What To Do At The Draft?

2014_nhl_combine_sam_bennett_053114

The Calgary Flames are
drafting 15th overall this year followed by back to back picks at 52nd
and 53rd overall from Washington and Vancouver, 76th and
83rd from Wasington, 136th, 166th, and 196th.

(Draft position courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

The team has some depth at
center and on the left wing but needs to address depth on the right wing and,
most importantly, defense. Goaltending prospect depth ought to be bolstered as
well, but that can be saved for later round selections so we’ll leave off that
topic for today. For our purposes we’ll be focusing on the 1st round pick and the options provided by the three 2nd round picks.

Based on where the Flames are
picking and using a collection of several draft ranking sources including Cory
Pronman, Central Scouting and Allan Mitchell of Lowetide, the following are the
possible names that could be available for the Flames if they stay at #15 (I’m
including names of prospects who are ranked from 12 on down because somebody
always seems to fall in the draft and you never can be certain what anotherteam’s draft list looks like).

Pronman’s list is a fantastic resource but it is behind a paywall and as such I cannot post a link to it here.

The defensemen in that range
include in no particular order:

Thomas Chabot, Sebastien Aho,
Jakob Zboril, Oliver Kylington, Nicolas Meloche, Ryan Pilon, Jonas Siegenthaler, Jacob Larsson, Gabriel Carlsson, Jeremy Roy, Erik Cernak, Mitchell Vande Sompel and Rasmus Andersson.

Forwards are: Timo Meier
(RW), Mathew Barzal (C), Paul Bittner (LW), Joel Eriksson (C), Filip Chlapik
(C), Evgeni Svechnikov (LW), Lawson Crouse (LW), Kirill Kaprizov (LW), JensLooke (RW), Kirill Pilipenko (RW), Jack Roslovic (RW), NicolasRoy (C), Travis Konecny (C), Daniel Sprong (RW) and Jansen Harkins (C).

(all prospect information courtesy of EliteProspects.com

There are, obviously, many
options open to the Flames at this stage.

If we were to prioritize
defense then I think we would be talking about one of Chabot, Kylington, and
Roy with Cernak and Andersson in the conversation as well.

Of the blueliners above, I’d take Roy followed by one of
Kylington or Andersson. I prefer puck-moving defenders and these two are good
examples of that skill set. The Flames need only look to TJ Brodie as an
example of what happens when you have a smart, skilled defenseman who can make
a pass or skate it out of the zone. He doesn’t need to be a 6’5, 300lbs
behemoth who picks his teeth with the bones of his enemies to be a good
blueliner in the NHL today.

If we were to target a
forward the names at the top of my list are Meier, Konecny, Barzal and
Eriksson. Following that, Crouse and Svechnikov check off some of the boxes I
suspect that Flames are going to prioritize (big men with skill). Barzal and
Meier look to me to be the class of this group and adding skilled players is
the toughest thing to do in the NHL. It is also unlikely either one falls that
far, as I ran through half a dozen
mock draft boards to see what names were most likely to be off the table when
the Flames go to the podium and in every one Meier, Barzal and Jeremy Roy are
unavailable.That said, stranger things have happened.

The most common names
associated with the Flames were Svechnikov and Crouse. I’ve suggested before
that the Flames drafting Crouse seems to fit on a number of levels, not least
of which is due to his connection with Sam Bennett as the two were
linemates in Kingston, as well as Brian Burke’s historical preference for large
forwards.

The Flames have some skilled
players now and on the way so adding someone with Crouse’s skill set could be
a good complementary move and while I don’t predict that Crouse will be
available at #15, if he is I believe there is a very real possibility that the
Flames would happily add him to their team.

Svechnikov reportedly has the higher skill ceiling but there have been questions about his attention to detail and focus away from the puck.

If we eliminate those names widely projected to be on the board by the time the Flames go to the podium we are left with the
following: Crouse,  Kylington, Chabot,
Andersson, Cernak, Svechnikov, Konecny, Harkins, Sprong and a host of other forwards.

“With the 15th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft the Calgary Flames are proud to select…”

If I’m at the podium, I’d
call out Oliver Kylington’s name. The Flames need high-quality defensive
prospects and he projects to be top four at the very least with a very good
offensive game, solid skating, and a high hockey IQ. My fallback option would
be to go with Jansen Harkins based on his scouting report (high hockey IQ, very
mature two-way game, very skilled player).

I don’t think the Flames go
wrong with either player, to be honest.

But wait! There’s more!

There is another possibility that
at least bears mentioning, the option that the Flames could trade up, down or
out.

Option 1

The Flames have three 2nd
round picks and could target a team without one, such as Florida who are drafting 11th.
Ideally players like Werenski and Provorov are the targets there, but you’d
have to think that they are targets for other teams as well and it remains to
be seen how other teams will view the field and make their selections.

Would Dale Tallon trade down
from 11th for the 15th and 53rd overall picks?
Probably. Would that be enough for the Flames to grab one of Provorov or
Werenski? It could certainly happen as defensemen will often fall in the draft
order when there are flashy forwards to be had (Seth Jones, Cam Fowler, Adam
Larsson, Doug Hamilton were all taken later than predicted in their draft years). Two picks for one of those two defensive prospects would be very good value as either one would immediately be a defensive prospect on par with past prospects Brodie, Tim Erixon and Dion Phaneuf. Okay, kind of a mixed company, I’ll grant you, but it tells you how long it has been since the Flames could look at the prospect stable and clearly identify a potential stud blueliner in the making.

Option 2

Trading down seems illogical
for the Flames as they already have three 2nd round picks unless it
were part of a package that brought them a veteran defender or winger from a
cap-strapped team such as Chicago. Would a pick between 27th and 30th
overall and Brent Seabrook be worth the 15th and 45th
overall picks? Tough call. It immediately makes the Calgary defense a
formidable element in the Western Conference but leaves the team trying to sign
two 30 year-old UFA defensemen next summer in Seabrook and Giordano. They
certainly have the cap space, but that is going to be a significant cost to
manage alongside re-signing RFAs Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Markus
Granlund.

Very tempting idea though
when you look at a depth chart of Giordano/Brodie, Wideman/Seabrook,
Russell/TBD and if it was offered I can’t see Brian Burke or Brad Treliving turning it down.

(cap information courtesy of GeneralFanager.com

Option 3

Trading out only seems likely
if there is a deal in place for a player who immediately moves the dial on the
Flames and gives them a real chance to return to the playoffs next season by
bolstering the roster for the present while also fitting into the roster for
the next few seasons. Again, we’re talking about a contract dump from a team
likely without a 1st round pick this year like the Rangers. I don’t
see it happening but something like Mark Staal for the 15th overall
pick could be the sort of thing that gets kicked around on the draft floor. Or
perhaps Rutherford decides to shake things up in Pittsburgh and offers Kris
Letang for the 15th overall and a forward prospect like Hunter
Smith.

That probably gets the Flames’
attention and they then have a young, established defender who can absolutely
fly with the man advantage or leading the rush. Brodie/Letang, Giordano/Wideman is a nice top four defense for a team that likes to attack as aggressively as the Flames under Bob Hartley. It also gives them three powerplay options from the point with Giordano, Wideman and Letang. That kind of blueline firepower would be a significant advantage when you include the forwards of Hudler, Monahan and Gaudreau. 

Tempting offer again, and the term of Letang’s contract carries both advantages and disadvantages by way of the control the team has over him into the future weighed against his recent injury history. 

So Many Choices

In the end I think the Flames
stay put, call a name at #15 and then begin to talk to teams about deals for
day two. They could use one pick in the 2nd round on a prospect and
deal two others for a player like Jake Gardiner or target another team looking
at entering a rebuild such as Philadelphia or Phoenix to address immediate
needs.

The point is that the Flames
have a surplus of draft assets and this year is deep enough they can pick up
some prospects and trade for immediate needs at the same time.

They have a prime 1st
round pick where they can move either up or down and receive good value in
return, the difference being immediate or delayed, and a wealth of very
valuable 2nd round picks that have of late become the stock-in-trade
for GMs looking to make roster deals with an eye to managing the salary cap.

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    “Svechnikov reportedly has the higher skill ceiling but there have been questions about his attention to detail and focus away from the puck.”

    could have been summed up with, “He’s Russian.”

  • TheWoodfordianOne

    I don’t understand why a lot of people are against drafting Kylington. Decent size with good puck moving ability, might not be the greatest in his own end but the kid is 18, wait till he grows up, I’m sure gio will teach him a thing or too