A Mid-Season Glance at the 2016 NHL Draft

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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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″).


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.


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.


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!

  • SmellOfVictory

    I wonder about Gauthier’s production, though. He hasn’t really improved over last season, he’s an old player for the draft (18 for the entire season, essentially), and he’s barely over a point-per-game on a team where three guys are outpacing him. Obviously I don’t know much about him since he’s in the Q and we get basically zero Q games here, but an explanation (e.g. ice time being limited by older players) for his less-than-stellar stats would be nice.

    Between the two of them, Nylander looks like a significantly more dynamic player. He certainly looked better in the WJC, and he’s performing extremely well as a rookie in the OHL. He’s a right shot and plays both wings. The only box he doesn’t really check off is the size one, although he’s not small, either.

  • cunning_linguist

    Flames need to move heaven and earth (but not anyone from our young core) to land Laine or Puljujarvi…come on Burke, it’s time to teach your padawan how to move up in the draft

  • SmellOfVictory

    There are two things about Gauthier that bug me.

    1: His size. Players who are that heavy while playing in junior often have difficulty propagating their game to higher levels when their size advantage is reduced.

    2: His point totals. His goal production is incredible (he’s close to a goal per game this season) but he has just eight assists. This implies (to me) a one-dimensional player who will be exposed and neutralized in the NHL.

    I’m no expert of course, but I’m a little leery of Gauthier these days.

    • BurningSensation

      You should always be watching the draft. Not watching it was the mistake the Flames made in the mid 2000’s.

      Granted that has nothing to do with the fans, but what’s wrong with being educated about the young players entering the organization?

  • Christian Roatis

    Gauthier was shooting close to 30% earlier this season, and is at 25% right now, and has just 8 assists in 32 games. I’m not a huge fan, to say the least.

    Wish I had more time to breakdown the top of this year’s draft cause there are some really overrated kids ranked Top 10 (PL Dubois is the other big one, for me), and Olli Juolevi needs more love.

  • BurningSensation

    I cannot see a Gaudreau sized defenseman being useful in the nhl. Try and get Thornton and Kopitar away in front of the net with this runt. Forwards ok, but I like some mobile size on the blue line

    • Nick24

      I don’t know, seems like Torey Krug has figured it out pretty well. Jared Spurgeon Is useful too.

      Size, or lack there of, isn’t a deffinitive indicator of usefulness at the NHL level. A good player is a good player, and it shouldn’t matter if he’s 6′ 9″ or 4′ 9″.

  • CofRed4Life

    I would much rather have Nylander than Gauthier. But our scouts are paid to draft the BPA, and I have confidence in them, especially after last year’s draft.

  • Parallex

    Don’t much care for some of those selections. Let me make my own…

    •6th overall: LW Alex Nylander

    The lopsided nature of Gauthier’s point totals scare the hell out of me so we go with the more balanced Alex Nylander instead (Bonus points his birth certificate says Calgary).

    •36th overall: RW Taylor Raddysh

    No disagreement here he looks to be the best left of the board.

    •66th overall: D Stepan Falkovsky

    I go for a bit of a reach here on the overager Falkovsky. He’s huge, he’s put up very decent point totals from the backend as a CHL import.

    •96th overall: C Brogan O’Brien

    Besides “Bro” being his first name he’s put up more points as a C then Twarynski has.

    •102nd overall: D Jakob Cederholm

    No argument here.

    •126th overall: G Filip Larsson

    Probably gonna draft a goalie but you shouldn’t draft them high and since they take forever to develop I want a European. Larsson fits the bill.

    •156th overall: D Oliver Felixson

    Riley Bruce 2.0 huge 17 year old.


    … then for funsies I trade future considerations for the 210th pick and select Samual Duggan. I have a soft spot for guys from non-hockey markets so I grab the Englishman.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    If Calgary finishes out of the playoffs, I obviously want either of Puljujarvi or Laine. If that doesn’t work out though, I would much rather draft Nylander. He’s super skilled, shoots right, and we’d be stealing him away from Toronto fans who want him to play with big bro Willy.

    • cberg

      I’m liking what I’m reading about Mississaugua’s 1C Michael McLeod. 6’2″ 188lbs, speed and quickness a la Mcdavid, touted as “steal of the draft” in recent article…. He’s the Centre for Nylander.

      Of course, any one of the top-rated 4-5 I’d probably be fine with as well.

  • FlamesFan1489

    I like Nylander but the size may be a concern, only because we do have a smaller team already. Him or Juolevi, if we aren’t amongst the top 5. I mean if we’re top 4 it’s BPA of what is left between Matthews, Pul, Laine and Tkachuk.

    I really like Stukel. I understand he’s on his second year of eligibility but the guy has a serious nose for the net and seems to know where to be to be successful on the ice. Maybe not the most skilled player but his hockey IQ is through the roof. I’d take him over Twarynski.

      • FlamesFan1489

        It’s not just about height. He’s quite lanky, his father was quite lanky, his brother is quite lanky. We have that in Backlund. This team needs a power forward desperately. Ferland is a beaut but may not have the hands to be on the top line going forward (middle 6 though).

        • FlamesFan1489

          Whatever we have in Backlund we do not need more of! 1 is plenty God damn holy muffin lobber. Maybe the pucks in Sweden are half the weight and thats why he can’t get a damn thing on his shots? Forsberg seemed to have done alright though..

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            If you’re gonna compare Nylander to Backlund just stop. They are two completely different players. Backlund is a defensive specialist WHO WAS NEVER THOUGHT TO BE AN OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT, Nylander is a wizard with the puck like his older brother. Have you seen what William is doing in the AHL as a teenager?? It’s nothing short of amazing. He has 34 points in 27 games. The only players in the AHL that have more points than him have played anywhere from 4-15 more games than him. Prior to going to the ASG, Nylander was on pace to be the first teenage in AHL history to have a 100 point season.

            P.S: I love how you’re still finding (idiotic) ways to bash Backlund on an article about the draft.

          • cunning_linguist

            Backlund on pace for 9 goals this season..are you freaking kidding me. As a 16 to 18 min playing center man and hasn’t missed a game..shiiiit that’s pathetic. I could do better. He’ll Thomas I bet you could do better

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            Oh my God, you constantly spouting off this ridiculous BS is hilarious. Backlund isn’t on the team to score a lot of goals. You have Johnny, Monny, Bennett, Frolik is good for about 15-20, for that. If Backlund scores around 10 goals in a season that’s perfect. What he brings away from the puck and in his own zone is what he’s on the team for. How can you not wrap your head around this? His 15 minutes a night are some of the safest 15 minutes the team could ask for. Did he hurt you in some way? Talk $hit about someone you know? I don’t understand how you can hate him so much. At least the people who dislike the play Bollig/Colborne/Russell can back it up with something.

  • PrairieStew

    Have any francophone draft picks ever done a damn thing for this organization? Poirier looks to be flagging, I liked Denis Gauthier, even giguere failed to live up to his super french canadaian goalie tag w us. Please correct me if I’m wrong

  • Parallex

    Guy Chouinard was pretty good from what I’ve heard? I don’t know, seems like more often than not they sh!t the bed for us or never amount to anything

  • KiLLKiND

    Anybody up for drafting Chychyrun? I know we need a top line RW but, high end defencemen are harder to come by in the NHL. We would have hopefully be able to trade away a few UFA’s for assets that we could package with maybe Granlund for a high end RW we might have to give out a big deal. but an RW will be more likely come up on the market than a super defence like Chychyrun. From what I’ve heard he is a top tier defencemen.

    We could have him develop for an extrea year in juniors and then after that we have him for 3 years on an ELC.For the next few years our top 4 could consist of him, Brodie, Hamilton and Gio. Potentially in another 2 years some combo of Hickey, Andersson, Kylington or Nakldal filling out the 5-7 spots.

    I don’t know who could be available but next year or the year after it could be worth trading our 1st and probably some other assets as well for a top line RW instead of drafting one this year.

  • FlamesFan1489

    Fun fact. Jamie Allison, Joel Bouchard and Cale Hulse played over 1300 nhl games and had 1 measly playoff game between them. Lol. The “young gun” defense my a$$ lol add todd Simpson in there and it’s something like 2000 games with 10 playoff games..sheesh

  • PrairieStew

    While the Flames need a RW now, the notion of filling that gap from the draft is ill advised. Asking an 18 year old to step in and play is a stretch to begin with, asking it to be a significant role is a mistake. The team should draft what they see their need in 3 years from the first round, and 4 plus from every round after that. It was draft plus 4 before Gaudreau was in the lineup. At least 3 for Brodie. Monahan and Bennett certainly have made it sooner, but as top 10 picks on a rebuilding team they should be the exception. Take the most valuable player available and deal from strength. The immediated RW gap should be filled internally (Porier, Ferland, Granlund, Shore) or addressed in free agency or trade. Same goes for the #4 d man and the goaltending.

  • hulkingloooooob

    anybody know if anybody has drafted Alex Forsberg from the Royals (WHL)?? he’s an over-ager on the Royals… could be a late rounder (if not already drafted)