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Photo Credit: Brian Liesse/WHL

Flashpoint: Analyzing the Flames 2021 draft picks

Welcome do the debut of the Flashpoint style articles where I – Flashalytics (Shane Stevenson) – break down what’s going on in the Flames world with a detailed combination of numbers and analysis. Today we are going to do a deep dive into the latest crop of kids the Flames just drafted to see what kind of value was found at each spot. If you want to know even more about these prospects after you’re done reading this go check out the draft recap my colleague Mike Gould drew up (right here) where he gets quotes from scouts and presents video of each player. 

1st Round – 13th overall – Matthew Coronato RW/LW/C Grade: A+

In a draft as uncertain on this one it’s hard to make any hard generalizations about too many players. Matthew Coronato is not one of those prospects that was hanging in the grey area. By almost any NHLe model you could find (HockeyProspecting.com, Top Down Hockey, Scouching) Coronato projects as a top 10 talent – top 5 in some. His previous body of work shows he’s suited to end up playing a prominent role in the NHL as a scoring forward. 

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The versatility shown by this player is a bonus trait to his scoring production. This past season alone Coronoto spent games playing on the left wing, the right wing, or up the middle as a center. He dominated the USHL with a specific nose for the net scoring 48 goals in 51 games. He is committed to playing at Harvard for the 2021-22 season as well

Which brings up the final topic that was discussed on social media boards Friday night – the possibility of having a repeat Adam Fox situation. Let me be perfectly clear – when you have a chance to draft a player with as much skill and raw talent as Coronato at 13th overall you don’t ask those questions. If this draft year were normal and in-person viewings could have been had more I’ve got no doubt in my mind Coronato would have been a consensus top 5 pick. The Flames got a gift at 13.

Was there anyone better? At this pick – No. The Flames easily took the best player available at 13 and should run and yell like in that one IKEA commercial “Start the car!!!”

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2nd Round – 45th overall – William Stromgren LW Grade: B+

To absolutely the surprise of nobody the Flames took a big winger with size early in the draft, but this isn’t the same type of pick we’ve seen here from years past (Hunter Smith, Keegan Kanzig, Pat Sieloff, etc.). William Stromgren oozes skill – specifically when it comes to his north/south speed and lethal one time shot. He prioritizes his offence and doesn’t get into trouble with his size (2 PIMs in 27 SWE-1 league games)

Stromgren is a very interesting talent, and was a smart bet in the second round. Top down hockey had him as his 51st ranked forward in the draft while HockeyProspecting had him 47th (amongst forwards only). It was a bit of a reach by statistical standards, but that’s why you also scout in person. A player with Stromgren’s physical attributes combined with his showcasing of skill could easily turn into a premier power forward in today’s NHL.

Was there anyone better? I do think every team in the league is going to regret on passing by Logan Stankoven – who may only be 5’8” but is already physically strong at 170 lbs. The other pick that i would have like was Sasha Pastujov – a first round scoring talent that went 66th overall to the Ducks (of all the darn teams why the Ducks, man). Stromgren’s combination of size and speed aren’t a bad consolation prize though.

3rd Round – 77th overall – Cole Huckins C/LW Grade: B

Speaking of size and skill the Flames doubled-down with their next pick getting a player that performed similarly in offensive output to Stromgren with Cole Huckins. The speed of Stromgren doesn’t translate directly into Huckins’ game, but that’s one of the reasons they were selected 32 picks apart. He still effectively uses his size to protect the puck and was able to find himself in good scoring positions playing in the QMJHL. His next season is crucial in his development. Over a point per game in the Q is what should be expected should Huckins want to develop into a significant top 6 forward fast, otherwise you might see a more Adam Ruzicka type level of development.

In both TopDown Hockey and HockeyProspecting.com’s models Huckins actually ranks out with a higher Star probability than that of Stromgren. From my own video viewings of the two players I do tend to like Stromgren’s natural tools better, but that’s more of a compliment to him than a slight on Huckins. The Flames got good value with their 3rd round pick here.

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Was there anyone better? Really skilled goaltender Benjamin Gaudreau was there, and if the team wanted to draft a goaltender with 2 third round picks nobody would have blamed them. At this point in the draft taking players that project like Huckins are good bets, especially when they have experience as C and LW. Mix in his size and there’s nothing to really dislike about this pick.

3rd round – 89th overall – Cameron Whynot LHD Grade: C

After going with 3 straight forwards to start the draft it made sense to go for a defenceman in this slot. Whynot projects as a shutdown D, and it’s hard for players who don’t put up high point totals at different levels to be noticed or get promoted like they should. Whynot is certainly a project defenceman, but I’d much rather risk a project with my 2nd pick of the 3rd round than in the first round of the draft. 

You’re never going to hit every single pick of the draft, this is the first kid the Flames took that seems like a longshot to me. He did take big strides both in his offensive and defensive game which got him noticed, but these strides are going to need to continue significantly going forward. TopDown Hockey’s WAR (Wins above replacement) based NHLe only has Whynot at a 6.48% chance at being an NHLer while HockeyProspecting has much more favourable odds at a 43% chance. Proper development of this asset will be key going forward.

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Was there anyone better? After the three forwards I’m just going to exclusively look and see if there were any defencemen at this point that project better than Whynot – I’ll be right back. Cue Jeopardy music… The models really like Aiden Hreschuk who went to Carolina better than they like Whynot, but not by any significance of a margin that would make the Flames choice a bad one. There was one really good player, but they took him later anyways.

5th Round – 141st overall – Cole Jordan LHD Grade: B+

I think it’s time for an unpaid advertisement “Point based models will hate him, find out why today!!!” – Cole Jordan was an absolutely fantastic pick in the fifth round. The transitional data we have on this kid are off the charts. He might be one of, if not the best, pure puck mover in this draft. He does it through the middle of the ice, and with possession too. He’s not a proficient goal scorer, or a wizard in the offensive zone – but he is tremendously gifted at turning the play from his own zone to the attacking zone quickly.

The Flames have been great at finding late round gems in drafts in the Treliving era (Mangiapane, Emilio Pettersen, Francis, etc.), and this one may be this year’s pick.

Was there anyone better? No. Not at D and not taken anywhere near Calgary picked. There were some decent forwards still available, but betting on this quick, slick passing machine in the 5th round – it’s gooood.

6th round – 168th overall – Jack Beck RW Grade: C-

This is an interesting one for myself. Jack Beck had an alright rookie year as well as being the proud owner of some excellent U16 statistics. His first season in the OHL saw him buried behind some elite talent in the likes of Marco Rossi, Jack Quinn, and a few overagers (20 year olds). This 2019-20 season was on where he would have been poised to take a larger offensive role and set himself up nicely for his draft year, but COVID had other plans cancelling the entire OHL season.

Jack Beck will be a prominent player on the 2020-21 Ottawa 67’s squad (Sean Monahan’s former junior squad for you trivia nuts). Rossi and Quinn likely won’t be back and they’re gonna lose about 3-4 overage players that played primary minutes – Beck is going to have a real opportunity to showcase his stuff. The Flames obviously liked what they saw from him at 16 enough to want to retain his rights on his first year of draft eligibility rather than fight other teams to draft him should he break out in his D+1. Keep an eye on this one folks, he may surprise you more than many will give him credit for.

Was there anyone better? We’re gonna tie Beck in with Ciona here – see below

6th Round – 173rd overall – Lucas Ciona LW Grade: C-

Another bet on a kid with size, albeit this prospect lacks the other natural raw skills the other two have, it doesn’t mean he can’t develop them at a later date. Ciona has got a good quality junior linemate coming up this season as he and Connor Roulette take on some more expanded offensive responsibilities. With later round picks it is always nice to bet on more skill than size and that’s not what the Flames have done here. HockeyProspecting puts him at a 19% chance at being an NHLer while TopDown Hockey has him at 4.37%. The kid is going to have to put the work into his offensive game, but he’s got the natural physical build that NHL coaches love.

Was there anyone better? Yes – but not with the size of Ciona. He’s actually still available too, and I don’t wanna hear the “If he was really that good he would’ve got taken” crap because Mangiapane lasted 12 rounds of eligibility before he got noticed. Trevor Wong was there and was passed over for the same reason lots of players get passed over – their height. It’s no slight on these other kids that got drafted, but I believe Trevor Wong has something to prove going forward now.

7th round – 205th overall – Arsenii Sergeev G Grade: C-

Teams love letting goalies marinate a long time before they bring them to the big leagues and the Flames are going to get that opportunity with Sergeev (or Sergeyev) as he’s committed to UCONN in the NCAA. He’s got the size (6’3”) scouts love in net and a compete level you just can’t get over. Sergeev is going to have plenty of time playing in the Hockey East division against teams such as UMASS, Providence College, and Johnny Hockey’s old stomping grounds – Boston College. The Hockey News had Sergeev rated as one of their top 10 goalies in the draft, so the Flames management team weren’t the only people recognizing his talent.

Was there anyone better? For goalies this late in the draft I’m sure the Flames got the man they had their eye on. Only Joe Vrbatic and Carl Lindbom went after him, no reason to be disappointed on a 7th round goalie, I really like the way the last one is progressing.

In summary

Brad Treliving and crew came to the table with yet another strong, and smartly picked, draft class. This remains a true strength of this current Flames management group – they continue to stockpile good assets that can either develop into quality NHL players… or use them as pieces to acquire proven NHL talent.

But that’s a conversation for another time.