Walking into the 2015 draft, the Flames had nine picks, including a first rounder, three seconds, and two thirds. They walked out with an NHL defenceman and five prospects, only two of whom were drafted with double digit picks.
Draft Weekend 2015 was really Brad Treliving’s weekend. The business savvy (must be genetic) GM stole Connor McDavid’s show, making the big splash minutes before the draft by acquiring Dougie Hamilton (screwing over Edmonton in the process). He then went on to have a hell of a draft, scooping up the OHL’s top scoring defenceman, a defender who already has a season of pro hockey under his belt (+1 NHL game), and the OHL’s sixth most productive scorer.
In less than two weeks, Draft Weekend 2016 will be upon us. The Flames find themselves in a similar situation, owning 10 picks with four in the first two rounds. The Flames have plenty of needs that can’t be addressed by the draft. There’s already some ideas being floated around…
Burke: said he will almost certainly use one of, or some, of the #Flames 2nd round picks to get a goalie. Should happen around the draft.
— Brandon Byskal (@brandonbyskal) May 26, 2016
(Context for this tweet: from the Flames season tickets holders’ town hall)
… but we still have no clue what actually awaits us. Your FN writers took their turns answering the big questions facing the Flames heading to June 24th.
1. Who is your ideal (within reason) choice for sixth overall?
Christian Tiberi: Ideally, Dubois. I think that he could still be at six, but the odds are slim. I think the most likely pick is Nylander. Less than ideal, but certainly a great pick nonetheless.
Ari Yanover: I’ve been bouncing around on this ever since the Flames landed on sixth. My initial gut choice was Alex Nylander, but as I looked further into it, I really liked Pierre-Luc Dubois. However, I think it’s pretty unlikely he’s still around at the sixth pick, so I’ve bounced back to Nylander.
Kent Wilson: There isn’t much to separate any of the three potential forwards who could be available there (Nylander, Tkachuk, Dubois). I’d be fine with any one of them, though I’d slightly prefer either Tkachuk or Dubois.
Ryan Pike: In order of preference:
- Pierre-Luc Dubois: physically NHL-ready, and can play all over the place and give the team a ton of positional flexibility.
- Matthew Tkachuk: could become a power forward if he can bulk up a little bit.
- Alexander Nylander: fast, smart, and can play both wings.
- Olli Juolevi: if the “great” forwards aren’t available, might as well settle for a really strong defensive prospect.
Byron Bader: Tkachuk. I hope to god he drops to us. If he’s gone … Dubois is huge and looks like he can play. Keller if those big boys are gone.
Mike Fail: If the Flames stay at six then one of Dubois, Tkachuk, or Nylander. Dubois would be the best of the three, but Tkachuk or Nylander as consolation prizes looks pretty good too.
Christian Roatis: My ideal choice is tough, because I’ve gotten to the point where I am absolutely fine with any of Dubois, Tkachuk and Nylander. They all look like exceptional prospects. If I had to choose just one, it would be Dubois simply because his numbers are a shade above everyone else’s.
2. What types of players should the Flames be looking for this draft? (i.e. position, size, abilities)
Christian Tiberi: The first priority is forwards (righties superseding lefties) with proven scoring abilities. Within the top 100, I feel that there are some very good players with a feasible chance of making the NHL in the next few years. Outside of the third round, I think they’re just looking to build depth at all positions. There’s probably going to be one guy over 6’5″, just because Burke gets one pick per year.
Ari Yanover: Skill. Skill. Skill. Go for skill. Is this kid projected to be an impact player? Fantastic – whether he makes it or not is a whole other issue, but as long as he looks like he’s going to make meaningful contributions to his future team – and if he’s already making them to his current team – then he should be on the radar.
There’s probably at least somewhat of a priority on right wingers, as the Flames are particularly weak in that department, so I’d expect to see someone who fits that bill drafted relatively early on. Size is but a number, though, and if the Flames of all teams can’t fathom that, then that’s a problem.
Kent Wilson: The draft is as much a game of poker mixed with stock market jockeying as anything else. My strategy as a GM would be to prefer skill and homerun picks over anything else – if a prospect’s upside is “safe third liner” or “bottom pairing defenseman”, he wouldn’t make it onto my list.
They only position I assume they will foreground is RW, since that remains a big area of weakness in the organization. I suspect size will be preferred in their forward picks as well, though I hope they take advantage of guys like Adam Mascherin or Alex DeBrincat if they happen to fall within range.
Ryan Pike: The Flames need right-handed forwards that can score. Failing that, they need left-handed forwards that can score.
Byron Bader: Big young wingers (born in the spring or summer) that have scoring numbers that suggest they can succeed in the NHL (at least a 20+ NHLe). Not Pepsi machines with good character please.
Mike Fail: Forwards, primarily on the right wing. Don’t emphasize size or “heaviness” — put a premium on skill and talent. Make your decisions on that over picks that look bad even as a seventh round pick a few years from now. If DeBrincat or even Benson fall then go for it.
Christian Roatis: This is a dangerous question because drafting for a designated need is a great way to bust a draft. Best player available regardless what they do, how they do it, and how they look doing it. They should identify forward help at sixth overall without picking an inferior player to what’s available, but after that it needs to be BPA.
3. The Flames have a lot of picks, including three second rounders.
Do you see them making any trades? Up? Down? For an already-established
Christian Tiberi: Despite Burke’s plan, I’m not sold that enough second round picks will get you a goalie that can be a quality starter over 40 or 50 games (assuming no other assets are in play). I think if you cross-reference the list of goalies that are on the trade block and their values with the price the Flames are willing to pay, you are going to find no correlation.
Not for a lack of trying, but I think the Flames will retain all three of their second round picks. I wouldn’t be disheartened; there is a lot of talent available in the second. It’s probably time to stockpile as much as the Flames can for the
future anyways. If the team is serious about a playoff run sometime soon, future
draft picks are going to be auctioned off for immediate help. It’s
imperative that the farm is still healthy.
Ari Yanover: So far in Treliving’s first two drafts, he’s traded for an established roster player: a third round pick for Brandon Bollig in 2014 (yikes), and a collection of picks for Dougie Hamilton in 2015 (the opposite of yikes). Considering how there are holes to be filled in the Flames’ lineup – most notably that of goaltending and the right side – I would be shocked if he didn’t do that. Having a ton of second rounders is great not only for draft position, but to be able to use them as a serious bargaining chip.
The ultimate dream is to trade up for Jesse Puljujarvi, but it’s pretty difficult to tell if that even has a realistic chance of happening. I think we’ll see some picks packaged together – either to trade up and grab a prospect the Flames really like, or for, say, Frederik Andersen.
Kent Wilson: The Flames have four options for their second rounders: use them in a goalie trade, in a RWer trade, in a trade to move up in the first round or simply use them.
I think it will most certainly be one of the first three. If Treliving can find a way to leverage the collection of second rounders to address one of the club’s glaring needs, he will. Of course, it will then depend on what is available at what price. Can they get Kevin Hayes for a second rounder+? Will packaging all of their second rounders convince CBJ to move from third to sixth?
For now I’m going to contradict Christian and say it will be a goalie trade. The goaltender market looks like a buyer’s market to me – way more supply than demand. You can count the amount of teams looking for goalies on one hand (Calgary, Toronto, Carolina) and the potential acquisition options on two (big trades, moderate trades, free agents). That means the Flames have some leverage in negotiations.
My preference, in order, would be: package to move up and pick Puljujarvi, package for a quality goalie (Andersen?), use one in a package to get a decent RWer (Hayes, Nichushkin).
Ryan Pike: Call me the contrarian of this group, but after hearing Brad Treliving talk about “re-stocking the cupboards” I figure that the team will be perfectly content to simply use their stockpile of picks to give themselves some options in their prospect pool. Depending on what happens in the first round, I also could see the team adding a pick via trading down.
If they do trade one of them away, it would likely be for a goaltender, as they simply don’t have as much need in other areas to spend such a valuable currency as a second round pick on anything else.
Byron Bader: Absolutely. Treliving works the phones more than anybody in the league. I imagine some of those picks will be used in a capacity to obtain a goalie. I’d be surprised if that didn’t happen.
Mike Fail: I’d be extremely happy if they moved a pick in a package for a goalie. Acquiring a goalie via trade would be a phenomenal boost to the team; given how the expansion draft is going to run-a-muck on goalies it should be considered. I’d aggressively target the Blue Jackets to see what I could pry out of them in a package for their pick too.
Christian Roatis: I think Treliving tries to get the third overall. I mean, how could you not considering this team’s need and the monster available at third. But if he fails he either makes the picks to solidify the system or he pulls another Hamilton-style move, though it’ll probably be less of a blockbuster has Dougie was last year.