What kind of player can the Calgary Flames draft at 16th overall in 2023 NHL Draft?

2018 NHL Draft
Photo credit:Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports
Jeff Middleton
1 year ago
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Well, everyone, it’s NHL Draft month. The event is fast approaching, and for many, it’s the most exciting time of the year. The event will be hosted across the border and way down south in Bridgestone Arena in the city of Nashville, Tennessee.
This draft, in particular, has had lots of buzz around the NHL world, seemingly since the star of the show, Connor Bedard, was 14 years old. We saw speed and athleticism in showcases against the likes of Matthew Savoie, dancing around defenders and even hitting “The Michigan” on the poor goaltenders who couldn’t do anything about it. Then, the emergence of Adam Fantilli, who is viewed to be taken second overall by almost every outlet. And even Leo Carlsson, who has put up some fantastic offensive numbers in the Swedish leagues and international competition. Finally, there’s Matvei Michkov, who, if not for his KHL contract, would be competing with Fantilli for the second overall spot.
Unfortunately, the Flames weren’t good enough to get a shot at the dubbed “best prospect since McDavid,” the Hobey Baker winner, the electric Swedish talent, or even arguably the best Russian prospect since the 2004 draft that saw the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin be taken by their respective teams. However, even though the top 5-8 picks of this draft appear to be full of top-six forward talent, the question becomes, what can the Flames do with their pick at 16th overall? What kind of player could they select?
Here at FlamesNation, we will be doing player profiles on the players that the Flames could realistically select at their current draft position. Both the forward and defence positions will have some prime candidates to choose from, and we’ll be doing our best at reviewing their player archetypes and how they could fit into the Flames organization.
The Flames have a 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th round draft pick this year, which makes all of those selections more important considering the direction that this franchise is going. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ranked the Calgary prospect pool as 20th-best in the NHL. Matt Coronato, Dustin Wolf, and Jakob Pelletier were unsurprisingly ranked as the top three in the Flames pool, and with all three of those players looking to graduate to the NHL full-time in the upcoming 2023-24 season, there need to be some big hits from the new general manager Craig Conroy and his scouting staff.
The good news is, it’s going to be hard to truly “miss” on that first-round pick considering the kind of players that could be in that range. Whether a defenceman like Axel Sandin Pellikka slips to 16 or a player that has been pretty divisive like Andrew Cristall falls, the Flames will be getting a very talented player at the position.
So what kind of player can the Flames draft at 16th overall? First and foremost, they should draft the best player available. That much is obvious, given where their prospect pool sits in the recent rankings. Drafting for positional needs is a nice luxury to have, but if the franchise is lacking in prospect depth at every position, I don’t see any reason not to draft the best player. But most importantly, they are going to be afforded the opportunity to draft a player with a good mix of mobility, high hockey IQ with the puck on their stick, strong passing instincts, and a high work ethic.
Although 16th overall might not be as high as people would like to be in this loaded draft, there are still plenty of players that can make an impact in the Flames system. The 2023 NHL Draft is going to be fun, and it will be intriguing to see where the thought process of the Flames’ management sits.

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