Random Thoughts: To Move up or Not to Move up

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.

CGYOpenplay

“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.

  • PrairieStew

    I am also sick to death of all the armchair scouts on this site posting about the potential of certain prospects… there are 30 NHL teams that employ staff that all know more than you… stop posting and trying to project prospects. unless you have credentials to back up your opinions…

      • SmellOfVictory

        I have no problem reading posts from fans that are well thought out and honest. No one here knows how a prospect will turn so to have such strong opinions of kids like Ekblad to me is silly… not trying to cut everyone down on the site… just sick of reading posts that are baseless

        • SmellOfVictory

          Even the scouts get it wrong.(lots and lots of times just look at the Flames draft history) Many of the writers on this sight have seen many games (way more than me, I only saw one at the rink and came away not being impressed by Jake V, but it was one game) I for one make my views based upon what I read and hear from the scouts(as many reports a possible) and their reports and make my judgements based upon how I would build the team. But that is the fun of this sight.

        • EugeneV

          I can’t help but feel many would say YOUR posts are baseless as they are singularly critical, lack any constructive comment or opinion, and are wholly judgmental by determining who’s opinions you feel are relevant or well-written or suit your personal taste.

          In my experience, the discussions on this site are generally reasoned, well thought-out, intelligent and positive. The same cannot be said of most sites.

          As stated no one is forcing you to read if you feel it doesn’t meet with your sensibilities. However attacking contributors because you don’t happen to share their opinions or write what you are interested in is not acceptable.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Ok ill try to be better but I am super busy with no time to go into depth or analysis of the flames… i look forward every day to tune into this site to get my analysis… i am only posting because some of the things i have been reading are aggravating…. i think it is unfair for people on this site to have opinions of other people who are just young kids especialy when you dont knowthem. its unfair

          • T&A4Flames

            I think you are right that I am singularly critical and i was not trying to attack anyone… but if this is a forum then arenylt my opinions valid as well if they differ? Dont hold me to a double standard… i just think itis unfair to write off young kids who have not played a game of pro hockey… if you have noticed that is mainly what I post about.

            When kent wilson wrote off Joe Colborne at the beginning of last season I posted essentially the same thing…. How can you write off young players with so little experience? it is not rational and rationality is something i had come to expect from Kent and from most who post on this site.

        • SmellOfVictory

          If you think the posts are baseless then you have the option of “trashing” the post or offering back some constructive comment. The website is intended to allow hockey opinions recognizing there are varying degrees of hockey knowledge.

          Another option you have is to sign off and post with Oiler Nation…and take WW with you!

          • T&A4Flames

            Ok here is my basis: the posts on this site that hype or tear down prospects are unfair and not constructive to the flames. Think about how much Sven has been hyped. I like him as a prospect buy how does the hype help him… that is a young kid from swiss who has this huge pressure of being a top scorer for the flames… hes been hyped as much.

            My point is that hype is not rational… it does not help the team and it does not help in analysis.

            Think about it man if you are a GM you are not talking about Janko like this… you are hoping and praying he turns into something… i cant understand why i would post on oilers nation… that is totally baseless

          • Burnward

            I actually can relate to what you are saying. There are certainly many ridiculous posts involving Janko, trade proposals and high criticism of youngsters in their teens.

            I bite my tongue and take out my frustration on the trash button and shake my head at some of the comments. Aso I might add theta the majority of comments are of high intellect and I actually admire the knowledge that some fans have.

            Like you I do not have the time to get into a tremendous amount of depth.

          • T&A4Flames

            For sure and i never meant to impose that i have a lot of hockey knowledge… i didnt even get to watch most flames games this year… but i do know for sure what i dont know… and there is so much more interesting stuff to talk about…. should we try to acquire another 1st? Here is a question for you… for me draisaitl and dal colle are interestinflg… if you are the gm who takes them or passes on them you could end up regretting it…. but… what if you have a Fleury or a Nylander ranked higher on your list…. is it going off the board at 4 or 5 to pass on draisaitl or dal colle ?

          • T&A4Flames

            If I’m GM and rebuilding the Flames I would never draft a goalie or a winger in the first round. I believe a top D-man or highly skilled Centre is how you successfully start to build a team.

            As far as the 2014 draft is concerned it is a weak draft OTHER than the top 4 guys who I consider to be elite.

            Selecting the right player 4th overall is obviously a no brainer for the Flames….the subsequent selections will be critical and difficult. That means not giving up any core veterans for draft choices, at least not until the 2015 draft!

            My 2 cents worth…

    • SmellOfVictory

      So why exactly do you think any of us is here? This is the whole point. It’s a place for us to discuss the state of our team, speculate on what they will do and what they should do. To voice our opinions, get excited about things, and peeved about others.

      But you’re right. Let’s just shut the site down because there are professionals whose job it is to make these decisions and evaluate these players. What right does any of us have to express an opinion on anything?

      For that matter, what right do we have to discuss decisions our government makes, much less disagree with them? Those politicians are the experts, we should just let them do the thinking for us.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Not saying shut the site down… im specifically talking about projecting prospects who arent even drafted… its useless and has as much to do with talent as a persons character… i think it is great to discuss the state of the team. i love reading well thought out trade proposals and GOOD analysis of the team… but too many people pointlessly bicker about how prospect projects and the opinions are so extreme and out to lunch… some say Ekblad is a for sure Franchise D and some say the opposite… all i am doing is being honest and admitting i dont have a clue about how an eighteen year olds (who has his whole life ahead of him) career will turn out.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Regarding the Flames getting another 1st round pick, I agree with those thinking

    – there is no reason to move up to get FLA #1 pick…marginal net benefit requiring a high cost, which would require giving up our #4 pick.

    – the Flames would be much better to explore obtaining a second 1st round pick (#10-#20 preferably) to add to their #4 pick, and using it to select a top-ranked RW or RD.

    The cost of obtaining the 1st rounder would involve giving up a roster player, a prospect and the #35 overall 2nd round pick. The Flames have a logjam of prospects at LW and C and, as Burke stated prior, will use trades to even out positional strength.

    The Flames are in a great position right now. Loved hearing Burke’s comments yesterday about building through the draft and through trades, rather than overpaying on older Free Agents.

    • SmellOfVictory

      It would be spectacular if the Flames were able to come out of this draft with:

      A 1C/2C or 1RD

      A 1RW/2RW or 2RD/2LD

      The Flames currently are developing a nice young dynamic Top 6 including Monahan, Gaudreau, Poirier, Baertschi, Klimchuk, Colborne …that’s 5 1st rounders plus Gaudreau.

      Add in C Draisaitl/Bennett/Reinhart AND either RW Virtanen/Tuch/Point OR D Fleury/DeAngelo/Honka/McKeown and the Flames will be set for years!

  • SmellOfVictory

    Exactly I agree with everything you said… Its the same as the Janko thing… we are not gonna know for 4 or 5 years whether a prospect pans out or not… its the one aspect of the comments on this site that drives me nuts….

    trust me i know anyone can get it wrong thats why I dont get the bickering and strong opinions about prospects…. i guess iam a wait and see kinda guy before i blindly give judgment

    • This is a place for opinions. That is one big reason I read it. It is different than the normal crap that people copy and spew out without researching. If you want politically correct and opinions that don’t hurt feeling then that is what the MSM is for.

  • Franko J

    I hope that Treliving tries to garner few more picks in the draft. I am also hoping he retains the #4 pick. The obvious is no matter who Calgary drafts at # 4 the team will have a quality player for years to come. Drafting is only the first step in making this team better. The real key is developing and moulding one these players at # 4 into an everyday NHLer. For a team that looked full of despair and destitute with their prospect pool only a few years ago it has dramatically improved.

    While trading up to obtain a Ekblad or a Reinhart would make the draft that much more interesting, I’m under the impression that the Flames like the other 29 teams are already looking ahead to 2015. This years draft might have the fantastic four, however, next years draft has the franchise changing duo. With the addition of two more very good dmen to choose from.

    Another interesting scenario is teams will be able to talk to potential free agents prior to the draft and therefore some teams might be willing to trade draft picks for “exclusive rights” to pending players. I rather see the Flames as sellers rather than buyers.

  • Byron Bader

    I too hope the Flames try to acquire another top 15 1st rather than trading up. Getting one of the four is going to be big and I’m confident they’ll pick whoever’s left. Virtanen really intrigues me as the additional guy that they pick if they can get their hands on another 1st rounder. He’s almost a year younger than S. Reinhart and just barely makes the age cut off this year to be drafted. His numbers are not that far off of Reinhart’s 17/18 year numbers. It’s been said numerous times that if Virtanen had the high hockey IQ and a touch more consistency he’d be the 1st overall consensus. His shot and skating is talked as being the best in the 2014 class. He’s the youngest one of the top 10, maybe of the entire 1st round. I’m very intrigued what this kid looks like come the Summer of 2015. I hope the Flames play it safe and pick one of the top 4 but if they do trade for another pick, Virtanen is who I like.

  • Franko J

    @coachedpotatoe

    To further clarify my statement I just don’t think the Flames should get into a bidding war to move up in this draft. I rather see them trade a player like Wideman, Hudler, or the rights to Cammalleri for subsequent picks in this draft.

    Ideally (dreaming) it would be great to see if the Flames can obtain another 1st round pick in this draft or next year. Although Ekblad is rated as the # 1 D in this draft, I like a couple other D in this draft who given the proper development can be just as good.

  • Franko J

    @coachedpotatoe

    To further clarify my statement I just don’t think the Flames should get into a bidding war to move up in this draft. I rather see them trade a player like Wideman, Hudler, or the rights to Cammalleri for subsequent picks in this draft.

    Ideally (dreaming) it would be great to see if the Flames can obtain another 1st round pick in this draft or next year.