Flames got what they came for in Buffalo

The Calgary Flames arrived in Buffalo hoping to get a few things done. They wanted to get a starting goalie. They wanted to stock their cupboards with some skilled forwards. They wanted to add some size. They wanted to add some right-handed shots.

After two days, seven rounds (and a trade) in Buffalo, I think it’s safe to say they’ve positioned themselves well for the rest of the summer.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the Flames sit.

NEW FACES

The Flames added 10 new faces to the organization: two goaltenders, two defensemen and six forwards.

  • Goalie Brian Elliott (added via trade from St. Louis for the 35th overall pick and a conditional 2018 third rounder if he re-signs with the Flames)
  • London Knights goalie Tyler Parsons (selected 54th overall)
  • Ottawa 67’s defenseman Stepan Falkovsky (selected 186th overall)
  • U.S. National Development Team defenseman Adam Fox (selected 66th overall)
  • London Knights forward Matthew Tkachuk (selected 6th overall)
  • HPK forward Eetu Tuulola (selected 156th overall)
  • Skelleftea forward Linus Lindstrom (selected 96th overall)
  • Grand Rapids (Minnesota) high school forward Mitchell Mattson (selected 126th overall)
  • Kelowna Rockets forward Dillon Dube (selected 56th overall)
  • Victoria Royals forward Matthew Phillips (selected 166th overall)

For those scoring at home: Falkovsky and Mattson are big, Dube and Phillips are local, and you can categorize Elliott, Parsons, Fox, Tkachuk, Lindstrom, Dube and Phillips as legitimately skilled players (and you can make a case that Tuulola might be, too). Fox, Tuulola and Phillips are all also right-shooting players.

They didn’t go big at the expense of talent, they went big after they had accumulated a bunch of talent. All-in-all, they got a little bit of everything and helped themselves out in a lot of interesting ways.

SUDDENLY, DEPTH

After this weekend, Calgary’s organization depth in a lot of areas suddenly seems even better.

Goalies:

  • NHL: Brian Elliott and Joni Ortio (RFA)
  • AHL: Jon Gillies and David Rittich
  • ECHL: Mason McDonald
  • Junior: Tyler Parsons and Nick Schnieder

Aside from maybe some questions about Ortio’s ability to be a good, regular NHL back-up, that doesn’t seem like a bad mix of players. And wave goodbye to Karri Ramo and Kevin Poulin, neither of which really fit into the team’s plans anymore.

Defensemen:

  • NHL: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland and Jyrki Jokipakka
  • AHL: Jakub Nakladal (UFA), Tyler Wotherspoon (RFA), Keegan Kanzig, Patrick Sieloff, Kenney Morrison, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, Ryan Culkin and Brett Kulak
  • Junior: Riley Bruce and Stepan Falkovsky
  • College: Adam Fox and Brandon Hickey
  • Europe: Adam Ollas Mattsson and Rushan Rafikov

Let’s be blunt here: Nakladal and Wotherspoon should be in the NHL at this point, and I’m including them because I presume the Flames are going to retain both of them. Aside from that: man, the Flames need to clear out Wideman and Smid so they can get their AHL kids some expanded ice-time. As it stands, somebody decent is going to be getting some time in Adirondack. Kulak, Culkin and Kylington could compete for NHL call-ups this coming season.

Outside of the pros: Fox and Hickey are both really interesting puck-moving prospects, while Ollas Mattsson is a real nice dark-horse. (Rafikov probably isn’t a prospect of note anymore, but he’s included because he’s still team property.)

Forwards:

  • NHL: Johnny Gaudreau (RFA), Sean Monahan (RFA), Joe Colborne (RFA), Josh Jooris (RFA), Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Brandon Bollig and Micheal Ferland (and UFA Derek Grant, if he’s retained)
  • AHL: Mason Raymond, Mark Jankowski, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brett Pollock, Hunter Smith, Daniel Pribyl, Morgan Klimchuk, Emile Poirier, Andrew Mangiapane, Garnet Hathaway, Austin Carroll, Kenny Agostino (RFA), Bill Arnold (RFA), Turner Elson (RFA), Freddie Hamilton (RFA), Drew Shore (RFA) and Bryce van Brabant (RFA)
  • Junior: Pavel Karnaukhov, Dillon Dube, Matthew Phillips and Matthew Tkachuk
  • College: Tim Harrison and Mitchell Mattson
  • Europe: Eetu Tuulola and Linus Lindstrom

It looks like the Flames will graduate two or three forwards from their farm system into the NHL next season, pending other moves. Those graduations will help the log-jam in the AHL a bit, but the incoming AHL forwards (Jankowski, Pollock, Pribyl, Mangiapane) sound really solid on paper and should make things interesting there. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Flames opt not to qualify one or two of the AHL restricted free agents just to ease the log-jam a bit.

Beyond the pros, the college group seems a bit “meh” – two bigger guys – but the junior and European contingents seem decent. The CHL Import Draft is on Tuesday and it wouldn’t shock me if a Canadian junior club takes a chance on Tuulola or Lindstrom.

MOVING FORWARD

In terms of Calgary’s salary cap space, we should have a better idea of how the Flames look later this week: qualifying offers for RFAs are due on Monday and the buyout window closes on Thursday. If they opt not to retain somebody like Joe Colborne or if they opt to buy out somebody like Dennis Wideman or Mason Raymond, they could be active in free agency after all.

Heading towards July 1 the Flames may still wish to explore a veteran goaltender rather than lean on Ortio as their back-up, and they’d probably like to obtain a middle-six winger to add some scoring depth. But looking at the projected NHL bodies, there aren’t a lot of gaping holes on this roster anymore.

Considering how the team looked when Brad Treliving arrived in Calgary, they’ve come a long, long way.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Now to move Wideman and sign Nakladal!

    Treliving heroically getting a goalie with a low cap hit and high save percentage without losing much, and making draft choices based on skill and re-stocking the system.

    I hope he’s drinking a bottle or two of champagne right now.

  • Baalzamon

    Perhaps my favorite thing about this draft class: The Flames ended up picking at least one player at every position. (1G, 1LD, 1RD, 1LW, 1RW, 4C).

    Adam Fox is an intriguing pick, to me. He seems to slot in nicely as the third best defense prospect, behind Andersson and ahead of Kulak.

  • Hubcap1

    I read through the forward names couple of times and I didn’t see Freddie Hamilton’s name. Did they say he’s not coming back or was he just missed? Or was he mentioned and I’m blind?

  • KACaribou

    Good article Pike.

    I think the Tree/Burke combo is working really well and I agree that they have made great progress since Tree took over.

    It should be really interesting to see if Tree can move some expensive contracts this summer. But if not, maybe a few of the “dead weights” will have bounce-back years. You never know how players will react to a new coach and system.

    And of course our younger players will be just that much older and stronger than last. Some will come and some will go, but the Flames are definitely moving in the right direction.

    Great and hopeful time to be a Flames fan.

  • King Quong

    With Treliving snagging Elliott for cheap does that leave us with enough cap space to snag a ufa wing? Lucic, Okposo? Hopefully the flames can move Wideman to give themselves a better chance at one. While re-signing Johnny and Monny.

    • freethe flames

      It depends on who we sign from our own list: depending on which site you read we have about $20.7 m in cap space at the moment. Say you pay $17m for Johnny, Monny and Colborne that leaves $3.7 to sign a back up goalie Ortio @.7m, and I would like to see them sign the following 3 players Nakdaddy, Grant and Jooris and that will take up the remaining money. It becomes in my mind that they buy out Raymond($2.1m in savings)and trade one of the bad contracts. That would give them breathing room to look at the UFA market. But it won’t likely be a high end player.

  • freethe flames

    I would have titled this “Unfinished Business” as I watched the draft as I had high expectations that they would meet my expectations. I had hoped we would have moved a pick and some current roster players to meet our need for top 6 forwards- did not happen. While we drafted mostly for skill we did not address our dire need for a legitimate RW prospect. My initial response to the draft was disappointment but have since done some home work on each of the prospects and while I still wish we had made a couple of other picks it’s over.

    For me it was hard not to be happy about Friday night. We got a probable top 6 forward(1-2 years away in all likely hood) and a starting goalie at low cost in assets and cap hit.

    54 G Tyler Parsons ranked as the 3rd goalie in the draft and we picked him as #2. Like many here drafting a goalie is voo doo. So I’m not in love with it and probably would have preferred a RW.

    56 C Dillon Dube he was ranked by ISS 46, FC 47 and CS/NA 41 so a solid pick. No massive reach here. The problem for me is there some RW that are sound choices right around this spot.

    66 D Adam Fox again I did not know much about him but he was Ranked by ISS 44, 36 FC, 50 SC/NA. Again a solid pick but again not what I had hoped for.

    96 C Linus Lindstrom again I had no idea of who he is but here are his rankings 65ISS, 80 FC, 10CS/EU. Again not off the rails a solid pick.

    126 C Mitchell Mattson: 61 ISS, 112 FC, 61CS/NA; probably a good pick in this place.

    156 RW(finally)Eetu Tuulola: actually someone I had read about before today. 54 ISS,84 FC, 19CS/EU. I was quite pleased to get him this late in the draft.

  • freethe flames

    “Unfinished Business” part 2

    166 Matt Phillips C ranked 135 FC so good gamble at this point. 5’7″ 145lbs is what I heard him say he was as he was being interviewed. Local kid.

    186 Big DStepan Falkousky ranked 91 SC/NA. Again at this point worth a gamble.

    So while it did not meet my expectations it is not as bad as my initial reactions were. The truth is only time will tell.

    Now BT still needs to find 2 or 3 top 6 forwards either via trade or FA, sign our top 2 forwards, sign a back up goalie, sign or other top UFA’s, qualify our RFA’s , sign or trade Colborne, and deal with at least 2 bad contracts.

    Good luck to him.

    • McRib

      Dillon Dube had 24 Points in 15 GP (on pace for 100+ points) before having a traumatic eye injury, which seemed to set him back the rest of the season. He clearly wasn’t playing with the same fire that he showed early on in year (understandable as he almost lost his eye), once he regroups after reflection in offseason and puts that behind him he could easily crack 90+ points next season. I don’t understand what is not to like about this selection? Not to mention Kelowna knows better than anyone in CHL how to develop NHLers (Benn, Keith, Weber, Barrie, etc).

      • KiLLKiND

        Have you seen him play? Thta’s what not to like about him, I live in Kelonwa and took in around 20 games this year and was never impressed by Dube. Johansen would have been a great pick. Kelowna only knows how to produce defense the only forward that has had any success is Backlund and before that Kobasew… The obvious trend is that both are Flames, but Dube is nowhere as good as either, his work ethic is definitely as good as advertised, as too often I had noticed him float back as the last man in. I noticed him more for the bad than good. He is a jack of most trades in which he excels at nothing and many of his qualities simply are not good enough for players we passed over for him. His skating is below average, his hockey IQ is not going to blow you away and he is prone to poor passing and giveaways, he does keep is head up, and try hard on the forcheck, but only has a decent shot for CHL players, will not trouble NHL goalies. He needs to improve every single aspect of his game ten fold to make it to be a bottom 6 player. We should have drafted Abramov who actually projects as a top 6 player not a bottom 6 occasional energy guy.

          • KiLLKiND

            That’s beside the point Kelowna mainly produces defense especially under Huska. Dube will never be compared to Benn in skill, size or anything hockey related outside of playing for Kelowna.

            That also has no impact on my point that Treliving should have taken Abramov instead of Dube. Can you come up with any reason as to why Dube is a better pick than Abramov?

            I can’t as almost everything about Abramov suits Calgary’s need more than Dube. We have plenty of center and left wings, but no right wings. We especially don’t have any top 6 potential right wings that could arguably have gone in the 1st round let alone at 56. Getting Abramov would have been a steal of a pick, he puts up more points, has better; hands, vision, and speed. The only thing that Dube has more of is size and it isn’t enough to warrant a selection over the top rookie in the QMJHL.

  • Franko J

    The Flames accomplished one objective in obtaining a legitimate goalie in Elliott.

    Overall the Flames had a decent draft. With exception to Tkachuk, the remainder of their selections will take some time to develop.

  • KACaribou

    Just wanted to address the RW need.

    With a new coach and system, who knows what clicks with a guy like Ferland for instance. Maybe his seeming confusion as to what Coach Bob wanted from him will be clarified, and perhaps he will bust out on the RW this year. He has the skill, size and speed.

    There is also the off-chance that Tkachuk will kick the door down this fall. He’s been playing RW in junior. Not saying he will, but Monahan did and he was the same age and a #6 as well.

    Meanwhile: Johnny, Mony, Sam, Ferly, Schinker, TJ and Dougie will be just that much better. Not to mention our good and steady vets and more stable goaltending.

    • freethe flames

      Boy I hope you are right but I have come to believe that Ferland is what he is. An energy guy who should be who he is and play on the LW either with Backs and Frolik(get the backlund bump) or the 4th line Left winger playing with anyone but Stajan and Bollig. I still hold out hope that maybe after a year of the Backlund Bump maybe he could be played with Bennett but by that time TKachuk might be ready. Shinkaruk is also a LW and I hold out hope he can play in the top 6 as well. Still no natural RW in the bunch, maybe they play the spot but again easier said than done.

    • DoubleDIon

      I sure hope not. That would be a terrible signing. Term and money would be horrific. We’re out of cap jail next offseason. Not a good idea to put yourself right back in.

      We need a cheap winger. Go shopping in the short-term bargain bin. Devils got great value doing that with Stempniak last year.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am really hoping that they sign Nakladal and Grant. I like Jooris, but I think Grant has a better skillset. He has the size and speed that we need. He has shown that he can score at the AHL level.

    I think Hartley played withJooris’s confidence but I don’t think he could put up the same numbers in the AHL that Grant did. I don’t think we should read too much into Grant’s level of play when he came up after he broke his Jaw. He struggled a bit, but that is to be expected.

      • freethe flames

        I had hoped he would of been acquired during the draft but it has not happened; hopefully BT did a lot of ground work for some sort of addition like this.

        This should be a busy week for BT. He needs to decide and announce if he is doing any buy outs, he needs to decide if he is going to sign any of the UFA’s on his own team, he needs to decide who he qualifies as RFA’s, figure out his budget to see if he can afford anyone on Canada day or beyond and still get Johnny and Monny signed. Busy week BT and staff; good luck.