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FlamesNation 2017 Expansion Draft Roundtable

For the first time in the salary cap era, the National Hockey League will add a franchise next season as the Vegas Golden Knights join the fray. They have a name. They have a jersey. After tonight’s expansion draft, they’ll even have players. Every one of the 30 established NHL clubs will lose a player to Vegas in the draft, including the Calgary Flames.

Who will the Golden Knights snag from Calgary? To answer that question, and others, we’ve assembled our crack team in the FlamesNation Roundtable to share their thoughts: Ari Yanover! Mike Fail! Christian Tiberi! Christian Roatis! Kent Wilson! And also me!

Base-case scenario, which player do the Flames lose to Vegas?

Ari: Troy Brouwer, please. I’m not a believer that this year was just an off-year and he’ll have a bounce-back season – but if that’s what Vegas believes, then we’re all the better for it. I also wouldn’t mind if they took Michael Stone, as I don’t believe he’s the answer to the Flames’ defence.

Mike: Troy Brouwer or a situation where they want to offer Michael Stone a contract. Finding a way to avoid Stone and get rid of Brouwer is key.

Christian T: Is there any other option besides Troy Brouwer? I guess if they nab Michael Stone before the Flames can do something dumb like re-sign him, that’s another good choice.

Christian R: Without a doubt Troy Brouwer. I doubt Vegas takes a UFA like Engellend or to a lesser extent Stone, since they have a priority window to talk to UFAs prior to everyone else getting to, so Troy Brouwer is far and away the best case. Lance Bouma holds down second place.

Kent: Troy Brouwer, for many obvious reasons.

Ryan: I’m going with Troy Brouwer, though Michael Stone or Deryk Engelland going to Nevada also wouldn’t be horrible.

Worst-case scenario, which player do the Flames lose to Vegas?

Ari: Brett Kulak, easily. He can probably step into a full time NHL role now and it would be brutal to lose him right when he’s on the cusp of doing that, only to have him play for another team. Alex Chiasson would also suck to lose, as he’s good for depth, but wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Really, though, the Flames aren’t in that bad of a position no matter who Vegas takes. The expansion draft came at a good time for them.

Mike: They don’t take Troy Brouwer and we’re left with his existence providing perpetual mediocrity until the Flames can leave him in Lac La Biche or something. If Vegas is smart, they go after a player that can provide some value in the NHL or AHL. Shinkaruk, Kulak, Chiasson, or to a lesser extent Stajan.

Christian T: I will go bold and say that the worst case scenario is if the Flames lose a guy like Hunter Shinkaruk (or any other AHLer that is exposed) or any non-roster player. I think the Flames are approaching this expansion draft with the optimistic outlook that Vegas will take away dead weight and open up a spot for a prospect or a free agent. If Vegas grabs someone who does not free up an NHL spot, the Flames kind of lose a little bit.

Christian R: Brett Kulak, for me. An NHL-ready bottom pairing kid with the potential for the second pairing is exactly the type of depth the Flames need as they enter their contention window. He seems like the obvious pick from the Flames to us, but as often happens in the NHL, teams think much, much differently than we do. In this case, that’s good!

Kent: Brett Kulak I guess? He’s the closest of the kids to making some sort of impact at the NHL level.

Ryan: Brett Kulak or Alex Chiasson going would be a shame, since Kulak hasn’t really gotten a chance yet and Chiasson has been really useful.

Which player do you expect the Flames to lose to Vegas?

Ari: If they’re loading up to reach the cap floor via other players, then I think it’ll be Kulak or Chiasson. If they need help getting there, then Bouma, Stajan, or Brouwer.

Mike: Probably Chiasson or Kulak. There’s enough of a case to be made they can be serviceable, which is what the Vegas team needs. Stajan could be pursued – and there were talks that he would be ideal as a captain or what have you – but at the end of the day they’re set up in a position of leverage to design an okay team. They don’t need to take on any contracts unless the pot is sweetened, and Calgary doesn’t have much to sweeten a salary dump.

Christian T: It’s kind of hard to say right now given all of the variables in this draft, but I feel they go with Alex Chiasson because he’s young-ish, still cheap, big, and useful. I’m torn between him and Brett Kulak for this answer, but I think Chiasson’s NHL experience gives him the edge.

Christian R: The Flames reportedly expect to lose a forward [editor’s note: David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period tweeted this], and so I think it’s one of Chiasson, Brouwer, Shinkaruk, Bouma or Stajan, in that order from most to least likely. Chiasson is a good, still young utility forward who can play up and down your lineup with varying success. He’s cheap, too. Brouwer seems to have some sort of perceived value in the room plus “can score” (heavy emphasis on the quotations) so there’s hope there. Shinkaruk is that quality AHL scorer on the fringes of the NHL if Vegas wants to build their forward depth. Bouma is a perceived good penalty killer for whatever reason so maybe they value that. Given Bouma’s penchant for partying, his selection by the Knights would be hilarious. Stajan is another “good in the room” veteran and reasonable bottom six forward. Given his contract, I don’t see the value in Vegas taking him, though.

Kent: I think it might be Brouwer given McPhee’s affinity for the player, but it’s more likely to be Kulak, Stajan or Chiasson. Lets go with Chiasson for now.

Ryan: At this point, it’s probably Matt Stajan or Alex Chiasson given the number of young defenders available.

  • MWflames

    If you did a mock draft a month ago, you probably have Vegas taking kulak or shinkaruk…. Assuming the rumours are true, Vegas is actually going to get a good staple young players to fill out their active roster and farm teams. A lot of these young players are probably better than either shinkaruk or kulak too… My guess, which is awesome for the flames, is they look for veteran experience and leadership from the flames: brouwer or stajan. With one year left on stajans contract, brouwer makes sense… Hopefully this isn’t just wishful thinking!!

  • FLT

    Kulak is probably has the most upside of any Flame available to Vegas, but I’m not sure they’ll take him. McPhee will have a lot of good, young NHL-ready options on D. There’s a long list of quality defensemen available (Dumba, Vatanen, Manson, Methot, Bogosian, Demers…), and Vegas can only select between 9-13 D. Kulak probably isn’t among the 13 most valuable defensemen available. Also, he’s unproven and wouldn’t command a huge return if they tried to flip him. Any trades Vegas already has in place could certainly change things though.

  • Kevin R

    Seems to me McPhee wants to maximize this expansion window & the only way to do that with a team like the Flames where they may not like what is picked off but oh well is to give a little perceived value back to the Flames for something they already perceive as value. Soooo, yeah Mcphee could take Kulak or Shink or Stajan or whoever. But he may also be & see value in Brouwer. One thing that is constant, players that the analytics community have no time for like Brouwer seems to have value with most NHL GM’s. So maybe McPhee sees Tre would be probably pretty happy to take Brouwer, how does he max out his pillage on the Flames. Well maybe the Flames trade the rights to Stone & maybe even throw in Shinkaruk to take Brouwer. Mcphee could have any of these guys & no one would stop him but, now all of a sudden, he gets 3 for the price of one. Not that would be a scenario that could help both teams.

  • The Fall

    The extent some teams are going to protect players seems like a lot of overreactions. Lose one player and move on. Why would any team want to give up multiple picks and players just to protect one player?!

  • everton fc

    I think there are far too many better defencemen out there for Vegas to poach Kulak. The only way they take Brouwer is if there’s a side deal. Shinkaruk would have to clear waivers.

    So I think it’s Chiasson. Unfortunately. But he’s also replaceable, if we move Jankowski to 3rd line/RW, and move Lazar to 4th line RW (or vice versa) losing Chiasson doesn’t hurt so bad. (And we can sign Spencer Foo, move him to 4th line RW, Lazar centres, and either Stajan/Shinkaruk/Klimchuk/Lomberg plays 4th line LW! This, of course, after the Flames move Brouwer to the Coyotes so they can meet the cap floor!! 😉 )

  • Just.Visiting

    If I’m Vegas and I’ve loaded up on younger talent, I might find it very attractive to bring Stajan for solid bottom sixth performance and the leadership and mentorship he could offer the other players. As the salary may be a bit higher than I prefer, I see whether the Flames could sweeten the pot a little bit by providing me a solid AHL type to help out my minor league needs.

  • flamesburn89

    Praying that McPhee takes Brouwer. You don’t need to know a lick about analytics to know that the contract is a rough one. The Flames paid first line money for a RW who should be playing on the 3rd/4th line. Hopefully McPhee values his veteran leadership and presence and views Brouwer’s struggles this past season as a one-off.

  • Lets Get Something Clear

    I’ve said this before, but I’m running out of chances to say it again so I’ll do it here one last time. Vegas will take Stajan. The other players the Flames have available are all borderline NHLers with limited upside (i.e. it’s unlikely that Kulak will turn into a top pairing defenceman or Shinkaruk and Chiasson become a top six forward). These prospects are valuable to the Flames but probably not nearly so much to any other team. Second, of all the positions center is the least-well-populated. Third, Stajan comes with veteran experience but more importantly a reasonable cap hit on a one year contract. Come the trade deadline next winter he’ll be a good candidate to be traded, likely for a similar kind of player to the one that Knights could claim off the Flames now.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      It is tough to argue with that rationale. Stajan seems like a good choice because he comes relatively cheap, brings leadership, plays the highly coveted position of Center and is highly respected by his peers. He essentially brings what Brouwer does only isa Center and with one year left on his contract. More importantly, despite being older he can play a higher tempo game.

  • Skylardog

    I believed it was Kulak early on, but now I think it is Stone or Versteeg. They are going to flip DMen like crazy for draft picks and forwards that are not exposed. You take the most valuable asset of a team, and then decide to keep, flip, or keep and flip at the trade deadline next spring.
    For a team looking for Dman, Vegas can say, I have 8 I am willing to part with, which one would you like? And by the way, the price is……