5 Players The Flames Could Pick At 15th Overall

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames had their most successful season in years in 2014-15. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and won a playoff round for the first time since 2004. And all this in just the second year of the club’s long-awaited rebuild.

Their reward for such a successful campaign? They get the best draft selection of any of the playoff teams, by virtue of being the club with the lowest point total to qualify for the post-season. On June 26, Flames general manager Brad Treliving will step up to the podium to select at 15th overall.

Here are the five most likely candidates to be selected by the Flames with their first round pick.

1) TIMO MEIER

The Flames haven’t had a great deal of success in drafting Swiss-born players: they cut bait with 2003 pick Tim Ramholt and traded 2011 first rounder Sven Baertschi to the Canucks. But third time may be the charm for the Flames, who probably view Timo Meier with a lot of nervous anticipation.

Meier’s touted as both super-talented and very versatile. A left-handed shot, he split time between the right wing and center with the Halifax Mooseheads. He’s spent two seasons in North America and really adjusted well, becoming borderline dominant this season.

Elite Prospects’ Curtis Joe summarizes Meier rather bluntly:

All-in-all,
the kind of versatile player that you can put on a skill line, and
trust to create dangerous chances, or on a shutdown line, and trust to
help stop pucks from going into your net.

2) THOMAS CHABOT

Arguably Calgary’s biggest positional need is on defense, particularly right-shooting defenders. But if Thomas Chabot was right-handed, he may be the perfect player for the Flames to select. Touted as a smooth-skating, two-way defender, you could argue that Chabot projects towards being a French-Canadian T.J. Brodie.

It’d be ideal if Chabot could shoot right-handed, but when a player with his type of talent and upward mobility is available, you don’t second-guess him. You just take him, particularly if Timo Meier is off the board already.

3) NICK MERKLEY

If the Flames aim to fix their rather barren right-wing situation, as well as going for a sentimental favourite, they might be tempted to take Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets.

The Flames have undoubtedly seen a ton of Merkley, the club owning the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and having a front-row seat at plenty of games with the high-scoring Rockets. Merkley is a right-shooting player who plays a tenacious, high-tempo game. You could argue that Merkley doesn’t have a ton of high-level attributes, but he has few (if any) weaknesses and his work ethic has more than made up for it thus far in junior.

And better yet, he’s a Calgary native, to boot.

4) JAKUB ZBORIL

If there’s a “safe” pick in the first round, it may be Saint John defenseman Jakub Zboril. An import from the Czech Republic – the nation that’s given the Flames such contributors as Jiri Hudler, Ladislav Smid and Roman Horak over the past several seasons – Zboril adjusted quite nicely in his first season in North America. He put up 33 points in 44 games, and won a silver medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.

Like Chabot, he’s a left-handed shot. Like Chabot, he’s a strong all-around player. The scouting consensus is that he’s got few, if any, holes in his game. He’s arguably a step behind Chabot right now, but you could argue that the scouts know more about Chabot’s limitations than Zboril’s at this point – particularly given Zboril’s arguably still making adjustments to the various differences between European hockey (and life) and North America.

5) JEREMY ROY

Another defenseman from the QMJHL, as this draft seems to be full of at the upper-end, Roy is a right-handed all-around defender from the Sherbrooke Phoenix. He’s drawn comparisons to Duncan Keith in terms of his playing style, and he’s been praised for his responsible play on both sides of the puck.

Roy’s ranked a tad behind the other QMJHL defenders in this draft, but man, if taking this guy is a “reach,” I’m sure it’s a reach the Flames would be fine with making. He’s got size. He’s got offensive skill. He’s good without the puck. He’s right-handed. And man, that Duncan Keith comparison sure sounds good to me when you consider the Flames have a ton of smart and productive left-handed, puck-moving defenders in their line-up (and their system).

It seems quite likely that the Flames will use their first round pick on a Quebec player, despite historically not doing so very often. Before selecting Emile Poirier 22nd overall in 2003, their previous foray to the QMJHL in the first round was way back in 1995 when they selected Denis Gauthier at 20th overall. If you
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VLHcontest

    • JackB

      I’d take Roy days before Chabot, personally.

      One nice thing about Chabot I did notice, though: between him, Roy, and Zboril, Chabot was the best even strength scorer last season.

    • JackB

      I’m almost tempted to say Svechnikov is my first choice.

      But honestly, there’s things to like about all these guys:

      • Meier contributed the highest percentage of his team’s offense
      • Svechnikov was one of the best even strength scorers in the draft, and was very good in terms of team offense and NHLE as well
      • Merkley was born in May, and is arguably less developed than the rest
      • Chabot bleeds tools and was the best even strength scorer of the 3 Quebec dmen
      • Roy contributed over 27% of his team’s offense (a great number for a dman) and exudes skill and polish at all times
      • Konecny is essentially the happy-medium in every way

      It promises to be an interesting draft.

      • JackB

        I like all these guys too. The Flames will have to work hard to mess that pick up. Knocks on wood.

        I would prefer Svetchnikov if I knew he wasn’t going back to Russia given Fetisov’s comments. I can see him falling because of that.

        I would be fine with any of those defencemen, though too.

        • FeyWest

          I wouldn’t say Svechnikov has the Russian baggage per se, he came here to play in the NHL he’s come out and said he doesn’t care if he has to slog through the CHL/AHL to make but he wants to play in the NHL. I really want Svechnikov if he’s there for the picking. I really like Chabot as well but I only want positional focus if a F == D on the scouts lists.

      • piscera.infada

        I agree with all the above. I know there are better options (the five listed in the article), but every time I watch Konecny, something really strikes me about his game.

  • OKG

    The word reach is silly once you get past the initial tier of no-brainers like Marner and Barzal.

    Every team has their own draft list and the BPA according to MacKenzie or CS might be a player the Flames’ scouts think will never even get an ELC.

    (No to Merkley, turns out he’s a Blackhawks fandwagoner and not a Flames fan. Boooooo.)

  • Curtis

    Here’s an idea: It seems like there is a handful of players around the 15 mark that seem to be great options, so why don’t we pick up another second rounder and move down a couple spots? For example Ottawa has pick #18 and #42 that could be traded, so if they decide they want to move up why not do it? There are so many great players in the second round, imagine picking up four of them.

    • wot96

      We did that a few years ago and still got jankowski. Lol. Your idea has merit if the player the Flames want will be there at 18. Wouldn’t hurt to get more talent that’s for sure.

    • Franko J

      You are assuming the Flames don’t have their eye on a specific player out of that group, say Svechnikov, and he is available after 14 picks…so instead of risk losing him they will pick him at 15th.

      —–

      As for Timo Meier make sure that he doesn’t have the same agent as the dearly departed Sven Baertschi! 🙂

  • SmellOfVictory

    My NHLdraft has Svechnikov as the consensus #15 from 7 scouting agencies. He would be my choice over the forwards listed here in large part because he has nhl size and skills.

  • McRib

    So with all the talk about the Flames being active on the trade market… what do we think it’ll take to get Doug Hamilton out of Boston? A lot, obviously.

    Starts with the 15th pick, obviously. The Bruins will want a young defenseman to soften the blow, so to speak. Let’s say Wotherspoon. That’s not enough, so let’s look at forward prospects. I’ve made my opinion on trading Poirier abundantly clear over the last few days… but that was in Lucic and like scenarios. I still feel weird about it, but in a trade for Hamilton…? I might do it. Or…. does Klimchuk and a 2nd make up the difference? Granlund?

    15th, Wotherspoon, Klimchuk, 52nd for Hamilton.

    Or maybe if the Bruins want the help now:

    15th, Russell, Klimchuk.

    Thoughts?

    • piscera.infada

      Personally, I would do it if Poirier isn’t part of the deal. The way I look at it is, would we really be able to get a de facto better defenseman (or forward) than Dougie Hamilton (he is only 21, after all). Frankly, I don’t think you would.

      Thus, the fifteenth pick is fine in that package. As far as prospects or players go, if they wanted Wotherspoon, that’s fine with me if it is Hamilton coming back.

      Then the forward prospect is a tough one. I’d be a lot more apt to give Granlund than Klimchuk. I’ve always like Klimchuk–not that I don’t like Granlund–but I think we have a better idea what Granlund is at this level than Klimchuk. That said, I’d give them Klimchuk over Poirier.

      I, like you, truly believe Poirier will be a fantastic player for the Flames for years (so would Hamilton). I think you need to hold onto him for dear life.

      • wot96

        Too true. Honestly, I’d still do it if it was the 15th, 52nd, Wotherspoon, Klimchuk and Granlund. You’re getting into dangerous territory giving up that many assets, but this is Hamilton we’re talking about.

        He was my favourite player in the 2011 draft class, and nothing in the intervening years has changed that.

        I fully expect the Bruins would ask about Brodie the instant Treliving called, but that has to be a non-starter. IMO Brodie is the most important player in the organization. I’d sooner trade Monahan.

        This is when you start wondering about taking problem contracts off the Bruins’ hands. Maybe Chris Kelly?

  • wot96

    Konechy should be right near the top of this list as most scouts and analysts have him going right around this spot, Flames need Defence but certainly could use another RW

  • piscera.infada

    For us to get dougie hamilton, we will have to pay alot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bruins would say no to a deal of 15th pick, 45th pick, Russell, and klimchuk. Dougie is rumored to be asking for at least 6.5-7.5 for 5+ years. To me he’s probably worth that much and the bruins and other teams know it. The threat of an offer sheet is very real from edmonton and maybe a few other teams so for a trade to happen, it has to be more than what the offer sheet compensation. Which is minimum of 1st/2nd/3rd picks if its under 7.4 mill. Add another 1st if its over 7.4. I’m almost sure bruins will do everything to sign hamilton and would rather cut bait with pretty much anyone else to make room for him.

    As for what this article is talking about. I would be fine with chabot or Svechnikov

  • McRib

    My Top 5 for the Flames would be as follows:

    1) Jeremy Roy 2) Thomas Chabot 3) Jansen Harkins 4) Nick Merkley 5) Evgeni Svechnikov HM) Noah Juulsen

    I just can’t see us taking Timo Meier after Sven Baertschi & Nino Niederreiter, I also think Meier goes higher than 15, so its a non-stater for me. I was able to watch Saint John three times this season live and would take Chabot over Zboril in a heartbeat. Chabot is just better defensively with more upside all-around and think the Flames prefer the Canadian as well.

    I would love Nick Merkley, but for some reason don’t get the feeling Calgary is looking to go local, its a lot of pressure. Jansen Harkins is a wildcard for me as he is still filling out / growing (father is 6’3″) and I think he would fit our model of drafting someone of high character. I understand he is a centre, but he could always end up on the wing. He played on a weaker team and think his NHLE is only going to improve significantly down the road. He actually had the best percentage of team points in the WHL this year for draft eligibles, which is an interesting metric to predict a future point jump. I wouldn’t mind Evgeni Svechnikov, but is Calgary going to honestly take a Russian in the first round… Sorry I don’t see it happening, until it finally happens, Hahah.

    Why is no one talking about Noah Juulsen? He scored 52 points playing in the most defensive system in the WHL under Kevin Constantine in Everett. I think 15 may be too early from hype, but think he ends up as a first rounder, going to an astute team like TB or Anaheim. If we wanted to trade down or pick up another first rounder he would be who I go after in the bottom of the first round.

    • McRib

      What is with all the love for Travis Konecny?!?!? His point totals completely stagnated this season with a developmental curve flattening out (70 points in 2013-2014 to 68 points in 2014-2015) I am sorry I just don’t see it. I get it he played well at the top prospects game but he was playing with Conner McDavid….. At the end of the day he is a 5’10” forward that is desperately underdeveloped and already gets push around by bigger competition, I was able to watch him extensively at this summers U18 camp.

      Nic Petan scored 120 points his draft year and still slips to the middle of the second round…. In a deep draft year I have a hard time seeing Konecny as even a first rounder this season, completely overrated. Brayden Point of Moose Jaw went in the third round last year with 89 points…. If you want an undersized forward you can find them all over the middle and later rounds I just can’t see Konecny being our first rounder. Don’t get me wrong I am all for taking talented undersized forwards in the first round from time-to-time, but Konecny’s 68 points isn’t screaming legitimate offensive talent to me like Petan or Point were and they even slipped.

      • piscera.infada

        What is with all the love for Travis Konecny?!?!? His point totals completely stagnated this season with a developmental curve flattening out (70 points in 2013-2014 to 68 points in 2014-2015)

        Don’t necessarily disagree. As I said above, I’m aware there are (potentially) better players–and the Flames will probably pick one of those. That said, I see his game a fitting with the organization.

        His points more or less stayed static. As you said, 70 points in 63 games in 2013-14 (1.1 ppg), and 68 points in 60 games in 2014-15 (1.1 ppg). If we factor in his playoffs in 2014-15 (10 in 5 games), we’re looking at a ppg rate of 1.2. Again, meagre prima facie improvement, if at all.

        DraftBuzz recently noted he faced the toughest quality of competition against of all player in the OHL. As many have noted, his mature defensive game is where he stands out versus most of his contemporaries. Moreover, his explosive skating is tantalizing.

      • piscera.infada

        Been watching him since last year he’s got the skills and the way he plays is very much like Bennett high tempo no fear, he had a very bad first half of the season due to injury and turned it on in the second half. That plus he’s right handed. Mike Richards may not be a great example with his recent play but do you think of undersized when you think of him? He plays big and is also 5’10 he has enough size.

  • everton fc

    Giving up the 15th pick, Wotherspoon, Granlund and Klimchuk is all I’d offer for Hamilton. You have to move a d-man the other way. Wotherspoon’s the most ready of all the prospects. Or, you move a guy like Russell, the 15th, Granlund and another prospect. That might get it done. But why would the Bruins not unload other assets to make room for Hamilton and a long-term deal?

    @McRib:

    Also, Juulsen is a right-handed shot. I brought him up in a prior post, on a prior thread here. He simply needs to put on some weight. He’d basically replace a guy like Wotherspoon, in the pecking order.

    Is Jeremy Roy really that slow?? See link below; says Roy’s greatest asset is his skating ability.

    http://thehockeywriters.com/jeremy-roy-the-next-ones-nhl-2015-draft-prospect-profile/

    If he’s available at 15, I’d take him, though I do like Chabot, and think the Russian kid Svechnikov, if available, may be the steal of this draft.

  • piscera.infada

    I still see Chabot as having the best combination of potential along with being one of the safest picks. He will almost certainly play and his ceiling could be that of a Brodie. As well, he is able to fill a huge organizational need without leaving any obviously more talented players on the board. He simply checks every box.

    No-brainer to me, especially since the Flames already have a lot of skilled big bodies that are able to play on the wing. Poirier, Agostino, Ferland, Shore – the organization is not exactly bereft of size and skill on the wing. Plus, those guys are all knocking on the door right now. Throw in Arnold and Granlund and our current vets and I don’t understand the argument for desperately needing to find a RW scorer.

    Again, this is not leaving any BPA on the board. Chabot has the skill level, IMO, to match any of the forwards who will be available at 15 AND fill an organizational need.