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FlamesNation Mailbag: Ramping up for draft week excitement

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
The 2023 NHL Draft goes next Wednesday and Thursday in scenic Nashville, Tennessee. There’s a lot of stuff going on league-wide that week, including the NHL Awards, the general managers’ meetings, and the draft. A lot of stuff is going to go down.
As we head into the last full week before the draft, guess what’s on everybody’s mind in the mailbag?
(We got a bunch of questions like this, apologies if we didn’t choose your version!)
Every season, I compile a consensus ranking in Google Docs for my own use that aggregates a bunch of public draft rankings. There’s a general variation in the draft rankings after the first 10-11 players, but the perception in the scouting community is there’s a top 14 or 15 players before a “ledge” in talent levels… but there’s a decent chance somebody from that top 14/15 drop down to the Flames.
So that’s a long preamble for the players that show up in the 14-to-20 range: Gabe Perreault (14), Eduard Sale (15), Nate Danielson (16), Dmitri Simashev (17), Andrew Cristall (18), Samuel Honzek (19) and Brayden Yager (20). Simashev is a defender, but the rest are all forwards. I would suspect the Flames go best player available, since they need a bit of everything. We’ll have profiles of all of these players out before the draft – we already have a bunch of them out!
In the previous answer I talked about the ledges. Here’s the rub: every team has a slightly different draft list and a slightly different perception about the ledges. In 2020, the Flames traded down twice (and gained a third-rounder in each swap) because they had multiple players they perceived to be on the same ledge available. So they moved down, gained picks, and got a player in Connor Zary they felt was very valuable.
Every team sees talent a little bit differently, and those differences in perception are why we get trades up and down during draft week.
Let’s call a spade a spade: things did not go well for the Flames last season. The combination of the players they had and the coach they had just did not work, and the whole team felt fairly off-kilter for much of the season. The big challenge for new GM Craig Conroy is figuring out what the ideal combination of skills and personalities are for the team and the coaching staff, and locking in the right pieces.
It could be a very interesting summer, especially with the possibility of those pending 2024 free agents either getting locked in long-term or sent elsewhere.
The obvious move seems to be the Flames trading Dan Vladar to open up a roster spot for Dustin Wolf.
Including trading up or down at the draft, my guess is the Flames make four trades prior to the beginning of free agency on July 1.
I personally haven’t heard anything about Nazem Kadri. But that said, based on how last season went, I’m not going to rule anything out. Kadri has six seasons left on a deal that pays him $7 million against the salary cap, and his deal has a full no-move clause included. He’s not going anywhere unless he wants to.
Yes, it would make a lot of sense for salary retention to potentially be explored. The most salary a team can retain is 50%, and if you have to eat $2.475 million of Noah Hanifin’s cap hit for a year to get an additional asset or a better return in a potential trade, I don’t think you rule it out. It’s not much money and it would only be for one year, but it would need to be balanced against the team’s other moves to maximize the roster.
No. He’ll be drafted first overall by Chicago.

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