Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames are proving why drafting and developing is so important
3 months ago
It’s been a tough start for the Calgary Flames. However, one of the bright spots is the play of their prospects who have made an impact early on in this season.
Craig Conroy told Flames fans that he was going to let young players get an opportunity to earn a spot in the lineup this season. Gone are the days of Brad Treliving bringing in veterans to fill out the bottom of the roster. Thank goodness for that. The youthful energy from the likes of Connor Zary, Matt Coronato, and Martin Pospisil has helped the team and helped keep the fans invested in the one ice product.
Connor Zary has arguably been the Flames best player since entering the lineup on November 1 in a game against the Dallas Stars. He’s brought much needed skill, and offensive firepower that has been missing from the Flames lineup all season. Zary is confident with the puck and he’s not afraid to make high risk high reward plays.
In his three-game stint with the Flames, Zary has three points, is a plus two, and has been on the ice for 14 high danger chances for and five against. His numbers are great, and the eye test matches it. One thing I’ve been so impressed with is Zary’s compete level. He wins a lot of puck battles and has a great stick pick pocketing opposing players.
It seems like something positive happens every time he is one the ice.
Martin Pospisil has also made an impact in two games. It’s obviously a very small sample size, but Pospisil looks like he can play a regular shift in the NHL. He is big, can skate, has a little skill and has a reputation of being tough to play against. There is no reason why he can’t be a regular contributor in the Flames bottom six for the rest of the season.
The Flames will also be able to add Jakob Pelletier when he returns from his injury, Dustin Wolf, Jeremie Poirier and Matt Coronato to their lineup later this season. That’s a lot of good, young players to plug into your lineup at a low cost on your salary cap.
I bring all this up to point out how important it is for the Flames to continue to prioritize drafting and developing the next wave of Calgary Flame players. The Flames have to stop relying on building their team through free agency and trades. The best teams in the NHL draft their core group of players and bring them up together as a group through the minor leagues and up to the NHL.
Conroy should not be in the business of trading draft picks within the next three to four years. The only time the Flames should be moving draft picks is if they’re acquiring a talented, young prospect or player from another organization or moving up/down in the NHL Draft. That’s it.
Hopefully the days of shipping out draft picks to bring in Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone, Erik Gustafsson, Derek Forbort, Ryan Carpenter and Tyler Pitlicks of the world are done under Conroy’s watch.
The focus should be on acquiring draft picks, using them, and developing the next core of the Calgary Flames.
They did a pretty good job of that in the 2010s. In those years the Flames were able to draft and develop a core group that included Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, TJ Brodie, and Rasmus Andersson. The goal should be to recreate that type of core and have them develop together.
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