It’s Christmas in June for hockey fanatics, as the annual NHL Draft kicks off later tonight from Rogers Arena in scenic Vancouver, B.C. It’s an evening that promises to see dreams come true for some young men, while 31 NHL teams look for ways to improve their clubs.
And for the second time in three years, the Calgary Flames still have their first round pick.
Coverage of the first round kicks off at 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet on TV and Sportsnet 960 The Fan on the radio (with our pal Pat Steinberg at the helm).
The Flames head into the weekend’s proceedings with five selections:
- 26th overall
- 88th overall
- 116th overall
- 150th overall
- 214th overall
The 116th pick came to Calgary in the Travis Hamonic trade back at the 2017 Draft, which sent the Flames’ second round pick to the Islanders. The 214th pick came from the swap with Carolina that made Eddie Lack a Flame. Calgary’s fourth rounder went to Montreal last year when the Flames traded to select Milos Roman.
The Flames presently have 15 players under contract who are virtual locks for roster spots (presuming nobody gets traded or bought out):
- F Johnny Gaudreau – $6.75 million
- D Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
- F Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
- F James Neal – $5.75 million
- F Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
- D Noah Hanifin – $4.95 million
- F Elias Lindholm – $4.85 million
- D TJ Brodie – $4.65 million
- F Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
- D Travis Hamonic – $3.857 million
- D Michael Stone – $3.5 million
- F Derek Ryan – $3.125 million
- F Mark Jankowski – $1.675 million
- F Austin Czarnik – $1.25 million
- D Rasmus Andersson – $755,833 (plus bonuses)
These 15 players, plus Troy Brouwer’s buyout, account for $65.4 million in cap space. The Flames need to fill eight roster spots with an unspecified amount of cap space – the scuttlebutt is the cap could be as low as $82 million, which would give the Flames $16.6 million of space. The challenge is they need to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett, Andrew Mangiapane, and then find another goalie, defenseman and two forwards, all while retaining some wiggle room for in-season maneuvering.
Presently, the Flames have 33 players under contracts for the 2019-20 season.
Handicapping 26th overall
If you’re Team Chaos and just love watching people scramble around, this is the draft for you. In terms of “ledges” within the draft class, there’s one that runs basically from 25th overall to anywhere between 65th or 75th – meaning there will be players that teams think could be late first rounders going early in the third round and visa versa.
We’ve profiled 21 members of this cluster of potential first rounders over the past few weeks. As noted on Wednesday, there are a handful that likely fit the Flames’ needs the most:
- Philip Tomasino from Niagara of the OHL
- Bobby Brink from Sioux City of the USHL
- Tobias Bjornfot from Djurgardens IF of the SHL
- Samuel Poulin from Sherbrooke of the QMJHL
- Lassi Thomson from Kelowna of the WHL
- Ryan Johnson from Sioux Falls of the USHL
But there are a ton of players who could bit in the mix, so check out our laundry list of profiles and find your own favourites.
With the unclear cap situation, the big contracts left to sign and the really wide swath of players potentially available to them in the first round, this year’s NHL Draft has all the makings of a busy time for the Flames.