What Bob McKenzie’s Draft Board Tells Us About Flames Draft Targets

Our old friend Bob McKenzie is something of a hockey guru. He was recently chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the next recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Award, which enshrines him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. One big reason for that is McKenzie is an absolute goldmine of information at draft time.

Case-in-point: today TSN released his Top 75 list for the 2015 Draft. Unlike others, who scout and rank based on their own criteria, McKenzie consults with scouts and general managers when he compiles his list. This means that McKenzie produces as close to a true consensus list as is ever produced.

So what does McKenzie’s Top 75 mean for the Flames this year?

(Note: All the links enclosed are to Craig Button’s scouting reports for each individual player.)

15TH OVERALL

McKenzie’s 15th-ranked player is Ottawa 67’s forward Travis Konecny, who is a smaller forward (5’9″, 175) who plays an agitating game and is good all over the ice. He was quite good at the Top Prospects Game. Other forwards available at that pick include Colin White (16th) of the U.S. National Development Team, Kelowna Rockets star and Calgary native Nick Merkley (17th) and Cape Breton’s resident Russian Evgeny Svechnikov (18th).

Russian junior goaltender Ilya Samsonov is ranked 19th, though I doubt the Flames go for a goalie that early.

In terms of defenders, Saint John’s Jakub Zboril is ranked 14th and could fall a spot to Calgary’s pick, or the Flames could reach a bit and take one of Tri-City’s Brandon Carlo (22nd), Farjestads’ Oliver Kylington (24th) or Saint John’s Thomas Chabot (25th).

45TH OVERALL

Defender Nicolas Meloche from Baie-Comeau is ranked 44th, while Guillaume Brisebois of Acadie-Bathurst is 48th and Peterborough’s Matt Spencer is 50th. All of them have some size, but their individual games vary depending on the qualities one desires from their pick. If you are thinking about forwards, big-bodied winger Christian Fischer of the U.S. National Development Team is ranked 45th, Saginaw captain Mitchell Stephens is ranked 46th and Niagara winger Graham Knott is at 49th.

Czech junior goaltender Daniel Vladar is ranked 47th, though (again) I doubt the Flames go for a goalie that early.

52ND & 53RD OVERALL

USHL import Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson is ranked 52nd. He’s Swedish but came over to North American and was a point-per-game in the USHL this season. Also in the mix: U.S. National Development Team winger Jeremy Bracco (who at 5’9″ ain’t big) at 53rd, Russian junior forward Alexander Dergachyov at 54th, and Seattle’s Ryan Gropp at 56th.

In terms of defenders, there’s Brandon’s Ryan Pilon at 55th and Barrie’s Rasmus Andersson (who has been on some rankings as high as the late first round) at 59th. Canadian junior goaltender Callum Booth is ranked 51st, though (again) I doubt the Flames go for a goalie that early.

76TH OVERALL

McKenzie’s list ends at 75, but he includes a few honourable mentions who could be snapped up by the Flames at 76th.

Swedish forward Filip Ahl is big (6’3″, 211) and the Flames probably like that. Parker Wotherspoon is a defender with a brother who plays with the Flames, though his game is much different than his big brother’s. Czech junior Michael Spacek has been seen on some rankings lists as high as the first round, and would likely be seen as a steal in the middle of the third round. And Keegan Kolesar of Seattle is another big body (6’1″, 217) named Keegan that the Flames could accumulate, though he plays on the wing.

  • Greg

    I have to say, most of those “targets” are… really underwhelming. Jeremy Bracco of course being an exception.

    I find it astonishing how low Jeremy Roy is on a lot of lists. 29th? Behind Gabriel “Adam Ollas Mattsson” Carlsson? That’s just silly.

  • Burnward

    Here are my picks for this year’s draft. The number in brackets to the right of each pick is the combined average ranking spot from CSS, Corey Pronman and Bob McKenzie where applicable. In the case of Kolesar and Wotherspoon, Mckenzie has them as honorable mentions so I assigned them a “76”.

    The later picks are only the CSS ranking as the other two don’t go that high. I will also admit that I know next to nothing about the last two players. They were picked based on size, position etc.

    #15 C/RW – Nick Merkley (19)

    #45 D – Ryan Pilon (43)

    #52 D – Parker Wotherspoon (59)

    #53 D – Matt Spencer (64)

    #76 RW – Conor Garland (64)

    #83 RW – Keegan Kolesar (70)

    #136 C Andrew Mangiapane (91)

    #166 D – Ryan Shea (155)

    #196 LW – Mike Davies (185)

    So maybe Pilon goes in the 1st round, maybe Garland is available in the 4th, maybe Mangiapane won’t be around at #136… If you read enough draft rankings you realize quickly that after the first round it’s anybody’s guess. I’ve seen Rasmus Andersson ranked everywhere from a 1st rounder to a 5th.

    Obviously this ignores BPA to a certain extent as I don’t know who will be around at any given spot and because of that I have focused on positional need. IE lots of D, no G.

    I really hope BT makes all three 2nd round picks – so much talent there to be had. If he wants to get cute with the 3rd rounders, I’m fine with that.

    • Shoestring

      Not a fan of your selections. Merkley is a good. I am not a fan of Pilon, and there is no way he goes in the first. Wotherspoon is not on my list. Spencer I like, Kolesar could be a positive NHLer.

  • mattyc

    BNHLeA “Best NHLe Available” – btw is there a list somewhere with NHLEs?

    In all serious (I would like to see that list), I’m not a prospect guru, but Konecny seems like a good pick. Seen his name lots, although sounds like he’s a riser, wasn’t highly regarded at the beginning of the year and turned it up in the 2nd half.

    • Derzie

      I did this of my list. I used NHLE expressed as pts/game. What surprised me is that by NHLE, Hanifin is REALLY low. 140th. He must be a heck of a stay at home guy I guess. Eichel is 6th on the NHLe list. Again, surprising. Top 10 NHLEs (applied to ppg) are:

      Connor McDavid (C)

      Mitchell Marner (C)

      Conor Garland (RW)

      Dylan Strome (C)

      Jack Eichel (C)

      Andrew Mangiapane (LW/C)

      Timo Meier (RW/C)

      Tim McGauley (C)

      Yevgeni Svechnikov (LW)

      The 3 guys with NHLEs at 15th (Flames round 1) are

      Mathew Barzal (C)

      Daniel Sprong (RW)

      Kay Schweri (RW)

      Fat chance Barzal is there on draft day.

      Best NHLE D-men are Mitchell Vande Sompel (D) &
      Ivan Provorov (D).

  • mattyc

    I’m confused.. I’ve heard the Flames have 3 second round picks… One from the Glencross trade, one from Baertchi trade, and their own. Did I miss something?

  • FeyWest

    As much as I love Konecny I’m still holding strong that Svechnikov is who we need.

    He skates extremely well and would be a force on the wing given his ability to maneuver and score, he’s the full package that would really help to balance our wing.

    He would make our already strong 1st line deadly and even our 2nd line would be a force to be reckoned with when Bennett continues to develop!

    • Burnward

      Lately I’ve found myself hoping the Flames take Svechnikov 15th and Nikita Korostelev somewhere in the 2nd.

      That would leave them with this in the hypothetical “future” haha:

      1. Svechnikov – Bennett – Korostelev
      2. Gaudreau – Monahan – Poirier

      Opposition won’t know who to check!

      Okay, so maybe they don’t all pan out… and maybe they all do.

      Obviously my assumption is the Flames get some high-end defensemen in there somewhere. Maybe Rasmus Andersson, Mitchell Vande Sompel, or Jacob Larsson. Maybe they sneak a Vince Dunn in there, or use a mid-to-late pick on an Alexandre Carrier or Sebastian Aho. Maybe they take a chance on Jesper Lindgren (that would be cooooool)

      As much as I like Jeremy Roy for the 15th pick… the draft could go very well with a winger like Svechnikov in the top spot.

      • FeyWest

        I definitely would be interested, I really favour fast, skilled players and Gurianov definitely is that, I’ll have to look more in-depth at what he’s going to bring as opposed to Svechnikov. I’m glad you pointed him out as he could be an option if Svechnikov isn’t available.

        On a side note If we’re going to pick a defender in case who I like in the Forward group isn’t available I personally like Chabot as a pick. He may not be as offensive as Roy but I like what I hear about him, his work ethic and learning ability reminds me a bit of Bennett. Thoughts?

        • Greg

          Guryanov is a sublime talent, but I just wouldn’t be comfortable with him in the first round (not at 15th anyway). The MHL isn’t a great league and forwards who put up only a point per game in the CHL typically don’t go in the first round (a few exceptions notwithstanding).

          As I said. Great talent. Just hasn’t shown enough to be taken 15th.

          As for Chabot… Meh. I’m not even convinced he’s the best draft eligible D on his team, and Roy did more with less help either way. Underrated defensively as well.

          • McRib

            I watched Saint John live three times this season, Chabot was always the better prospect for me. Chabot was also excellent for Canada at the U18s. I really don’t see Zaboril going higher than Chabot from the hype I have heard from scouts. Just my two cents, agree with everything else.

  • mattyc

    I’m hoping for either Kyle Conner or Evgeny Svechnikov at 15. After seeing Craig button’s report for merkley and konecny, I was not impressed. Though I would love it if we traded up to 11th and somehow got 1 of the top 3 D in the draft. Hopefully we can keep our 45th pick and trade one of the 52/53rd picks.

  • beloch

    Given the need, I think picking a defender in the first round should be a goal for Treliving. For the teams ahead of the Flames in the draft, I looked up the number of defensive prospects rated 7.0 or higher by hockeysfuture. That rating means defenders expected to be second pairing or better.

    Pick#    Team         # of Def >7.0
    ------------------------------------
     1      Edmonton            4
     2      Buffalo             3
     3      Arizona             1
     4      Toronto             3 
     5      Carolina            5
     6      New Jersey          3
     7      Philadelphia        6
     8      Colorado            6
     9      San Jose            5
    10      Columbus            4
    11      Florida             4
    12      Dallas              9
    13      L.A.                4
    14      Boston              4
    15      Calgary             2
    

    The top three picks are almost certainly going to be McDavid, Eichel, and Hanifin, in that order. After that, there are 3 defenders to satisfy the needs of picks #4 through #15. The good news is that most of these teams have plenty of blueline prospects. Provorov is almost certainly going to be picked by Toronto or New Jersey, but one of these teams is going to be forced to pick a forward or trade waaaaay down.

    McKenzie projects the next defender, Werenski, at #11. Given that everyone picking from #7 to #14 has at least 4 defensive prospects >7.0 in their system, it’s possible Werenski will drop a couple positions. It’s unlikely he’ll drop as far as #15, but not impossible. Also, even if Werenski only drops a couple positions, that might push Zboril down one position to #15.

    I like the Flames chances of picking a defender in the first round. Werenski is not out of the question, especially if the Flames trade up. If Werenski is still on the table after Florida picks, the Flames should try to trade up to L.A.’s position and grab him, because Dallas will probably pick a forward.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      I have a suspicion that Arizona might take Marner. That organization has been starved for scoring talent for eons, and he played with their guy Max Domi this year.

    • Shoestring

      Those ratings are a little iffy. Gernat, Musil and Simpson are 3 of the 4 Oilers listed at 7 and I don’t think even delusional Oiler fans expect them to be much. Calgary could very well take a defenseman but I think BPA will be how it is decided in the first round.

    • OKG

      Those ratings never amount to much. Teams’ own writers make those lists and some homers overrate their players and some pessimests underrate their players.

      Compare Flames prospect Brandon Hickey (6.5D) with Stars prospect Michael Prapavessis (7.0C) and it’s hilarious.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Like most of us on this site we read or listen to what people like Button or McKenzie or CS or IHSS say. Few of us have seen more than a handful of these kids play more than a handful of games. Whomever we select at 15 will not have an impact for at least 2 seasons. (Poirier was picked in this range and he played an extra year of junior and then the AHL and he seems not quite ready)

    We are not privy to the Flames scouting reports, interviews and all the real details of the combine. I suspect we will pick the BPA according to the management and scouting teams. Hopefully they get it right. Personally I’m hoping for some size and skill upfront and some R handed defenders that are mix of puck movers and size. I like the idea of Svechnikov as he seems to have a good skill set and some size. Hopefully as time goes on we more information on the picks that might fit. This was a good start.

    Is there any plans to have a Flames draft pool? That would be cool. Last year I got Bennett right and predicted Hunter Smith to be picked.

  • Shoestring

    If Zach Werenski is still available at 10/11 I can see the Flames trying to trade down for that pick in exchange for their own first, a 2nd and 3rd. It will be costly by Werenski is worth it! He is definitely in the same class as Hannifin!

  • RexLibris

    Svechnikov may fall in the draft due to Fetisov’s recent comments about Russian born players remaining in-country until they turn 28.

    He’s in Cape Breton now, but if he were to return to play in Russia for even a year it could be years before whichever team drafted him is able to gain access to the player.

    Given the current nationalistic attitude in Russia, Fetisov’s recommendation could well become law. It was rumoured that this was a factor in Anton Slepyshev coming over to North America last month.

  • RexLibris

    Obviously 15-18 are really good players but i would honestly strongly consider Kylington. His stock fell on account of injury but he has great skill. He could be a top pair pucking moving D… the type of player that is the future of the NHL. Dont forget Gaudreau was a 4th.

    Then again we may have to take Svechnikov because on top of everything else he has that great shot.

    Then again lol maybe konecny. He seems like he might have great chemistry with Bennett and some of our guys.

  • RexLibris

    Here’s my pondering after looking at these rankings; I would probably be happy with either Merkley or Svechikov at 15.( we have no idea who might fall) at 45 either Meloche or Brisebrois (again who know who drops) and at 52/53 Spencer, Karlsson, Degachyov, Anderson, or Fisher.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Yup, I’m bored and everyone else is asleep. So here are some names at the remaining draft positions:

    76&83: Segenthaler, Schemish, Ahl, Nielsen, Strand, Borgen,Kovacs
    136: Olsson,Blaidell, Jasek
    166: Jensen, McSween, Murray
    196: Henley,Myers, Russino, Vainio

  • Craig

    I like Zboril a lot, but there’s something about Kylington that screams draft steal. He could be a home run at 15. We have a lot of shots in the second and third round, I think we should swing for the fences with a player that has immense skill, but just needs some fine tuning. He could be Erik Karlsson.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      I heard somewhere he(Kylington) was injured this year; might that have caused a drop in his ranking. Indeed he could be a steal like Fowler from the Ducks. He might be worth the risk or do you go with a clearer option. Not sure what I would do.

      As for my babble on the later rounds here is my rational. The first 3 rounds I agree with the basic concept of BPA however in the remaining rounds it is a crap shoot and I say try and address organizational needs at this level and hope that one of those pieces of coal turns out to be a diamond that meets your needs. Hence you see mostly D on my later list and if possible R handed defenders.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    My understanding is that out scouting staff has not changed for many years.

    They have had good success with obvious picks: Monahan, Bennett (anyone would have picked them).

    They have had success finding diamonds in the later rounds (Gaudreau, Brodie).

    The area they falter badly is mid first round picks: Jankowski, Baerchi, Backlund have all been mid first round busts.

    And this year we have a ……….mid first round pick!!!?

    WW

  • McRib

    Jeremy Roy or Thomas Chabot with our 15th Pick!!!

    I hope we take Vince Dunn or Zach Senyshyn from the OHL with out first second rounder. Nicolas Meloche is a first rounder no way he falls to 45th. I also wouldn’t mind Graham Knott or Matt Spencer. Guillaume Brisebois is better suited for our 52 or 53 pick. If Ryan Pilon falls to that 53rd pick that would be good value, I think scouts have really gotten to picky on his play with the extra year to scout him.

    I’m almost certain we take Brendan Guhle from Prince Albert with one of our later second or third round picks. Great skater whose head is starting to catch up to his feet in the TJ Brodie mould, like Brandon Hickey last year. Button likes him ranked 47th. Parker Wotherspoon has more offensive upside than his brother at the same age, he is also very young (late August Birthday) he would be a good addition with the 53 or 76th Pick. One Russian that no one is really talking about that might be a sleeper is Denis Guryanov wonder if he falls to that 45th pick, Red Line Report has him 8th. He sounds like a possible Nikita Kucherov (who unfortunately we almost took back in 2011).

  • Burnward

    As I have not seen all the players I went and did a statistical look at how the scouting agencies ranked them, I used Mckenzies list, Buttons list, Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeens top 30 and ISS. I only looked up to about the top 20 and then some other names as well.

    1. McDavid 6 points
    2. Eichel 12 points
    3. Hanifin 23 points
    4. Marner 27 points
    5. Strome 29 points
    6. Provorov 38 points
    7. Crouse 51 points
    8. Werenski 54 points
    9. Zacha 65 points
    10. Rantanen 67 points
    11. Conner 70 points
    12. Barzal 72 points
    13. Meier 79 points
    14. Merkley 94 points
    15. Konerny 98 points
    16. Svechnivo 106 points
    17. Chabot 117 points
    18. Zboril 118 points
    19. White 120 points
    Points for anyone wondering is based upon the totals for how each organization ranked them.

    Other names that popped up often but did not show up in everyones top 30 included: Kylington, Jeremy Roy and Sprong.

    Some of the names I mentioned as targets for the second round have the following results: Meloche ranged between 27-45, Fischer 45-55, Brisebois 34-58 and Karlsson 39-54.

    It will be interesting to see what happens June 26 and 27.