Let’s call a spade a spade, friends. Historically, the Calgary Flames have drafted a ton of Western Hockey League players. It helps that they’re located snugly in Western Canada and for the better part of the franchise’s existence have had teams in Calgary for them to scout. As a result of this reliance on WHL players, some of the franchise’s most decorated players – Mike Vernon, Theoren Fleury, Robyn Regehr and some fella by the name of Jarome Iginla – have been WHL products.
The Flames will probably draft a forward this year. But if they go for a blueliner, they very well may go to the WHL and pick a player they’ve seen a lot of: Kelowna Rockets defender Cal Foote.
From Dobber Prospects:
Cal Foote is a chip off the old block as the son of NHL great defenseman Adam Foote. Like his dad, Cal plays a solid, physical, defense first type of game. Foote has great size and strength to play a hard-nosed game; he skates well and always makes very good decisions in terms of puck reads and positioning. Foote and his younger brother look to to be the next in a long line of defense studs to come out of the Kelowna Rockets system. He projects to be a very safe pick but outside of his peripheral stats in hits and blocks will have lower fantasy value than NHL value. Foote does posses some offensive ability, he can skate the puck out of the zone to create offence and occasionally joins the rush. He has a heavy shot and can play the point on the power play.
From Future Considerations:
Another kid with NHL bloodlines as Adam Foote’s son plays a rough-and-tumble, minute-munching game with a bit of offensive upside…he is huge and incredibly mobile for his size…can look a tad sluggish when quickly forced to elevate his tempo, but overall, he is very smooth on the ice… he has an incredibly long stick that he uses to consistently disrupt plays in every defensive scenario…an incredibly tough defenseman to beat in the defensive zone who is only going to get better…is also very capable with the puck as he cradles it smoothly in transition and hits on his passes…has some dangling ability, utilizing his reach and smooth mobility…has a quick, accurate slap shot…has poise with the puck, not making bad decisions when pressured…plays a physical game due to his natural size and strength, but could be a little more abrasive…big, elegant skater who distributes the puck at a high level and can play in all situations…impressive NHL upside.
Jeff Marek assessed Foote back in his March: “Will be a 12-year NHLer. A really solid, safe pick.”
Foote’s dad is former long-time NHLer Adam Foote, who played 1,100 NHL games, won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and competed in the Memorial Cup. The younger Foote arguably boasts the “safe” attributes of his dad’s game – the size, the defensive awareness, the situational awareness – but has a higher ceiling because he’s much better with the puck. Oh, and he’s a big boy with a right shot.
Foote has played two full seasons in the WHL on a really good Kelowna Rockets team. He had 56 points in 71 games in 2016-17, which puts him 11th in the league in defensive scoring – and second among first-time draft eligibles behind Tri-City’s Juuso Valimaki.
Breaking it down further:
- Foote was 27th among WHL defensemen in even strength primary points, behind Valimaki, Artyom Minulin, Josh Brook and Cale Fleury among 2017 prospects.
- In terms of overall even strength points, he was 16th among defenders (behind 2017 prospects Valimaki and Henri Jokiharju).
- He was seventh among blueliners in power play points and primary points, behind only Valimaki among 2017 prospects.
- He had just two even strength goals and three power play goals.
Despite being a big-bodied defender, Foote took a strangely small number of penalties. He had only 36 minutes of minor penalties – or 18 minors – over 71 games. That seems to indicate that his defensive skills weren’t based on crashing into dudes or grabbing onto them as they whirled around him. That’s a pretty good sign.
Availability and fit
Foote seems like a 50/50 shot to be available at 16th overall, as roughly half the available rankings and projections have him taken by the time the Flames pick. That said, he seems like a great pick. He’d be a really nice complement to the players the Flames already have in their system and, moreover, because of his proximity in the WHL and the fact that 2016 pick Dillon Dube is his teammate, the Flames probably know Foote really well.
In 2016, the Flames grabbed a second generation player in Matthew Tkachuk that’s a chip off the old block. Foote could be another one, bringing size, skill and mobility in a position that the Flames would probably love to add depth in.