It’s June so naturally the hottest topic is the entry draft. Calgary is at 4, the highest this organization has ever picked, but there’s talk of both the first (FLA) and second (BUF) overall picks being available for a price. Should the Flames make the move to ensure a shot at either Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad? That obviously depends on a number of factors.
– Before we delve too deep, let’s establish that at least part of the reason two of the worst clubs in the league are willing to move their picks is because there isn’t an obvious generational talent in this year’s draft class. You can bet next year when McDavid is available that there will be no talk of #1 overall being moved.
Which means the Flames probably don’t have a great deal to gain by moving up two or three spots. There’s a nearly 100% chance a comparably high-end player will be available to them at 4, meaning the only reason to contemplate moving up is the asking price isn’t outrageous.
– In an ideal world, the club would find a way to keep #4 while also garnering #1 or #2, but realistically any move up would involve Calgary’s pick. What remains is what other assets it would take to get the job done. Given Florida and Buffalo both need a lot of established NHL talent rather than lottery tickets, you can bet the discussion would start with one of Mark Giordano or TJ Brodie. Aside from them and maybe Mikael Backlund, the Flames don’t have established pieces that would move the needle in this sort of deal. And no, Curtis Glencross and Jiri Hudler aren’t going to do it.
– The Fan morning show was pondering the hypothetical of moving Brodie to get 1st overall to pick Ekblad recently. I wouldn’t do it – we know Brodie is already an excellent NHLer at 23 years old and there’s still a chance he’ll become an exceptional one. The Flames need to add those sorts of players – to build on that number – not rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak. Ekblad seems like a high quality prospect, but I’m not confident in anyone’s ability to project the future of 18-year old defenders with enough accuracy to move a sure-thing in Brodie. You might get a Doughty or Victor Hedman with Aaron Ekblad, but you also might get an Erik Johnson or Zach Bogosian.
– Related: I don’t think a lot of folks grasp just how good TJ Brodie is yet. His underlying results from the last two seasons are outstanding. If he runs in place possession-wise and adds a touch more offense to his game, he’s an elite defender. No player is untradeable, but he’s one of the few guys I’d consider nigh untouchable on this roster.
– On the other hand, picking Ekblad would certainly fill an organizational need given how thin the Flames d-ranks currently are, starting at the 3rd pairing in the NHL (and maybe the 2nd). If he falls to 4 (and Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett are gone), I’d have no issue with the Flames picking him (though I wouldn’t expect him to make it past the Oilers at 3).
– While I hope the Flames land one of the Sam’s, if I had to guess I think they end up with either Draisaitl or Dal Colle, depending on how the draft goes and who the organization prefers.Given his numbers and the scouting reports describing a sky high hockey IQ, Sam Reinhart is currently #1 on my wish list, but I may change my mind when I comb through the numbers this month.
– Moving away from the draft for now, Tyler Dellow shared this spreadsheet of the Flames “open play” corsi numbers on twitter recently.
“Open play” possession numbers is a way to correct for starting position factors. Essentially, it includes all the action 30 seconds after each offensive or defensive zone draw, so things aren’t skewed by the position of the draw. If a player doesn’t show up here, he was sub-.420 on the season (which is abjectly awful).
– There aren’t any big surprises, except for maybe Curtis Glencross. His 42.6% is absolutely ghastly and points to a significant problem with the player. Although one is tempted to blame health problems, Flames fans should recall his first 10 games of the season were terrible by eye and by math. While a functional Curtis Glencross is a boon to this team, the guy who showed up this past year is an anvil tied to the asses of his line mates. He needs to be better or he needs to be gone.
– Dennis Wideman and Chris Butler were basically the same player by this measure last season. That is a terrible indictment of Wideman. Calgary needs to keep him for the purpose of getting to the cap floor (absent something really drastic happening in July), but…yeesh. He needs to rebound hard to merely have a bad contract.
– Also showing up near the bottom of the chart: David Jones and Shane O’Brien. Though his work was definitely a mixed bag in town, I think we can all agree Jay Feaster got worked in that Colorado deal.
– The addition of O’Brien in the trade is an example of how a flawed process can lead you down the wrong player acquisition path. O’Brien was essentially swapped for Cory Sarich, who had been re-signed to a two year contract the summer before (despite spending a lot of time on the third pairing or in the press box). I remember being baffled by the move and talking to some of the local media after Sarich was inked. They explained the decision makers felt the Flames blueline needed more grit/toughness and that Sarich the only attainable player in that mould at the time.
To which I say – stop elevating player category above player quality. The former should always be subordinate to the latter, or else you are privileging style over content. The Flames need some grit on their blueline? Maybe, but it doesn’t help them if the guy you get to do that can’t reliably play hockey at this level.