Sigh. Well that was unfortunate.
After 60 minutes of Damien Cox, the draft lottery finally got underway in Toronto. Things fell in favour of the host city, with the Maple Leafs winning the 1st overall pick after a season designed, and surgically executed to complete that exact task. The result of the second and third lotteries, for those numbered picks respectively, is where a sour taste sets into the mouths of Flames fans.
Coming into the last game of the season against the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames could’ve finished 4th, 5th or 6th last. They ended up beating the Minnesota Wild thanks to Brandon Bollig – because of course – and a fluke goal from Patrick Sieloff, and overtook the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets leaving them at 6th last. They didn’t stay there long though, as the Jets staged an unlikely 3-goal comeback to beat the Los Angeles Kings, and bump Calgary to 5th last. And guess what?
The 4th and 6th spots both won lotteries, with the Jets choosing 2nd and the Columbus Blue Jackets choosing 3rd. Boy, that stings.
So, the Flames will settle for the 6th overall pick, the same number they held three drafts ago when they selected Sean Monahan. Before you pull the “that’s awesome it worked out so well last time” line, either think Rico Fata and Daniel Tkaczuk, or that any of these 6th overalls are not at all correlated. I’m sorry to be a party pooper but that line’ll get all kinds of annoying by June.
Anyways, I may be bitter right now, but fact is the 6th overall pick will still yield the Flames an extremely solid hockey player, and more than likely a quality scoring winger, which they desperately need. Also, staying at 6 isn’t exactly a certainty either.
I tweeted just before the lottery that if the Canucks stayed in the Top 3, they might be willing to trade down to satisfy their desire for a bluechip defenceman and acquire a pile of extra picks, which Jim Benning apparently loves but never has. Unfortunately, that option is no longer viable seeing as the Canucks are choosing just one pick above the Flames. What could be viable though, is a connection with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
When Columbus traded away Ryan Johansen to shore up their ailing blueline, they instantly created a need for a number 1 centre in their lineup. Alexander Wennberg isn’t looking like that type of player and Brandon Dubinsky is most certainly not that player, and the Jackets don’t have anyone in their system right now who could be the solution.
Sitting at the 3rd overall spot, they’re in-line to draft Jesse Puljujarvi, who projects as a number one RW, and all around quality player. Not bad. But, just a few picks down is where Pierre-Luc Dubois, the only player capable of playing centre for miles around the 3rd overall pick, is projected. Right where the Calgary Flames are slated to select, in fact. After Auston Matthews, who won’t pried out of Toronto’s hands, Dubois is the only centre (he can actually play all 3 forward positions) ranked in the Top 9 and sometimes even lower, depending on what ranking you’re looking at.
So, I’m saying there’s a chance.
Ideally, the Flames and Jackets could solve each others problems by flipping picks, satisfying their individual organizational needs – playing in different conferences also makes in easier to complete a “I help you, you help me” deal – and Calgary throws a basket of goods along with the 6th to Columbus as well.
If I was the Jackets, I would ask for Dallas’ pick if it’s a 1st and Calgary’s 2nd, or Calgary’s 2nd and Florida’s 2nd. Maybe a B prospect as well. Speculating what a deal would look like is a bit of useless exercise considering we never guess right, anyways. Point is, there’s a potential deal there.
It’s certainly not a sure-thing, though. Even if the Jackets loved Dubois and passing on Puljujarvi to fill an organizational need made sense in this scenario, they would still be gambling that neither Edmonton nor Vancouver would take him before they could. Any chance they feel that could be the case, the deal falls apart and Columbus just takes Dubois at 3.
There’s also the more likely scenario, in which Columbus doesn’t love Dubois more than Puljujarvi and goes with best player available.
There really isn’t a deal to be made with the Jets for the 2nd overall, not to mention the Leafs, so the Columbus Blue Jackets are Calgary’s only shot at drafting in the Top 3 in June, and it’s a slim chance at that. Nonetheless, from what we know about Brad Treliving, he will explore every road, avenue and shady back alley to try and get his team the best player possible come the draft, and if Calgary does end up selecting 6th, we can rest assured there was no reasonable opportunity for anything different.
How It Could Shake Down
The most interesting part of the lottery results, in my opinion at least, is the fact that both the Oilers and Canucks fell out of EliteHockeyPlayer range. Matthews and the Finns will be more than likely gone by the time the defence starved Pacific Division rivals stroll up to the stage.
The Canucks have already discussed publicly, a desire to select a defenceman if one of the elite forwards isn’t available at their spot, and there are three rearguards that have been discussed as options in that range. All three are OHLers, in the form of Jakob Chychrun, Olli Joulevi and Mikael Sergachyov. This means that the Flames could be left with Matthew Tkachuk, the high-octane point hoarder out of London.
There are some concerns about exactly how much of his absurd 107 points in 57 game stat line is his own doing, and how much is influenced by linemates Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak, two formidable (read: elite) ice hockey participants, but Tkachuk is a special offensive talent nonetheless. Watching him play makes that clear as day. And if he really is a one of those players that needs quality linemates in order to realize great success, the Flames shouldn’t have any trouble accommodating that.
Tkachuk is definitely the “best of the rest” in terms of forwards after the Big 3, and if the Flames don’t manage to trade up, he is the best case scenario at 6th overall for the Flames.
So as it stands today, with the information available to me at this time plus my own rankings, here’s how I mock the Top 6 shaking down:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews, C, NLA
2. Winnipeg Jets – Patrik Laine, RW, SM-Liiga
3. Columbus Blue Jackets – Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, SM-Liiga
4. Edmonton Oilers – Jakob Chychrun, D, OHL
*5. Vancouver Canucks – Olli Juolevi, D, OHL
6. Calgary Flames – Matthew Tkachuk, LW, OHL
This is a pretty liberal outlook on how things will shake out, as the Canucks have needs at every position and their drafting a defenceman – on the surface – would be anything but certain, but their newly minted and frankly strange, policy of transparency gave us the tidbit that they desire to draft a bluechip defenceman, and their position as of today makes that possible. So, ask and you shall receive.
Juolevi is a bit of a reach at 5 as well, but if the Canucks do go for a defenceman, he’s the next guy up by my rankings. Sergachyov is certainly an option there as well, should they choose to go D and Chychrun is gone.
*If the Canucks do not take a defenceman no matter at what at 5, it sounds like Jim Benning really like Pierre-Luc Dubois, so that’s who I would project there. The whole Olli Juolevi at 5 thing probably wouldn’t go over too well in Vancouver, but they’ve done crazier things.
Other realistic options for the Flames at 6 are Mississauga Steelheads winger Alexander Nylander, who recorded 75 points in 57 games and is signed on to play for Rogle HC in the SHL next season, or the aforementioned Pierre-Luc Dubois who tore up the QMJHL for 42 goals and 99 points in 62 games alongside a supporting cast nearly as impressive as Tkachuk’s.
I doubt the Flames choose one of the three defenceman mentioned above unless they really, really love one of them, so anyone not named Tkachuk, Nylander or Dubois would be quite a surprise.
Knowing the Flames’ draft history, I don’t like surprises.
FlamesNation Draft Coverage
Well, with the lottery behind us and the draft order set, we can now focus on the actual draft, itself. Less lottery simulators, and more rankings. As always, FlamesNation will be bringing you the best Flames draft coverage on the internet leading up to the 24th of June to get you primed for the big day and familiarized with everything the 2016 NHL Draft has to offer, both as a whole and of course for your Calgary Flames.
The popular NHL Draft Scout Series will return, headlining our coverage that will include everything from mock drafts to podcasts to general prospect and Flames specific draft pieces. Our coverage and content has gotten more comprehensive and higher in quality with each passing year, so you can expect the lead up to the 2016 rendition of draft to be even bigger and even better than its predecessors.
The regular season might be over, but draft season is just beginning. Let’s get this party started.