by David Elisio
With the 2017 NHL Entry Draft approaching (June 23 – 24, 2017) it’s that time of year for teams to look at what they have in the organization, what they can improve on, areas of strengths and of concern. The Calgary Flames are one of several teams that – for the most part – are in a good place moving forward.
Calgary has shifted from a slow moving, basement dwelling team to a more dynamic, upstart, puck possession team over the last four years. Back in 2013 they were just starting this rebuild. The team had traded away captain and club icon Jarome Iginla, and they moved on from big contract defencemen Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf.
Calgary Flames Draft Preview
Since then, some astute drafting and smart trades by third year general manager Brad Treliving has Calgary moving in the right direction. But even smart moves can come at a price and the Flames still have some holes to fill if they want to have championship aspirations.
Here’s the rundown as to what the Flames have done at the draft since 2000.
|1st Round Picks||17||15th|
|Average 1st Round Pick||17.1||19th|
|Goalies Selected Per Year||0.76||18th|
When Calgary signed free agent forward Troy Brouwer to a four-year $18 million dollar contract, they thought they were getting:
- A hard nosed forward
- Solid secondary scoring option
- A player that could slide easily into the Top 6
While one of those is true (Brouwer had 171 hits in 74 games) the other two were not. Instead what they actually got was an over priced, aging winger who found himself on the fourth line by the end of the season. It is entirely possible that Brouwer rebounds in 2017-18. He could become the player that Calgary needs. However, at 32 years old he’s already in the down part of his career.
Calgary is looking for a skilled winger to play on Sam Bennett’s wing. They are also looking to add defenceman to replace the four UFA’s (Michael Stone, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Ladislav Smid). Of those four players, Michael Stone has the best shot of returning to the Flames next year. Another pressing concern that could be addressed at the draft is goaltending. As of right now it seems likely that the Flames will have a new goaltender, either by trade or on July 1st.
Long Term Needs
The organization has a nice group of defence and goaltending prospects already in the system. But what they do need is to improve the forward depth. Sean Monahan, Bennett, and Matthew Tkachuk all made the NHL as underage (players that are still Junior eligible) players, but they need to succeed now is what Calgary lacks.
The Flames own the 16th pick in the draft. In a year where there isn’t much that seperates picks 5 to 17, this can be considered a good thing. The Flames should be targeting Callan Foote, Michael Rasmussen, Erik Brannstrom, Timothy Liljegren, or Nicholas Suzuki.
Foote, Brannstrom and Liljegren are defencemen so it’s unlikely that Calgary will take them. As for the other two, the one thing they have in common is that they are both versatile centers. I think the Flames should take Rasmussen. What makes him so appealing is his size, he’s 6-foot-5. He also put up 32 goals this past season for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.
Because of salary cap issues, Calgary will have to do it the home grown way. That could take some time.
According to Cap Friendly, about $20 millon dollars is coming off the books for the 2017-18 season. But that number is more misleading that it seems.
At the very least, $4 million will be spent on a true number 1 goaltender (whether thats in free agency or acquired via trade). Another $4 million should be spent on an experienced 2nd pair defender as well.
The Flames could try to find cheaper options in free agency. They could also give playing time to some of the prospects in the system that are NHL ready.
Main Photo: CALGARY, CANADA – FEBRUARY 27: General manager Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames addresses the media before the trade deadline prior to the team’s NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at the Scotiabank Saddledome on February 27, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brad Treliving