FlamesNation Draft Simulation

2016-NHL-Draft-Logo

The NHL Draft lottery is just two weeks away. The Calgary Flames finished the season 26th overall this year, ahead only of the Toronto Maple Leafs (30th), Edmonton Oilers (29th), Vancouver Canucks (28th) and Columbus Blue Jackets (27th). 

That gives Calgary an 8.5% chance at the first overall pick under the new draft lottery rules. The team with the best chance is the Leafs, at 20%. Those aren’t good odds for either team, frankly, which means there is a very wide spread of potential outcomes, probabilistically speaking. 

Enter the Draft Lottery Simulator! In advance of the real thing, the FN team decide to each take a spin with the simulator and run a mini mock draft to see how things may turn out. Here’s how things turned out for each of us:

Kent Wilson – Oilers win another one 🙁

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So this pretty much sucks. The Edmonton Oilers get yet another first overall pick and the Leafs fall marginally to 3rd overall. The Bruins leapfrog over all of the basement dwellers to score the 2nd pick. 

In my simulation, the Flames fall down to 6th overall. 

Here’s how I assume this draft would go:

  1. Edmonton – Auston Matthews (C)
  2. Boston – Jesse Pulujarvi (RW)
  3. Toronto – Patrik Laine (RW)
  4. Vancouver – Matthew Tkachuk (RW)
  5. Columbus – Alexander Nylander (LW)
  6. Calgary – PL Dubois (LW/C)

The Flames skip over Chychrun to take big, scoring LW/C Pierre-Luc Dobois. I think the club would prefer a RW for their first pick (all things being equal and if they can’t have Matthews), but if all of Puljujarvi, Laine and Tkachuk are gone by the time Calgary picks, I imagine they’ll choose the best forward who is still available which is Dubois if things go this way.

Ari Yanover – The lottery is stupid and I hate it

NHL Lottery Simulator

I just want to point out that the second time I ran this simulator, the Flames won the second draft pick. Boom. A Finn. Good. Easy. Done.

Alas, that’s not what happened on this go-through. Instead, the Flames got bumped down as the Winnipeg Jets – who finished above them – ended up with the second overall pick, and the Flames get relegated to sixth place. There aren’t any Auston Matthews or giant Finnish child to be found here.

Anyway, here’s my guess at this particular draft lottery order:

  1. Columbus – Auston Matthews (C)
  2. Winnipeg – Patrik Laine (RW)
  3. Toronto – Jesse Puljujarvi (RW) 
  4. Edmonton – Jacob Chychrun (D)
  5. Vancouver – Matthew Tkachuk (RW)
  6. Calgary – Alexander Nylander (LW)

Based on the idea that if Edmonton falls out of the top three, they’re taking a defenceman (though I could also see this swapped, with Edmonton going for Tkachuk and Vancouver taking the defenceman), that sees Alexander Nylander falls to sixth overall. He’s a high-scoring, offensively gifted winger: pretty much exactly what the Flames need, even if he plays the left side. Someone gets bumped to the right at some point. 

Nylander is brother to William Nylander and son of former Flame Michael Nylander. He led the Mississauga Steelheads in scoring both in the regular season and the playoffs by a fair margin.

Ryan Pike – This Makes Me Sad

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Well, just like Kent and Ari’s simulations, mine saw the Flames get bumped down to sixth overall.

Here’s how I see it shaking out:

  1. Buffalo takes Auston Matthews (C), gets even deeper with decent young forwards (to go with their good defensive group).
  2. Vancouver takes Patrik Laine (RW) second overall.
  3. Edmonton goes off the board a bit, seeking to fix an organizational weakness by selecting Jacob Chychrun (D) from the OHL.
  4. Toronto, amazed at their good fortune, “settle” for Jesse Puljujarvi (RW) rather than going for Alex Nylander to complete their Amazing Swedish Brother contingent.
  5. Columbus grabs Matthew Tkachuk (RW).
  6. Calgary gets Alex Nylander (LW).

Yes, I foresee Edmonton upsetting the draft consensus apple cart if they draft anywhere between 3rd and 6th because they really, really need defensive help.

Christian Tiberi – Down to 6th Again

A history of acquiring and whiffing on first overall picks isn’t exclusive to the Oilers. It may surprise you to learn that the Montreal Canadiens, since the draft began in 1963, have picked first more than any other team. They’ve also (arguably) missed more than any other team. Let’s take a quick pick at their #1 selections, then who was picked next or in the immediate vicinity:

1963: Garry Monahan (Pete Mahovlich)

1968: Michel Plasse (owned top three picks, missed all)

1969: Rejean Houle (owned top two picks, hit 50% thanks to Marc Tardif)

1971: Guy Lafleur (batting .200!)

1980: Doug Wickenheiser (Dave Babych, Denis Savard, Larry Murphy, Paul Coffey. Batting .200)

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Based on history and this simulated universe, Auston Matthews should probably be feeling a little bit uneasy. As should the Flames, because that means the Oilers might get a hall-of-famer. Let’s hope history doesn’t hold, and take a look at this mock draft:

  1. Auston Matthews, Montreal
  2. Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton
  3. Patrik Laine, Toronto
  4. Jacob Chychrun, Vancouver
  5. Matthew Tkachuk, Columbus
  6. Alexander Nylander, Calgary

Because he is the gift that keeps on giving, Jim Benning has pretty much confirmed that a defenceman is his first priority at the draft (even if there are a few better options available). I think Columbus will be tossed up between the two players with NHL bloodlines, but take Tkachuk because of the slight size advantage. That leaves the Flames with the versatile (and technically local) Nylander.

Ben Smith – Lou’s a happy man

Well, considering I’m a Flames blogger living in Toronto, there could be worse things than the Leafs getting the first overall pick. However, with the Flames getting the 7th pick in my simulation, I’m sure my colleagues at FN are looking at their liquor cabinets for refuge at the moment if my simulation comes to reality. 

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Here’s the way I see things shaking-out at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft: 

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews (RW)
  2. Boston Bruins – Patrik Laine (RW)
  3. Arizona Coyotes – Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)
  4. Edmonton Oilers – Matthew Tkachuk (RW)
  5. Vancouver Canucks – Alexander Nylander (LW)
  6. Columbus Blue Jackets – Jacon Chychrun (D)
  7. Calgary Flames – Pierre-Luc Dubois (F)

I swear I’m not copying off of Kent, but I agree that the Flames need some scoring, and I see PL Dubois as the best option for the Flames at that part of the draft. However, if the Flames are looking for someone who could be a solid blueliner for the club in the coming years, I also think Jake Bean could be a great option. 

Just also wanted to take a moment to say that Arii is the absolute best manager in the entire world!! [ed. – :D]

Christian Roatis – More of the same

Draft_Christian

I’ve run these simulators multiple times a
week for the last few, and seeing the Flames top 3 is really quite rare. I
guess the Hockey Gods are just saving it for when it counts?

Flames fall from 5th to 7th
in this simulation and miss out on the truly elite prospects, dropping them just below the upper tier of prospects in this draft being
left. As it stands today, here’s how
I see this particular order shaking
out (these are not copy and paste from my personal rankings):     

  1. Winnipeg – Auston Matthews (C)
  2. Toronto – Patrik Laine (RW)
  3. Phoenix – Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)
  4. Edmonton – Jakob Chychrun (D)
  5. Vancouver – Mikael Sergachyov
    (D)
  6. Columbus – Matthew Tkachuk (RW)
  7. Calgary – Pierre-Luc Dubois (F)

Kind of like in 2013 with Sean Monahan, the
Flames ending up with Pierre-Luc Dubois seems to be the trend when they’re not
drafting Top 3. 

He’s definitely not my favorite prospect in this draft, but he
fits the bill of big, fast, scoring winger (he actually plays both wings well, and recently has had success at center too). Dubois would
be the definition of a consolation prize for the Flames, because putting up
with last season deserves one of the Elite 3, but c’est la vie.

Conclusion

The FN consensus from this experiment is the Flames pick 6th/7th overall and land on either Alexander Nylander or PL Dubois. For what it’s worth, Nylander’s NHLe is 32 and Dubois’ is 34. 

Not the most exciting outcome given how much the org could use Puljujarvi, Laine or Tkachuk but clearly there are few very good prospects still available after 5 (as Monahan has proven the last three seasons. BTW, his NHLe was 33 in his draft year). 

What about it Flames Nation? Who would you pick at 6th overall?

  • T&A4Flames

    Maybe I get kicked in the teeth, but I’m curious of people’s appetite for trading down from 1st overall if it meant completing the rebuild quicker. I look at most of the other teams in the lottery and think we could add a couple of good wingers to our top 6 by trading down from 1st to 2nd or 3rd.

    For instance: 1st to TML for 2nd or 3rd and JVR
    1st to VAN for 2nd or 3rd and Virtanen.
    ……………..to ARZ for 2/3 and D. Strome
    ……………..to WPG for 2/3 and Hellybuck

    Not saying all trades would be straight up but possible adds on either side if needed. Thoughts?

    • The Fall

      I’m all over trading down. The Finns at 2 and 3 solve a huge problem immediately. Matthews is bait for a bad GM (Benning) to make a splash. Anything below 3rd is going to be put back in the hopper for a while.

      RW and Goalie. That’s the immediate and re-build needs. Add those two positions and dump a little dead weight; Flames are threat.

        • wot96

          Hartley would probably have him playing over at wing for the first 60 games or so, and 12 – 14 minutes a night too.

          Don’t want to give kids anything they haven’t “earned”.

        • The Fall

          just saying, maybe just maybe theres a GM out there who would swap third overall and an assist for the ‘honour’ of picking number 1…

          Most Canadian teams need that PR boost: (Van, Tor, Ott, Mtl)

  • freethe flames

    Boy the next couple of weeks could be slow here on Flamesnation unless we talk about other teams in the playoffs. Both the Ducks and Kings are in trouble.

    It’s hard to get too excited about watching other teams play but boy does it tell one how far the Flames still need to go to get to that level. Sometimes I watch and go; Yikes, will we ever get to that level. Bigger, stronger, tougher, nastier and more skilled depth. Then I remember that most of these guys playing on these teams are in their primes and our top players are early in their careers and I’m less worried.

    Getting a top 3 would help next year and beyond. Outside of the top 3 I see guys in the system who will be as impactfull as any of the remaining top 5 forwards next year; although the draft class will pay dividends down the road. Mangiapane has had as good as season as the 4-10 as had and because he is older is more likely to be ready, Grant, Agostino, Shinkaruk and even Poirier are going to be more ready because if their pro experience as well as the young Czech we just unofficially just signed. Janko may also surprise.

  • Kevin R

    Well, I didn’t fair much better on that stupid thing. But have all ye faithful, the lottery is on my Birthday & we have the Kevy factor going for us! Im due with the Hockey Gods.

    • Captain Ron

      We’re counting on any good fortune you can bring us! The Gods definitely owe us for keeping it honest all season!

      Well except maybe the Hiller thing but…..

      Came up Flames(!) Leafs and Sabres for me when I ran it

  • everton fc

    I’d take Dubois if he can transition to RW. Or, does he centre Bennett on LW, Shinkaruk on RW? Lots of options. See below:

    An interesting line: Gaudreau/Bennett/Dubois.

  • brodiegio4life

    if the flames win the lottery, they should no question explore he possibility of trading down to either 2 or 3. One of the Finns would fit their needs much better and it would allow them to add another top end piece to their team. Of course just keeping Matthews would also be great. Can’t wait until April 30th! (feel like an oilers fan)

    • Christian Roatis

      Problem with that is, at least by most people you talk to, the gap between Matthews and the Finns is in fact sizeable. That’s evident in counting numbers – Matthews way outscored both PL and JP in what is generally considered to be a superior league – and when you watch Matthews play, he just comes across as a guy who is about to break the game wide open on every shift (same feeling you get with Gaudreau, McDavid, NHL Superstar X). Both Laine and Puljujarvi have shown their age and experience at time in Liiga this year, while Matthews looked like one of the best players in the NLA, especially towards the end of the year. I think by trading down, you risk giving away a considerably better player, granted for assets in return. This is coming from quite possibly the biggest fan of the Finns – my intense love for Puljujarvi is well documented.

      If Flames take Matthews, they still get their elite winger by way of moving one of him, Monahan or Bennett (most likely), to wing.

      • T&A4Flames

        Swiss elite is considered a superior league to the Finnish elite? I was not aware of that.

        Although I agree with you that Matthews is the superior player, although maybe not by as wide a margin as you seem to think, a team isn’t the best by simply putting all superstars on it. I shouldn’t even have to mention the Oilers at this point. It’s created by the best fit of players. Over the last few years I’ve read so many comments from people arguing that you always take the top talent, even if he is a superfluous and redundant asset because of his value. Tell me, what good is a players value if you have no intention of trading him for what you need. And if it happens that you want to trade him, it’s likely his value has dropped for whatever reason you want to trade him for in the 1st place. Either way, you’re probably lengthening the time of your rebuild by constantly just taking the same player over and over.

        We have 2 strong young centers and lots of C depth beneath them. They need to be surrounded by strong young but complimentary wingers. We could add 2 (and possibly more assets) extremely good young wingers (or a goalie) by trading down just 1 or 2 spots.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    We need to be careful about believing the Fins are the necessary silver bullet for this team. On paper they look dynamite and a great fit for our NHL team but they would not be the first players with size, speed, skill, and all the tools only to fall short. Nichuskin, is a great example of having all the tools. On paper he looks like “a can’t miss kid” but I think he has underperfomred mightily.

    Much like the others I have been running, the Draft simulator when I am bored, and it never looks great for the Flames when I do it. In fact some of the teams outside the top 5 consistently get better results than the Flames which I am sure goes with the territory of running the odds.

    When I run the simulator, we rarely select 5th or 8th so if I am a betting man, I say we select 6th or 7th if we don’t get a top 3 pick. This puts us in Nylander, Chychrun, or Dubois territory. I agree that Calgary would stay away from drafting Nylander becasue of his size and the teams need to get more size, although that could be a mistake. He will fill out and he already has one of the best shots in the draft and is highly skilled.

    IMO Nylander has a greater upside since his Dad is really hands on and continues to work with the boys to address any short comings. I have heard that the knock on Alex was his skating but he has now turned this into a strength. Michael was always a great player to watch and his sons seem even better.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Buffalo and Winnipeg are already awash in talented young talent with the Sabres a bit further ahead than the Jets. Question: if the Sabres and/or Jets end up in the top 3, would they be willing to deal for some “right now” talent? I say yes to Buffalo and perhaps for the Jets. Oilers too might be willing to deal. Don’t kid yourselves, the Coyotes are willing to move Dome for #1. Other teams like the Leafs and Canucks may not be willing to move a top 3. Bottom line is that if the Flames are not picking in the top 3, are they prepared to move up and what are they willing to part with to enter the top 3? No way do Flames trade into the top 3 without losing one of Hockey, Monahan, Bennett, Gio, Brodie or Hamilton or surrender future first round picks.

    • RickT

      I am okay with losing Gio for a top 3.

      Might get me roasted here, but honestly, I think we will not do much worse than we did last year. Hamilton knows the system, Brodie is elite, Kevin pulled his weight as a 4, Nak has shown he can play around that area too.

      Might extend the rebuild one more year while waiting for one of Andersson, Kylington, et al., or a trade.

      But, even though it looks good value now, very quickly Gio will be getting older and it’s a big hit on the cap. (however, right now, it’s super tradable)