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FlamesNation Mailbag: Delving into your draft-related questions!

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
16 days ago
It’s a double Mailbag Monday here at FlamesNation, because we got so many questions in our weekly call!
We handled trade and big picture stuff in an earlier edition. Now, let’s delve into draft-related questions!
Folks, I have an unpopular opinion: I think Jonathan Huberdeau was pretty decent in the second half of the regular season. Was he $10.5 million good? Nah, but hardly anybody is. But if you look at the team’s game-scores from Jan. 1 onward, only Nazem Kadri, Andrei Kuzmenko and Blake Coleman had a more positive impact on the Flames’ games among their forwards. He’s a positive contributor, and it only really makes sense to burn future assets (especially early in a retool process) if he’s not a positive contributor. As long as Huberdeau remains a contributor, you don’t really worry about getting rid of the deal – especially when you consider there’s seven years left on the deal, and you’re not getting anywhere close to fair value to get somebody to take seven years of any deal.
The name of the game right now is accumulating a lot of young assets and seeing which players impress. It doesn’t make sense to remove possible young assets from the fold just because Huberdeau’s cap hit is higher than his production currently warrants.
Jacob Markstrom is 34 years old and has two years left with a $6 million cap hit (and a full no-move clause). Rasmus Andersson is 27 years old and has two years left with a $4.55 million cap hit (and a six team no-trade list). I would argue that Markstrom is a player that has the potential to steal games more than Andersson, but Andersson probably has more tread left on the tires.
Unless you get a first-round pick for either player, I don’t know if you’re in any hurry to move them. They’re both big pieces of the current incarnation of the team and if you’re moving on from them, you’re not doing it lightly or for anything but a hefty price tag.
We’ll get to Tij momentarily.
Berkly Catton is a left-shot centre for the Spokane Chiefs. he won 53.4% of his face-offs in 2023-24, and scored 54 goals and 116 points over 68 games. Tij Iginla is a left-shot winger (who’s played centre in the past) for the Kelowna Rockets. He scored 47 goals and 84 points in 64 games this past season.
We looked at 10 recent draft rankings published in April and May. On those 10 lists, Catton ranked higher than Iginla on six (and Iginla’s higher on four). In terms of best player available (BPA), it really depends on what attributes a team values more highly. The scouting consensus is slightly in favour of Catton, but it’s not like the scouting community would be up in arms if Iginla was selected ahead of them; they’re both strong prospects.
There’s definitely some residual goodwill for Tij Iginla because of how much his father has meant to the Calgary Flames and the local community. Heck, his dad is a legit hockey icon throughout Canada and was instrumental in two Olympic gold medal wins.
But the younger Iginla has had a fantastic draft year. He’s risen consistently on public draft rankings from around the hockey world. If you look at mock drafts from throughout the hockey world, he’s pretty consistently a top 10 selection – there are occasional rankings where he’s in the top five or just outside of the top 10, but typically he’s a top 10 player.
At this point in the Flames’ retooling process, I’m of the mindset that the Flames need to accumulate as many young assets as possible. Unless there’s a pressing reason, my preference is to make as many selections in the first three rounds as they can. If I’m the GM – spoiler: I am not – I would recommend sticking at 28th overall, or even moving back and trying to add another draft pick later in the draft. It’s year one of the retool, so accumulate a lot of interesting young players and then see which of them excel within the Flames’ development system.
Got a question for a future mailbag? Contact Ryan on Twitter/X at @RyanNPike or e-mail him at Ryan [at] TheNationNetwork.com! (Make sure you put Mailbag in the subject line!)

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