Good drafting involves weighing team need and pick value. Do you draft the best player available or do you draft for need?
The bad news for the Flames is that they have picks with little value. If you like the draft picks = lottery tickets metaphor, the picks the Flames have are four one dollar scratch offs, if that.
And that’s okay, relatively speaking: the good news for the Flames is that they’ve done a pretty good job drafting so they don’t really have any glaring needs. Key word being “glaring.” They’re 90% of the way there, but they could still use that extra 10%. It is quite clear that the team isn’t perfect and getting a few youngins for free to upgrade is always a victory.
So what do the Flames need? How can they best spend their picks?
I broke down the organization by position, age, league, and contract term.
|Mike Smith||35||NHL||1 year|
|Tyler Parsons||19||ECHL||2 years|
|Mason McDonald||22||ECHL||1 year|
|Nick Schneider||21||WHL/ECHL||2 years|
There’s a decent amount of goaltending talent in the pipeline, but I would bet the Flames pick a goaltender this year, and not just because it’s an even year. When you really look at it, there are some cracks at that position.
The bottom end of the goaltending pool, McDonald and Schneider, are not on track to have great pro careers. That leaves you with four goalies. Smith is also probably done after this season, so that’s three. There’s a pretty high chance that either one of Rittich or Gillies do not pan out as NHL starters, so that’s two goalies. If that happens to be Rittich and Gillies, that’s a disaster. This picture could easily go from healthy to sickly in just a year’s time.
So basically, the goalie position needs some depth and some skill. I can’t see how they can make a definitive upgrade with the picks they have, but they at least need depth and they’ll probably find a decent goalie with one of their fourth round picks.
|Mark Giordano||34||NHL||4 years|
|TJ Brodie||27||NHL||2 years|
|Oliver Kylington||20||AHL||2 years|
|Juuso Valimaki||18||WHL||3 years (4 with a slide)|
|Rushan Rafikov||22||KHL||No contract|
|Josh Healey||23||AHL||1 year|
|Adam Ollas Mattsson||21||AHL||No contract|
The Flames are pretty stacked at LD. Maybe they take a flyer on someone in the seventh round, but I can’t see them picking anyone given the depth and talent they’ve amassed over the years. If they make a trade, perhaps one involving Brodie, they might pick up another one just in case.
|Dougie Hamilton||24||NHL||3 years|
|Travis Hamonic||27||NHL||2 years|
|Michael Stone||27||NHL||2 years|
|Rasmus Andersson||21||AHL||2 years|
|Adam Fox||19||NCAA||No contract|
The RD position is strange. They have some great talent at the position, but limited numbers. If Stone is on his way out too, the Flames probably need to draft another RD to build some depth. I would think they use a sixth at this position to add another body. It’s not a skill need, but a depth need.
|Johnny Gaudreau||24||NHL||4 years|
|Matthew Tkachuk||20||NHL||1 year|
|Sam Bennett||21||NHL||1 year|
|Andrew Mangiapane||22||AHL||1 year|
|Ryan Lomberg||23||AHL||1 year|
|Pavel Karnaukhov||21||VHL/KHL||No contract|
|Mitchell Mattson||19||USHL||No contract|
|Filip Sveningsson||18||Superelit||No contract|
The Flames have numbers at LW, but the talent is pretty front heavy. I could see them pick a LW anyways given the abundance of them in any particular draft and the drop off in potential and talent after Mangiapane. Maybe a sixth, but depends who’s on the board in the fourth round.
|Micheal Ferland||26||NHL||1 year|
|Michael Frolik||30||NHL||2 years|
|Troy Brouwer||32||NHL||2 years|
|Curtis Lazar||23||NHL||1 year|
|Spencer Foo||24||AHL||1 year|
|Zach Fischer||20||WHL||No contract|
|Matthew Phillips||20||WHL||3 years|
|D’Artagnan Joly||19||QMJHL||No contract|
|Eetu Tuulola||20||Liiga||No contract|
The Flames actually have the most depth at RW, although you generously have to expand the definition to guys like Ferland, Shinkaruk, and Poirier who can play both sides but have been forced to shift (I threw Jagr on there for giggles). The caveat is that they’re likely going to cut bait with a lot of the RFAs, mostly because they are not very good. There’s a lot to say when your best RW has 41 points, and your best right-handed RW is Troy Brouwer.
It’s no surprise that RW is an area of need, but how do the Flames actually address it in this draft? Joly and Phillips were both sixth round picks, so you can find some pretty good (yet uncertain) talent in later rounds. But they took a flyer on Fischer last year, and he’s likely not going to get signed in time after a so-so overage year in the WHL. It’s boom or bust, and an early peek at the draft eligible list indicates that there’s not a lot of boom.
I think they spend two picks on RWs, one in the fourth and maybe one in the sixth.
|Sean Monahan||23||NHL||5 years|
|Mikael Backlund||29||NHL||6 years|
|Dillon Dube||19||WHL||3 years|
|Glenn Gawdin||21||WHL||2 years|
|Brett Pollock||21||AHL||1 year|
|Linus Lindstrom||19||SHL||No contract|
|Adam Ruzicka||19||OHL||No contract|
After making it a point of emphasis during the worst of the rebuilding years, it’s no surprise the Flames have both depth and talent down the middle. Who knows if Dube or Gawdin become wings or centres in the pros (Dube was a RW for his stint in Stockton, but mostly a C in Kelowna with a bit of LW. Gawdin has been a C in Swift Current), but they have a strong body of work as pivots in the WHL.
Can’t see the Flames spending a pick on a centre this draft. Adding Gawdin this year was probably their substitute for a draft pick.