Brad Treliving Media Availability Recap

Yesterday afternoon, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving held court with local media in his last availability prior to jumping on a series of planes for the next few weeks. FlamesNation was in attendance.

Here’s what we found out about the Flames, the draft, and many other things.

Treliving’s headed to Las Vegas on Monday night for Tuesday’s GM meetings, then off to Florida for the Draft (so he won’t be in Vegas for the NHL Awards themselves). He feels Wednesday is a big night for the franchise given they’re up for four awards.

In the first round, they plan on drafting the best player available rather than trying to handle a specific positional need: “When you start trying to align you immediate needs with drafting 17, 18 year olds, you make mistakes. We’ll take best player available, and in a perfect world you hope that aligns with your needs, but we’ll see.”

The Flames feel they’re popular right now because there are six teams (Chicago, St. Louis, the Islanders, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and the Rangers) without a first round pick and a bunch (Montreal, Vancouver, Washington, Anaheim, the Islanders, Toronto, Florida, and Detroit) without a second round pick. With as many picks as Calgary has early-on, they’re popular.

Treliving noted that there’s more depth at the forward position than at defense, “especially early-on.” Later in the draft, the depth begins to emerge in terms of defensemen. He indicated that he feels that it’s a deep draft and they think they’re going to get a good player at 15. In terms of projecting, they have 14 players ranked ahead of where they’re picking and they’re trying to determine who (if any) of those players could drop down to them at 15. “I can sit here and tell you, there’s a good chance we’re going to get somebody higher than what we have at 15 on our board right now, I suspect, because that’s usually what happens.”

In terms of how the Flames evaluate players, foot-speed, skill and size were noted as important physical attributes. “The internal attributes, the character, the compete, a lot of times drive how well that person is going to use those physical attributes.” So for them, it’s a manner of trying to evaluate the two aspects – the physical and the internal – to determine where a player fits on their list, it seems.

There’s lots of trade talk right now (he emphasized the word talk), but nobody’s 100% sure what the cap will be for next season yet.

On the importance of picks: “As you’re building an organization, those picks turn into prospects that are either going to be players for you that but it gives you those assets when you do go out and make those deals, you’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul.” He noted they need to add depth before they can “take cans from the cupboard and send them out the door.” He emphasized that he really likes draft picks, particularly since the current system puts added importance on developing young players and putting them in your team’s line-up.

As they get deeper in the draft, they do start factoring in positional need or mixing up the style or type of player they’re selecting. But they do try to balance it with best player available, so they’re not going really far down their list in order to draft a particular perceived “need.”

The Flames brought in five or six players after the combine for more lengthy meetings than they were able to have at the combine. They did do some psychological testing and following up on other stuff, but Treliving noted a lot of it was just so he can spend more time with the particular players and get to know them a bit more.

Treliving downplayed the “Russian Factor,” noting that factors like a player’s background, size, or potential availability are “subplot” compared to their abilities and where the team thinks they can get to as a hockey player (which are the main factors regarding how the team “slots” its drafting list).

In terms of goaltending next season, Treliving noted that they have more than one plan “depending how things go.” He explained that things flow into other things, rather cryptically, but he noted that “there’s an opportunity for us in goal, whether that gets sorted out for us in the next nine days.” I was left with the impression that they’re working on some things, but he did note that they have until October to get things in order.

Treliving indicated that some of the team’s restricted free agents won’t be qualified. He declined to name which players, though, but his phrasing made it seem that there’s more than one that won’t be retained. For the curious, the RFAs are: forwards Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, David Wolf, Micheal Ferland, Ben Hanowski, Max Reinhart, Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold and Turner Elson (and Bryce van Brabant), and defensemen Sena Acolatse and John Ramage. The deadline for qualifying offers is the Monday after the draft.

Treliving feels much more comfortable at this year’s draft given that he’s spent a year familiarizing himself with the team’s players.

Treliving feels that “you don’t build a team through free agency.” He thinks it’s a recipe for a lot of “bad things to happen.” That said, there may be a few players on the market that could be fits in Calgary, but it’ll come down to term and cost “and those types of things.”

The remainder of Bob Hartley’s coaching staff haven’t finalized their contract extensions yet, but they are close to being done. Presumably they’ll be finished up after the draft and free agency settle down.

The Flames will be involved in the hockey operations with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder next season, but Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall’s focus will be more on the Stockton Heat.

Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris (and Paul Byron, as added on Sportsnet 960 The Fan) had wrist procedures done in the off-season and Brandon Bollig “had his noise straightened,” but none are expected to be onerous recoveries. When speaking with media following the main press conference, Treliving noted that they don’t have a timeline for Ladislav Smid but that concerns about his injury being career-threatening are unfounded right now. Smid’s a few months into recovery for a surgery that has a pretty lengthy recovery time, so it’s likely a case where he’s not far enough through the recovery process for the medical staff to be able to definitively project anything regarding his progress. Treliving did note that so far, he’s progressing well.

Other notes: expect about 36 or 37 players at development camp in early July. Jakub Nakladal will attend, if only to get familiar with the Flames staff (similar to how Reto Berra attended the same camp years back) and Adam Ollas Mattsson will be there, but no Rushan Rafikov, likely due to visa issues. The format will change a bit, with more emphasis on skills development and less on scrimmages.

    • Rockmorton65

      I don’t know about that. It doesn’t make sense to take a defenceman who will probably only become a decent 4-6 while leaving a potential top 6 LW or 2C on the board because “we already have those”. Surplus is good.

      If I’ve got an abundance of bacon and a slice of toast, I can find someone who has a few extra eggs and swing a deal. Then, trade a slice for some jam & you’ve suddenly got a kick ass breakfast.

      (great, now I’m hungry…)

  • CanadianManiac3

    He said it himself, player with skill and speed with the internal attributed to drive those qualities. After also saying that they’ve evaluated the defenceman in the draft and found that there is an abundance of them later in the draft (2nd round most likely) that leads me to beleieve they’re looking at someone like Merkley or Svechnikov (russian factor not an issue).

    • CanadianManiac3

      I would agree with your premise but I suspect Svechnikov is ahead of Merkley because of size. Of course there is the great caveat; someone in the top 14 drops to them. I suspect the will draft 2 forwards and 4 defenseman in the first three rounds based upon what BT said. The BPA at 15 is likely a forward and then a toss up at 45 but at 52/53 there seems to be a number of solid D prospects and a again in the third round it’s a bit of a toss up.

      Good to hear that Nakladal and Mattsson are coming to the prospect camp.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I suspect Svechnikov is ahead of Merkley because of size.

        And because he scored more often with less help, and was one of the best even strength scorers in the draft.

        • CanadianManiac3

          The issue I have with Svechnikov over Merkley is that Svechnikov seems to be streaky with his offensive ability and other than offense he doesn’t bring anything else to the table other than size (which he doesn’t really use to hit guys or knock people off the puck defensively). On the other hand Merkley is a great 2 way player who takes care of his own end and when he can’t be effective offensively he likes to throw huge hits and muck it up in the corners. He likes to compete and will do anything it takes to win. So basically, would you rather have a guy who is invisible when not scoring, or a guy who can put up points and remain effectice when he’s not

          • DoubleDIon

            I have often leaned towards the Russian between these 2 but find that Merkleys drive to succeed and competitiveness is winning me over. One of his coaches told me that you just can’t go wrong with merkley. I’m still undecided but wouldn’t throw anything if the Flames drafted him

          • There are conflicting reports on Merkley’s defensive ability.

            Here’s a question: What separates Merkley from Anthony Beauvillier?

            They’re the same size. They’re both C/Ws (Merkley’s a righty, Beau’s a lefty). Similar production (Merk: 72gp/90pts; Beau:67gp/94pts). They’re both characterized as having high skillsets and strong work ethic.

            Merkley was in on almost 30% of his team’s offense. Beauvillier was in on over 36%.

          • CanadianManiac3

            I’m not opposed to picking either Merkley or Beauvillier. Like you stated they’re basically the same stats wise. The only concern with Beauvillier is that his offensive productions basically came out of nowhere. It seems as though he took advantage of the fact that his team wasn’t very good therefore he was out on the ice in every situation which is why he was in on 36% of his teams offense. This means his stats may be a little inflated but none the less he had the skill to put up the points. What leans me more towards Merkley is he played in arguably the tougher of the CHL leagues and he’s a righty who can play right wing (when both players are that close with their attributes and skill you can afford to go for needs)

          • Parallex

            Good points.

            Merkley also played on a pretty stacked Rockets team while Beauvillier played on a very middle of the road Shawinigan team. It looks like he basically threw it on his back and carried it into the playoffs.

          • CanadianManiac3

            For sure they’re both great prospects and you couldn’t go wrong with picking either one. One can definitly argue that although Merkley was on a good Rockets team, he took control during the playoffs and memorial cup and really stepped up as one of their best players and thats saying something when they have the likes of Bowey, Morrissey, and Draisitl. This is pretty impresive since all those players have been through NHL training camps and/or have actually played some NHL games. Merkley has just recently turned 18 and he’s already clutch in big games, he’s a difference maker and he wants to be out on the ice in big moments.

          • CanadianManiac3

            In the two games versus Oshawa, Merkley was the one making things happen while the MVP was waiting for things to happen. Maybe we get both these good young prospects. Hearing the kid from Quebec is a born leader.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I agree with drafting BPA in the first round, but part of “best” for me is to factor in positional value. Natural centres, defensemen and right wingers are more valuable players. Great organizations are built down the middle, with a formidal defense. While you don’t pass up a left winger that is miles ahead of the next guy, if the LW is only a bit better, pick the alternative all day long. As Trelliving notes it’s as much about adding players to your own team, as it is adding assets. Oh and for the love of all that’s good and holy never draft a goalie in the first round.

    In later rounds, a team eventually needs to look to drafting for organization need. Eventually you have appropriate numbers of each position on your team, including a young stable of goalies. Imbalances cause searches into expensive UFA and trade markets (hello Derrick Engelland).

    • MattyFranchise

      You know, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Draft centers and D, the rest will take care of itself.

      You get enough centers the wing problem is solved. Drafting a pure winger that isn’t Taylor Hall is a fool’s errand in my mind.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I believe Bryce Van Brabrant is also an RFA. I personally can’t see Hanowski and Elson be resigned, after that the choices arenas clear. The Flames need to make room for their new signings plus draftees.

    • Greg

      I really hope Byron isn’t one of the guys on the cut list for RFAs. I fear he will be as they have a lot of forwards and he’s small, but would be a shame to lose him for nothing.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    “Treliving feels much more comfortable at this year’s draft given that he’s spent a year familiarizing himself with the team’s players.”

    It took almost a year; but Treliving finally admitted that he bombed last years draft…….The GREAT WW has been saying all along that he was in WAY over his head at last years draft.

    WW

    • BurningSensation

      News flash…Burke groomed the drafting staff’s priorities last year as Brad had no time or familiarity whatsoever to be making those calls.

      As for this year, Brad’s priorities and drafting philosophy are right on point. They’ll take BPA in the 1st and eventually address positional depth later on. We’re in good hands, Treliving is an intelligent hockey man with a long term focus for the organization on drafting, development and acquiring assets.

      As for RFA’s not being qualified, I’d add Sena Acotsolete to that list

      • Greg

        I’d wait until September to pronounce were in good hands. BT needs to go through another UFA period and re-ink Gio before in willing to say last summer was a learning curve and he’s making the right moves now. Let’s see how he bolsters the roster for next season and sets us up for cappagedon next summer first.

        • CanadianManiac3

          Spot on. Let’s not anoint BT as the second coming until we see how this draft goes as well as the rest of the offseason. It is disturbing that he and BB keep repeating how well Engellend and Bollig played last year. He generally talks the talk but has a decidedly mixed record in walking the walk.

    • BurningSensation

      Lessee….;

      Bennett – Homerun

      Smith – too soon to tell but the kid was ppg in the playoffs and was a key part of the shutdown line against McDavid for a Member Cup team. Obviously, he must be terrible.

      MacDonald – I already like him more than Brossoit! Big athletic goalie witb lots of room to grow.

      I could go o , but what is the point. Any Flames fan who hates Backlund is hardly a Flames fan.

    • Rockmorton65

      Oh Wally. BT had been on the job how many days @ last years draft? Less than a year of being a GM and you expected him to be the next coming of Scotty Bowman? And you seemed offended that he didn’t find a “Drew Doughty” in the fourth round. Give him time, I think BT is the real deal.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Was Scotty Bowman good at drafting? May have found a “Drew Doughty” in the 3rd Round though…

        BT has been doing a good job, look at the results. Still lots to do, the next month should be very, very interesting as obviously multiple irons are in the fire and we’ll see if he can consummate these deals and what they are.

        • Rockmorton65

          Exactly. It’s far too early to say what kind of GM he’ll be. Where I’m optimistic is that he seems to be very controlled in his dealing. He’s not going to get caught up in a bidding war. There’s talk of us kicking tires on Talbot. Rumour has it that Edmonton is offering the 16th. If that’s the case, I can see BT just walking away. There’s no way he would give up 15 for what could be a backup. He strikes me as a guy who has gone over every angle and proceeds accordingly.

    • All's.Fair

      Although I don’t agree with you on last year’s draft, I see that you are of the very strong opinion that it was a good draft. Who would you have taken at each of those positions?

    • DoubleDIon

      Bennett, Hickey and Carroll all look like excellent value picks.

      Even Smith and McDonald the two picks I didn’t like showed well this year. Not sure how he “bombed” the draft.

      Personally I think it’s a lot easier to criticize his free agent signings and the Bollig trade than it is to critique him for a draft he likely had next to no input on. The only free agent he signed who worked out at all was Hiller. I think we’d all agree the club would be better off without Raymond, Engelland and Setoguchi.

    • Canrock 78

      Looking foreword to your list BEFORE the draft. I think anyone one with such a strong opinion should enlighten us all. Any donkey can second guess after the fact.

  • All's.Fair

    How did he bomb last years draft? Sam Bennett jumps into a playoff series and rips it up. Hunter Smith goes and wins a Memorial Cup. Mason McDonald was one of the best goalies in the Q. Brandon Hickey is starting to look like a steal in the 3. Haven’t seen much of Matteson but he will be here for camp. Auston Carroll could end up being a bottom six forward. Seems pretty good to me. Do you actually watch any of these prospects or just read articles and make an uneducated opinion? I like the way Treliving handles the media, smart dude.

    • Parallex

      By trading a draft pick for Bollig (the teams worst forward), Selecting an overager with a ton of red flags in his performance (Smith), selecting a goalie to high given the crapshoot nature of goalie development (McDonald), and using a draft pick on a 20 y.o. overager that the team almost certainly could have had for free as an undrafted free agent.

      • Parallex

        Bollig – stupid move

        Smith – taken where the rankings had him

        McDonald – time will tell

        Carroll – draft allowed one more season of evaluation before needing to ink and ELC, very smart move

      • All's.Fair

        I agree with the Bollig trade very bad move but the draft it self was not bad I have seen a lot worse. At the time we chose Smith sure there were some red flags but fast forward a year and there was some serious progression from the kid, lets see how he does in pro but I bet you can expect a solid year of development. Remember we weren’t drafting this monster to be a top six forward.

        • Parallex

          Yes, I’ve seen a lot worse as well… I just don’t think that “it could have been worse” is where you want the bar set at.

          With regards to Smith I don’t see any real ‘progression’ all the red flags are still there… he was 8th on his team in scoring despite having significant advantages in terms of age, size, and special team minutes. And if we’re deliberately using higher picks like that to not be top six forwards then I think we’ve got a huge problem, you absolutely try to get top six guys that high… you just don’t get disappointed if they fall somewhere short of that.

          Although in all honesty I don’t blame Treliving for all that… I blame Burke. But that’s the only mulligan that Treliving gets.

  • I always forget about Bryce van Brabant, of the Morinville Van Brabants.

    I think Brad’s lack of familiarity last season made him less likely to remove bodies from the group in trades. Look at the transactions last year: it took him awhile before he started moving guys out.

    • I don’t think anyone should be surprised by the comment that he isn’t qualifying all his RFAs.

      One can only hope he is able to package some of our useful, but dispensable, pieces to someone for a player we really need.

      Hopefully his RFA comment doesn’t materially degrade the price he can get for some of the prospects/players we have that may not have a future here.