Lads and ladies, we are now less than one week away from the Most Important Draft in Calgary Flames History*.
*- Well, since last year’s.
There’s a LOT of chatter in hockey circles about movement at the top end of the draft order.
At least 8 teams have shown interest in acquiring the 1st pick overall from the Panthers. Van, Cgy, Edmtn and Tor among them.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 19, 2014
So what happens? I can, with absolutely no insider info, speculate three main scenarios.
FLAMES DRAFT 1ST AND 4TH
Calgary utilizes organizational assets (later picks, prospects, roster players) to trade with Florida in exchange for the 1st overall pick. Calgary drafts 1st and 4th, in a similar manner to the Vancouver Canucks in 1999 Draft selecting 2nd and 3rd. Brian Burke and Brad Treliving are seen by TSN cameras high-fiving, Flames pick Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett and the rebuild is fast-tracked. Edmonton weeps.
(There’s also a version of this where they trade down to 10th or so and use the assets they get for trading down to get 1st overall also. They draft Aaron Ekblad and one of the second tier guys like Nikolaj Ehlers, Haydn Fleury or Nikolai Goldobin. Edmonton weeps.)
Why?: The price tag to get 1st overall straight-away would be steep. We’re talking next year’s 1st rounder and/or a high end roster player. And Sven Baertschi. And other stuff. To get both Sedins, Brian Burke sent Bryan McCabe (who was good then) and a future 1st rounder to Chicago for 4th overall, then flipped that pick with two 3rd rounders for the 1st overall pick, and then traded down to 2nd on the condition Atlanta wouldn’t take a Sedin. That’s ridiculous, and I’m not sure it can be pulled off again, nor am I sure the Flames have the stomach to part with the assets required to do it.
FLAMES TRADE UP
Calgary takes their 4th overall pick, add a prospect and/or roster asset (Hudler?) and trade them to Florida in order to move up to 1st overall and get Aaron Ekblad. Edmonton weeps.
Likelihood: Low to moderate.
Why?: The price would be lower, and Florida would get a Flames roster player or prospect, as well as one of the top four guys in the draft. Everybody wins. Calgary’s defense gets massively upgraded for the future. I’m not 100% sure Calgary does this, though, as the interest around 1st overall may bid the price above what Brad Treliving cares to give. “Hudler and Baertschi and 4th overall? Screw it, we’ll see who’s left when we pick 4th.”
FLAMES STAY PUT
Calgary makes no trades, drafts 4th, picks whoever’s left from the vaunted top 4.
Likelihood: Moderate to high
Why?: They don’t give anything up and they gain an asset. The bidding war for 1st overall may become stupid, causing the Flames to “settle” for 4th and one of the Sams or Leon Draisaitl.
FLAMES TRADE DOWN
Calgary accepts an offer from a team drafting below them that wants one of the top 4. They get an asset, most likely a second or third rounder, to drop in the draft order.
Why?: Remember the bidding war? Well, Calgary could be a beneficiary if someone a team below them covets falls to 4 and that coveting team makes a stupid big offer to get them to move down. And Colorado gave Calgary a second round pick for marginal NHL goaltender Reto Berra, so let’s not pretend it’s not possible. The Flames’ management have mentioned a “top 6” rather than a top 4, and likely they have a liking towards someone like Jake Virtanen, Nick Ritchie or Michael Dal Colle. While they probably like Sam Reinhart more, if somebody gives you a chance to add to your prospect depth and give your scouting and development staff more kicks at the can, you can be convinced to “settle” for Virtanen and a second (for example) rather than Bennett or Draisaitl.
Teams often make foolish decisions when they’re on the clock and have their Draft Goggles on.
What do you think is the most likely scenario next weekend?