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Craig Conroy discusses the Calgary Flames first round strategy in pre-draft media availability

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Photo credit:@nhlflames on X
Jeff Middleton
21 days ago
Every sports fan wants to know all the details about what decisions are being made, whether it’s during the trade deadline, free agency, or the draft. While Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy didn’t divulge too much about the staff’s strategy for the impending NHL Draft, he did provide some insight into what things might look like heading into it.
During this time of year, there is always a debate about which draft approach is the more “correct” one (if that’s even something that can be deciphered): do you take the best player available? Or instead, do you leap over the best player available to find someone who can help fill a position of need? Well, the answer to that question for Conroy and his staff was simple:
“I do think some other teams might have a positional need or whatever, but I think for us, it’s the best player [available],” Conroy said on Thursday in a pre-draft chat with the media, via Flames TV. “I think that’s been our mindset the whole [time]. [During] all the meetings, we talked about getting the list right, putting them in order, and whoever is the best player, we need to take them.”
So, for those Flames fans who are itching to know whether the Flames management team will walk up on stage with the intent of drafting a player who fills a positional need when there may be a player or two who drop to nine that would be considered “steals” there, the chance is very, very slim, unless the player they draft fits both categories in their mind.
But now that we’ve heard from Conroy about the strategy for their first pick of the first-round, what about the number 28 selection?
This one is a bit more complicated, primarily because the line between “best player available” and “filling positional needs” gets a little more murky as you move farther and farther back. From what it sounds like, if the Flames were to move up, this would be the pick that they move up from. But Conroy also sounds content with staying pat if the package doesn’t sound right or if they like players who are still available.
“I think there may be more opportunity to move up on that pick if we really like someone,” Conroy said. “But we have a group of guys we really like there, too. We might have to move up to get one of them, but like I said, we’ll see how the draft is unfolding, and then if there’s an opportunity to move up, try to do that at 28. But we really like the players at 28, too.”
All of this can be concluded with a caveat: “Actions speak louder than words.” We will all see what the Flames do when the San Jose Sharks are officially on the clock, and the 2024 NHL Draft has begun. But from what it sounds like, a “best player available” approach is being taken, especially with the ninth overall pick, and even though they aren’t afraid to move up from number nine, the number 28 pick would be the more likely of the two that the Flames trade. It will be an exciting, rumour-filled day for all parties involved either way.

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