Five thoughts: Moving up?

five

1. Kicking the tires

Word came out over the weekend, as it so often does at this time of year, that a number of teams have been in contact with the Florida Panthers about the possibility of trading for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. No surprise, especially because the Panthers have said they might be more willing than top teams usually are to part with it.

You hear that every year as well, of course. There’s always that “they might trade down” thing, and you have no way of really knowing how much truth there is to it. But the quotes coming out of Sunrise have all but hung a for-sale sign next to the pick, so here we are.

We have, consequently, seen a number of teams connected with it, and that’s nothing new either. Mediocre teams that might want to get aggressive, big-market teams, bad teams that have “A Guy” in mind. Those are the usual suspects when it comes to Who Might Trade Up. The Flames obviously fall into the latter category, and again, normally this wouldn’t be any kind of cause for belief that they might actually do it.

But then there was this: Brad Treliving saying that he has in fact reached out to Dale Tallon to ask specifically about trading up, and that’s something you see far less often. It’s an interesting prospect, obviously.

2. What would it cost?

The first question one would necessarily have to ask here is what the team is willing to give up in order to move up three spots in the draft. One imagines that the ransom would be substantial.

I don’t really like to get into this kind of thing because it’s a little too HFBoards-ish for my taste, but the Flames would certainly be asked to part with the No. 4 overall pick, as well as a mishmash of actual good roster players (no salary dumps, not to Florida anyway), and high-quality prospects. 

Given how much young talent the Panthers have up front, too, you’d have to think that a good young defenseman would be a must-have in this deal, and that has TJ Brodie’s name written all over it. The Flames don’t really have anyone else that fits the bill in the same way he does, and he’d be a possession driver for them for years to come. Of course, that would leave the Flames with roughly one other possession-driving defenseman (Mark Giordano, obviously) and five guys who are simply not very good.

You’d probably also have to throw in a Johnny Gaudreau type, or some other high-quality prospect. Sven Baertschi maybe. Then a more B-level guy, like Tyler Wotherspoon or something, to round it out.

Even if those aren’t the exact guys Florida’s looking for, that’s probably about the caliber they’d want. So the question, then, becomes one of exactly who would be good enough to make the Flames move up in such a way.

3. Drafting Ekblad

The obvious answer is the enormous defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who most people seem to think should be the consensus No. 1 pick. Calgary, like every other team in the league, has need of a high-end defenseman such as him, because you really don’t succeed in the NHL these days without one. There is no chance at all that he’s there at No. 4 should the Flames not move up.

But again, there’s that cost to acquire him, and the impact it would have on the team as a whole. Would it hurt to lose Gaudreau or Baertschi? Sure. But the Kings aren’t Cup contenders without Doughty, and the Blackhawks without Keith, and the Rangers without McDonagh, and the Bruins without Chara. Ekblad has the ability to rise to their level, but to acquire him the Flames have to take a step back in this “rebuild” of theirs.

Forwards come into this league more ready to compete than defensemen, and thus if you think this is a “rebuild on the fly” (and the Flames’ management sure does) then moving up to get Ekblad is grounding the flight temporarily. In the end, it might be worth it, but that’s a calculated risk you have to take, especially because you, again, probably have to give up Brodie and thus set your entire D corps back considerably. The D corps is already not-that-good.

4. Drafting a forward

On the other hand, they might really like one of Sams Bennett or Reinhart, or Leon Draisaitl, or Michael Dal Colle, and want to make sure they get him and him alone.

This would not be a very good decision. The fact that you can look at so many drafts and see any one of those four guys as the top forward picked depending on the day and the source shows that there probably isn’t much in the way of separation there. The Sams seem to be slightly favored, but not by a lot, and the fact that both Dal Colle and Draisaitl are large men at 6-2/180 and 6-1/208, respectively, might pull them level in the eyes of a certain Calgary Flames executive who fetishizes size to a creepy extent.

Thus, trading up for any one of them likely serves little purpose. With so little separating them, why would you trade a raft of picks, prospects, and players to get someone who’s not that much better than the guy you’re going to be able to take at No. 4? The Flames might want Bennett at No. 1 overall, just as an example, but would (or rather, should) they really be gutted to get Draisaitl at No. 4 instead?

5. Should they do it?

This isn’t a draft with a clear, clear No. 1 guy. It’s not the Sidney Crosby draft. The guy you get at No. 1 likely isn’t going to be appreciably better any time soon than the guy you get at No. 4, so for the Flames it comes down to what they think the team needs.

The team needs everything, more or less. More forwards, more defensemen, more goalies. Trading away a bunch of what they currently have (not a lot) to get any one prospect would mean that they have a lot lot lot lot lot of faith that Their Guy is going to be a huge difference-maker. As far as I can tell, the only one on the list in that regard is Ekblad.

Even still, I’d be reticent to trade up for him. Is he going to be great for a long time? Yes. But there’s not a lot of reason to think this team will be competitive next year, and as such, given the depth of the 2015 draft class, do you really want to be putting all your eggs in this rather shallower basket instead? Probably not. (Though it must be said teams will be more intractable in their willingness to trade down with a Jack Eichel on the board, won’t they?)

Until then, just take the best player available.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    @Reidja

    Well, you’re not getting the #1 pick with that offer.

    I agree that Lambs is overestimating what FLA would require of the Flames, but whatever it is would surely include #4. I think what you offered, plus #4 might get it done.

    I don’t think moving up 3 spots in this draft is worth it though.

    @Stubblejumper

    I agree with your assessment of option 1, but as for option 2, why would you draft for need instead of BPA? Why, why, why?

    By the time the vast majority of these kids are in the NHL, what will the needs of the team be? The same as this summer? Likely not.

  • NHL93

    With Ekblad, I am continually reminded of Chris Phillips who went 1st overall in ’96 to the Sens. Phillips is a decent defender and is a guy you can build a corps around.. but he’s not Rob Blake/Chara/Bourque/Doughty/Keith.

    I imagine my comparison is completely unfair to Ekblad.. but regardless, as Han Solo says: “I got a bad feeling about this”.

  • T&A4Flames

    Option #1 Trade up – No! The reward is marginal while the cost is too high and would include the #4 pick.

    Option #2 Trade to obtain a second 1st round pick in the #10-#20 slot. Cost would be about the same as trading up to the #1 slot while getting a second 1st rounder. Then pick the best player by position the Flames need e.g. RW, RD.

    Get your cake and have it too! Fleury/Sanheim/Honka/Jacobs on D all have a chance to develop into a Top 2 D while Tuch/Kapanen/Point/Fiala/Vrana could be a 1RW/2RW.

    • piscera.infada

      Couldn’t agree more. Is there any general consensus on where Goldobin will fall in the draft? Every time I’ve seen him I’ve come away impressed. He’s a RW (abeit a left hand shot), and he seems to have a little bit of bite along the boards. Anyone?

      After checking, I see him going in the 21-24 spot most often, what would it take to get in there?

      • DragonFlame

        Hate to go Burkian here but one factor needing to be addressed by the Flames is size.

        Previous size comparisons of Top9 Fwd and Top7 D by Gregor of the 8 Western playoff teams(with added inclusion of the Flames for comparison) shows CAL needs to get taller and heavier just to be in the same ballpark as LAK, ANA, SJS, STL, CHI, DAL, MIN.

        CAL forwards are 11-16 pounds lighter and 1-1,5 inches shorter than the top 5 contenders. CAL defence is even shorter and lighter.

        The Flames draft board will certainly need to give greater weight to size if CAL is ever to be a top contending team.

        • Matty Franchise Jr

          I read that article by Gregor and it seemed to me he was cherry-picking a lot of the guys on the list, at least @ forward. Guys like Andrew Shaw, Saku Koivu, Matt Moulson, among others, were ignored even though I think it’s safe to assume their all top 9 forwards on their teams.

          • piscera.infada

            I copied it to Excel and reviewed the Top9’s again…am thinking its pretty reasonable, particularly as he factored in ATOI.

            Top9 for LA included: Kopitar, Gaborik, Stoll, Williams, Carter, Richards, Brown, King, Toffoli. Unless we cherry pick substituting Pearson for King (with marginal difference in height, weight) then I have no qualms with the analysis.

            LA Top9 came in at 6’1.6″, 208 lbs.

            Top9 for CAL this past year included: Cammalieri, Hudler, Glencross, Stajan, DJones, Backlund, Monahan, Colborne, Byron. Ave is 6’0″ 192 lbs.

            I also did a Top9 projection for forwards under 29 yrs of age as follows: Backlund, Monahan, Colborne, Byron, Draisaitl, Poirier, Granlund, Gaudreau, Baertschi. Ave is 5’0.9″ (eg. just under 6′) and 182 lbs.

            Therefore projecting forward with our top prospects the Flames are 1.7″ shorter and 26 lbs lighter. Everyone can draw their own David & Goliath conclusions but for my money I’d take the bigger heavier team (with equitable skill) any day of the week.

            Armed with this information in designing the “NEW” Flames team, the need for size becomes more heavily weighted on my draft board when analyzing all the metrics involved.

          • DragonFlame

            I had a few problems with Gregor’s analysis. First of all, he decided to look at top 9 forwards, but also look at the entire d corps. To me, that doesn’t make sense. Why not look at a team’s entire set of forwards, particularly when you’re doing it for the defence.

            2nd problem for me was using teams AVG. ice-time from the post-season, not regular season. In the playoffs, if a guy gets injured (especially in the 3rd round, which is whereabouts where JG wrote his article), he usually plays through it. His play will probably be affected by it, and he may receive less ice-time (particularly on the PK) because of it. Using the regular season, where guys only play if they are healthy (usually), would have seemed more appropriate. Regular season numbers also illustrate a much larger sample size, and a guy who gets hot for 2 games won’t see his ice-time increase exponentially like he would in the much shorter post-season.

            I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but just something to consider.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            I went to NHL.com and checked avg ice time for Minnesota forwards, and Matt Moulson was sixth, but somehow he wasnt even listed in Gregor’s top 9 for Minny. Thats what got me wondering.

          • Purple Hazze

            I would probably remove Byron from the top 9 and replace him with an Arnold or Klimchuck. Also the weight difference will be made up as our prospects mature, the height difference already seems pretty insignificant.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Byron was included based on his ATOI this past year. Agree he could be replaced in the Top 9 in future, by a larger player. However the overall average height & weight would not change much.

            Bottom Line …the Flames are on the SMALL end of the size spectrum and will need to address this if they hope to build a contender.

          • FeyWest

            Pittsburgh might be interested in another scoring winger, but their salary structure is prohibitive. They might not be able to do it for that reason alone.

            Anaheim, I think, is more interested in centers; someone to play the 2nd line behind Getzlaf.

            Here’s a question: if Virtanen falls out of the top 10, do the Flames try to trade in to get him? Should they?

          • piscera.infada

            Here’s a question: if Virtanen falls out of the top 10, do the Flames try to trade in to get him? Should they?

            That is something I would do without a doubt. I also think the Flames would go for that depending on cost. Kid that played locally, it makes for great optics and he’s good value in the middle of the first round.

          • Discosis

            “Kid that played locally, it makes for great optics and he’s good value in the middle of the first round.”

            Not if you’re Craig Button lol. I honestly do not see how Button could have ranked him as low as he did. OH wait, yea I can, he’s Craig Button

  • piscera.infada

    I actually agree very much with this article, minus the part about Ekblad. It’s still a huge risk (larger than you point to here) for me – how often do the highly touted defensive prospects actually turn in to the elite franchise-changing defensemen? I would say not very often – likely less than highly-touted forwards, for exactly the reason you mention above. Sure, he could turn in to a good to great defenseman, but to temporarily ground the rebuild by trading up for him scares the piss out of me simply because you’re basing it on an assumption that he will be “that guy” (as opposed to just “a guy”). I don’t buy it, and I see that particular avenue as a no-go.

  • Reidja

    Your list of what the Flames should offer is Florida’s wet dream and also asinine. A team with the 4th overall doesn’t need to overpay. I’d offer Baertschi and a 2nd rounder, wouldn’t even include number 4, and let it ride. Hopefully Edmonton overpays… Or maybe the Leafs. That would be hilarious.

    • T&A4Flames

      Your first line is absolutely true, and your second. Why is everyone so intent on to assume Ekblad the next coming of Doughty/Weber… and any of the other top 5 prospects as busts or so much worse. We don’t know how any of these guys will turn out. Do not overpay when all are seen as good bets.

      Instead lets focus on picking up another mid-round 1st pick and getting some players in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

      • Reidja

        You obviously don’t think too highly of Baertschi and do think too highly of Ekblad. Point is, this is what Ekblad is worth IMO right now. It would be Edmonton-esque to trade Brodie for him, even simply straight-up.

      • Colin.S

        Yeah the trade doesn’t happen period if you don’t include the 4th overall pick. Nobody in the first round is moving their firsts unless another first comes back. Unless the package for that first is an overpayment for it.

        To get the first with trading our fourth, will probably take a second rounder, another pick either 3rd/4th and an almost NHL ready prospect (like Granlund/Baertschi).

        To get the First outright without trading our fourth, the conversation starts and stops with TJ Brodie. Florida will listen if Brodie is on the table and will stop if he’s not. There isn’t another player on the Flames the Panthers would be remotely interested in to give up the first round pick without on coming back.