For the first time since 2017, the Calgary Flames have a first round pick in the NHL Draft. There are several players that the club may be interested in selecting when they head to the podium on Friday night in Vancouver.
Prospective picks at a glance
|LW Egor Afanasyev||Muskegon (USHL)||L||16th (NA skaters)|
|C John Beecher||USA U-18s (USHL)||L||49th (NA skaters)|
|D Tobias Björnfot||Djurgardens IF (SuperElit)||L||7th (Euro skaters)|
|RW Bobby Brink||Sioux City (USHL)||R||19th (NA skaters)|
|LW Pavel Dorofeyev||Magnitigorsk (MHL)||L||12th (Euro skaters)|
|RW Simon Holmström||HV71 (SuperElit)||L||27th (Euro skaters)|
|D Anttoni Honka||JYP (SM-Liiga)||R||22nd (Euro skaters)|
|D Ryan Johnson||Sioux Falls (USHL)||L||33rd (NA skaters)|
|G Spencer Knight||USA U18s (USHL)||n/a||1st (NA goalies)|
|D Mikko Kokkonen||Jukurit (SM-Liiga)||L||10th (Euro skaters)|
|RW Brett Leason||Prince Albert (WHL)||R||25th (NA skaters)|
|C Connor McMichael||London (OHL)||L||24th (NA skaters)|
|C Ilya Nikolayev||Yaroslavl (MHL)||L||9th (Euro skaters)|
|LW Jakob Pelletier||Moncton (QMJHL)||L||27th (NA skaters)|
|LW Samuel Poulin||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||L||22nd (NA skaters)|
|LW Patrik Puistola||Tappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)||L||28th (Euro skaters)|
|D Matthew Robertson||Edmonton (WHL)||L||26th (NA skaters)|
|LW Nick Robertson||Peterborough (OHL)||L||17th (NA skaters)|
|D Lassi Thomson||Kelowna (WHL)||R||15th (NA skaters)|
|C Philip Tomasino||Niagara (OHL)||R||14th (NA skaters)|
|D Alex Vlasic||USA U-18s (USHL)||L||38th (NA skaters)|
Handicapping the contenders
The Flames select 26th overall.
Based on a review, 20 players were ranked top 25 on the majority of the major rankings: Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Bowen Byram, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Dylan Cozens, Vasili Podkolzin, Kirby Dach, Peyton Krebs, Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, Cam York, Ryan Suzuki, Matthew Boldy, Alex Kaliyev, Philip Broberg, Raphael Lavoie, Victor Soderstrom, Thomas Harley and Moritz Seider. The Flames likely won’t be able to select any of these players.
Four more players were ranked top 25 in around half of the survey rankings: Bobby Brink, Philip Tomasino, Nils Hoglander and Ville Heinola. (We included Brink and Tomasino in our rundown because of this quartet, they seem the most likely to slide to the Flames due to Hoglander and Heinola having some pro experience.) It’s also sounding increasingly likely that somebody selects Spencer Knight before the Flames can mull over drafting a goalie in the first round. (Yay.)
That effectively knocks 25 players off the draft board. Unless Brink or Tomasino slide – in which case the Flames should draft one of them – here’s my personal preference list of the remaining targets we profiled over the past few weeks:
- Tobias Bjornföt
- Samuel Poulin
- Matthew Robertson
- Lassi Thomson
- Ryan Johnson
- Nick Robertson
- Jakob Pelletier
- Pavel Dorofeyev
- Anttoni Honka
- Connor McMichael
- Alex Vlasic
- Egor Afanasyev
- Brett Leason
- Patrik Puistola
- Mikko Kokkoken
- John Beecher
- Ilya Nikolayev
- Simon Holmström
My general rule of thumb here is “how much stuff would they need to fix about their game to make it to the NHL?” Bjornföt, Poulin, M.Robertson, Thomson and Johnson are arguably the players with the least gaping holes in their games, and the ones they have the Flames have been able to work around in the past – their work with Andersson on his fitness and Kylington on his defensive game have given me some confidence that they can work around rough spots.
Regardless of who the Flames grab at 26th overall, they won’t get any immediate help but they should be getting somebody who could be ready to take a step towards the NHL within another season or two.
Who’s your preferred prospect of the 18 players likely available to the Flames in the first round? Let us know in the comments.