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Calgary Flames stock up on everything, especially size and skill, at 2023 NHL Draft

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
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When it was pointed out to him following the last pick of the 2023 NHL Draft, Calgary Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button had a great quip to describe the club’s draft haul: “That’s our starting lineup for the new building, right there. A goalie, two defencemen and three forwards.”
Indeed, the Flames got a bit of everything in the 2023 crop. Most notably: skilled players with size.
“I said before I think our prospect base is missing a bit of skilled size,” said Button. “But we weren’t going to go away from skill just for size. It had to be together, and it worked out.”
Over the two days, the Flames made six selections. The smallest player they selected, Etienne Morin, is listed at 6’0″ and 180 pounds by the NHL. Suffice it to say, the Flames loaded up on some players with size. But their first four picks were all effective offensive producers last season.
Here are scouting reports on each Flames pick from the second day from Button, GM Craig Conroy and the players themselves. (A breakdown on first-rounder Samuel Honzek is available here.)

Etienne Morin (defenceman, second round)

“Etienne’s a really really cerebral, fluid, mobile defenceman who we think can run a power play one day.” – Button
“I’m a two-way defenceman, so both sides of the puck are very important for me. Obviously I’m more offensive right now but I want to work on my defensiveness. I’m very smart player. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m very cerebral, so my strongest asset is my hockey IQ and how I [handle] the puck and I have a great wrister.” – Morin
(According to Conroy, the team was debating between Morin and Suniev at 48th and opted to go for Morin first.)

Aydar Suniev (forward, third round)

“Suniev had 90 points, really good goal-scorer.” – Button
“Sometimes I get a little nervous with Suniev because he’s a little fearless when he goes to the middle. I’m like, he’s got to be a little careful. But you know what? That’s what I liked about him, that he was fearless and he goes to the hard areas. He’s got a real knack for scoring goals, a really good shot.” – Conroy
“I’m a two-way forward with lots of skill who likes to generate offence, who can play on both sides of the puck, who likes to score goals.” – Suniev
(According to Conroy, the club explored the chance of moving up a bit to get Suniev, but nothing materialized.)

Jaden Lipinski (forward, fourth round)

“Lipinski is a bit of a late-bloomer. but he put up really good numbers in Vancouver, too, as Samuel’s teammate.” – Button
“I’m a big skilled power forward who can play up and down the lineup and likes to play a two-way game.” – Lipinski
“Another big guy that played well. His puck possession is as good as anybody I watched this year. Strong. We’ve got to get with the pace, pick up the pace a little bit. But you know what? You see the upside with the skill, the ability down low.” – Conroy

Yegor Yegorov (goaltender, sixth round)

“Yegor Yegorov is a guy that Jordan Sigalet’s been tracking all year. He does an unbelievable job with his goalie group. They see everybody. Pros, college, Europe. And that’s the advent of video, right? He does a great job and he had a good goalie list. And the one thing I was just saying on the radio: when the first goalie goes, they go. And you saw that right in the second round, about five of them went. There was a gap between our goalies. We had the top group, and then we had a group like, five, sixth, seventh rounds. So we called Jordy and said ‘we know how much you like Yegor,’ and a lot of those guys have been picked already, even in his group. So he said yeah, if we can get him in the sixth it would be good value.” – Button
[Re: scouts advocating for specific players in the later rounds] “That’s where Jordan was like ‘One of the youngest goalies in the draft, he’s athletic, he’s got high hockey sense.’ He was selling for sure. He was giving me all the reasons. But 6’4″ goalie, young like that, who moves well and has a high hockey sense? Can’t go wrong.” – Conroy

Axel Hurtig (defenceman, seventh round)

“Axel Hurtig, he’s a guy, he was probably the eighth or ninth defenceman on the Swedish under-18 team. And then through injuries and being able to play a little bit more, as the year went on we started to pay more attention to him and we liked him a little more, and by the 18s he was playing full-time in the top four. He’s a bit of a project, but he’s got a great demeanour. He’s a physical defenceman but he’s really strong in his own end and now we need to get him to branch out and add to his skillset. We got four years on him now because he’s a European, so we’re happy about getting a bit of a project there. But he’s got a really, really solid defensive base and physical base that he can build off of.” – Button
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