The 2019 NHL Draft is upon us and the Calgary Flames have a reputation that precedes them. General manager Brad Treliving has a history of making big splashes at draft weekend, but is that on tap in Vancouver? Calgary selects 26th overall Friday night but some wonder whether that pick is in play. Here’s all you need to know about what’s happening on the west coast.
1. Don’t expect Calgary to move up from 26
“It seems like that would be hard for us,” Craig Conroy told me. “Talking to teams right now, everybody’s excited, they have their picks, and they kind of want to stand pat.”
It seems like moving up is harder to do every year for any team, but it looks particularly difficult from a Calgary perspective. Typically a team needs an abundance of top 60 picks to move higher up in the first round and that’s something the Flames just don’t have. After their first rounder, Calgary has picks in the third, fourth, fifth, and seventh rounds.
2. Is the first round pick in play elsewhere?
The Flames are in “win now” mode, which would suggest their first round pick would very much be a trade asset. And while it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Calgary were to move their 26th overall selection, it doesn’t sound like that is chiefly on the radar.
“Brad’s got a history,” Conroy said. “When he gets a call and walks out of the meeting, I think…all of the scouts look around. That’s one thing; the scouts always say if you can make our team better, that what we want to do. If there’s a player that it’s going to take a first round pick for to make the team better, then everybody’s on board with it. Brad’s looking at all options, he’s a wheeler (and) dealer, especially at this time of year.”
The Flames haven’t picked in the first round two of the last four years and have sent away numerous second rounders during that span, too. Conroy is certainly aware adding another first round talent to the organization is a tough opportunity to pass up.
“We need to make some picks too. We need to restock the cupboards and move forward, so unless something was to kind of wow you, I assume we’re going to make the first pick.”
3. The trade market is quiet…for now
Treliving has made significant trades his last four trips to the draft. That’s why so many are convinced he’s poised to make another splash in Vancouver, specifically after Calgary’s disappointing first round exit against Colorado. As of Thursday night, though, the trade market doesn’t sound so hot.
“Brad’s making calls and we’re doing it, but for some reason it just seems a little quieter this year,” Conroy said. “Not that it’s not going to heat up and maybe it heats up in ten minutes, but for the most part, Brad’s just working the phones but nothing real concrete coming from them. It’s a little low key usually for what we’re used to with Brad being at the helm.”
Even hearing that from Conroy, though, I don’t think anyone will be stunned if the Flames are the talk of the town at the end of the weekend.
4. Could Calgary pick a goalie in the first round?
U.S. National Development Team product Spencer Knight is the hot goaltending commodity right now and sounds like he’s on Calgary’s radar. Whether or not he’s available at 26 is another story. If he is, though, you can expect a very interesting discussion at the Flames’ draft table.
“We’ve got a list, we’ve got it in order,” said director of amateur scouting Tod Button. “I think we’ve finished one to 62 and the only thing that would come into play would be the goaltender. If there’s a goaltender at 26 who we think is available that we think is worth picking. We’ve talked it out and we think there is one. So then it’s just a philosophical decision on whether you take a goalie at that spot or not.”
In the end, that philosophical conversation is spearheaded by Treliving. If Knight is still on the board when it’s Calgary’s turn, it’ll be the GM making the final call.
“We have a separate list for goalies, but we have them slotted in where we would take them,” Button said. “Without taking the scouts off the hook, it would be Tree’s decision to take the goalie here or not take the goalie here.”
5. It’s a wide open field in the first round
If the Flames don’t go the goaltending route, they have a wide open field to choose from. According to Button, the field is essentially wide open for Calgary at 26th overall, which has made for some interesting debates around the table.
“Usually it’s an hour on who you think you’re going to pick, because you kind of got it done (earlier),” Conroy told me. “This year it was about three hours. It’s a grind and maybe, you know, which guys fits best for the team, what we’re trying to, do we take the best player…we’re going through a lot of scenarios.”