Flames Darkhorse First Round Targets 2016: Clayton Keller

Every year there’s a few players that jump up much higher than they were projected and players that fall much further than they were projected. 

Clayton Keller, although unlikely to go sixth, is a possible reach target that could be on the Flames’ radar if they’re not completely sold on whoever is left to them between Nylander, Tkachuk, Dubois or a top-end defender. Keller is generally thought of as a tier or two below the Tkachuk, Nylander, Dubois group but there are a few arguments for why he might be in the sixth conversation.

Keller is a smooth skating, playmaking centre for the U.S. Development team, who stands 5’10 and weighs 170 pounds.  He is a late July birthday (July 29, 1998) and as a result is one of the youngest players in the draft, and the youngest of the forwards likely to go in the first round. Keller’s ranking in the upcoming draft is a little all over the map: some have him as high as sixth, although most have him in the 10-15 slot. 

Keller split his time between the USNTDP Juniors of the USHL where he registered 37 points in 23 games, and the U.S. National U18 Team where he registered 107 points in 62 games (a combined NHLE of 37.5 – 144 points in 85 games with a conversion of 0.27). He led both teams in scoring, leading fellow likely 2016 first rounder Kieffer Bellows by 26 points on the U.S. National U18 team and by five points on the USNTDP Juniors.

Keller joined the U18 team in March 2015 from the U17 team. The team was already loaded down the middle at the time but with players like Auston Matthews moving on from the program and Keller’s skill and determination, Keller found himself as the best centre on the team in short order and was used in all situations. For the 2016-17 season, he and Bellows have committed to Boston University, following in the footsteps of Jack Eichel. 

What do the scouts have to say about him?


“Keller is a strong, shifty skater with a powerful shot, displaying brilliance and hockey sense strikingly similar to what Marner brings to the ice. And while Marner is a winger, Keller is equally adept at bringing you out of your seat while leaving amazed opponents on the very edge of theirs. He’s schooled amateurs of all ages – U.S. college seniors, European stars, NHL-bound Canadian juniors; it doesn’t matter. He’s a hard-nosed, fearless player with a lot of flash, but he’s been Team USA’s leader and go-to option for every critical situation – defensive zone draws, killing penalties, gaining entry into the offensive zone, etc.” – The Draft Analyst

“Clayton Keller is an excellent player who has the skills, brain, competitiveness and confidence to not only impact the game, but to also dictate significant portions of offensive play. The USNTDP centre has panorama vision – there is no play he doesn’t see and he is always dangerous even when it may appear that he isn’t. Keller controls the game and brings out the best abilities of those he plays with.” – Craig Button, TSN

“A small but highly dynamic playmaker that is not afraid to go to the greasy areas for a scoring chance. He skates well with the ability to rocket down the ice and add a quick lateral burst to get through a hole when required. Has very impressive vision and ability to pick up options all over the ice all while maintaining possession and protecting the puck. Is a 100% effort player who rarely takes a shift off. Also possesses a pin-point shot that he hits his mark with when in a position to score. A very dangerous offensive player who has definite top six NHL potential.” – Future Considerations


USHL Numbers

  • Points Per Game (PPG) (1st)
  • Primary PPG (3rd)
  • GPG (6th)
  • 1A PG (1st)
  • 2A PG (1st)
  • Age Adj Primary PPG (2nd)
  • Shooting % (48th)
  • ES Points/Total Points Split (62%)

Keller ranks at the top or near the top in every category for the brief time he played in the USHL. Had Keller played the whole year with the USHL (rather than the majority of his time with the U.S. National U18 Team) and had a better than average shooting percentage like Rem Pitlick, Ross Colton and Cameron Morrison (the leading scorers in the USHL this season) he may have won out in every category. 

Keller played in somewhat of a hybrid league this year. He spent 23 games with the USHL (essentially the team USA team of the USHL) and spent 62 games with the U.S. National U18 Team, where he played against other countries and various levels of competition over the course of several months. 

Let’s see how he compares to other notable players that went through that same program.

U.S. National U18 Team

Keller US National Comparison

You’ll recognize all the names on this list. Some are NHL stars, some are burgeoning stars and some haven’t played in the league yet but will make their mark very soon. Keller has the third highest PPG rate of them all, behind notable studs Auston Matthews and Phil Kessel. What’s important to note here is that from Matthews to Kane, all were top five picks (three are/will be top two picks) and Keller (being a late July birthday) was not much older than his cohorts when completing the season. The totals he put up for the U.S. National U18 team are uncommon elite numbers that only few players reach. 


Finally let’s look where he fits in based on recent history and his blended NHLE (U.S. National and USHL). For this, I’ve chosen a cohort of players to hit an NHLE of 35 or more in their true draft year from 2003 to 2015.

Keller 3

As we can see this is a very good cohort that does well in terms of success rate and career PPG rate in the NHL. The average of the group is 0.60 (roughly 50 points every 82 games) which is drastically larger than the overall average scoring rate of players to make the NHL in the same time period (0.38).  


Keller had a very impressive draft year, no matter how you look at it. He’s played over 80 games against different leagues, different quality of opponents and even different countries this year and dominated them all. Scouts rave about his ability to hold on to the puck and enter the zone with ease, something the Flames need in droves. 

His stock seems to be increasing by the week but he likely won’t seriously make it onto the Flames’ radar at sixth. If he does we shouldn’t be displeased as he would be a “reach” that tics all the boxes for a future top six impact scorer.

Previous draft target articles: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi

  • everton fc

    Here’s why he won’t be our pick at #6, regardless of comparisons to Marner;

    “Keller is a smooth skating, playmaking centre for the U.S. Development team, who stands 5’10 and weighs 170 pounds.”

    5’10”, 170lbs. Not in the Flames future plans.

    • piscera.infada

      5’10”, 170lbs. Not in the Flames future plans.

      He’s not a Burke type of player.

      Here’s the question I have about the elusive “Burke-type player”. Imagine a world where there are two players:

      Player 1: 6’6″, 218 lbs. Considered to be an offensive player. Good puck skills, good release, average skating (but gets around “good enough”). Is noted as being big, but is not overly physical, and not overly tenacious on the forecheck or in the corners.

      Player 2: 5’10”, 170 lbs. Considered to be an offensive player. Good puck skills, good release, good skating. Is noted as small, but “goes to the dirty areas consistently”, does not shy away from contact, is tenacious, is noted as “strong on his skates”.

      Which one is the “Burke-type player”?

      I don’t mean to start an argument here about the merits of size vs. skill, I’m just generally interested. I’ve heard this mantra about the Flames’ “future plans”, and getting “bigger and meaner”, and “Burke-type players”, and I genuinely don’t understand it. More to the point, are we drawing arbitrary lines that a “small” player can’t play “Burke style” hockey? Does a “big” player always play “Burke style” hockey?

      Look, I’m willing to grant that anti-Nylander crowd that he’s not a “Burke-type player”, and he won’t be picked because of it. I don’t agree with that, but let’s put that aside for this discussion. What are your thoughts on the hypothetical?

      • Christian Roatis

        You nailed it.

        Burke LOVES Mangiapane because though he’s small, he’s a “mean little bastard”. A “Burke-player” is a hard-nosed and hard working hockey player.

        • jakethesnail

          There are only so many “mean little bastards” that can play on the team. A centre to go up against Thornton? Logan Brown would be better in the long run.

          • Christian Roatis

            The Logan Brown love on here is getting all kinds of old.

            Keller is generally ranked inside the Top 10. Brown usually sits outside the Top 10. Combined with Calgary’s depth at centre that would be a horrendously unnecessary reach.

          • Christian Roatis

            Some stuff including Brown will come out in the near future, but I don’t want to spend too much time on him because he shouldn’t be considered at 6. He’s not an elite prospect.

            I don’t want it to sound like I’m hating on him, because he’s a good hockey player and prospect, but he doesn’t touch the guys atop this draft.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            I think the CHL bias for the upcoming draft is really negatively impacting the ratings of some players. I will admit that I was pumped about drafting Nylander but I can see the warning signs. Personally if a player can dominate with a smallish frame like Nylander and Keller, they will have a bigger upside when the fill out…and they will.

            Brown intrigues me as well but I can see some red flags…I am not sure How I would Feel if the biggest player on the ice would lose puck battles because of a lack of aggression. This brings me to a player I feel checks all the boxes and then some. From what I have read and viewed, Tyson Jost is the Complete package.

            Decent size – 6’0″ 190lbs
            Great speed and Quickness
            Quick release and an elite shot
            Exceptional hockey IQ
            Unbelievable motor and work rate
            Plays the most valued Center position

            But this is where he is truly sets himself apart from the others…..

            A born leader and a winner
            CJHL player of the year
            Captain at the Club level and National level( u-18 and Hlinka Cup)

            Not surprisingly, In an article I read, his coach had glowing comments but they were beyond a coaches admiration for a player. He basically said that the BCJHL has had some very good player come through its system (Keith and Turris) but he goes on to see that he has never seen a more complete, skilled character player and person in the program. Raised by a single mom who is a fitness freak…You could not help but be impressed by the type of man she raised.

            So, what kind of points does he put up playing on a line with Marner and Dvorak or in the Q. IMO he has the elite characteristics of Tkachik, Dubois, Keller, and Brown with the X factor of being a winner at every level. He is the best overall fit for Calgary and would satisfy the organizations criteria. His stock will continue to rise along with Keller, with either player being the steal of the draft. I have a felling that his Interviews and Combine will jump him ahead of the other candidates so that he falls in our lap.

          • everton fc

            I’d take McLeod, over Brown. From Eliteprospects:

            “Michael McLeod is a highly skilled power center that relies on nobody but himself to get the job done. His size and skating make him difficult to contain, and his competitiveness gives him an edge against other teams’ best. His deft puckhandling skills and control over his speed are the defining aspects of his offensive abilities. All-in-all, a top talent that is both dynamic and hard to play against.”

            And he can also play RW.

          • piscera.infada

            …that relies on nobody but himself to get the job done.

            Except for the fact that he played with Nylander, and his production fell when Nylander wasn’t in the lineup. I would prefer him to Brown substantially though.

          • everton fc

            That’s what I was looking for. Still, scouts love him, some saying he actually played better than Nylander in the playoffs – meaning more consistent, steady… Level game at both ends of the ice.

            Not saying I agree (or disagree)… Some also say Nylander plays with more “zip” than his brother, for what it’s worth.

          • Jake the Snail

            Jim Matheson, Hall of Fame Hockey writer, in an article about Tkachuk in the Edmonton Sun this morning, says this:

            Tkachuk could go to Vancouver at No. 5 or Calgary at No. 6, too, with French Canadian Pierre-Luc Dubois (a centre/winger) and 6-foot-6 centre Logan Brown, son of former NHL D-man Jeff Brown, in the 4-5-6 mix. He can certainly see himself winding up in Alberta, somewhere.

            Also The Hockey Writers article on the Top 30 in the 2016 Draft have Logan Brown at Number 6.

            So Brown “usually sits outside the top 10” is misleading your FN readers.

        • Byron Bader

          He adores Johnny as well. I think he’s fine with a few smaller guys (so long as they compete and play hard) but he doesn’t want to be Chicago or Tampa. He wants to be Anaheim, LA, St. Louis.

          • piscera.infada

            but he doesn’t want to be Chicago or Tampa. He wants to be Anaheim, LA, St. Louis.

            And that’s a problem if it’s the truth. You have the personnel to be built and have success in the mould of Tampa or Chicago, I don’t know why there’s a need to divert course. You can’t tell me that Anaheim, LA, and St Louis have been more successful than Chicago and Tampa.

            Team building (including drafting) is all about fitting the framework your organization is built in. Burke can dislike the idea of being a smaller, quicker team all he likes, but that’s what’s here, and those are (gasp) the components of the team that are actually leading to success.

      • Hubcap1

        Bang on! Nylander is actually soft and Keller is not, size is not the final factor it is more the attitude and determination of the individual. This doesn’t mean you have to hit everything you see on the ice or fight every other game, just give 100% like you mean it.

      • Byron Bader

        He’s the same size as Giroux, Yzerman, Sakic, Kane, Gilmour, etc. Most of the best players in the world are 5’10-5’11.

        Given his season, I’m not sure why he’s not more in the top 6 conversation to be honest.

        Somebody’s going to end up with a player!

  • piscera.infada

    I really like Keller as a prospect. Personally, if the Flames aren’t going to take Nylander, and Chychrun/Dubois are drafted before #6 (leaving the Flames with Juolevi/Tkachuk), I would prefer they take Keller. Of all the “off the board” picks, this is the guy that intrigues me the most–but of course, “he’s not a Burke player”, or “he’s not big enough”, or some other trite, arbitrary argument that’s been disproven time and again.

    He’s going to make someone look very, very smart in a couple of years.

    • everton fc

      Agree. He’s only 17 – could end up at 6’0” 190lbs by the time he fills out. But still…

      He’s not a Burke type of player. And we have centres, though I’d take Keller over Arnold, et al. I think Tkachuk’s performance thus far in the Memorial Cup may help Chychrun (or Dubois) fall into our laps.

      Or Juolevi, for that matter, but I’d take Chychrun over Juolevi, and Chychrun is indeed a “Burke Type of Player”!

      Would he be worth trading down for? Moving the 6thm, if you could get a decent return (like a decent goalie)? Haven’t worked out all the trade scenarios, as this is simply thinking and typing “out loud”….

  • RickT

    He’s only 17. He’ll grow. For 5’10, 170 is not too small. I think he will fill out.

    I agree that it might make sense to move down for him a bit. If we get a roster player, or can move a bad contact to move down a few spots…

    • everton fc

      Keller seems slotted to go anywhere from #9-#14, depending on who one reads… (would any of you take McLeod over Keller? Less “filling out”, secondary position RW… And then there’s Jost… And Gauthier, a RW, who should be available later in the first round…)

      If Tkachuk and Dubois are gone by #6, I still say take Chychrun. Could we trade for a pick in the 9-14 slots? Maybe parlay the #36 or 53 or 55th picks? Maybe take a fly at Gauthier?? (Or somehow get the Stars to move Nichushkin, who I’m still not sold on)

  • Baalzamon

    he also had a hand in 42.8% of his team’s offense (calculated with the 62 game sample).

    Worth noting: When calculating the NHLe for USNTDP prospects, you cannot simply add the totals under the USHL and USDP headings and use the USHL NHLe factor for two reasons:

    1) The USDP heading (invariably the larger sample) already includes the USHL games

    2) the level of competition in the USDP games varies wildly. Sometimes it’s USHL teams, sometimes it’s the C squad for another Country’s U18 unit, sometimes it’s an NCAA squad, sometimes it’s a Canadian College team.

    So anyway, about Keller specifically: if he had posted those results on a real USHL team, I would definitely consider him a top 5 talent in this draft. Maybe even top 3. But he didn’t. USNTDP results are notoriously difficult to gauge (read: Arnold, Bill; Larkin, Dylan).

      • piscera.infada

        In fairness, Monahan was somewhat of a faceoff wunderkind in junior as well. Now…

        That’s probably the least translatable skill when evaluating centre prospects. It’s all technique, skill, and intelligence–it’s generally something you have to hone over years at the NHL level to dominate.

    • Byron Bader

      1) I’m not sure if that’s correct, that’s very strange if it is. Could be. They list them as two point totals on elite prospects. That would be strange if they overlapped them but certainly possible.

      2) This is true the competition varies, some better than the USHL (NCAA, some countries) some are lower (D squads of countries and non-hockey power countries) but probably balances out. If you calculate the NHLE for just the USDP games and separately for the USHL they are very similar. Arnold had an 18 and a 20. Larkin had a 21 and a 22. Most of the players score similar across the two different programs (I looked at 20 or so players).

      • Baalzamon

        1) I’m not sure if that’s correct, that’s very strange if it is. Could be. They list them as two point totals on elite prospects. That would be strange if they overlapped them but certainly possible.

        I know they’re listed separately on EP. That’s why I mentioned it.

        I assumed they were separate too, until I looked into it when calculating Keller’s % of team. I did the USHL games first, then I went to USAhockeyNTDP.com and noticed that the USHL games were listed among the others. You can look it up yourself to verify if you want. Cross reference the dates with the USHL games.

      • Baalzamon

        1) I’m not sure if that’s correct, that’s very strange if it is. Could be. They list them as two point totals on elite prospects. That would be strange if they overlapped them but certainly possible.

        I know they’re listed separately. That’s why I mentioned it. I thought they were separate too, until I looked into it when calculating Keller’s % of team.

        USNTDP; USHL.

        • Byron Bader

          Interesting. I shall change it later today. The nhle rounded up is the same blended or just using the 62 game count. Thanks for the heads up! Friggin random non major junior programs with shotty stats!

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Colbort is big. Johnny is small. I take Johnny over Colbort a million times out of a hundred. A team full of Johnnys would devastate a team full of Colborts. Effing Devastate. #EffingDevastate

  • KiLLKiND

    No Dubois or Nylander no problem Keller is going to be real good. He is not that small either look at a guy 5’10 then look at a guy 6’0 it isn’t that noticeable of a difference and the guy can clearly put up points. He sounds similar to Bennett minus the tenacity, whoever ends up with him is going to be really happy! If we draft him he could be an amazing 3rd line center, or even a great cheap young center. Our depth at center prospect wise is also not as great as it used to be.

    Our young up and coming centers Arnold, Shore, Grant, Elson, Deblouw, Karnaukhov don’t appear to be young or up and coming anymore. We need to start refilling our centre prospects as well as RW which is our two biggest areas of weakness right now. So if we don’t draft Nylander, Dubois or a D Keller should be in the conversation.

    I also have not been overly impressed with Tkachuk lately from watching him as Dvorak and Marner are clearly way above him and simply use Tkachuk to send them passes.

    Is Keller a reach at 6? Maybe could he turn out to be the 6th best player in this draft class or higher? Yes, I could see him putting up more points and being more of an effective long term NHLer than Dubois or Tkachuk as his game really suites the way the NHL is transitioning. Size isn’t important if you can’t keep up to the guy with the puck. Keller also has the ability from some of his highlights to make a pass or play that I didn’t even see or think was possible.

    Also please stop mentioning Brown even as a trade down pick. If we trade down for Brown that would be worse than trading down for Jankowski.

    One other dark horse option could be Sergachev if Dubois and Nylander are gone, I have seen him as the top D drfted in some mocks. They also happen to have Chychrun out of the top 12, but going by consensus never works anyways.

    • everton fc

      I agree on the trade down for Brown.

      I’ve thought of Sergachev, as well, but like Chychrun’s overall game. Keller vs. Jost is a real head-scratcher. Not much talk of Dubois in Flamesnation, these days – do you take him over Nylander, at #6? Or would Nylander light it up w/Gaudreau and Monahan in a year or two? (still hope they play Shinkaruk on the right-side in camp, to see if he can click w/these two)

      If a team wanted our #6… And we could get one of Chychrun/Jost/Keller somewhere between 8-13… I am beginning to be convinced that Keller might have more long-term “upside” for us, than Dubois or Tkachuk. And our depth in the pivot has certainly stagnated with the average season Arnold had, Shore’s apparent career “tweener” status… Though Jankowski may surprise us all! 😉

      I also like Gauthier, later in the first round… Big, physical, skilled RW. Something we all hope Poirier can still become. Regardless of linemates, and I think he’s had decent ones, on the farm. Could we move our #6 for a goalie, and wait for Gauthier? Could we move one of the other three picks in the top 55, for Gauthier? Could we move two of those picks and take a run at Nichushkin?

      All that everyone has said here – great to be a fan who can make-pretend he’s the GM!

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        The Jost vs Keller pick is an interesting one. Unfortunately, it is a conversation that is slightly pre-mature. The real comparison will come next year when the both play in the NCAA for their respective teams. This one almost seems like a Toews vs Kane matchup. Toews is a leader while Kane is a creator….both are winners.

        The only concern that I see with Jost is that he has an NHL body which may explain his success in junior where as Keller has had success despite not having a big build. They ikely both end up average size like a Crosby or Pavelski..which is completely manageable.

        I still lean towards Jost because his skill is comparable but it takes a special player to be singled out as a captain at the National level when you are coming from an inferior league. Oh and you pay back your country, and the coaching staff by leading the tournament in scoring and winning offensive player of the tournament.

      • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

        Poirier has lost me. He isn’t big or physical and also doesn’t look quick on the ice and while he may be fast, quickness is where it is at right now in the league.

        • everton fc

          Could we move up using Poirier and the 35th as bait? Perhaps to nab Gauthier?? Or Nichushkin??? Or maybe Porier and the 6th for the Habs 9th and McCarron? (I know the Habs deal is nuts… Only if they crave Dubois)

          I think Shinkaruk may have made Poirier obsolete.

  • Burnward

    Not at 6.

    I’m still in favour of trading back to like 9-10 and getting an asset. Eyeing Montreal for PLD.

    For funsies:

    To Calgary: 9th overall (Keller/Jost), Michael McCarron, Lars Eller

    To Montreal: 6th overall (PLD), Mikael Backlund,

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Keller and Jost continue to be among the biggest risers. I don’t see either lasting past 8….would we get an asset by trading down only 2 picks. I think Nylander is getting a raw deal… He seems to be plummeting as a result of a sub par u-18 championships and the notion that his brother is under performing in the Calder Cup. We need to have a coach in place before the draft for more perspective.

      • And Ken King is his boss, but I’m not worried about what King thinks about the draft eligibles.

        Listen, if Burke is actually sticking his nose into the decision making to this degree, the team needs to excise him. He is an anachronism in the modern NHL. He brings a certain gravitas and credibility to the Flames front office thanks to his personality and resume, but he’s not a GM anymore for a reason.

        • Burnward

          It’s Burke’s hockey team, King’s franchise.

          It tis what it is. Of course he’s going to have input on the type of player he wants/likes.

          He’s not necessarily wrong either, IMO. And to think he couldn’t be a GM somewhere anymore is rather dismissive.

          Teams like Anaheim, LA, SJ, STL run our show most of the time with no fear. I prefer a little less skill if the trade off is a dude that will run through a wall in the playoffs.

          Eberle or Marchand?

  • T&A4Flames

    I know I’m going to get trashed because of this. I like any of the 3 fwd’s we are projected to take, for different reasons.

    However, I don’t necessarily believe we need to add potential superstars to our prospect list. We have Mony, Johnny and Bennett as the high skilled guys and now we need to find support for those 3; guys that can play and compliment them.

    the Flames website posted a nice write-up on Gauthier, and it only furthers my belief that he could be exactly what we need. a big, strong, shoot first guy that is a good skater (elite for his size according to Pronman), 6’4″ 225lbs and a right shot RW. I would not be the least bit upset if CGY tried to trade down with CAR for #13 and @ 21. Maybe we can grab Mike McLeod as well. I know our C is deep, but we will need high end guys coming back into our system. Beyond Janko and perhaps Pollock, we don’t have any other high end C coming up. Both Gauthier and McLeod are big, physical guys with excellent scoring touch.

    Just a thought.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Gauthier is an interesting prospect….he could be really good but too much risk in my opinion. As for McLeod, I see him being a burner and penalty killer like a Bigger Byron with similar scoring. I am a big fan of Byron but would not consider either in the first round. I am not sure a team can have too much skill….ever. As a fan, I get far more enjoyment out of watching a player dangle than I do when a player flattens another player but agree there is a need for both.

  • everton fc

    I just read some scouting reports and analysis on Dubois. Man, he seems almost ready to play next season. Can you imagine he and Bennett on the same line, regardless of who centered? (Dubois very noted for his two-way play and defencive abilities…)

    A lot for BT and the rest to consider. And if Dubois available at #6, Montreal may want him… If we threw in the #53 or #55 pick, would it be worth the Habs #9 and McCarron? Just thinking out loud here.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    That’s a great NHLe for his age, which is quite young.
    In several years when he’s one of the best players from this draft people will look back at the numbers and arguments and find it was predictable, but that he was passed over on intangibles like size (again, young) and a CHL bias.

    I’d love to see the Flames be brave in this sense and pick him up. We might even be able to trade down a few spots and do this, picking up another asset on the way.

  • On the topic of “drafting for need”, that’s a horrible mistake when it comes to top-10, premium picks.

    Always, always pick the best player available when you walk up to the podium. The only time “need” should be a factor in your decision making is if all things are otherwise equal given your choices.

    Some of the worst first round draft picks you’ll find over the last couple of decades have come because a team decided they were picking for need and not talent. You don’t want to be the Oilers passing on Parise because they “wanted a bigger winger.” Enjoy MA Pouliot!

    Pick the best skater at 6. You’re adding assets in the draft and the most valuable assets are the best players. It’s folly to pass on an ace to grab a Jack. Full stop.

    • Byron Bader

      Agree fully with this. Not only is this just the right thing to do but things can change so quickly. For the past few years the flames had a bare closet for d. Two studs already playing but one was already 30. So we should be drafting stud dmen. All of a sudden one of the best dmen under 25 becomes available in hamilton and we land him and we’re set for stud dmen for 5 to 10 years. Couple injuries or trade demands and that can change quickly again. Hopefully bpa is becoming more and more the norm.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    It still amazes me how we all agree that the game is changing to speed and skill with size not being as important as it once was yet when it comes to drafting, teams resort to their old ways. Every team would like to hit a home run in the 4th round with a Gaudreau when the truth is Gaudreau would have been a steal in the first round.

    Now with improved analytics, that reveal that a smaller player’s game will translate into the NHL, the decision makers are old school for the most part and again go for size. There is a real problem when teams see a player as too small when all they have to do is look at the scoring leaders in the league.

    Marner is considered too small yet very few people are doubting he will be an impact player. Nylander and Keller are too small yet Brown might be too big….hmmmm.
    Every team would likely take a Debrincat in the second round but not the first….why because there is someone out there with better size.

    If you draft a truculent player like Ferland or Max Jones this year would it not stand to reason that there is a risk playing that style for an extended period of time, Ferland did it in a short window but not so much in the regular season. Debrincat, Marner, and Gaudeau are rarely ever hit which is a real knack. A player needs grit and who has more grit than the players that have been fighting to make every team at every level because they are deemed too small.

    I believe you need to play the hand that you are dealt, if we have the makings to be a good small skilled team then let’s be the best small skilled team instead of trying to change our identity to what we are not….a big bruising team. Certain positions require size more than others… Like D but there are still places for a small Cam Dineen instead of a Logan Stanley….if that the right fit for the team.

  • BurningSensation

    I’m fully on board the Keller train at #6.

    If he were 6 ft tall he’d be a top 5 lock.

    Draft him and buy him a nice pair of boots with a thick Cuban heel for his meeting with Burke.

    And we are all good.

  • freethe flames

    Trading down at the draft can only work if you trade for need not want and only if you don’t trade too far down the draft table. An example that might start a conversation would be Colorado offers their back up goalie Picakard(he could be our starter) and the 10th for our sixth. We get a starting goalie and can still have a top 10 (next ledge pick a possibly still get the guy we want in the draft)

  • Brodano12

    I’d love to trade down to Montreal’s pick and pick Keller. We know Montreal needs RW help and will probably want Nylander, so if they give us their 2nd and a good prospect, then I think it’s worth trading down. Keller is going to be a star – look at the players his numbers compare with! Close to Matthews and Kessell, above Kane, Eichel, Larkin, and, most importantly, TKACHUK!

    Keller will be a steal at 9, he’s going to be a top 5 player in this draft for sure, MMW.

    • Baalzamon

      There’s no way to guarantee Keller will still be there if you trade down. If you do the trade, and he’s snapped up by, say, Arizona, what do you do?

      If you want Keller take him at 6th. If you don’t want him, don’t take him.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I could not agree more…. This guy is a Burke player and a great fit for the Flames yet we have yet to hear his name by the Flames, Oilers, or Canucks. I guess it comes down to him playing in theBCJHL and scouts putting an asterisk by his name. You would think his his play on the National stage would open some eyes.

          • Burnward

            Him, Pulj and Keller were head and shoulders at the U-18’s, IMO.

            Although, to be honest, Brown did impress the heck out of me and I can see how people project him so highly.

            Jost is real deal though, I bet. Everything I want in a player and wears the C for Team Canada.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            You have to think teams are seeing this as well…any other draft year and you touch a player like him at #6. A Center that can easily be moved to wing if needed. I read that one of the concerns was that a player like Beau Bennett had even better numbers in the BCJHL 120 and yet he was only Average in College and has not done much at the Pro level. The big difference is that he did not have a National resume that put him against the top player in his age group.

            We are not going to get Tkachuk so time foe plan B…which could be better than plan A.