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FlamesNation Roundtable: previewing the 2023 NHL Draft

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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The 2023 NHL Draft is almost upon us, unfolding on Wednesday and Thursday in scenic Nashville, Tennessee! The Calgary Flames head to the event with a lot of priorities to juggle: the immediate challenge of looming unrestricted free agents and asset management, and the more abstract challenge of continuing to stock their cupboards with talented prospects.
As we prepare for all the fun, we’ve convened the roundtable to discuss what we’re expecting (and hoping) to see.

Who is your ideal 16th overall pick for the Flames?

Jeff: It all depends on who is still on the board, but I think Axel Sandin-Pellikka would be ideal. The likelihood that he falls to 16 is low, but he’s a great skater with fantastic playmaking abilities both in the offensive zone and in transition. The Flames have Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Coronato, Dustin Wolf, Connor Zary, etc. but they don’t have a truly high-profile defense prospect. Sandin-Pellikka would change that.
Mike: I’d love to see them somehow land Zach Benson, but I suspect he’ll be gone just before the teens. Dmitri Simashev is also very intriguing, but I think the most ideal pick still in the realm of possibility is Matthew Wood. He’s huge, but he’s also proven himself capable of putting up massive offensive numbers against significantly more mature players in the NCAA. I think he goes after Benson, but it’s hard to say. If Wood gets to 16, I can’t imagine the Flames not jumping at the chance to take him.
Robert: Oliver Moore from the US National Development Team. Craig Conroy and Tod Button need to swing for the fences with their first-round pick. Moore has the potential to be an electrifying player for the Calgary Flames. He is regarded as being the best skater in the draft and has superstar level qualities to his game. The Flames need more speed and offense in their prospect system. Moore brings that in spades.
Ryan: The Flames need talented players of all positions who can generate offence. Given that, I’d really look at Gabe Perreault of the U.S. National Development Program. He broke Auston Matthews’ single-season scoring record at the USNDP, and he’s the type of tools, smart, high-ceiling forward that the Flames could use more of. (Heck, every team could use more players like him.)

Who is your realistic 16th overall pick for the Flames?

Jeff: I think Brayden Yager is probably the most realistic pick. The real question would be if he gets by Nashville at 15. Nonetheless, he’s a productive player from the WHL and his shot combined with solid speed and good playmaking ability would be a great asset to have as the Flames (hopefully) move toward a direction of youth and skill, especially in the forward group.
Mike: I have long had a strong intuition that the Flames will pick Colby Barlow at 16, and he checks all the boxes for them. He kind of strikes me as being Connor Zary 2.0, but as a winger. Lord knows the Flames need more guys who can put the puck in the net. I certainly wouldn’t object to them taking Barlow, although I think there’d probably be a couple guys who’d be higher on their list if they ended up falling to 16 (Nate Danielson would probably be one of them).
Robert: The Flames will likely take the safer route and draft Swedish defenseman, Tom Willander. Willander, a right shot defenseman projects to be a solid top four defender. The Flames have had a lot of success in drafting and developing Swedish prospects. On top of all that the Flames desperately need to add high quality defensemen to their prospect system.
Ryan: I’m going to be sneaky and throw out two names: Nate Danielson and Matthew Wood. Danielson is a talented forward who plays in Brandon, so the Flames have likely seen a lot of him over the years. Similarly, Wood plays at UConn with Flames goaltending prospect Arsenii Sergeev, so he’s another individual that has a high ceiling, but one the Flames probably have some insight into as a person and player.

How many picks do the Flames make?

Jeff: I’m not sure I see many trades being made straight up pick for pick(s). However, I could see the Flames moving some roster players for picks in this draft, so I’m going to say 7 or 8 picks.
Mike: I think they add two picks to their existing complement, for a grand total of seven. I’ll go as far as to predict they make two selections in the first round.
Robert: It would be shocking if Craig Conroy didn’t make a trade or two between now and the draft. I believe the Flames will add a few draft picks and select nine times in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Ryan: I think the Flames will make seven selections overall in the 2023 NHL Draft weekend.

How many 2022-23 roster players do they trade before the end of the draft?

Jeff: My guess would be one or two. I think that’s a solid middle ground. The likelihood that every player who wants out will be moved is low, but it also feels like if they don’t come out of the draft having moved someone, there’s bigger things at play.
Mike: My guess is they trade Noah Hanifin, and only Noah Hanifin, by the end of the draft.
Robert: The Flames will trade two roster players from the 2022-23 squad. Noah Hanifin and Tyler Toffoli will be dealt for multiple draft picks. It sounds like Conroy is making a push to sign Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund. I think they will hold on to those two and move out the two players who have already committed to not re-sign long term with the Flames in Hanifin and Toffoli.
Ryan: I predict the Flames will trade Noah Hanifin and Dan Vladar by the end of the draft.
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