The 2017 National Hockey League Draft has not been lauded for its depth. After Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier things drop off a bit and by the time the Calgary Flames are slated to pick at 16th overall it’s unlikely that the player they select will be an impact player for a long while. But for a few reasons, don’t expect Brad Treliving to ship his club’s first round pick out (unless there’s a fairly high pick coming back).
It’s a shame because if they used that mid-round pick the way they have in the past, it could be extremely useful for the team’s propulsion up the NHL’s pecking order.
One pick in the first 100
The Flames select 16th in the first round of this year’s draft. Their next pick is 109th, in the middle of the fourth round. Their second round pick was sent to Ottawa for Curtis Lazar. Their third round pick was sent to Arizona for Michael Stone. That gives them just the one kick at the can early on.
For those unfamiliar with him, Treliving’s a draft guy. He began his 2015 post-draft press conference with a half-apology to his scouts when he had to trade Calgary’s first rounder (and two other picks) to land Dougie Hamilton. To reiterate, he felt bad that he took chances away from his scouts to see their hard work reflected in draft picks – despite spending it on a 22-year-old roster player. After having them spend the year running around the world in dimly lit rinks to put together their draft list, Treliving’s preference is to give his staff as many kicks at the can as they can.
The Flames have knocked the ball out of the park with their last few first rounders. Sean Monahan (2013), Sam Bennett (2014) and Matthew Tkachuk (2016) are NHLers. They’re accumulating some depth on the farm. But they’re not in a position to throw away chances to accumulate more depth.
Unless you win a Stanley Cup, or come pretty close to it, not drafting until midway through the draft screams poor asset management.
A potential big upgrade
Two years ago, the Flames made the playoffs but drafted 15th overall (by virtue of being the worst team to make the playoffs). Instead of trying to figure out which middle-of-the-pack first rounder to roll the dice on – a player that wouldn’t be anything of consequence for a few years – Treliving traded for Dougie Hamilton and immediately made his team better without giving up a single thing on their roster.
The Flames desperately need goaltending. They have forward depth. They have defensive depth. Their best players, aside from Mark Giordano, are young and just entering their prime. Arguably the only thing holding the Flames back from taking a big step forward and becoming not just a playoff team but a potential contender is an upgrade in net. Any year they fail to fix their goaltending situation is a year they waste some valuable years from their best players.
In 2015, the Flames managed to upgrade their roster big time by trading a middle first round pick for Hamilton. Approaching the 2017 NHL Draft, the combination of a looming expansion draft and a flooded goaltending market add up to a tremendous opportunity for the Flames to upgrade their roster again.
Sum it up
The Flames probably won’t trade away their first round pick this year. It makes sense. If they did that, they wouldn’t pick until the middle of the fourth round – which would make them seem pretty silly. But given the state of the Flames’ roster and the goaltending market, the Flames could possibly do themselves a lot of favours if they managed to leverage their 16th overall pick in a swap for a goalie.