FlamesNation Mailbag: Taking your questions about development and the draft!

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
16 days ago
Folks, we’re roughly one month away from the 2024 NHL Draft! The Calgary Flames have many, many draft picks – nine in total, with eight over the first four rounds.
As you imagine, our dear readers are pretty curious about the draft, and the developmental direction of the team in general.
Let’s check in with the mailbag!
Regardless of the composition of the Flames’ roster, I will argue that the point of 2024-25 will be “making progress.” In 2023-24, we found out that Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil could be everyday NHLers. Great! Can they be really good NHLers? Can they be used in different game situations? Do they still need to be sheltered or can Ryan Huska start throwing them into tougher situations? Can they kill penalties or be used to shut down opposing top lines?
Similarly, we saw a bit of Matt Coronato, Dustin Wolf and Ilya Solovyov last season and in limited usage, all three showed a good amount of progress – especially late in the season. Can we see expanded roles for those players next season that could lead to them becoming everyday NHLers? And how can they progress once they eventually move into expanded roles?
I’ll say this: I’m fascinated by the defensive side of the Flames right now. Solovyov really impressed me as a shutdown defender in the AHL post-season. Can he make the leap to the NHL next season? He played quite a bit late in the season, playing third pair and killing penalties, and he looked pretty good. If he can make the jump, it could really help ease the loss of Chris Tanev.
If the Flames’ youngsters, especially key ones, can take positive steps in 2024-25, it can be a successful season regardless of where they end up in the standings.
The Flames had a bit gap in their reserve list in terms of blueliners earlier in 2024, but they’ve added Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo, Brayden Pachal, Artem Grushnikov, Joel Hanley and Daniil Miromanov to their reserve list since the calendar year began. So the situation isn’t really dire anymore.
Under Brad Treliving, the Flames focused on “building up the middle” with centres and defencemen. I’m really curious to see how Craig Conroy addresses things. At the 2023 draft, Conroy and head scout Tod Button seemed to prioritize skill and size – they went for a lot of bigger guys, but everybody they went for had some skill. But with a year to prepare for this draft, and so many draft picks at their disposal, how will Conroy balance things?
I think the Flames still have a bit of a depth deficit at centre, so I think they should prioritize adding at that position. But I wouldn’t expect them to go for a player with a lower skill ceiling because of positional need. They have good players with potential at every position, but there’s an argument to be made that they lack elite skill at any position. If nothing else, having more picks this year gives them the ability to take big swings on high-risk, high-reward players. But do they do that? Or do they “play it safe” and continue accumulating strong depth?
We’re going to learn a lot about how Conroy approaches team-building at this year’s draft. It’s going to be fun to watch.
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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