Flames Make No Picks, Win First Day Of Draft

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It’s not often that a team that trades away its first round pick in the NHL Draft is considered one of the big winners of the event’s first day. Of course, it’s not often that a player the likes of Dougie Hamilton is traded, so today was unusual all-around.

The Calgary Flames took an indisputable step forward in their rebuild today. And they paid a big, big price for it.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a big draft guy. I got into hockey writing through working for the Flames game-day program profiling prospects. My first credentialed gig was covering the AHL team. My first media gigs in town were covering development and prospect camps. When I’m not watching the Flames, there’s a good chance I’ll be at a Hitmen game watching WHL kids. Heck, I watched the draft with a couple scouting buddies.

I love picks and prospects.

So, I went through a series of emotions and thoughts when this trade broke this afternoon.

  1. “They traded their first round pick? Are they insane?”
  2. “Dougie Hamilton? He’s good, right?” [Runs to HockeyDB] “Okay, he’s good.”
  3. “A first and two seconds. That’s not terrible, I guess. Which seconds?”
  4. “Calgary’s and Vancouver’s? So it’s the picks they get for being an NHL team, plus the pick they got for getting rid of Sven Baertschi, in exchange for a really good defenseman.”
  5. “Well, that’s okay, I guess.”

By the time I started writing this, I had fallen firmly into the camp of the cautiously optimistic. Dougie Hamilton is a damn fine defenseman…without a contract for 2015-16. He’ll probably be expensive to sign and he was expensive to get. Good defensemen always are. And Calgary desperately needed good, possession-driving, right-handed players. The fact that they got one for their blueline without giving up a single thing from their NHL roster is pretty crazy. But they pulled it off.

It seems unlikely that Ladislav Smid will be ready for the opening of the season based on the 6-9 months timeline that’s been bandied about following his neck surgery in February. So that likely means that Calgary’s opening day blueline, pending a Josh Jooris-level camp by an unknown, is Giordano, Brodie, Hamilton, Russell, Wideman, Engelland and one of Schlemko or Wotherspoon. I’m not crazy about Wotherspoon being pushed to the press box, and he’s waiver exempt for next season, so we’ll see what happens there.

In terms of the price Calgary paid, it’s steep, and I don’t think the management team would have had the confidence to do it had the Flames not had success in recent drafts, not had the kind of season they just had where they feel they have organizational momentum, and not still had six picks in a deep draft. That’s the value of the productive trade deadline they enjoyed: they can make big moves and still have some flexibility to fall back upon on the draft floor tomorrow. They probably feel like they can address prospect depth issues on Saturday after dealing with NHL roster depth issues on Friday.

As much value as I place in picks and prospects, they are basically (as the quote from Jerry Maguire goes) “popcorn in the pan.” Some pop, some don’t, and often you don’t know how long it’ll take or if it’ll ever happen. The Flames took three mystery assets and turned them into something tangible that can help the hockey team right now.

They took the washer and dryer instead of the proverbial mystery box. And they did so because (a) they need a washer and dryer and a set was readily available to them, and (b) they still have plenty of those mystery boxes to open on Day 2 of the NHL Draft.

The Calgary Flames arrived in Sunrise, Florida this weekend and got exactly what they needed in order to make their team more competitive next season. How many other teams can say that?


The Flames have six picks on Day 2 of the 2015 NHL Draft. The Virtual League of
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