In this upcoming draft, the Flames are in a position where they haven’t been for a while. They don’t need immediate help from a top end pick, and even if they did, they’re not in a position to draft such a player. The team is finally good enough that they don’t need to rely upon the draft as a source of immediate NHL talent.
This draft will be about building depth. Even if the team may need to wait two or three years to reap the rewards, it is imperative (especially with only five picks) to continue adding quality to the prospect pool. If you need proof of this, look at Darryl Sutter and his spotty drafting record. The stone-faced GM’s lackadaisical approach to scouting and drafting resulted in a prospect pool full of nothing and sent the team spinning out of control into a rebuild. If you can keep stoking the fire, it keeps burning.
Today’s investigation will be demonstrating which areas could be potential problems if ignored and how they can effectively build at those positions, both in the first round and in others.
Areas of most need
|Daniel Pribyl||AHL||24||6’4″||210 lbs||33-5-10-15|
|Matthew Phillips||WHL||19||5’6″||141 lbs||70-50-40-90|
The Flames only have two right-shooting centres in their org, and they’re polar opposites. Pribyl has been an alright player when healthy, but is slightly on the older side of what we can consider a prospect (he also might not stick around after next year). Phillips is young and exciting, but is nearly a foot smaller than Pribyl. If either or both of these gents make the NHL, their likely spot is on the wing, anyways. You could say that the Flames truly have zero right-shooting centres.
Options in the first round: Nick Suzuki, Martin Necas, Robert Thomas
Perhaps this feeds into the problem: young and good right-handed centres are tricky to find. Of the three options projected to go in the first round, one (Necas) is highly unlikely to be available at 16, one (Suzuki) might have a slim shot at being there, and the other (Thomas) will definitely be there, but only because he’s projected to go late in the first round. If the Flames get a shot at one of the first two, they’re definitely taking it, but otherwise, they’ll look to address this problem in later rounds. I could see them spending a few picks at this position.
Options in other rounds: Lane Zablocki (4th/5th), Zach Solow (5th/6th), Drake Rymsha (6th/7th), Micah Miller (6th/7th), Corey Andonovski (7th)
|Garnet Hathaway||NHL/AHL||25||6’2″||210 lbs||26-1-4-5/31-8-12-20|
|Hunter Smith||AHL||21||6’7″||225 lbs||34-3-8-11|
|Austin Carroll||AHL||23||6’3″||214 lbs||46-7-8-15|
|Eetu Tuulola||WHL||19||6’3″||225 lbs||62-18-13-31|
The Flames have some depth on the right wing; the only problem is that none of it is particularly good. Hathaway, Smith, and Carroll are all replacement-level energy guys in their respective pro leagues. Tuulola, while very promising, is still a bit of a long shot to ever make the league.
There’s also the likelihood that three of the four will be gone at the end of next season. Hathaway should probably not be qualified, and if he is, he probably won’t stick around for a long time. Unless they take substantial (emphasis on this) steps forward, Smith and Carroll are likely gone, too. That leaves Tuulola, who will be signed to an ELC and AHL bound.
Options in the first round: Klim Kostin, Eeli Tolvanen, Kailer Yamamoto, Kristian Vesalainen, Nikita Popugayev, Kole Lind
The Flames have a high chance of remedying their right wing problem in the first round, but only sort of. Of the list here, Tolvanen and Vesalainen are left shots who play both wings, Kostin is a left-shooting right winger, and Yamamoto is a right-shooting left winger (listed at all positions, but commonly plays LW in addition to RW). These are all good picks, but they may not truly be solving the RW problem.
The only right-shooting right wingers are Lind, borderline first rounder, and Popugayev, who is even more of a stretch. Popugayev, Lind, and Owen Tippett are the only true right wingers who are projected to go in the first round, and the Flames don’t have a shot at the only guy who is unanimously a first rounder. If they can’t get one of the centres listed above, I feel they target one of those listed here. Regardless of who’s available, the Flames are going to use their first on a forward who either shoots or plays on the right.
Options in other rounds: Ostap Safin (4th), D’Artagnan Joly (4th), Kyle Olson (4th/5th), Kirill Slepets (6th), Shawn Boudrais (6th), Kirill Maximov (6th/7th), Maxim Sushko (7th), Trey Fix-Wolansky (7th), Brannon McManus (7th)
Areas that could stand an upgrade
|Rasmus Andersson||AHL||20||6’0″||214 lbs||54-3-19-22|
|Adam Fox||NCAA – ECAC||19||5’10”||187 lbs||35-6-34-40|
The Flames have already moved on from Riley Bruce, and will likely do the same with Kenney Morrison. Those two guys were made expendable because the team has built up impressive skill at the RHD position through their previous two drafts. Andersson was arguably the best defender on the Stockton Heat, and will likely be making his case for an NHL spot next year. Fox is the best defender in USNDP history and is also probably the best defender the NCAA has seen in 30 years. That’s pretty good.
But there’s only two of them. No prospect is ever a sure thing, so if you can draft some more high-end depth (especially with the potential of owning three stud RHD who are all under the U.S. drinking age), why wouldn’t you?
Options in the first round: Timothy Liljegren, Callan Foote, Conor Timmins
Again, slim pickings. Liljegren has been falling in recent months, but not so far that he could be selected at 16 (although I had similar thoughts about Oliver Kylington). Foote is an interesting player who has a strong chance of being at 16, and so is Timmins, although he is ranked around the late first round.
Again, I don’t think they go down this route unless everything goes wrong. If the draft breaks so that they only have an “ehhhhh” forward selection at 16, look for them to go defensively. Otherwise, they might build depth in later rounds. Again, I feel they could spend multiple picks on RHD, especially given the depth in the late draft.
Options in other rounds: Eemeli Rasanen (4th), Filip Westerlund (4th) Ian Mitchell (4th), Martin Bodak (4th/5th), Will Warm (5th), Phil Kemp (6th), Dylan Coghlan (6th/7th), Walter Flower (7th), Otto Latvala (7th)
|Hunter Shinkaruk||AHL||22||5’10”||181 lbs||52-15-20-35|
|Morgan Klimchuk||AHL||22||6’0″||185 lbs||66-19-24-43|
|Andrew Mangiapane||AHL||21||5’10”||183 lbs||66-20-21-41|
|Emile Poirier||AHL||22||6’2″||196 lbs||43-6-11-17|
|Ryan Lomberg||AHL||22||5’9″||187 lbs||68-13-16-29|
At first glance, the Flames have some pretty good depth down the left side. Shinkaruk, Klimchuk, and Mangiapane all scored at a 40-point pace over the course of an AHL season. If Lomberg takes a step forward and Poirier reclaims some of his past glory, the Flames will have some of the most enviable depth in the league.
However, the major concern of this group is that they have only played a combined 23 NHL games in their combined 11 seasons of professional hockey, and Shinkaruk has been doing a lot of that heavy lifting with 15 games played. Speaking of, Shinkaruk, along with Poirier, have taken steps backwards after previously promising seasons, which raises some concern. Klimchuk, on the other hand, has only had one good AHL season after a dreadful rookie year where he scored single digit points. Timeline criticisms are unfair to AHL rookies Mangiapane and Lomberg, but only one of those guys has a ceiling that is above NHL fourth liner, so we should still have some doubts.
AHL success is well and good, but the sketchiness of an NHL future for some of these guys is a bit concerning. Adding a few 18 year olds is not a bad idea.
Options in the first round: Vesalainen, Tolvanen, Yamamoto, Jason Robertson, Isaac Ratcliffe
In addition to the LW/RW guys, there are some interesting names in OHLers Robertson and Ratcliffe. The latter might be a bit of a stretch pick at 16, but the former is a very interesting, underrated player. I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Flames drafted him.
Though I doubt the Flames would go for someone who exclusively plays LW. They might snag a left-handed player in the first, but he’s gotta be able to play both sides for the team to consider him. This is likely something they look at in the fifth to seventh rounds.
Options in other rounds: Tyler Steenbergen (4th), Ivan Shekhovich (4th), Yaroslav Alexeyev (5th), Joseph Garreffa (6th), Austen Keating (6th), Skyler McKenzie (7th)
Areas that are just fine
|Dillon Dube||WHL||18||5’11”||183 lbs||40-20-35-55|
|Mark Jankowski||AHL||22||6’4″||203 lbs||64-27-29-56|
|Linus Lindstrom||SHL||19||6’0″||165 lbs||50-2-4-6|
|Mitchell Mattson||USHL||19||6’4″||192 lbs||55-12-16-28|
The Flames addressed this need last year, adding three lefty centres in the first six picks. All good on this front.
|Stepan Falkovsky||ECHL||20||6’7″||225 lbs||54-21-11-32|
|Oliver Kylington||AHL||20||6’0″||183 lbs||60-6-21-27|
|Brandon Hickey||NCAA – HE||21||6’2″||190 lbs||35-4-11-15|
|Keegan Kanzig||ECHL||22||6’7″||247 lbs||40-1-4-5|
|Adam Ollas Mattsson||SHL||20||6’4″||216 lbs||52-1-3-4|
|Josh Healey||NCAA – B10||22||6’0″||196 lbs||35-4-21-25|
LHD is their deepest group in the whole prospect pool, so it’s unlikely they select another one this draft. There may be some minor concerns over the lack of high-end talent, as Kylington and maybe Hickey are the only ones with realistic shots at the NHL soon, but the team should feel content with what they have. If they make any selections at this position, it will be a coke machine in the seventh round.
|David Rittich||AHL||24||6’3″||207 lbs||.924|
|Jon Gillies||AHL||22||6’6″||223 lbs||.910|
|Tyler Parsons||OHL||19||6’1″||185 lbs||.925|
|Nick Schneider||WHL||19||6’3″||179 lbs||.886|
|Mason McDonald||ECHL||21||6’4″||201 lbs||.897|
It seems odd to say, but the Flames are fine at goalie. And the customary goalie pick is every other year, so we won’t see them take one until next year’s second round anyways.