Random Thoughts – Flames 2016 Draft Performance

random thoughts

Brad Treliving took over the Flames just before the 2014 entry draft. The team’s work that June didn’t really inspire confidence: they took Hunter Smith way too early, traded a third rounder for Brandon Bollig and took a goalie in the second round. It was an inauspicious start to his tenure in Calgary. 

Things have improved substantially since that first draft, however. Last year Treliving moved a collection of picks for Dougie Hamilton and then grabbed three extremely high value prospects in Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane later on in the draft. It’s entirely possible more than half of the Flames 2015 draft class will play in the NHL at some point, which is incredible work for a club whose highest pick was #53. 

This draft was similarly impressive. Treliving sidestepped a number of landmines in the goalie market, picked up another bluechip prospect and grabbed a bunch of good bets later on. 

– Like Bennett in 2014, Matthew Tkachuk was a no-brainer once he fell to sixth, so we won’t dwell too much on that. The son of Keith only has two knocks on him: not the best skater, and his stats are likely inflated by the quality of his linemates. 

Otherwise, Tkachuk is a near perfect fit for the Flames. Size, hands, tenacity, aggression – he ticks almost all the boxes of what the team was looking for on the wings. Too bad he’s not right handed (though I suspect the club will convert him to the RW anyways). 

– With Andersen off the market, Brian Elliott was the Flames’ ideal trade target in their search for a number one goalie. With elite results over the last few years, nominal cap hit ($2.5M) and middling acquisition cost (second round pick + third round conditional pick), Elliott should vastly improve Calgary’s puckstopping without causing new budget problems. That’s the best of both worlds for the organization given the impending cap crunch. 

Treliving had a lot of options in goal, but that also meant he had a lot of opportunities to fall on his face as well. In years past, this team likely would have chosen the bigger, less prudent acquisition. It’s encouraging to see the team’s management navigate choppy waters so expertly.

– If there’s one missed opportunity this weekend, it was Alex DeBrincat at 39th overall. The pick the Flames traded for Elliot (35th) would have put them in right in line to pick the CHL’s most potent draft eligible player. There’s no guarantee Calgary would have picked DeBrincat, of course, but coming away with him and a goalie would have put this draft over the top. That said, there’re really no regrets in moving that pick for Elliott. 

– Calgary’s work in the later rounds was almost all good. Though I’m never thrilled about taking a goalie in the second round, it’s hard to argue with Parson’s results: second in the OHL in SV% during the regular season (.921) and first in the playoffs (.925), he completely outplayed backup Brendan Burke, who is two years his senior, to be the London Knights’ starting goalie. 

– The rest of the draft was a intriguing mix of skill and size. In Dube, Fox, Lindstrom and Phillips, the team chose smaller, high ceiling guys renowned for their hockey sense and offensive skills. In Mattson, Tuulola and Falkovsky, the club favoured the classic size and “projectable frame”, though all of the bigger kids come with scouting reports and/or results that suggest they are more than just coke machines. 

– The lone area of need Treliving failed to address this weekend was the Flames’ cap issues. It would have been nice to find a way to move one of the club’s boat anchor contracts (Dennis Wideman, for instance), but luckily there’s still time address that in the next week or so. Ideally, Calgary still needs to find at least one more NHL capable RWer, and that mission will be greatly aided in free agency if the organization can get some bad money off the books ASAP.  

  • wot96

    Abramov. They missed an opportunity there, too, I suspect.

    I was initially very meh bordering on unhappy about these choices but I haven’t seen many of them play. At all. Did a little research and I’m a little happier now. I still don’t like missing out on Abramov though.

      • wot96

        He was picked after Parsons and Dube and wouldn’t have been a reach where they were picked given they were chosen only 9 and 11 slots earlier. I’m not sure a goalie was required though; yes I know the philosophy of picking a goalie up every second year but no that doesn’t make sense given they picked up Schneider and Rittich. It smacks of just wanting another new toy. At least they got a good one in Parsons, I think.

        Maybe I’m just picking fly sh!t out of the pepper. Phillips, Fox, Dube may all turn out to be good pros. I just wished they had managed to pick up Abramov. That’s all I’m saying.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          If you give any credence to Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings, Dube was much higher. Abranov – 51, Fox – 55, Parsons – 48, Dube – 37.

          Dube and Parsons were both available, and they feared waiting the extra 10 picks on him. I don’t mind drafting smaller guys, but sometimes it’s best to wait to a later pick to take a risk like that. Debrincat is a huge risk at 39, but Chicago can afford that type of risk.

        • Baalzamon

          The Flames are actually likely to lose Gillies in the expansion draft (the fact that his ELC did not slide in 2014/15 even though he didn’t play any games means he’s technically entering his third pro season; if he’s exposed he WILL be claimed, because he is by far the most desireable player the Flames will expose). Parsons is good insurance in the face of that possibility.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            Treliving say he believes that Gillies is exempt. Generalfanager now has a tool that shows all eligible and exempt players, and it lists Gillies exempt. It’s a technicality that would possibly make him not exempt, so expect that to be clarified soon. It impacts more than just the Flames.

          • Kevin R

            Treliving said on the Fan or Sportsnet that he felt Gilles was exempt because he never met the same number of games played requirement. Reason why Gaudreau can’t be offer sheeted because he only played 1 game on is first ELC year & never counted other than burning a year off his ELC.

          • Backlund Best

            Gillies will actually be exempt from the expansion draft. If you take a look a the expansion rules on General Fanager, you will find what is meant by a “first or second year professional”. The following is copied and pasted directly from their website:

            “Assuming the methodology used for calculating professional experience as it relates to free agency (CBA Section 10.2) applies for expansion as well:

            -A Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more NHL games in a given NHL season

            -A player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more Professional Games under an SPC in a given League Year.”

            If I’m interpreting this correctly, Gillies falls into the second bullet point. In the first year of Gillies SPC, he played 0 games, so it doesn’t count as a year of professional play. In the second year (this past season), Gillies only played 7 games before having season ending surgery, so techinicaly speaking, this year doesn’t count as a year of professional play either. This is how professional experience is determind by the CBA.

            This means Jon Gillies is entering the 16-17 season on the third year of his contract, but he will be a first year professional. Kind of wonky, but thems the rules.

            Hope this helps anyone who was curious 🙂

  • Kevin R

    Kent, any intel on the health of Smid? To me, he is the most logical one for a buyout. I still think Wideman can be moved once the UFA frenzy baskets have been picked over & there is nothing but chewed up underwear left from Valu Village. Possibly Raymond can be moved with a sweetener (2017 3rd rounder)

  • Wheels

    Something a little interesting about Keith Tkachuk. He was traded to Atlanta by St. Louis, in which the Blues acquired a first round pick among others. That pick was swapped to the Flames, and the pick it turned into? Mikael Backlund.

  • FL@med

    Guys I recently had somewhat of a promising trade idea, please comment on if it works or not. Shattenkirk (Would be a great addition to our already amazing blue line) for Smid, next years second, a conditional 4th in 2018 (If he resign him) Tyler Parsons (We already have Gillies, Macdonald, Schnieder, and now David Rittich in our system, where as the Blues don’t have as many) and a prospect like Brett Pollock, or Morgan Klimchuck, OR Joe Colbourne, and many scouts believe Tkachuk is NHL ready so he would take Joe’s spot. Shattenkirk is 4.5 mil expiring after one more season, so next season we should not resign him, and use him as a massive trade chip. Then we should buy out Wideman and/or Stajan *Stajan is a very good leader, this might not occur. However if it does then replace him with Derek Grant* How does this sound?

  • supra steve

    “The lone area of need Treliving failed to address this weekend was the Flames’ cap issues.”

    I would argue that Elliott at a $2.5mil cap hit did address the clubs cap issues for 2016-17. He can still shed some bad contracts, but after the free agent frenzy is probably the time to trade those assets.

    • Baalzamon

      Agreed. Since the Flames made that trade, they can actually reach a full 23-man roster without exceeding the cap, even if they don’t move out any contracts. That wouldn’t have been the case with a five+ per goalie like Fleury.

  • BurningSensation

    I for one kind of like the draft system the Flames have for goaltenders, where every other year they take a super athletic guy in the 2nd. It also helps that we always seem to have extra 2nd rnd picks to do this.

    It ensures that goalies are staggered throughout the organization in their development and that competition for moving up is always fierce.

    Also, wanted to note just how amazingly better the Flames drafts have been the last five or so years. Under the Sutter regime interfence from above (WHL first, farmboy strong, no Russians, deal away 2nd rnd picks like candy), seriously crippled the teams prospect pipeline. If you want to get depressed think about; Matt Pelech, Leland Irving, and Kris Chucko, all wasted first round picks from before Feaster arrived.

    Now, we not only nail our first rounders (a basic requirement), but we are also seeing a number of depth picks emerging to form a very talented base from which to build from.

    It wasnt that long ago Mitch Wahl was our best prospect (Dillon Dube is essentially Mitch Wahl 2.0). Nowadays, he wouldn’t even be in our top 10. Or take Bill Arnold, a legit NHL caliber guy for a teams 4th line who at one time was one of our best 5 prospects, has been steadily passed by incoming talent, to the point he is logjammed for a role on the big team.

    All of which bodes well for moving forward. The system has only one major hole (talent at RW after Poirier), but it has been decades since our system had this few gaps to cover.

    Lastly, compare our system to Edm, where the big league club needs to add 2-3 defenders just to not be terrible, where the talent they have is all in forwards, and consider that they threw darts at every stay at home defender in the draft they could – most of them LH. Aside from first roundrs, Edm has gotten zero help from further down the draft.

    Our rebuild is nearing completion;

    New core:

    Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Bennett, Brodie, Hamilton, Giordano*

    Which by my eye is very, very, solid. Gio being the lone player who doesnt fit the age range of the rest (and if we traded Gio to Edm for Puljujarvi I’d be totally ok with that)

    Possible additions;

    Shinkaruk, Gillies, Poirier, Jankowski, Klimchuk, Kyllington, Andersson, Mangiapane

    In short, our rebuild has talent at every position except RW, balance all over the roster, and strong candidates in the pipeline.

    Its a good time to be a Flames fan!

    • Baalzamon

      for one kind of like the draft system the Flames have for goaltenders, where every other year they take a super athletic guy in the 2nd. It also helps that we always seem to have extra 2nd rnd picks to do this.

      The organization definitely seems to prefer the athletic types over the technical ones (case in point, drafting McDonald over Demko). From the sounds of things, they had Parsons really, really high on their list, to the point where they may have taken him 35th.

      Have I mentioned that I really like this draft class? You can see what the Flames liked about every player they took, and why they took him where they did. And it’s not stuff like “Well, Kanzig is big and stuff” either. The only pick that argument can be made for is Mattson, and all the talk about him is that he’s very talented but extremely raw. Hence why he’s headed to the USHL next year and College after. Taking a big, toolsy forward on the low end of his development curve in the fifth round is fine by me.

      They won’t all make the NHL of course, but I’d argue that they all have a legitimate chance. There are no Smiths or Kanzigs in this class, and the goalie put up excellent results in a good league.

      • BurningSensation

        The pick that really stood out for me was landing Adam Fox, the RH dman heading to Harvard.

        That kid has all the tools to be a Rafalski type offensive producer, and the brains to play the game at a less than ideal size.

        I LOVE that kind of pick, especially in the 3rd round!

        Drafting the Phillips kid also gives us gave me a thrill, as he is another highly talented smurf, on a team that is frequently assumed to hate them because Burke is all ‘MOAR BIGGER’.

        So yeah, LOVED this draft.

        • Baalzamon

          Fox may have been the best pick the Flames made, from a pick/value perspective (and that’s in a draft class with several high-value selections like Tuulola and Phillips). Personally, I’d rank him the third best defenseman in the system already. His ceiling is comparable to Rasmus Andersson’s, though Ras is obviously further along and thus has far less risk associated with him.

          • BurningSensation

            Its hard to beat the value proposition of getting Tkachuk at #6. In many previous drafts he’d have been top three or higher.

            Fox in the third could well end up being another ‘Brodie in the 4th’ situation – insane value for a draft pick usually used on troubled giants with slow feet.

  • everton fc

    I’ve decided I can lvie with Dube over Abramov. I would have liked to see them try for Pu. Maybe they did? Who knows…

    Twp players that don’t get a lot of “type” here arwe Prybil and especially Pollock, who I think will really be a surprise for us, like Shinakruk, come camp and next AHL season in Stockton. I think the Russell trade was one of the great steals for the Flames in recent memory. Jokipaaka seems to be a regaular 5/6 defender for us. Another guy often overlooked here. Trading Colborne after all the work the organization put into him is not smart. Glad there’s less and less “trade Backlund” nonsense.

    UFA’s – isn’t Troy Brouwer an UFA?

  • McRib

    Mitchell Mattson is a very intriguing pick, from a Minnesota High School prospective he is the second best player in the class (after Riley Tufte). Obviously he fell on Draft day though because he didn’t produce in Bloomington, but Bloomington’s coaches have an incredibly old school mindset, where since he was unwilling to commit to them full time this year (choosing to finish his High School year and only playing with them on the side) they essentially refused to give him any offensive minutes. This has been a problem for many part time USHL/High School call ups and I would take his USHL numbers with a major grain of salt because of it (even Tufte didn’t tear up USHL). If he doesn’t stick with UND this year, I could also see him choose instead to head to Portland who I believe own his WHL rights, as Bloomington is not seen as a progressive USHL coaching staff and is stuck in a dump and change mindset. Not to mention we know what kind of talent Portland has produced recently, possible the Flames would want him headed there, although UND would be great for his development as well.

      • Baalzamon

        Tuulola is really interesting. Great skillset and demeanor, but hasn’t really put it together yet with any consistency. It’ll be interesting to see what he does next season.

  • Primo

    The consensus seems to be the Flames have just had one of the strongest drafts in recent history,,,specifically Tkachuk, Parsons, Dillon and Fox.

    Well done BT…give this guy a raise!

  • Kevin R

    So how timely is that Forsberg signing? I would prefer we get 7-8 year deals with both Money & Gaudreau but it was pointed out that the CBA expires in 6 years, so are we looking at 6 year deals for both of them as well. If so, I think Forsberg puts Monahan at the same 6.0 mill & Johnny at .65 to 7.0 on a 6 year deal as well. Again, does it make sense to have contracts for these guys that overlap the next CBA battle?

  • Greg

    The way BT and GG speak about “4 horses” on the backend, I think they still see Wideman as being on this team and he’s not on their buy-out radar, let alone being willing to cough up a pick to get rid of him. I don’t particularly hate the idea of giving Brodie and Hamilton the tough minutes, and letting Gio and Wideman rack up some points against softer competition. Worst case, if the Flames aren’t in playoff contention, some padded stats for Wideman could garner another late 2nd rounder at the deadline.

    That’s better than still having him on the books in 2 years or losing a pick to move him, even if we will inevitably spend that 2nd picking yet another goalie too early 😛

    • BurningSensation

      Your kids soccer team has Connor McDavid?

      Edmonton is always going to be a benchmark for us.

      Always.

      It isn’t the only benchmark, but it will always be one of the more satisfying.

      Factor in that both teams have been going through a rebuild at the same time, and the desire to compare reaults is reasonable.

      It doesnt hurt that by any metric we are killing them.

      • kittensandcookies

        Dafuq does McDavid have to do with anything? The Oilers have McDavid and they still finished terribly last year.

        At this point the Oilers are irrelevant. Except in your mind.

        Although both teams are going through rebuilds, Edmonton’s been in one since 2006.

        Maybe after Rebuild 7.0 they might matter.

        For fark’s sake the Carolina Hurricanes have better metrics than the Oilers.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      You’re asking the impossible. Several posters here cannot state an opinion without referencing the Oilers. It is really bizarre. Can you imagine how Oiler-centric these posters would be if the Oilers were any bloody good.

  • Parker

    Speaking of free agency, I noticed some interesting targets to fill our void at RW…Loui Erikkson, Michael Boedker or Andrew Ladd. I kind of like Boedker best. Only 26 years old!! Thoughts?

    • piscera.infada

      I’m not sure the Flames will be very active in free agency. I know a couple of times both Treliving and Burke have talked against the tendency of teams to overpay on July 1.

      Moreover, I think they might just wait until money comes off the books next offseason to really load up the wings on the big club.

    • BurningSensation

      Loui Eriksson is probably too old, and looking for too much term, but otherwise Id love the fit skillset wise.

      Michael Boedker had his numbers inflated by a terrifying amount of powerplay time (league leading).

      Andrew Ladd has similar issues to Eriksson (age, term to sign), and isnt as fleet of foot.

      Okposo fits the bill, but his offense might not translate away from Tavares.

      Id pass on all four, but would love, love, love Eriksson on a short term deal (3-4 years tops) if the cost is reasonable.