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.