The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service released its mid-season rankings today, showing their comparisons of North American and European skaters and goaltenders.
In the context of the Calgary Flames, now we can take a look at roughly where players are projected to go (by Central Scouting) and get a sense of what players might be available when the Flames head to the podium in late June in scenic Buffalo, New York.
The underlying assumptions here are that (a) the Flames get Nashville’s fourth round pick for Max Reinhart, (b) the Flames give up their seventh round pick for Freddie Hamilton, and (c) the Central Scouting rankings are a reasonable approximation of what the Flames see the rankings as. The third assumption is easily the dumbest, but it’s required for this experiment. In realty, there are 30 teams with 30 sometimes radically different lists.
The draft order used here is pre-lottery and is based entirely on points percentage heading into today, and I’m trying to locate players in the rankings that fit Calgary’s organizational needs and historical tendencies when it comes to the draft.
FIRST ROUND: 6TH OVERALL
Presuming that Auston Matthews, Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine are all gone early and that Matthew Tkachuk likely goes somewhere in the top four, the Flames look to grab one of four players: Sarnia D Jakob Chychrun, Mississuaga LW Alex Nylander, London D Olli Juolevi or Val-d’Or RW Julien Gauthier.
Simply put? If he’s available, Gauthier could be a great fit in Calgary. The Flames are thin as heck on the right side organizationally. The Flames are also thin on players with size AND skill (aside from maybe Micheal Ferland). Gauthier was good enough as a 17-year-old to make the Canadian World Junior team, and he’s listed as 6’3″ and 225 pounds. He ticks a ton of boxes on Calgary’s checklist. Not since Sean Monahan in 2013 has there been such a great, natural fit for the organization.
And if not him, Cape Breton winger Pierre-Luc Dubois is also a bigger, skilled body who could really fit in well among Calgary’s forward group.
SECOND ROUND: 36TH OVERALL
There are a ton of interesting names that could slip to 36th overall, such as Regina C Sam Steel, Kelowna C Dillon Dube, U.S. National Development D Chad Krys (who’s headed to Boston University next season) and Victoriaville C Pascal Laberge. Personally, I’d aim for another right-winger in Erie Otter forward Taylor Raddysh. Another big body, like Gauthier, he’s 6’1″ and 203 pounds. He’s put up good numbers in the OHL, granted on a team that’s just insanely good right now.
If not him? Perhaps Shawinigan defender Sam Girard. He’s SMALL, mind you (5’9″, 160 pounds) but he really impressed a ton of scouts at the Under-18s by being just an incredibly mobile player. If Johnny Gaudreau can excel in the NHL as a tiny player, do the Flames roll the dice on Girard?
THIRD ROUND: 66TH OVERALL
When you get this far down the list it’s basically a crap-shoot, but I’ll try to identify some players that could be available and decent fits (in terms of attributes and their risks):
- 58th (NA): London D Victor Mete – another smaller defender, but good and consistent.
- 60th (NA): Ottawa L Travis Barron – consistent, neither large nor small, 200-foot game.
- 61st (NA): Prince Albert D Vojtech Budik – offensively talented.
- 62nd (NA): Prince George D Josh Anderson – big (6’2″, 220), projects as shutdown defender.
- 70th (NA): Kamloops D Ondrej Vala – another big guy (6’4″, 207).
He’s a bit of a stretch at 76th ranked, but I really like C Noah Gregor – disclosure: he’s Jason Gregor’s nephew, I believe. He plays a strong 200-foot game and has an underrated offensive element. He’s been the glue guy for the Moose Jaw Warriors throughout this season, and he’s a player with no gaps in his game.
FOURTH ROUND: 96TH OVERALL
Here are more names that could be available:
- 82nd (NA): Vancouver RW Ty Ronning – small but has great offensive numbers.
- 91st (NA): Sudbury RW Dmitry Sokolov – big-bodied Russian import.
- 95th (NA): Calgary LW Carsen Twarynski – good size and two-way game, and a local kid.
- 97th (NA): Shattuck-St. Mary’s D Kenneth Johnson – Jack’s brother; big-bodied blueliner.
FOURTH ROUND: 102ND OVERALL (FROM NASHVILLE)
More potential players available (bearing in mind potentially some players in the 96th overall group could slide here as well):
- 100th (NA): U.S. National Development LW Nick Pastujov – decent size (6′, 200) and good numbers at the USHL level.
- 113th (NA): Calgary LW Jakob Stukel – a bit of a stretch, and he’s a second-year eligible player, but he’s been lights-out for the Hitmen and has a nose for the net.
- 18th (Euro): HV71 D Jakob Cederholm – Swedish and tall (6’3″).
FIFTH ROUND: 126TH OVERALL
Some guesswork: as to which of the vast cluster of players still on the board the Flames would want:
- 128th (NA): U.S. National Development D James Greenway – Jordan’s brother; big (6’4″, 213) and, um, big. Not an awful risk if they’ve made smart choices up to this point.
- 130th (NA): Dubuque RW William Knierim – big (6’3″, 210) player from same USHL team that produced Gaudreau.
SIXTH ROUND: 156TH OVERALL
At this point, there are complete shots in the dark and names I recognize. And since it’s the Flames’ likely last pick in the draft, they can afford to take some big swings.
- 160th (NA): Hamilton C Brandon Saigeon – I’m a bit shocked that he fell this far, as he looked good at the Under-18 Team Canada camp. Not massive, but has good mobility and a good 200-foot game.
- 199th (NA): North Bay C Zachary Poirier – Again, shocked he fell this far. Not massive, but rock-solid player. Flames 2015 pick Riley Bruce is a teammate, so Flames might feel they have good intel on him.
THE GUESSWORK CLASS OF 2016
What would a potential Flames draft haul look like that roughly fits these rankings and the team’s general tendencies?
- 6th overall: RW Julien Gauthier
- 36th overall: RW Taylor Raddysh
- 66th overall: C Noah Gregor
- 96th overall: LW Carsen Twarynski
- 102nd overall: D Jakob Cederholm
- 126th overall: D James Greenway
- 15th overall: C Brandon Saigeon
That’s a European, a QMJHLer, a USHLer, two from the WHL and two from the OHL. It’s also a forward-heavy group after a pretty defense-oriented draft in 2015. And it adds size up-front with three players (Gauthier, Raddysh and Twarynski), some size on the back-end (Cederholm and Greenway) and complements it with some smaller, more rounded forwards (Gregor and Saigeon).
And now that this list is out, expect the Flames to draft exactly zero of these players.
Take a look at the Central Scouting rankings for yourself and sound off with players you’d like the Flames to grab in the comments!