I mean, he’s not going to have seasons with 90+ assists or anything, but they’re both large playmaking centers with average skating. Kopitar implies too much speed, IMO.

  • mattyc

    It would be great to get one solid RW prospect along with the rest being (right-handed) D-men. Potential selections mid-late 1st rounders and beyond) include:

    At RW: Tuch, Schmaltz, Bleackley, Fiala, Vrana, Comel, Watson, Lindblom.

    At RD: Jacobs, McKeown, Glover, Bergman, Mantha

    The Flames are starting to reach saturation point for forward prospects and availability of contracts..we need quality over quantity.

    If a trade could be pulled off to move up to get a quality RW (with Top 6 potential?) by moving a depth prospect plus a later pick I’d fully support. Then use the rest of the picks to select Dmen to see who develops over the next 3 years.

  • FeyWest

    *heavy breathing*

    Can’t wait ’til end of june…. please give me a good birthday Flames 😀 hopes are high for the draft!!

    1st: C or D depending who falls to us
    2nd: F & D
    3rd: F & D
    6th & 7th: G & F

    Of course that’s my positional hopes I don’t hope they draft based on position but BPA through and through.

  • FeyWest

    Also, Ryan, you appear to have uncovered Flames draft priorities almost perfectly:

    1. Smallish skilled forwards
    2. Massive RH shot defensemen
    3. Massive defensemen
    4. Players born in Alberta
    5. Players named Keegan

  • FeyWest

    Here’s my picks! Subject to change daily – can’t wait for the draft!!

    #4 C – Bennett or Reinhart (whomever is left)
    #34 D – Jack Dougherty
    #54 D – Travis Sanheim
    #64 C – Lucas Wallmark
    #83 RW – Keegan Iverson
    #175 G – Alec Dillon
    #184 RW – Oskar Lindblom

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t mind Dougherty but Glover seems like he may have more offensive upside. Considering our pipeline, we have WSpoon and Sieloff as l eft shot D minded Dmen. We certainly could use a bigg puck moving right shot to pair wth 1 of them. I doubt Sanheim drops to #54. He’s curtly ranked aroynf the 20’s. So maybe Sanheim at #34 and glover at #54?

  • T&A4Flames

    I’m not very familiar with any of the prospects outside of the first round, but for the first pick, my wish list is as follows :

    1-Ekblad (he will be long gone though).
    2. Bennett-In my opinion, more explosive and has a better ceiling than Reinhart.
    3. Reinhart-But I feel as if he is more highly thought of than Bennett so he will go before #4.
    4. Nylander- His U-18s were incredible and he put up incredible numbers!
    5. Draisaitl- Replica of Monahan.

    I’m scared that Burke/Treliving will like Dal Colle’s power forward game and select him; and that is the one player I don’t want us to take.

      • McRib

        Agree, Not to mention in that tournament William Nylander racked up points in nothing games and went missing in games that mattered… How many points did he have in the bronze medal game??? None! Against Canada Jake Virtanen (2G, 1A) out played Nylander (0G, 0A) both times head to head. Not that I would take Virtanen at four for one moment, but shows how effective Nylander was against better competition in that tournament. No way is he in the same convesation as Bennett, Reinhart, Draisaitl, Dal Colle.

        • BurningSensation

          Corey Pronman disagrees with you.

          He’s had Nylander in the top group all year, and has him ahead of Dal Colle and Draisatl.

          Personally I am terrified of Nylander because the intangibles are all wrong. Wrong country (would he be as knocked if he were Canadian?), wrong father, wrong position (LW which we have lots of), etc.

          Outside of those (mostly irrelevant) factors, there is a lot to love about Nylander. Widely described as having the highest ceiling and best skillset in the draft.

          If Burke (of all people, Brian Burke!) drafts Nylander it will be because he and the scouts believe he is legitmately the best player in the draft for us to take.

          I would not be surprised at all if the ‘6 guy’s’ that Cgy has on their short list are;

          Nylander, Bennett, Dal Colle, Draisatl, Reinhart and Ekblad.

          • Parallex

            Hence the “technically” since he likely possesses duel citizenship even though he spent most of life outside of Canada.

            I’m not so sure I’d say “and then raised in Sweden” as if he was born then immediately got on the plane and was never seen on this side of the Atlantic again. He was playing midget hockey in North America as of 2010-2011 (AKA the last year his dad played professionally on North American soil). I would imagine he spent enough time in North America to say that he was raised there as well… probably summered in Sweden and wintered in N.A. I bet a large part of his K-12 education was on this side of the pond. must have been hard on him to have to move around so much when he was young. Personally I think I’d have him 6th behind the big 4 and Dal Colle.

          • BurningSensation

            Am I the only person on here who finds Pronman overrated?

            Frankly, I would run from Nylander. He has all the skill in the world, but I don’t see his game translating to NA to the level that he’s a difference-maker.

            Calgary’s top 6 IMO:

            Ekblad
            Bennett
            Reinhart
            Ritchie
            Dal Colle
            Draisatl

          • BurningSensation

            He isn’t overrated, I think he deserves all the praise he gets. I suppose it is unlikely that Nylander is our choice because I doubt that Burke would want him. I just still think he is a way better choice than Ritchie or Dal Colle

          • BurningSensation

            I like Virtanen better than Ritchie myself. Ritchie just has a lot of those X factors like weight and inconsistency that worry me. And when he is motivated, how much of his success is due to his enormous size vs. your typical 16-19 year old?

        • When it comes to the draft, there is no ones opinion I value higher than Corey Pronman’s. Pronman has Nylander ranked at 3. AHEAD of Nylander. I’m not suggesting Nylander. But I would prefer Nylander to Dal Colle. I agree, Nulander is definitely a risky pick but te wuestion is just is his ceiling high enough to justify it?

  • T&A4Flames

    #34 – Bleakley, MacInnis, Goldobin, Sanheim
    #54 – Karlsson, Masin, Fabri, Pettersson
    #64 – Watson, Lindblom, Mantha, Audette
    #83 – Mattsson, De Leo, Lagesson, Llewellyn

    Goaltenders in the sixth round – MERZLIKINS, BOUCHARD, EDMONDS, SAARI

    • McRib

      Do you mean Robby Fabbri at 54th??? No way he falls out of the Top. 20 after OHL playoff run.

      Also give me Justin Kirkland (48 Points) anyday over Ryan MacInnis (37 Points). Kirkland has much better compete and a waaayyyy better shot.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I listened to Conroy and BT on fan. Conroy mentioned there is a top 6 that Calgary would be happy to have any of. Also, that there is a player they would love to have but depends on what others do.

    I think a lot of people think Ekblad but I think it’s Bennett.

    I am NO expert – I haven’t watched them play just looking at stats and reports BUT…

    Ekblad is really interesting to me. The portion of his points on the PP is troubling for 1st overall. I look at his EV pts and +/- and wonder how he could be ‘underwhelming’ imo.

    I think his size is being overvalued. I think if he was a guy who could just make plays and drive the play we would see it in EV metrics. I wonder if he’s a slightly better Robyn Regher – which isn’t a bad thing, just not worth an elite draft pick – Maybe that’s why Tallon is shopping?

    He is the bottom of my top 5 for these reasons.

    I must admit, the AS crowd has me looking at ‘defensive’ players differently. If you pride yourself on blocking shots and hitting guys, aren’t you just going to try and do that out there?

    Meaning you won’t try to make plays with your passes but sit back and let the other team come at you? I think the real value with the big, hard to play against guys is that package PLUS can make a pass and move it out of your end (Chara for all his shutdown acumen is great at starting transition).

    Bennett seems like the guy who pushes back the right ways at the right times when others won’t or can’t. Add to that he’s a late birthday and he’s become my choice BUT I will be thrilled with any of the consensus guys.

    BT mentioning Sven’s special skill set is comforting to hear and hopefully soothing to Sven’s ego. I really hope Sven matches actions with his words and shows how much he wants it by his summer prep and play.

    Like I’ve said many times, something special is building here and I more comfortable that BT won’t wreck it – we’ll see.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I heard the Conroy interview today as well. What was interesting is that the top 6 they’d “be happy with” is a different stance on what Burke said a few weeks ago. At that time, Burke said that the team felt there were a set of 4 players that were very close and then a drop off to the next set of prospects.

      I’m wondering if that now means the Flames are looking back at a guy like Nick Ritchie, who incidentally was also mentioned by Burke in the same press conference.

  • T&A4Flames

    Also, I don’t think we should be considering a goalie until the later rounds. I don’t think it’s considered a strong goalie crop and we really don’t need to concern ourselves yet with adding to what we haven. Guys like Nedeljkovic or Soderstrom could easily slip to the 6round.IMO

  • McRib

    Travis Sanheim had an outstanding U18s for Canada, so stock has gone way up, but if we could get him with the 34th pick I would be ecstatic (think he sneaks into the late first with how weak the high end defense crop is this year). There is a good chance he ends up as the best WHL defender in this class. He already has a much better shot and heavier frame than Haydn Fleury. Behind development curve this season being first in major junior he will catch up to Fleury in other aspects next year.

    Justin Kirkland of Kelowna is someone I would absolutely love with one of those 2nd/3rd rounders as well, huge frame to grow into with decent numbers in first season. He reminds me of Adam Lowry a few years ago. Like the mention of Aaron Irving with the Edmonton Oil Kings he didn’t get a ton of ice time in second half this season, but he has so much more upside than teammate Dysin Mayo (not sure why the Oil Kings love him?) would like him with a 3rd rounder as well. Call me crazy, but I kind of think the Edmonton Oil Kings are sheltering Irving so that the Oilers can draft him…. It’s funny I actually like John Quenneville more than Conner Bleakley, but if we could get Bleakley in the second that would be great value, local product.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I see you have players like Max and Sven coming to development camp. I heard there was a rule in the new CBA that doesn’t allow for players to attend more than 3 of these in their career. Wouldn’t that to apply to a few of these guys?

  • I’m seriously against picking “grinders” in the draft. I don’t mean “power forwards” – guys who can play tough and score – I mean the Ryley Grantham, Cameron Abney type picks NHL teams make every year.

    With the draft you should be looking to get players who are hard to acquire on the open market. Essentially, if given guy’s conceivable ceiling is “bottom-6 grinder” or “goon”, you should pretty much never waste a draft pick on them. Grab those players for cheap at 25 years old if you have to, but don’t bother otherwise.

    • T&A4Flames

      Bennett will be gone before 4 I’m certain. My reasoning? Both FLA and BUF need wingers more than any other position. Bennet’s game is the one that translates best to the wing with his gritty style and he is the top ranked player on some lists . If FLA passes on Ekblad, I think they take Bennet. Also, if the isle’s retain their pick for this year, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if BUF end up taking Dal Colle. IM NOT SAYING AT ALL THAT THEY WILL, just that it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

      • BurningSensation

        Wow I love that scenario, I mean Bennett is definitely my #1 choice, but if we didn’t, and Buffalo went a little off the board with a Dal Colle that leaves us with Ekblad and Reinhart. Edmonton would obviously take Ekblad and then I would be more than fine with Reinhart. Unfortunately I bet the Panthers trade their pick. I could see Edmonton moving up to #1 for Ekblad. Either way there is no way Ekblad falls to us because that’s who Edmonton wants. Last year everyone was expecting Barkov to go around 4-5 and Florida jumped at him at #2. So really we just have to remember that anything can happen which is why I love the draft!!

      • supra steve

        You might want to check out an on-line dictionary for the definition of “certain”, cause even if you were Todd Button, you could not possibly be certain of this.

        Not indicating anyone in particular, but…you all know that the Flames are compiling their own list, and they are almost certainly not looking for input from you or me? I enjoy reading about the possible choices, but who cares who any of us would pick based upon the very minimal information that any of us have.

        Having said that, no Nylander please. 🙂

        • T&A4Flames

          We all have our opinions. Isn’t that why we read these blogs? My opinion is that “I’m quite sure” Bennet will be gone before #4. Is that better doctor dictionary?

        • Parallex

          I’m going to go ahead and ignore your input of “no Nylander please”, not because I disagree with it, but because it is “based upon the very minimal information that [you] have”.

        • Parallex

          Easy buddy…. It’s an opinion, and one that is unfortunately more likely to be proven true than to be proven false. Bennett is probably too talented to fall to #4, then again that’s what people said about Jones last year. Anything can happen.

        • JR

          Well captain obvious the Flames will be compiling their own list(that’s why they spend all that money on scouts). The purpose of this blog is for the fans to have a chance to spout of and share ideas. I for one only saw I CHL game live at the arena and maybe 10 on tv but that does not mean I can’t have an opinion. Looking at all the professional scouting lists plus the published stats and listening to what is said by management gives and an educated guess as to what the Flames may do and one’s own bias will lead to what you think they should do and unless someone has been plying Conroy or Burke with large amounts of booze none of us knows for sure.

          It has been reported that the Flames see a group of the top six. We are now left to speculate as to who they are and in my mind there are 8 possibilities that might fit that top 6; the top 2 Europeans plus the top 6 NA skaters. However based upon the majority of the scouting reports there seems to be two groups within the top group;it seems Ekbald, Bennett and Rhino are a slight cut above the Draisti, DeColle, Ritchie and the two Euro’s. If any of the top three fall to 4th then the Flames will most likely take whoever is left, if they are all gone by 4 it would not surprise me to see Ritchie’s name called(based on both Trevlings comments on playing heavy and Burke’s comments on truculence). I would probably take the the German kid.

          If you drop to the 34th overall pick again the Flames will have their own list but in looking at the various scouting lists depending on where players go in the first round I could see the Flames taking a player rated higher if any fall that far or even stretching to get a guy like Hunter Smith because he fits some of the teams criteria.(6’6″ 220 RW shots R, truculent and improved stats, sorry I coud not find any advances stats on him) But again pure speculation based on rankings, stats, and comments made by management. In the end the combine and interviews will shape the decision(also how they played in the CHL playoffs). For example if Ritchie goes into the combine 5-10 lbs lighter than reported and does well on the testing then it suggests he has been listening and working hard to improve his stock. None of us know for sure but it’s more fun than talking about CORSI or the Oilers.

          • supra steve

            I like reading posts like this.

            It’s when some guy who just got his new Hockey News comes online and says we NEED to pick **insert player name here** or the whole Burke/Treliving experiment is a failure, those are the types of posts that I find to be annoying.

            This is shaping into an interesting year at the draft, because really, does anyone KNOW how the top 5 picks are going to fall? I sure don’t. That’s why I will have my PVR set to record the draft, just like I set my VCR to do the same as far back as the 1990 draft, when the top 11 went as follows…Nolan, Nedved, Primeau, Ricci, Jagr, Scissons, Sydor, Hatcher, Slaney, Berehowsky, Kidd. Ricci at one point was the projected #1 guy that year, and don’t get me started on Trevor Kidd. If history has taught me anything, it is that the draft will bring surprises and hope (and disappointment), and I’m going to enjoy watching pieces of it over and over again.

            As for Nylander, just an attempt at irony. Not a fan of his father’s game. But the Gagner family has taught me that the son doesn’t always play exactly like the father, so if that’s who the Flames pick, let’s just hope that is the case with the Nylander family.

          • Franko J

            I’m not sure if your being sarcastic towards my comments or not. But that’s okay as I’m not a paid scout but just a fan. I love to speculate; that’s the purpose of the blog.

  • BurningSensation

    To me it’s pretty clear that the top end of this draft is not as strong as last years but is a vital to the rebuild. The question I have is what is the criteria the Flames will be using for BAP? I suspect the usual: skating, skills, coachabilty, work ethic, hockey IQ and of course some form of truculence. If the reports are true that the Flames would be happy with anyone they have in the top six who they are looking at; is it the expected top 4 and the top 2 ranked europeans(Note on many of the Rankings Nylander is not even the top Euro) or is the top 6 NA’s.

    I heard Trevling talk about the draft and that players fit into different groupings so I wonder how strong the groupings around 34 and the mid fifties are. For me I think the 34th needs to be treated as another first rounder and pick the BAP. After that I think you still have to pick the BAP but if you have a grouping that are very similarly ranked you can look at need; which for this organization would be natural RW and some R handed defenders. I would be very reluctant to draft a goalie in the first 3 rounds but would be okay with one in the 6th or 7th.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Chicago – with their play in neutral zone – are denying the Kings to enter the zone with puck.

    Dump and chase is being exposed as the enemy of playoff success. At this point in the season – how many games have they played total? – where do you find the energy to give up the puck, skate like crazy to lay a hit, hopefully wrestle the puck back, and then make a good play? Little.

    Add in the fact that Chicago is getting goals with less calories expended and it looks grim.

    Will Quick shut the door and they win 1-0 games the rest of the way? It is possible but you have to play perfect.

    Chicago seems to be waltzing into the off zone dangling and distributing at will.

  • dudeguybro

    I think CGY brass will be ecstatic if any of the top 3 fall to them. If Ekblad, Reinhart, and Bennett are off the board it sure seems wide open if they’re not big fans of Draisatl or Nylander.

    Dal Colle, Ehlers, and maybe even Fiala are the next logical options but they’re all finesse scoring LW’ers which is not an area of need. What if they traded back 2-4 spots in that scenario knowing that Virtanen (who likes to play the off wing but shoots right), H. Fleury LD, and A Tuch RW would likely still be available?

    Burkie did say there was only one D in his top 10 a while back so maybe Fleury still wouldn’t be the pick.

  • Franko J

    Last year it was Poirier.
    Year before Jankowski.
    This year at the draft I’m anticipating at least another “off the board” pick.
    Too bad the Flames currently only have one pick in the first. Outside of the top 4 or 5 blue chippers, there are so many good prospects if developed properly who can really help the Flames down the road in three to four years from now.
    It will be interesting to see if the Flames employ the same strategy under Burke as they did with Feaster. Which was hockey IQ, and character. I just hope whoever they draft at # 4 will turn out like our # 6 pick from the 2013 draft.

  • JR

    I for one am 100% against picking Ritchie. Especially with the 4th overall pick. To me that seems like a Daryll Sutter type move. If the Flames brass thinks this is their guy. PLEASE trade back & pick up another pick. It just doesn’t seem like good value at #4. Also from what I’ve heard Edmonton is in love with Draisaitl, so if they can’t make a move up to get Ekblad, maybe one of the SAMs fall to Calgary at 4. Here’s to hoping!