38Alex Vlasic
Photo Credit: Hickling Images

Flames 2019 First Round Targets: Alex Vlasic

If Brian Burke were still calling the shots for the Calgary Flames, there’s a decent chance you could already pencil in Alex Vlasic as their first selection at the 2019 NHL Draft. Is there a chance that he could still hear his name called with the 26th overall pick?

Scouting Report 

The first thing that stands out about Vlasic is how big he is. Clocking in at 6’6″ and around 200 pounds, he is the tallest prospect projected to potentially go in the top 50. The cousin of San Jose Sharks defender Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Alex Vlasic is also a left-handed defender.

He grew up in Illinois, spending his younger years playing bantam and midget in Chicago before making the jump to the United States National Team Development Program for the last two seasons. He’ll be heading east regardless next season as he’s committed to Boston University, but that should be good for his still-developing offensive game.

The debate around Vlasic is if he truly is someone who can play in today’s NHL. He’s got the skills as a pure defender, but some aren’t convinced he’ll hols his own without being surrounded by a wealth of talent like he was with the USNTDP.

Going for him is the fact that he’s a a smoother skater than you’d expect for someone that tall, and isn’t afraid to use his size to his advantage on the ice. If his offense was stronger, we’d likely be talking about a player who would surely be gone by the time the Flames got to draft, but that doesn’t mean it can’t develop in the years to come.

Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet likes what he sees, acknowledging the offensive gaps:

Moves so well for a big man and has a great understanding of the game and where he fits in it. Will be happy to make his mark as a complementary D-partner while being patient to develop the offensive side.

However, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic isn’t as convinced: (paywall)

On a mega-talented team, he was the physical, long, disruptive defensive presence. He’s good at what he does. He’s a sound defender who makes simple outlet passes to more talented players, resulting in very little time spent in his own zone. I fear though, the consequences of a less-talented, less-dominant team on that defensive zone time. Because Vlasic is also the least offensively gifted of the USDP’s regulars on defence. As with a number of defencemen in this class, I could see Vlasic progressing into an NHL player, but he’s probably a third-pairing guy who kills penalties and not someone who drives possession in a significant way due to some of the mistakes that come with him.

The general consensus seems to be that Vlasic should expect to go between the late first round to potentially the late second round, with some outliers in draft predictions amongst hockey circles. Will teams want to invest in such a towering presence for their back end?

He also bears more than a passing resemblance to Bojack Horseman’s Vincent Adultman because of his height and also his youthful exuberance, which would be a real treat if anything came of it because then whoever ends up drafting him would get three picks for the price of one and that’s a bargain, baby.

The numbers 

Last year in the United States Hockey League, Vlasic put up two goals and 15 points overall in 27 games, which was pretty in line with the year prior in which he scored four goals and had 13 points in 34 games. He also had 28 PIMs this season, which is encouraging that just because he’s a big body, he isn’t a major liability to misuse it and put his team down,

The question here is if those numbers are perhaps a tad inflated from being part of the incredibly talented USNTDP. There’s no question that Vlasic can make that first pass to break out of the zone and kickstart the offence, but will he be able to continually pitch in when he has to play a bigger part? Or should it be expected that those offensive numbers will shrink in the NHL?

Availability and fit 

It would be a surprise if Vlasic wasn’t available for the 26th selection, but there’s no guarantees in the game of hockey. It could look like a bit of a reach if there isn’t another gear for his offense, or potentially a very savvy pick.

There’s also nothing wrong with stockpiling mobile defenders for the pipeline, which is a tad depleted after recent graduations and no defenders picked in the 2018 draft. If the Flames are looking to restock their cupboards in 2019, there are worse selections to make.

However, it seems unlikely that they decide to commit so early to Vlasic. These less truculent Flames than years past may decide to see how far he may drop on draft day before circling back on him.

2019 first round targets

Egor Afanasyev | John Beecher | Tobias Björnfot | Bobby Brink | Simon Holmström | Pavel Dorofeyev | Anttoni Honka | Ryan Johnson | Spencer Knight | Brett Leason | Connor McMichael | Ilya Nikolayev | Jakob Pelletier | Samuel Poulin | Patrik Puistola | Matthew Robertson | Nick Robertson | Lassi Thomson | Philip Tomasino

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  • freethe flames

    Only 2 of the major rankers have him as first round pick; 23/24 the rest have him in the first half of the second round. Again this makes me hope that BT can add some second round picks.

  • freethe flames

    So speaking of the draft; I have booked a space at Crowfoot Brewsters if anyone would like to meet some members of the Flames Nation world. So far about 5 of us have said they are coming. The space will hold 16 comfortably 20 if we can play nice. They will hold it till 6:30. Let me know if you are interested so I have an idea for the pub. If you have already confirmed no need to reply. Hoping to put some faces to some names. I will be there about 5:30 p.m. Cheers.

  • freethe flames

    Much of our conversations over the last few weeks has been about who to draft and who we should look to add via free agency. Sometimes we talk about trades and it almost always leads to discussions about hitting the home run. What about discussing some other ideas? So an area I thought I would bring up is trying to mine some gold out of the RFA class of 2019 either by trade or by the dreaded “offer sheet”. It seems like the only guy we speak about here is Kapanen when we discuss the second level of RFA’s. Let’s begin with my premise that you only offer sheet up to $4.26m which keeps the compensation down to a second round pick; this would be a last resort. So here are a list of 2019 RFA’s that meet the Flames need for RHS all of these made less a $1m last year: Colin White 41 points, Konechney 49 points, Compher 32, Sundquist 31, Sissons 30, Hartman 26. None of these guys are the big sexy names but would solidify our Rside.

      • freethe flames

        You are correct which as I have said many times that before the Flames can get into the FA market they need to shed salary. BT has an important decision to make; does he change his internal cap model; that being that no one makes more than the captain. If does not change the model it will be hard to resign Tkachuk and harder still to sign any of the top FA who might be a difference maker. The only way he can change things up is to clear space by trading 2 of the following: TJ, Frolik, Stone or Neal w/o taking much cap back. The latter he could buy out and create cap space.
        Not everything revolves around Tkachuk but he is the clear big ticket item. The only way I see Tkachuk signing and BT keeping his internal cap in place is a 3 year bridge deal at $6.75 (same number as Gio and Johnny) and him getting a massive signing bonus; say $15m. Then if he earns the “C” by the end of the deal he sets a new bar.

    • Zorn

      This “out of the box” thinking could really work (thumbs up). I really like Travis Konecny and would only hope he could be pried away from Philly. He is just the sort we need, speedy, skilled anything to win attitude.

  • Zorn

    Just a little off topic – Jets receive 20th overall pick plus an undrafted 23 year old “D” picked up from college ranks by the Rangers for 25 year old Trouba.
    How does this affect the value of Brodie?

    • freethe flames

      I asked this question yesterday. Get past the idea of the undrfated 23 year old an accept that he is an HL defender maybe 5/6; he could be a 4 and think about it that way. The next question is how does the Flyers paying 2nd rounder and a third rounder for Braun impact the value of TJ?

      • Zorn

        Braun is a true ‘RD’ whereas Brodie is a ‘RD’ who shoots left but is younger by 3 years. It could be argued that Brodie’s (who has more offensive upside than Braun) value would fall somewhere in between Trouba’s and Braun’s.

        • freethe flames

          While Brodie’s salary is higher his production has been much better than Braun’s. So I agree with you that his value should be higher than Brauns and less than Trouba’s. The question is what is the sweet spot and which team could use him the most. I also like to remind myself that all this guys with only 1 year left can also be traded at the TDL if they don’t work out and again tJ’s value could be high at the TDL.

          • Mitchell

            The jets weren’t really dealing trouba from a position of power though, and it was similar to calgarys dealing of adam fox. Everyone knew trouba wasn’t going to resign with the jets, and thus his return was a little lower than what it should have been. I believe tre could get a similar deal to what the jets got. This years class of UFA defencemen is quite weak too, which should drive Brodies price up a little for those teams that are desperate for defencemen.

          • freethe flames

            @Zorn: just to clarify my earlier statement; I would not hold Brodie till the TDL but what I meant is this(an example to clarify) say we traded TJ to Habs for 2 second rounders(more than Braun but less than Trouba) and he did not work out for them or he told them he was going to fA or they were clearly out of the playoff race then they could flip him at the TDL and likely get a decent return.

    • Jobu

      Jobu is waiting for the day when a trio (or more?) of drafted college top liners decides they all want to hold out for an education and all sign together with the NHL team of their choice.

      Jobu doesn’t like the college holdout scenario. Its unfair to both the clubs that drafted them as well as the players in the CHL that don’t have that option. It should be flat-out removed

      • Albertabeef

        NHL needs to change their draft policy. Like every other pro sport, they don’t draft you till you are done college, unless you aren’t going to college. They should have a supplementary college draft either the Thursday before or the Monday after draft weekend. Even under the current draft rules all unsigned and undrafted college kids should go through this supplementary draft process.

  • everton fc

    Unrelated; The Sharks have only $13mill cap space to sign Pavelski, Thornton, Donskoi, Labanc, Nyquist, Meier, Gambrell… Not to mention two defencemen, Heed and Ryan. May be some deals there – I assume Nyquist will move on… A few have mentioned Donskoi, here… Labanc would be a nice pickup, for RW… As would Donskoi. They`ll have to find a way to sign Meier… They made a brutal mistake, signing Karlsson.

  • freethe flames

    After the last two trades of NHL defencemen Trouba To NYR and Braun to Philly what is TJ’s value. IMO he is closer to Trouba than Braun. So what would I accept as a far market deal for TJ. Trouba who is younger but a RFA got a top 20 pick and a 4-6 defender Braun got a second rounder and a 3rd rounder next year. So here are my options; not in any real order of preference:
    A. a middle 6 forward who meets our needs and is a little younger and depending on the perceived quality a later round pick.
    B: a flop of first rounders and depending on how great a difference a solid prospect or a mid round draft pick.
    C. two second rounders one of which is below 40.
    That’s my view on what he is worth based upon these 2 trades.