Saturday, July 6, 2013

Michael Fabrig's Draft Review

The NHL-Entry Draft is always a thrill -- it allows teams the opportunity to re-stock the cupboard; presumably, this is needed by depth-drafting -- more than just a teams first-round selection. This years draft had some surprises, but nothing more than seeing Seth Jones fall to 4. 2 surprises I liked: Josh Morrissey (my 5th-overall ranked skater) going to Winnipeg at 13, and Marko Dano going to Columbus at 27. Morrissey has no holes to his game, IMO; if you add the realistic possibility that he has more room to grow with his blessed offensive skills, I think he will be deemed a steal in the near-future. Dano: what more can I say about this rock star? Nothing. He can play offensively, he can play defensively. He can skate, pass, and can definitely shoot. After Monahan (at 11 on my rankings), Dano was my next highest Center to take. A surprise that left me with a sour taste was Hunter Shinkaruk falling to 24. No idea why teams would pass on this guy; he is a rare mix of super-skill, maturity, and strong work-ethic. I hopes he makes the Canucks this upcoming season and proves his net-worth. 

The Calgary Flames:

Even though I didn't necessarily agree with Emile Poirier at 22, I think he was one of my favorite picks for the club. The other selection I really liked was the Rushan Rafikov at 187th. Rafikov is a smart, sleek skater. I liked another Russian D in Ruslan Pedan. The younger brother of Andrei (3rd-round pick of the Islanders in 2011) showed real skill in all facets of the ice for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL. Pedan scored 11 times; he accumulated 33 points in 44 games and was a plus-4. He has committed to play for Bemidji State next year (2013-2015). I'm sure he will get more attention next year for a chance to get drafted. 

This year I did a draft simulation of my picks versus Tod Button and the scouting staff. Here it is:

FABRIG'S PICKS:

1st Round:

6th: Hunter Shinkaruk -- C/RW/LW -- 5'11" -- Medicine Hat Tigers -- WHL -- 37G, 49A; 86 points in 64 GP -- -13

22nd: Marko Dano -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- H.C. Slovan Bratislava -- KHL -- 3G, 4A; 7 points in 37 GP -- +4 

(NOTE: Even though I had Lehkonen higher, I was drafting on need of a centre and Dano was the highest C on the board).

28th: Artturi Lehkonen -- RW/LW -- 5'10" -- KalPa -- SM-liiga -- 14G, 16A; 30 points in 45 GP -- +12

3rd Round:

67th: Oliver Bjorkstrand -- RW -- 5'11" -- Portland Winterhawks -- WHL -- 31G, 32A; 63 points in 65 GP -- +38

5th Round:

135th: Lucas Wallmark -- C -- 5'11" -- Karlskrona -- Allsvenskan -- 5G, 5A; 10 points in 16 GP -- -6

6th Round:

157th: Sergei Tolchinsky -- RW -- 5'9" -- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds -- OHL -- 26G, 25A; 51 points in 62 GP -- +8

7th Round:

187th: Viktor Arvidsson -- LW/RW -- 5'9" -- Skellefteå -- SEL -- 7G, 5A; 12 points in 49 GP -- 0

198th: Jesper Pettersson -- D -- 5'9" -- Linköping -- SEL -- 1G, 2A; 3 points in 14 GP -- +6

BUTTON'S PICKS:

1st Round:

6th: Sean Monohan -- C -- 6'2" -- Ottawa 67's -- OHL -- 31G, 47A; 78 points in 58 GP -- -18

22nd: Émile Poirier -- LW -- 6'1" --Gatineau Olympiques -- QMJHL -- 32G, 38A; 70 points in 65 GP -- 0

28th: Morgan Klimchuck -- LW -- 5'11" -- Regina Pats -- WHL -- 36G, 40A; 76 points in 72 GP -- -1

3rd Round:

67th: Keegan Kanzig -- D -- 6'7" -- Victoria Royals -- WHL -- 0G, 7A; 7 points in 70 GP -- -10

5th Round:

135th: Eric Roy -- D -- 6'3" -- Brandon Wheat Kings -- WHL -- 17G, 22A; 39 points in 72 GP -- -32

6th Round:

157th: Tim Harrison -- RW -- 6'3" -- Dexter School -- USHS -- 13G, 13A; 26 points in 21 GP (2011-2012)

7th Round:

187th: Rushan Rafikov -- D -- 6'1" -- Loko Yaroslavl -- MHL -- 1G, 9A; 10 points in 53 GP -- +11

198th: John Gilmour -- D -- 5'11" -- Providence College -- NCAA -- 4G, 9A; 13 points in 38 GP -- +3

Conclusion to my drafted guys: I felt that I got all the guys I wanted that I had slated in my top-30 (refer to my top-30 rankings). The only guy that wasn't in that group was who I think is Linköping's version of Sami Vatanen, Jesper Pettersson. The 5'9" d posses the smarts and skill to be an effective 2-way d-man with high offensive upside. In the past year, Pettersson was an impressive +6 in 14 games with the senior club, also adding 3 points (1G, 2A). 

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I thought it was a brisk draft. TSN did a fantastic job on full 7-round coverage. 

Here are my top-10 teams that I think 'won' at the draft:

1. Columbus Blue Jackets

Notable players taken: Alex Wennberg (C), Marko Dano (C/RW), Kerby Rychel (LW/C), Oliver Bjorkstrand (RW), Markus Soberg (RW), and PeterQuenneville (C). 

The Jackets add a plethora of skill. I'm shocked they get Bjorkstrand, Soberg, and Quenneville in the later rounds. I'm sure they just drafted more than 3 top-6 future NHL forwards here. 

2. Buffalo Sabres

Notable players taken: J.T. Compher (C), Nicholas Baptiste (RW), Gustav Possler (LW), Rasmus Ristolainen (D), Nikita Zadorov (C), Justin Bailey (RW/C), and Connor Hurley (C). 

The Sabres add some serious size and fire-power upfront with Bailey, Baptiste, and Compher, then add some nice skill down the back-end with Ristolainen and Zadorov. Gustav Possler is like Carl Hagelin -- an effective, skilled forward, that IMO, will make a contribution eventually in the NHL. Compher, Baptsite, and Possler are my favorite picks here. 

3. L.A. Kings

Notable players taken: Valentin Zykov (RW), Patrik Bartosak (G), Jonny Brodzinski (RW), Hudson Fasching (RW), Zack Leslie (D), and Dominik Kubalik (LW).

The Kings keep going with drafting quality. Zykov, IMO, was a steal. I'm quite disappointed MacTavish traded that 37th pick with a Zykov still there. Zykov has so much skill to like; I commend the Kings to trade-up and add to what is an already filled cupboard of oozing forward talent. Jonny Brodzinski is an over-age winger that scored 22 goals in his rookie season with St. Cloud State. The Brodzinski name will be a well-respected one -- Michael (D), the younger brother of Jonny, got selected as well this year -- in the 5th-round by the San Jose Sharks. Patrik Bartosak proved that he was the real deal posting a .935 SV% in 55 games played with Red Deer. His playoff performance was over-the-top, IMO. Bartosak had a .941 in 9 games with a 1.97 GAA. Unreal. I don't know how they got Kubalik in the 7th-round, but he will be a growing talent, too, IMO.

4.Winnipeg Jets

Notable players taken: Josh Morrissey (D), Nic Petan (C), Eric Comrie (G), and Jimmy Lodge (C).

I agree with what the media-types are saying out there that they did the best at the draft for a Canadian team. I think Morrissey was the best d-man in the draft because of his natural smarts (IQ and winning Scholastic Player of The Year). Nic Petan has the smarts, skill, and speed to be an NHL-regular. Jimmy Lodge was in the shadows, but showed he could be an effective C that could score some big goals. Eric Comrie is a blue-chip goaltender prospect, IMO. They basically added strength in areas they had holes in. Great job, Marcel Comeau!

5. Chicago Blackhawks

Notable players taken: Ryan Hartman (RW), Carl Dahlstrom (D), John Hayden (C), Tyler Motte (LW), Luke Johnson (C), and Robin Press (D).   

The Blackhawks are an elite drafting team. Hartman is an agitator with some skill, too, like Andrew Shaw. Press and Dahlstrom will be nice additions down the road on the back-end. Tyler Motte is a sniper that I really think was a steal in the 4th-round. John Hayden has a nice power game. Luke Johnson is a player I think is very off-the-radar. He always finds a way to put his name on the score sheet. He'll go to North Dakota and play with better talent and will likely be an effective contributor.

6. Florida Panthers

Notable players taken: Aleksander Barkov (C), Ian McCoshen (D), Michael Downing (D), Chris Clapperton (LW), and Mackenzie Weegar (D). 

7. Montreal Canadiens 

Notable players taken: Artturi Lehkonen (RW), Martin Reway (C/LW), Zach Fucale (G), and Jacob de la Rose (C).

8. San Jose Sharks

Notable players taken: Gabryel-Paquin Boudreau (RW/LW), Mirco Müller (D), Fredrik Bergvik (G), Michael Brodzinski (D), Emil Galimov (LW/C).

9. Anaheim Ducks

Notable players taken: Shea Theodore (D), Nick Sörensen (RW), Grant Besse (RW), and Miro Aaltonen (C).

10. Vancouver Canucks

Notable players taken: Hunter Shinkaruk (LW/C/RW), Bo Horvat (C), Anton Cederholm (D), and Jordan Subban (D). 

Thanks as always to Michael for his contributions and insight. Follow him on Twitter @gotitotti, follow Dome Ice Advantage at @domeiceadv.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Michael Fabrig's Final '13 NHL Draft Ranking

1. Jonathan Drouin -- LW/C -- 5'10" -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL -- 41G, 64A -- 105 points in 64 GP -- +48

Drouin ends-up on top of MacKinnon, barely, because of his natural skill that is always 'on'. He didn't let-up at the World Juniors (U20), the QMJHL playoffs, nor at the Memorial Cup. Has elite natural skill that can make him a top-notch complimentary player or the go-to-guy.

2. Nathan MacKinnon -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL -- 32G, 43A; 75 points in 44 GP -- +40

Nothing wrong with being ranked second. MacKinnon was easily the best player to watch at the Memorial Cup. Has elements to his game that NHL Superstars have -- skating, shooting, and IQ. Not much separation between Drouin and MacKinnon -- you know you're going to get an elite player that will contribute (in the near future).
  
3. Elias Lindholme -- C/RW -- 6'0" -- Brynäs -- SEL -- 11G, 19A; 30 points in 48 GP -- +1

I don't agree with the scouts out there that deem him a no.2 centre (at-best). The fact that he's already playing on the first line in what is arguably the second best league in the world, I think it is only fair to deem his 'ceiling' a no.1 centre. He may be a routinely 70 point guy, but his defensive game will make you happy he's on your team. His overall game really does remind me of Jonathan Toews. I think there is still more more to grow on his offensive game -- if that holds true  -- his valuation could appreciate rather quickly. 

4. Hunter Shinkaruk -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- Medicine Hat Tigers -- WHL -- 37G, 49A; 86 points in 64 GP -- -13

A strong skater with elite skill and hockey IQ, Shinkaruk is one of those prospects you just know will be great at the next level. Every time I've seen him play, I've found little to complain about in his game. Though classified as a bit 'undersized', Shinkaruk has an already well-rounded game; playing 3 years in the WHL already, he's matured. His leadership qualities add extra icing to the cake.

5. Josh Morrissey -- D -- 6'0" -- Prince Albert Raiders -- WHL -- 15G, 32A; 47 points in 70 GP -- +15

A perfect blend of size and skill, Josh Morrissey, in my opinion, is the best 2-way, transitional d-man in the draft. He's so smart with his stick, too. I think his offensive skills put him over the top. His game is exactly what teams are salivating for -- high-end offensive skills. The fact that he's already so responsible defensively, I think Morrissey is well on his way to being a top-line NHL D-man.

6. Aleksander Barkov -- C -- 6'2" -- Tappara -- SM-liiga -- 21G, 27A; 48 points in 53 GP -- +18

Barkov is skilled, smart, and big. Skating is the aspect of his game, that when you add with a smaller ice surface and stiffer competition, you discount his projected contribution. I think guys like Galchenyuk and Kopitar had more abilities with their hands -- could make-up for their less than spectacular skating. Barkov has me convinced that he has great skill...but more than that -- he'll have to prove once he comes over.

7. Seth Jones -- D -- 6'4" -- Portland Winterhawks -- WHL -- 14G, 42A; 56 points in 61 GP -- +46

How much offense does Jones have is the ultimate question. He has proven already that he can be a mobile d-man. His shot is ready for prime time, but his hitting and offense will be in question at the next level. Remember: it's not just about where you get drafted, it's what you do after the draft.

8. Alexander Wennberg -- C -- 6'2" -- Djurgården -- SWE-1 -- 14G, 18A; 32 points in 46 GP -- +10

He has proven already that he can be a number 2 centre. I think that his smarts to be at the right place and right time, and growth in his offense will amalgamate to produce a real nice C. a bit unorthodox, Wennberg plays an effective game.

9. Max Domi -- C -- 5'10" -- London Knights -- OHL -- 39G, 48A; 87 points in 64 GP -- +33

What is Domi's transition going to be is the only question at this point. He's under-sized, but does so many things the right way that you just can't but help wonder what kind of pro he's going to be. I really think he has a serious chance to be like a Brad Marchand -- Domi has that kind of skill and work ethic. It may be some time before he actually plays an NHL game, but if Domi continues to progress, he could make a huge impact as soon as he makes it to the NHL.

10. Artturi Lehkonen -- RW -- 5'10" -- KalPa -- SM-liiga -- 14G, 16A; 30 points in 45 GP -- +12 

The scoring knack of Artturi Lehkonen is undeniable. He always scores a lot, no matter where he is. The fact that he had 2 concussions and still scored 14 goals as a 17 year old...and then scored 2 more in 4 playoff games, I think he has a real chance of being a scoring machine. It is important to note that his goal-scoring does rely on having the right centre, but having him in your lineup gives you a real threat. I think Lehkonen has some work to do in other areas of his offense game, specifically, being a better passer; with his goal-scoring and stick-handling ability, I'm okay with banking on that part of his game to take him this high. I think he will make a huge impact as an NHL-er (going forward).

11. Sean Monahan -- C -- 6'2" -- Ottawa 67's -- OHL -- 31G, 47A; 78 points in 58 GP -- -18

12. Madison Bowey -- D -- 6'1" -- Kelowna Rockets -- WHL --12G, 18A; 30 points in 69 GP -- +41

13. Ryan Pulock -- D -- 6'0" -- Brandon Wheat Kings -- WHL -- 14G, 31A; 45 points in 61 GP -- -7

14. Marko Dano -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- H.C. Slovan Bratislava -- KHL -- 3G, 4A; 7 points in 37 GP -- +4

15. Anthony Mantha -- RW -- 6'4" -- Val-d'Or Foreurs -- QMJHL -- 50G, 39A; 89 points in 67 GP -- +21

16. Valentin Zykov -- RW -- 6'1" -- Baie-Comeau Drakkar -- QMJHL -- 40G, 35A; 75 points in 67 GP -- +29

17. Oliver Bjorkstrand -- RW -- 5'11" -- Portland Winterhawks -- WHL -- 31G, 32A; 63 points in 65 GP -- +38

18. Lucas Wallmark -- C -- 6'0" -- Karlskrona -- SWE-1 -- 5G, 5A; 10 points in 16 GP -- -6

19. Ian McCoshen -- D -- 6'3" -- Waterloo Black Hawks -- USHL -- 11G, 33A; 44 points in 53 GP -- +35

20. Bo Horvat -- C -- 6'0" -- London Knights -- OHL -- 33G, 28A; 61 points in 67 GP -- +3

21. J.T. Compher -- C -- 6'0" -- USNTDP Juniors -- USHL -- 7G, 17A; 24 points in 21 GP -- +12

22. Curtis Lazar -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- Edmonton Oil Kings -- WHL -- 38G, 23A; 61 points in 72 GP -- +25

23. Peter Cehlárik -- LW -- 6'2" -- Luleå -- SEL -- 3G, 3A; 6 points in 8 GP -- +8 

24. Kerby Rychel -- LW -- 6'1" -- Windsor Spitfires -- OHL -- 40G, 47A; 87 points in 68 GP -- -21

25. Nicholas Baptiste -- RW -- 6'1" -- Sudbury Wolves -- OHL -- 21G, 27A; 48 points in 66 GP -- -1

26. Andre Burakovsky -- LW/RW -- 6'1" -- Malmö -- SWE-1 -- 4G, 7A; 11 points in 43 GP -- -2

27. Pavel Buchnevich -- RW -- 6'0" -- Almaz Cherepovets -- MHL -- 8G, 15A; 23 points in 24 GP -- -2

28. Viktor Arvidsson -- RW -- 5'9" -- Skellefteå -- SEL -- 13G, 7A; 20 points in 62 GP -- +6

29. Sergei Tolchinsky -- RW -- 5'9" -- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds -- OHL -- 26G, 25A; 51 points in 62 GP -- +8

30. Michael Brodzinski -- D -- 5'11" -- Muskegon Lumberjacks -- USHL -- 16G, 17A; 33 points in 61 GP -- +10

Heading into the draft with my rankings, I know there is no Valeri Nichushkin on the list. It kills me to say this but I haven't seen enough of him to add to my list. He may be what the scouts peg him as; for me, to be honest with myself, I don't have justification to add him (without seeing him). 

For the Flames picks: Since there are 3 first-rounders the club has in the top-30, I have thought about this for sometime as to what players fit-the-bill. Pick number 6 should go to (assuming he's available) Elias Lindholme. Too much skill and all-around C play not to take the skilled Swedish pivot. Lindholme has the smarts and skill to be the 'it' centre for the Flames. Assuming the next picks are 22 and 28 for Calgary, I went a little off-the-board with my selections. At 22, I would go and take Artturi Lehkonen. Though only 5'10", Lehkonen has the smarts to play a two-way game and score. Some compare him to Mike Cammalleri; his ability to score is something that won't be discounted when he does it in the NHL. At pick 28, I'd go for the hot-tempered C,Marko Dano. I have loved his game since the beginning of the year; Dano would thrive with a play-maker that could give him the puck to shoot. If available in a later round, I'd love to add his assist man, Martin Reway. Dano can hit, skate, and shoot.

On the premise for Drafting 'for need', this is my mock draft for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft:

1. Colorado -- Seth Jones -- D -- Portland Winterhawks -- WHL

2. Florida -- Nathan MacKinnon -- C/RW -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL

3. Tampa Bay -- Jonathan Drouin -- LW -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL

4. Nashville -- Aleksander Barkov -- C -- Tappara -- SM-liiga

5. Carolina -- Sean Monahan -- C -- Ottawa 67's -- OHL

6. Calgary -- Elias Lindholme -- C/RW -- Brynas -- SEL

7. Edmonton -- Hunter Shinkaruk -- C/RW -- Medicine Hat Tigers -- WHL

8. Buffalo -- Josh Morrissey -- D -- Prince Albert Raiders -- WHL

9. New Jersey -- Max Domi -- C -- London Knights -- OHL

10. Dallas -- Alexander Wennberg -- C -- Djurgarden -- SWE-1

11. Philadelphia -- Ryan Pulock -- D -- Brandon Wheat Kings -- WHL

12. Phoenix -- Valeri Nichushkin -- LW/RW -- Traktor Chelyabinsk -- KHL

13. Winnipeg -- Bo Horvat -- C -- London Knights -- OHL

14. Columbus --  Anthony Mantha -- RW -- Val-d'Or Foreurs -- QMJHL 

15. New York (NYI) -- Valentin Zykov -- RW -- Baie-Comeau Drakkar -- QMJHL

16. Buffalo -- Nikita Zadorov -- D -- London Knights -- OHL

17. Ottawa -- Rasmus Ristolainen -- D -- TPS -- SM-liiga

18. Detroit -- Madison Bowey -- D -- Kelowna Rockets -- WHL

19. Columbus -- Curtis Lazar -- C -- Edmonton Oil Kings -- WHL

20. San Jose -- Darnell Nurse -- D -- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds -- OHL

21. Toronto -- Zach Fucale -- G -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL

22. Calgary -- Artturi Lehkonen -- RW -- KalPa -- SM-liiga

23. Washington -- Robert Hagg -- D -- MODO -- SEL

24. Vancouver -- J.T. Compher -- C -- USNTDP Juniors -- USHL

25. Montreal -- Adam Erne -- RW -- Quebec Remparts -- QMJHL

26. Anaheim -- Ian McCoshen -- D -- Waterloo Black Hawks -- USHL

27. Columbus -- Kerby Rychel -- LW -- Windsor Spitfires -- OHL

28. Calgary -- Marko Dano -- C -- H.C. Slovan Bratislava -- KHL

29. Dallas -- Andre Burakovsky -- LW/RW -- Malmo -- SWE-1 

30. Chicago -- Pavel Buchnevich -- RW -- Severstal Cherepovets -- KHL

Huge thanks to Michael Fabrig (@gotitotti) for his insight on the upcoming draft. Follow Dome Ice Advantage on twitter @domeiceadv for additional Flames & draft-related banter.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My NHL 2013 Draft Blueprint - March 2013

By Michael Fabrig (@gotitotti)

Round-1 Targets

1. Elias Lindholm -- C -- 5'11" -- Brynas -- SEL -- skilled play-maker; had 11G, 19A; 30 points in 40 GP -- +1

2. Jonathan Drouin -- LW/C -- 5'11" -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL -- sleek offensive sharp-shooter; currently has 40G, 61A; 101 points in 46 GP -- +47

3. Artturi Lehkonen -- LW/RW -- 5'10" -- KalPa -- SM-liiga -- responsible goal-scorer that should have a real chance of being a top-liner in the NHL -- 14G, 16A; 30 points in 45 GP -- +12

4. Peter Cehlárik -- LW -- 6'2" -- Luleå --SEL -- Power Forward that can and will score goals on the top line -- 3G, 3A; 6 points in 8 GP -- +8

5. Hunter Shinkaruk -- LW/C -- 5'11" -- Medicine Hat Tigers -- WHL -- super-skilled offensive player that can thrive playing any forward position -- LW/C/RW -- 34G, 44A; 78 points in 61 GP -- -8

6. Max Domi -- C -- 5'10 -- London Knights -- OHL -- goal-scoring centre that has the speed to compliment the hands -- 39G, 45A; 84 points in 62 GP -- +32

7. Alexander Wennberg -- C/LW -- 6'1" -- Djurgården -- Allsvenskan -- a responsible, skilled, goal-scoring centre -- 14G, 18A; 32 points in 46 GP -- +10

8. Lucas Wallmark -- C -- 5'11" -- Karlskrona -- Allsvenskan -- play-making centre -- 5G, 5A; 10 points in 16 GP -- -5

9. Marko Dano -- C/RW -- 5'11" -- HC Slovan Bratislava -- scoring centre -- 3G, 4A; 7 points in 37 GP -- +4

10. Valentin Zykov -- RW -- 6'1" -- Baie-Comeau Drakkar -- QMJHL -- scoring forward -- 39G, 35A; 74 points in 65 GP -- +26

11. Madison Bowey -- D -- 6'1" -- Kelowna Rockets -- WHL -- two-way d-man -- 12G, 18A; 30 points in 66 GP -- +37

12. Anthony Mantha -- LW -- 6'3" -- Val-d'Or Foreurs -- QMJHL -- scoring power forward -- 48G, 39A; 84 points in 61 GP -- +23

13. Josh Morrissey -- D -- 6'0" -- Prince Albert Raiders -- WHL -- offensive d-man -- 15G, 29A; 44 points in 67 GP -- +10

14. Taylor Cammarata -- C/LW -- 5'7" -- Waterloo Black Hawks -- USHL -- scoring forward -- 32G, 44A; 76 points in 47 GP -- +30

15. Ryan Fitzgerald -- C/RW -- 6'2" -- Valley Jr. Warriors -- EJHL -- scoring power forward -- 14G, 16A; 30 points in 26 GP -- +23

Round-2 Targets

1. Adam Tambellini -- C -- 6'1" -- Surrey Eagles -- BCHL -- 14G, 12A; 26 points in 16 GP

2. Oliver Bjorkstrand -- RW -- 5'11" -- Portland Winterhawks -- WHL -- 29G, 31A; 60 points in 61 GP -- +39

3. Bogdan Yakimov -- C -- 6'4" -- Izhstal Izhevsk -- VHL -- 5G, 8A; 13 points in 16 GP -- +8

4. Sergey Tolchinsky -- RW -- 5'7" -- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds -- OHL -- 26G, 25A; 51 points in 61 GP -- +9

5. Patrik Bartosak -- G -- 6'1" -- Red Deer Rebels -- WHL -- 54 GP, 2.26 GAA, .935 SV%

6. Michael Brodzinski -- D -- 5'11" -- Muskegon Lumberjacks -- USHL -- 12G, 12A; 24 points in 49 GP -- +7

7. Juuse Saros -- G -- 5'10" -- HPK U20 -- Jr. A SM-liiga -- 37 GP, 1.86 GAA, .933 SV%

8. Anton Slepyshev -- LW -- 6'2" -- Salavat Yulaev Ufa -- KHL -- 4G, 2A; 6 points in 11 GP -- +3

9. Juuso Ikonen -- C/RW -- 5'9" -- Blues -- SM-liiga -- 13G, 13A; 26 points in 57 GP -- +1

10. Martin Reway -- LW -- 5'8" -- Gatineau Olympiques -- QMJHL -- 22G, 28A; 50 points in 47 GP -- -1

Round-3 Targets

1. Robin Press -- D -- 6'2" -- Södertälje -- Allsvenskan -- 2G, 2A; 4 points in 41 GP -- -2

2. Jesper Pettersson -- D -- 5'9" -- Linköping -- SEL -- 1G, 2A; 3 points in 14 GP -- +6

3. Gustav Possler -- LW/RW -- 5'11" -- MODO J20 -- SuperElit -- 13G, 16A; 29 points in 24 GP -- +8

4. Patrick McCarron -- D -- 6'3" -- St. Michael's Buzzers -- OJHL -- 9G, 49A; 58 points in 52 GP

5. Mac Weegar -- D -- 5'11" -- Halifax Mooseheads -- QMJHL -- 8G, 33A; 41 points in 59 GP -- +51

6. Shane Conacher -- RW -- 5'10" -- St. Michael's Buzzers -- OJHL -- 6G, 5A; 11 points in 6 GP

7. Nolan De Jong -- D -- 6'2" -- Victoria Grizzlies -- BCHL -- 5G, 19A; 24 points in 51 GP

8. Matt Buckles -- C -- 6'2" -- St. Michael's Buzzers -- OJHL -- 40G, 31A; 71 points in 50 GP

9. Charlie Graham -- G -- 6'0" -- Belleville Bulls -- OHL -- 24 GP, 2.62 GAA, .922 SV%

10. Troy Stecher -- D -- 5'9" -- Penticton Vees -- BCHL -- 8G, 39A; 47 points in 52 GP

Round-4 Targets

1. Mattias Nørstebø -- D -- 5'10" -- Brynas J20 -- SuperElit -- 5G, 9A; 14 points in 24 GP -- +8

2. Marcus Högberg -- G -- 6'3" -- Linköping J20 -- SuperElit -- 11 GP, 2.20 GAA, .914 SV%

3. Anton Cederholm -- D -- 6'2" -- Rögle J20 -- SuperElit -- 5G, 8A; 13 points in 36 GP -- +27

4. Amil Krupic -- D -- 6'2" -- Rögle J20 -- SuperElit -- 10G, 18A; 28 points in 41 GP -- +10

5. Fredrik Bergvik -- G -- 6'1" -- Frölunda J20 -- SuperElit -- 10 GP, 1.32 GAA, .948 SV%

6. Eric Locke -- C -- 5'9" -- Saginaw Spirit -- OHL -- 44G, 51A; 95 points in 65 GP -- +36

7. Ryan McKay -- G -- 6'0" -- Miami Univ. -- NCAA -- 17 GP, 1.17 GAA, .957 SV%

8. Gabe Guertler -- C -- 5'9" -- Fargo Force -- USHL -- 28G, 17A; 45 points in 51 GP -- +16

9. Sven Andrighetto -- RW -- 5'10" -- Rouyn-Noranda Huskies -- QMJHL -- 30G, 64A; 94 points in 50 GP -- +23

10. Leon Bristedt -- C -- 5'8" -- Linköping J20 -- SuperElit -- 6G, 8A; 14 points in 20 GP -- +7

Round-5 Targets

1. Mathias Israelsson -- G -- 5'10" -- Odense -- Denmark -- 7 GP, 2.27 GAA, .922 SV%

2. Luke Johnson -- C -- 5'11" -- Lincoln Stars -- USHL -- 15G, 24A; 39 points in 46 GP -- +14

3. Anthony Florentino -- D -- 6'1" -- U.S. National U17 Team -- USDP -- 0G, 2A; 2 points in 3 GP

4. Miro Aaltonen -- C -- 5'10" -- Blues -- SM-liiga -- 11G, 5A; 16 points in 32 GP -- -2

5. Maxime Gravel -- D -- 6'0" -- Rimouski Océanic -- QMJHL -- 4G, 16A; 20 points in 48 GP -- -2

Round-6 Targets

1. Marc McNulty -- D -- 6'5 -- Prince George Cougars -- 8G, 7A; 15 points in 48 GP -- -12

2. Viktor Arvidsson -- LW/RW -- 5'9" -- Skellefteå -- SEL -- 7G, 5A; 12 points in 49 GP

3. Quentin Shore -- C -- 6'0" -- Univ. of Denver -- NCAA -- 7G, 9A; 16 points in 35 GP

4. Tommy Stenqvist -- D -- 5'10" -- Timrå -- SEL -- 0G, 0A; 0 points in 0 GP

5. Axel Blomqvist -- RW -- 6'5" -- Lethbridge Hurricanes -- WHL -- 7G, 26A; 33 points in 59 GP -- -3

Round-7 Targets

1. Matthew Weis -- C -- 5'11" -- Green Bay Gamblers -- USHL -- 10G, 20A; 30 points in 46 GP -- -4

2. Myles Bell -- D/F -- 6'0" -- Kelowna Rockets -- WHL -- 37G, 52A; 89 points in 66 GP -- +41

3. Filip Sandberg -- C -- 5'9" -- HV71 -- SEL -- 1G, 1A; 2 points in 15 GP -- -3

4. Drake Caggiula -- C -- 5'10" -- Univ. of N. Dakota -- NCAA -- 6G, 8A; 14 points in 35 GP

5. Oskari Siiki -- LW -- 5'9" -- TPS U20 -- Jr.A SM-liiga -- 23G, 20A; 43 points in 44 GP -- +17

Thanks to Michael for his contributions. For any draft or prospect-related questions, follow him on twitter at @gotitotti. Follow Dome Ice Advantage at @domeiceadv.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Future Forecast: Flames in Five

As we inch closer to the trade deadline, we're soon to hit a crossroads for the Flames organization. Rather than basing these long term decisions on a small sample (like the success of the team over the next 10 games), it would help to look into what the future might actually look like. Just *how* desperate are the Flames to add young talent? How far are they from that cliff that forces them into NYI/CBJ territory? Can they save themselves from years of poor drafting, or have they done enough in recent years to salvage a promising future? Let's break it down to the *expected* roles of the Flames youngsters, in order to get a realistic feel for what the 2018 roster might look like.

FORWARDS (top-9)

Baertschi (LW)
Sven continues to adapt to the pro game in terms of physicality and consistency, but it's clear he has the tools to become a top left-winger. He has an NHL shot, while having the intelligence to protect the puck and set up teammates as well.

Ceiling: top-line LW
Floor: 2nd line LW
*Expected: top-line LW

Gaudreau (LW)
Gaudreau could be the most naturally skilled player in the organization. Of course, size will continue to be a challenge for him. Yet, as we've seen, Gaudreau has the ability to dominate older and stronger players. Provided he can continue to develop the smaller details of his game, Gaudreau's elite skill will land him a top-6 role in the NHL.

Ceiling: top-line LW
Floor: 2nd line LW
*Expected: 2nd line LW

Backlund (C)
Backlund continues to develop at a slow, albeit steady pace. The most impressive aspect of Backlund's game is his ability to play against high quality opposition. He generates scoring chances at a decent clip against top-sixers, yet his finish around the net lacks consistency. As long as he continues to build on his strong, two-way play and generate opportunities, he's a worthwhile young asset. Backlund isn't the sexy choice as a top-six centre, but he is slowly proving his worth as a young, versatile guy with offensive upside. For a team starved of this type of young player, re-signing Backlund to a multi-year deal at a reasonable cap hit would be a big boon for the next generation of Calgary Flames.

Ceiling: avg top-line C
Floor: above avg 2nd line C
*Expected: avg top-line C

Jankowski (C)
This prospect is still a long ways away from any of us knowing what he will become. For my money, Jankowski will fall somewhere between being a draft bust and "The next Joe Nieuwendyk" - (Flames mgmt). His strong two way ability and vision will push him into a top-6 role in 5 years, but a top-line C seems lofty at this stage.

Ceiling: #1 C
Floor: 2nd line C
*Expected: 2nd line C

Horak (C/W)
Like Backlund, Horak continues to progress slowly year-to-year, but has shown encouraging signs at the NHL level. His intelligence and awareness represent his greatest assets, while he has shown he can score in bunches in pro hockey. Safe to say many of us are pleasantly surprised at Horak's skill level 2 years into his career. Of course, he continues to work on consistency at the pro level, but that's not particularly concerning at 21 years old.

Ceiling: 2nd line C/W
Floor: 3rd line C/W
*Expected: 2nd line C/W

Arnold (C/W)
Playing alongside John Gaudreau at Boston College, Arnold doesn't get the same type of spotlight. Nevertheless, he's a big, solid, two-way C, and his offensive game continues to evolve. Early on, I heard a number of Ryan Kesler comparisons. Of course, it's unlikely that Arnold will have that type of impact at the NHL level, but from a style standpoint? It's not a bad comparison. Naturally a C, I do wonder if his skating will be an issue at the highest level. If so, perhaps transitioning Arnold to the wing would allow him to use his strength along the boards. He's an under appreciated prospect in the cupboard for CGY, and his size, strength and intelligence should see him transition to pro hockey sooner rather than later.

Ceiling: 2nd line C/W
Floor: 3rd line C/W
*Expected: 3rd line C/W

Ferland (W)
Michael Ferland's first stint in pro hockey from September to December was a disappointment. This had more to do with circumstances (lockout, roster logjam in Abby) rather than performance, however, and he's now back on track with the Saskatoon Blades. Ferland's upside is likely to be more of an energy role: a guy who can bang bodies and compliment skill players (a la Glencross). His hands and speed are impressive for a big guy, but his best asset is his ability to play a hard game.

Ceiling: 2nd line LW
Floor: 4th line LW
*Expected: 3rd line LW

Reinhart (C)
Max had a difficult start in Abbotsford as well, playing very limited minutes on a clogged Heat roster. Since mid-December he's turned it around, playing as a top-6 C and getting more ice time (5on5, PP). Reinhart's highest attribute would be his intelligence. He's not the biggest, strongest or most skilled prospect. However, he's shown that he can be a reliable pivot with his strong defensive play and the ability to chip in offensively. I don't expect he'll have the same offensive success in the NHL, but his playing style is very similar to Daymond Langkow -straight line skater, effective and smart. I expect Max to fit into the Flames bottom-6 very soon.

Ceiling: 2nd line C
Floor: 3rd line C
*Expected: 3rd line C

No one wants to read or write extensively about grit, so here are some expected 4th line possibilities down the road.

C: Jones, Olson, Deblouw
W: Aliu, Bouma, Bancks, Elson

Notable exclusion? Markus Granlund. Between his poor season, lack of size and the struggles of his older (superior) brother in the big leagues, he's a long shot. He may be a late bloomer and eventually make the show (Cervenka), but I don't expect he'll be Flames property by that point.

DEFENCE (top-4)

Brodie
T.J's efficient skating and puck skills have been a positive sign for Flames fans over the last few years. This season, however, he's shown he can perform in a top-4 capacity at the NHL level. At 21 years old, this is very encouraging. I do have my doubts about his ability to become a top-pairing guy, as he lacks that physical, shutdown element to his game.

Ceiling: top-2 D man
Floor: 3/4 D man
*Expected: 3/4 D man

Butler
Of course, it's hard to view Chris Butler as a prospect, but he has shown he can play a top-4 role at 25 years old. Butler wasn't a popular player last season, but was over his head in terms of the role he played. He's a perfectly capable 3/4 D man, and young enough that he could still be considered a future piece. I don't expect him to elevate his game to a top-pairing contributor, however.

Ceiling: 3/4 D man
Floor: 5/6 D man
*Expected: 3/4 D man

Expected bottom pairing D men:
Wotherspoon, Culkin, Kulak, Breen, Ramage, Sieloff

GOALTENDERS

I'm not doing this section because 1) I know nothing about the position, and 2) I know nothing about the goaltenders to be considered. Even Ramo, the Flames next starting goalie, is a complete mystery to me. He seems, like, sorta good though... Or something.

EXPECTED 2018 LINE-UP

Baertschi-Backlund-Empty
Gaudreau-Jankowski-Horak
Ferland-Reinhart-Arnold
Bouma-Deblouw-Aliu

Wildcard: Street

Empty-Empty
Butler-Brodie
Wotherspoon-Culkin
(Sieloff, Kulak)

REACTION
The expected line-up in 5 years is, not surprisingly, below average on the upper rotation of the depth chart (top line C, RW, D).

On a positive note, it's not as bleak as it's made out to be on the whole. More recently, the Flames have done well to stockpile depth and make hay with their 3rd-7th round picks e.g. Ferland, Gaudreau, Arnold, Reinhart, Bouma.

Of course, certain shortcomings can be addressed via free agency. However, as the Flames have learned over the last number of years, franchise players are seldom made available in the market. Here's what the team will need to *draft* or acquire in order to compete in 2018:

-More potential top-6 Cs (because putting all your eggs in the Jankowski/Backlund basket is terrifying).

-2 or 3 potential franchise Dmen (easy, right?)

CONCLUSION
Despite the drafting record over the last 10 years, the Flames are still in a position to save their own asses. Explain?

1) This is a bad season for the team, to the shock of no one. The schedule is only going to get more difficult, too.

2) It's the last year of Iginla's contract, in case you hadn't heard that from any of the Toronto-based networks.

3) This is a short season. Therefore more tolerable for fans/season ticket holders to tolerate a losing team. I'm okay with 20 games of bad hockey in order to watch a stellar first round of Flames drafting in June 2013.

4) Again, the season = short. Therefore more teams believe they're still in the race. That means a larger market to auction off your assets to. And, if you were to acquire a 1st round pick from Philly or New York, for example, who knows where those teams actually end up? They could be battling for a playoff spot in April and find themselves bottom-10 in the league by May. Reminder: that's great for the acquired first round pick.

5) This season has illustrated that "trade Iggy & Kipper" doesn't have to mean "rebuild." The team isn't considerably worse on the ice without either. If you can find a home for those two PLUS one additional top-6 fwd or top-4 D man, you could find yourself with 3 first round picks and another young piece or two. You still have a semi-competitive (ish) team on the ice, while inching closer to playoff contention next season.

6) This is "the best draft since '03." That *could* mean that a mid-to-late round pick (1st or otherwise) is more valuable than in past years. More acquiring teams + higher value draft picks = good for sellers.

7) There are enough decent players on this team to transition into a new era. Moving forward: Cammalleri, Backlund, Baertschi, Glencross, Hudler, Tanguay, Cervenka, Stempniak, Bouw, Gio, Butler, Brodie, Wideman, Ramo, McDonald. You don't have to love these guys, nor commit to all of them long-term. This group can help bridge that gap alongside a top 5-10 pick & some acquired young pieces. Doesn't a line of Tanguay-Barkov-Hudler sound intriguing? What about Glencross-Backlund-Baertschi? It's not perfect, but it can't be much worse. Admit defeat for this year and hit the refresh button (as OTT, MTL, NJ did). The Flames don't want to rebuild? That's fine, they don't need to burn it all down. But continue on the same path as the last 10 years, and a rebuild will surely smoke them in the face soon (EDM, CBJ, NYI).

As I see it: two weeks until Feaster & crew need to make decisions on their trade deadline status (leaving 1-2 weeks to work the phones). Between now and then, the Flames play LA twice, SJ, ANA, DET, NSH twice, DAL, STL & CHI. In terms of games in the "should win" department, the list is as follows:

Columbus.

By March 26, we should have a pretty good idea of what to expect at the deadline. By then, I hope we see the start of legitimate change. Any other direction would be considered "intellectually dishonest."

For another view on the Flames top prospects, here's Corey Pronman's take (Hockey Prospectus):

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1364

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feaster's Summer at the Batting Cage

It's official: the Calgary Flames are swinging for the fences.

For the first year and a half of Jay Feaster's tenure, there was a lot of treading water. To be expected I suppose, based on the contracts the organization was saddled with. Feaster kept the coaching staff in place (outside of the Hartsburg hiring), made low risk "insurance" signings (Morrison, Glencross, Hannan, etc) while placing full trust in the scouting staff's draft selections and challenging roster players to "fool him twice." Basically, Feaster played into the role of "I'm new around here."

Come January, the Flames saw themselves hopelessly chasing a playoff spot once again. A lack of leadership and 22 underachievers pushed Feaster to change his tune. Seemingly, his tune is all that would change.

Alongside his new partner in crime "Weis Weis baby," Feaster used the media to perpetuate a sense of urgency and pressure on his veteran line-up. When the team failed to live up to all the hype he had created, he swore things would change. While there haven't been any meaningful shifts in the core or blockbuster trades to this point, it appears he's changed his approach behind the wheel.

As of Winter 2012, Feaster is no longer choosing the safe, popular decisions for the sake of job security. The man finally has some conviction and swagger in the chair, something that could burn him in the not-so-distant future. Regardless of whether you agree with the decisions being made or not (I'm 50/50), you've gotta respect Jayfe's willingness to take risks. Here are some examples:

HARTLEY

The Bob Hartley hiring could be “safe” in that it’s a familiar face for JayFe. However, it’s not necessarily a new direction. You’re bringing in a hard-ass veteran coach to oversee complacent veterans. Where have we tried this before? Jarome and friends struggle with tough love (hard to argue otherwise by now). So, rather than seeking a young up-and-comer and being universally applauded, Feaster hires one of the most stubborn veteran coaches available. For a team that struggled offensively AND defensively last season (relying too heavily on their goaltender & aging offense), going all out and opting for a “puck pursuit, high tempo” team seems like setting these players up for failure, no? This team struggled with speed in the last regime, so how are they going to out-skate the opposition in a high tempo structure? If you answered Dennis Wideman, kindly get lost. I don’t dislike the Hartley hiring. The man could be classified as a winner, and I enjoy the style of play he’s preaching. Feaster said it best, though: “If the day comes where I have to fire Bob Hartley, we can help each other pack.” Yeah, maybe don’t dig your own hole just yet.

CERVENKA

The Roman Cervenka signing was a breath of fresh air for many of us. Turning to the KHL to add skill and patch holes in the roster? My Flames don’t do that! What a nice change. Signing Cervenka was a perfectly safe, one year trial. The risk came in letting Jokinen walk, while assuming a pivot that’s never played an NHL game can take his spot. I was in support of letting the Joker go, but the fact that Feaster had enough confidence in his overseas signing to opt out on a proven number two center, without any insurance policy? That’s bold, especially for a team starved up the middle. The organization is frustrated with Backlund and Stajan in their current roles. What happens if Cervenka doesn’t fit the mold? Does Blair Jones end up playing the role of second line center? Exaggerative of course, but I think you get where I’m headed with that. This would be classified as putting all of your eggs in one basket, something Pierre Gauthier, Brian Lawton and Doug MacLean did. So, um… good luck Jay.

JANKOWSKI

The Mark Jankowski selection isn’t something I wish to criticize. I have no idea what any of these players bring to the table, as I do not scout at any level. I do know, however, that there were safer selections to make (in terms of scrutiny and shorter term rewards). Feaster took a major risk in this selection. Not only by saying “no thanks” to Teuvo Tervainen, considered a slam dunk at 14 overall, but also in trading down. The Flames ran the risk of missing out on Tervainen AND Jankowski by dropping 7 spots. Furthermore, Feaster and Weisbrod take another step towards the cliff by suggesting Jankowski is the next Joe Nieuwendyk and will be the “best player from the draft ten years from now.” The pick has grown on me… but if I want to keep my job, I don’t do these things. Going off the board is one thing, making unruly predictions to the media is another. Had the Flames taken Tervainen, they would have been universally applauded. The Hockey News and TSN would say “great job at the draft, Flames” and all would be right in the world. Had Tervainen not panned out for the organization, everyone would say “tough luck Jay, my BS draft rankings had him there, too.” Whether the Flames like it or not, the casual fan (80% of them) looks to the media to tell them what to think of their favorite team. Now that Feaster has stepped out of the box three or four steps? For his sake, Jankowski better be the next Joe Nieuwendyk.

HUDLER

The Flames could have done worse than signing Jiri Hudler, and could have shelled out more dollars to do it. 4M x 4 is the going rate for any top-6 forward on July 1, so the Flames pulling out that much money for a skilled player shouldn’t phase anyone. It is, however, a substantial commitment to a guy that hasn’t proven he can take that next step, even alongside Zetterberg. To say you can expect 50 points from Jiri Hudler isn’t ridiculous, but it’s sure not a safe bet.

WIDEMAN

The Wideman deal is a head scratcher, no question. The fact that Feaster was willing to trade an asset (albeit insignificant) prior to July 1, and lock up a D man for huge dollars over 5 years? It gets you thinking “this player must be a significant piece of the core moving forward.” Yet, if you listen to the organization’s breakdown, he was the best right-handed powerplay quarterback in a weak class of free agents. Sounds like a glorified Anton Babchuk to me, on top of being a $27M investment in the power play. ON most accounts, you’d find that Wideman’s defensive contributions are shoddy. I’ll admit, I’m of the Brent Sutter mindset that solid defensive play puts you in favourable offensive situations. So, I shake my head at committing huge sums of money and term on a D man in order to improve your offense. Signing Carlo Colaiacovo for two years would have been quietly applauded, yet entirely safe. So is this stupid? We’ll see. Is it risky? Absolutely.

ANTI-REBUILD

I’m not one to advocate for a rebuild, but consider this: any GM that declares a rebuild instantly gets three more years of job security. “We’re going in a new direction. We are going younger.” Translation: this will suck, bare with me. Yet somehow it works. The Edmonton Oilers have been everyone’s favourite Canadian team since they decided to suck several years back. Why? It’s a pretty low pressure position. “They took the best player in the draft? This team rocks!” Every poor decision Tambo and crew make is met with a compliment sandwich:

1 - This is a young, exciting team to watch.

2 - Oh my god they just signed Cam Barker, traded Tom Gilbert and finished 14th.

3 - Yeah but Eberle, RNH and Hall are pretty fast hey?

Feaster has chosen the more difficult path. Sure, rebuilding can be tough on the fanbase, but for a GM? Solid career move. Feaster has, instead, advocated that he will continue to try things that haven’t worked, and completely skip a rebuild. If it fails, this team will be horrid for 10 straight years. If it succeeds, the team will achieve mediocre success for a couple years and Feaster will be gone before the winning actually starts. Whether you support it or not, he’s not taking the easy way out.

Tambellini even cracked a smile claiming they “didn’t want to draft first overall every year.” Shut up, you love it.

I maintain that I’m 50/50 on the decisions made this summer, but the level of “hope” and risk involved has caught my eye. It’s not necessarily a criticism – credit to Jay for sleeping on all of the “maybes” and “hopefullys.” The Flames hit the batting cage this summer, but the GM hasn’t opted for the bunt strategy. Feaster and friends continue to swing frantically. Will they hit a couple? Sure. But if batting average matters at all to the fellas signing the cheques, Feaster won’t be here long.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Look Back at the Draft - by Michael Fabrig

Well, it has been some time since the draft has come and gone. How do I feel? About the same as how I felt when I saw Feaster smile and trade-away pick number 14 - still disgusted. As much as Jankowski was a steal-of-a-pick at 21 (NOT) – going to be the best player in 10 years, according to Jay, there is no way I’d ever give-up my pick with a guy like Teuvo Terevainen available. No amount of picks could make-up for what a player of his caliber can do. Some people out there argue that there is a reason that Terevainen hadn’t been taken earlier – as true as that MIGHT be, I think it was solely on the fact that, based on team needs and the teams that were choosing from 1-17, a player of Terevainen’s mold wasn’t as HIGH a priority as getting a D-man, or, landing a BIG, lanky Centre (or Winger). Picks 1-4 were pretty easy to project – the teams had more than valid reason to take their guys. When you look at picks 5-10, you saw a plethora of D-man being selected – no surprise there. On a side-note – I was more than impressed with Martin Madden and the Anaheim Ducks. Lindholm seemed to really prove that teams, though they don’t claim to do so, in fact do, draft based on organizational need. Lindholm is a sleek, smart, crafty, and large specimen. The progression-factor is just off the charts. As much as fans laughed when Pierre McGuire called him a steal at 6, I couldn’t agree more. I would’ve loved to see the Penguins take Grigorenko at 8 – potentially replace Jordan Staal…and then some. The first round, as unpredictable as it was first projected to be, seemed to unfold accordingly.

According to my list and who I thought did the best, it’s no surprise that the Flames weren’t one of my favorite teams at the draft. I’m a fan of prospects and drafting…I’m not saying I know everything; I’m not saying that the Flames’ staff know nothing…what I am saying is that, based on what I know and what preferences and rankings I had, Calgary’s picks weren’t that great.

Here’s a list and some explanation of who I think did the best at the draft:

1. Anaheim Ducks

Note of players taken:

Hampus Lindholm – D – Pick #6
A super-skilled D-man, Lindholm just got better the longer he played for Rogle’s senior team. You look at the Ducks’ situation – not having much on the back-end and THEN trading Visnovsky and losing Justin Schultz (to free agency) – it’s easy to see that the team was looking to fill a void, for both the short and long term. A player of Lindholm’s mold, you’re bound to get a guy that can compliment Cam Fowler – both offensively and defensively. I think Lindholm has a higher ceiling defensively, for sure…offensively – definitely a possibility.

Nicolas Kerdiles – C/LW – Pick #36
An under-rated two-way forward that can score a ton, Kerdiles can play anywhere you need him to. I had Kerdiles ranked 18 on my list – I think he’ll be a top-6 pro with a scoring touch. Did I mention that I love the way he powers his way on the ice?

Fredrik Andersen – G – Pick #87
Though Andersen isn’t that young, he’s easily proven he’s the real-deal posting a 1.62 GAA, playing 39 games with Frolunda. After completion of the ’11-12 season, Andersen has finished playing his 4th year against men. So, being 22 and not being signed by Carolina, IMO, wouldn’t be enough justification not to take this 6’4” beast. As a third-round pick, Madden & Co. made a super-smart, low-risk move.

Kevin Roy - LW/C - Pick #97
A 5’10” LW/C that reminds me so much of Loui Eriksson, Kevin Roy was the next player selected by Madden. Though he was an over-age player, Roy destroyed the statistics – scoring 54 goals and 104 points in 59 games with Lincoln. Madden compares him to Jason Blake; either way, I think he will be able to contribute in the short-run – at Northeastern (NCAA) – and in the long run – playing in the NHL. The question: is this pick comparable to the one the Blue Jackets made in 2008, when they selected over-age eligible, Cam Atkinson?

Brian Cooper - D – Pick #127
A skilled D-man, Cooper is a smaller, offensive d-man that will put up the points…wherever he goes. He is a very smart d-man that has some real, raw talent. When I see his game, it reminds me of what you see with Mike Reilly (CBJ pick – 98th in 2011) – a player that uses his mind and his offensive skills to his advantage, thus, being a positive contributor – both offensively and defensively.

2. Montreal Canadiens

Notable players taken: Alex Galchenyuk, Sebastian Collberg, Dalton Thrower, Tim Bozon, and Charles Hudon.

3. Nashville Predators

Notable players taken: Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, Jimmy Vesey, Brendan Leipsic, Zach Stepan, Mikko Vainonen, Simon Fernholm, and Max Gortz.

4. Dallas Stars

Notable players taken: Radek Faksa, Ludvig Bystrom, Mike Winther, Esa Lindell, Gemel Smith, and Branden Troock.

5. Chicago Blackhawks

Notable players taken: Teuvo Terevainen, Dillon Fournier, Chris Calnan, Garret Ross, Travis Brown, and Vince Hinostroza.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

Notable players taken: Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta, Theodor Blueger, Matt Murray, Matia Marcantuoni, Sean Maguire, and Anton Zlobin.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets

Notable players taken: Ryan Murray, Oscar Dansk, Joonas Korpisalo, Daniel Zaar, and Gianluca Curcuruto.

8. Edmonton Oilers

Notable players taken: Nail Yakupov, Joey Laleggia, Jujhar Khaira, Daniil Zharkov, and Mitch Moroz.

9. St. Louis Blues

Notable players taken: Jordon Schmaltz, Sam Kurker, Mackenzie MacEachern, Nick Walters, Francois Tremblay, and Petteri Lindbohm.

10. New York Rangers

Notable players taken – all 4 taken by Gordie Clark: Brady Skjei, Cristoval Nieves, Calle Andersson, and Thomas Spelling.

Time will tell how these prospects will turn-out. I’m quite surprised that Lundberg, Vatrano, Djuse, and Slepyshev didn’t get selected. But hey, it’s not like they can’t get taken next year.

My Flames thoughts: Since his tenure in 1997, Tod Button hasn’t had much success as the Director of Amateur Scouting. Jay Feaster came in and brought-aboard John Weisbrod…a guy who was a pro scout for the Bruins…yes, scouting college free agents. My question: how many players on the Bruins’ roster were college free agents? There's my point – this team doesn’t want to get rid of people that need to go; the people that are coming in aren’t making strong enough cases of what their skills are and how it will make a positive contribution to the issues the team has and wants to fix - drafting. Sometimes, personnel don’t work with an organization…if that’s the case, they need to be relieved. If you look at a lot of the Flames’ brain trust, you’ll see that most of their staff is the old guard that have been around the last 15 years (and then some). I wonder if that has positive correlation to why they are and continue to be a mediocre-at-best team…hmm. Feaster laughs at rebuild; made claims that he was against trading draft picks, yet, has already traded 2 IMPORTANT second round picks within the last year (2012 2nd to Buffalo; 2013 2nd to Montreal). He’s saying what he needs to please the public – “we need to get better…and will do…” His actions don’t reconcile with his words – he states the obvious and then makes moves he justifies by saying – “Write it down. We’ll make playoffs.”

Allan Markin and Murray Edwards, the team owners, are the real ones to blame. Just because the organization is a top-10 revenue-generating team, they are satisfied (with the hockey operations). Owners that really care about their organization would do their due diligence…based on performance management, make decisions. Last time I checked, Ken King, the President of both Hockey and Business operations (By the way – what other team in the league has 1 representative for both sides of the business? None) was given a promotion after the team failed to make the playoffs for a third consecutive year. The same guy that wanted to fight those fans that suggested for a re-build. I believe, as much as people hate me for saying, that as long as you have owners like Markin and Edwards, guys like Ken King will never lose their job. If he doesn’t lose his job, he gets to stick around and make ill-advised moves like hiring a non-hockey guy, Jay Feaster. Todd Button will continue to make picks like taking Greg Nemisz in the first-round and comparing him to Jeff Carter. Because, according to Tod Button, it takes years of experience to get a ‘proper’ read on high school players for accurate projections – and that’s why the Jankowski pick was the "right one."

When you look at all the facts and what is needed for succession management, there’s no way you can break-down and understand the string of poor moves made by this organization; you can’t justify many of their moves being made on the basis of a hockey nor a business decision.

There is an Old Boys Club in Calgary…Ken must be doing something else real-good to save his job, and it’s definitely not making hockey decisions. It’s fair to say that the Flames are just a mediocre team. Though they always spend up to the cap, they always just have an ok team. Just imagine – how much worse would the Flames be if they didn’t have deep pockets? I wonder how bad of a job their brain trust would do if they had expected higher turnovers – had to depend more on drafting and brining- in new, home grown players. That's a scary concept. I love how this team, every year, complains that they never have a no.1 center and the right backup goalie. And then every year, in the beginning, they make public announcements that they have filled that void, that goalie X will now play 15-30 games giving Kiprusoff some time off…and then every year, by game 55, you know that Kipper is exhausted and there isn’t a good enough goalie to give him the support.

Looking at this year, again, the same apparent issues seem to be the case. Like they’ve done in the past, the Flames have tried to get cheap fillers to try and cover that hole at center. As much progression as Irving has had (according to the club) – the last time I checked, he lost his job to free agent Danny Taylor in Abbottsford. Irving only played 7 games in the NHL in the 2011-2012 campaign. Posting a 3.19 GAA, there aren't strong enough statistics to be assured that he is the future goalie of the team. At 24, the time is ticking.

If it was my decision, Martin Madden would be my hockey guy. In just the last 4 drafts with the Ducks, Madden has added a plethora of hot prospects (2009 – Peter Holland, Kyle Palmieri, Igor Bobkov, and Sami Vatanen; 2010 – Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Chris Wagner; 2011 – Rikard Rakell, John Gibson, William Karlsson, and Max Friberg). I’ve liked what he’s done more in the 4 years than what Button has done in the last 15.

You may ask the question: Is he a Flames fan? I’m from Calgary and loved the product the Flames had in the 80’s. It seemed apparent that the club, back then, had a model that stressed high skill and superior drafting (which I feel is what’s needed AT LEAST to be successful in the league one day). When you see a cheesy model that is being facilitated by deep pockets and know what money and knowledge in the field can ACTUALLY bring you, cheering for this model isn't easy to justify.

Huge thanks to Michael for his insight. Follow him on twitter at @gotitotti and Dome Ice Advantage at @WiswellMRU

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Draft Squaretable Discussion

Twas the night before draft weekend. Our new contributor, Dave Cameron, chimes in with me on what he'd like to see the Flames do this weekend in Pittsburgh. 


Realistically, who is the one guy you're pulling for at #14? 
GW: Hard to say. The most sensible move would be to key in on a D man, but I am so easily drawn by skilled forwards. If, for whatever reason, Grigorenko were to drop, I wouldn't hesitate to take that risk. You'd get a top-3 talent in the middle of the first round. More realistically, I would go for Derrick Pouliot. I see him as more skilled than some of the names on forward in that range (Faksa, Gaunce). Watching a handful of Portland games this year, I was very impressed with his creativity and puck skills - something the Flames could surely use.


DC: I'm pulling for Zemgus Girgensons. Looking at many of the first rounders, Girgensons is described as a fierce two way player, his NHL comparable would be Rod Brind' Amour. The guy is a force in the weight room, but his two way game is undoubtedly present. Winning key draws, tough along the wall, and would be a great addition. Girgensons is the type of player Darryl always "said" he wanted to draft, but they didn't pan out (see Kris Chucko). Girgensons is a surefire two-way NHL player for the future.


Should the Flames move an asset to trade up?
GW: I definitely wouldn't. I think one guy out of the top-10 will fall to the Flames at 14. In most drafts, I'd be all over trading up. This time around, there doesn't seem to be as much certainty as to how it will play out from pick 1-20. So, I'd prefer the Flames ride it out and see who falls in their lap.


DC: Yes, but only if it involves maintaining youth. Unfortunately, I believe the Flames will not be able to move an asset to trade up, The integral pieces of this team going forward are what interest other teams, not the David Moss and Anton Babchuks. Maintaining Baertschi, Brodie, Giordano among others is key. I believe it is more important to make the proper choice at 14, and as Feaster has said, stick to the list of taking the best player available.


Should they add another pick in trading down?
GW: This is something I think they will (and should) do. Potentially finding a way to select twice (1 F, 1D?) in the top-40 would be ideal. Easier said than done, though.


DC: No. There are some intriguing names in that first round, prospects with a high ceiling. Although a drop exists outside of the top 2 (people will argue the drop occurs after the top 4 or 5), these are still quality prospects. As an organization, it's better to take a chance on a first rounder, rather than two seconds, as the possibility of that player actually making your roster and an impact some day is significantly better.


What roster player would you like to see dealt at the draft?
GW: I think the Flames are in a tough spot here. They've made it clear Kipper and Iggy will be sticking around. Looking at the rest of the roster, you'd be selling low. I would look to deal Jokinen's rights, potentially for a mid-round pick. I would hold off on the salary dumps until after July 1, when teams become more desperate to add pieces. To comment on the speculation, I would NOT look to deal Bouwmeester or Backlund, simply because they are more valuable to the team than the market.


DC: Que the Matt Stajan responses, but not from me: I have a Stajan jersey. He picked up his game down the stretch last season, and his market value sucks. All the talk about Bouwmeester being traded brings up mixed emotions. Is his contract bloated? Yes. Does he act uninterested in interviews, thus affecting the perception of him? Yes. Do the Flames have anyone that can play shutdown minutes half the game? No. J-Bo is an important part of this team, and should only be dealt in a deal that comes with an immediate (potential) replacement for him and those minutes.


Out of the guys under contract, one might suggest Glencross would be a candidate to be traded. Even though he had a great season after signing his new contract, I still have doubts as to whether or not he can continue to produce at that clip.


Either way, not dying to get rid of anyone on the immediate roster, but hoping that a philosophy shift with youth will bring this group out of mediocrity.

Follow Dave on twitter @dcam94, Dome Ice Advantage @WiswellMRU

Michael Fabrig's Mock Draft

Here is a mock draft from Michael, projecting which player each team will take in the first round. Thanks again to Michael for his contributions this week. Follow him on twitter @gotitotti. Follow Dome Ice Advantage @WiswellMRU.
  1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov – RW – 5’11” – 31G, 38A; 69 points in 42 GP – Sarnia Sting – OHL
  1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Alex Galchenyuk – C – 6’1” – 31G, 52A; 83 points in 68 GP (’10-11) – Sarnia Sting – OHL
  1. Montreal Canadiens – Mikhail Grigorenko – C – 6’3” – 40G, 45A; 85 points in 59 GP – Quebec Remparts – QMJHL
  1. New York Islanders – Ryan Murray – D – 6’1” – 9G, 22A; 31 points in 46 GP – Everett Silvertips – WHL 
  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Filip Forsberg – LW – 6’2” – 8G, 9A; 17 points in 43 GP – Leksand – Allsvenskan
  1. Anaheim Ducks – Griffin Reinhart – D – 6’3” – 12G, 24A; 36 points in 58 GP – Edmonton Oil Kings – WHL
  1. Minnesota Wild – Morgan Rielly – D – 6’0” – 3G, 15A; 18 points in 18 GP – Moose Jaw Warriors – WHL   
  1. Carolina Hurricanes – Cody Ceci – D – 6’1” – 17G, 43A; 60 points in 64 GP – Ottawa 67’s – OHL
  1. Winnipeg Jets – Matt Dumba – D – 5’11” – 20G, 37A; 57 points in 69 GP – Red Deer Rebels – WHL
  1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jacob Trouba – D – 6’2” – 4G, 14A; 18 points in 22 GP – USNTDP Juniors – USHL
  1. Washington Capitals – Olli Maatta – D – 6’1” – 5G, 27A; 32 points in 58 GP – London Knights – OHL
  1. Buffalo Sabres – Hampus Lindholm– D – 6’2” – 1G, 3A; 4 points in 20 GP – Rogle – Allsvenskan
  1. Dallas Stars – Radek Faksa – C – 6’3” – 29G, 38A; 67 points in 62 GP – Kitchener Rangers – OHL
  1. Calgary Flames – Teuvo Teravainen– RW – 5’11” – 11G, 7A; 18 points in 40 GP  – Jokerit – SM-liiga
  1. Ottawa Senators – Derrick Pouliot – D –  5’11” – 11G, 48A; 59 points in 72 GP – Portland Winter Hawks – WHL
  1. Washington Capitals – Zemgus Girgensons – C – 6’2” – 24G, 31A; 55 points in 49 GP – Dubuque Fighting Saints – USHL
  1. San Jose Sharks – Slater Koekkoek– D – 6’2” – 5G, 13A; 18 points in 26 GP – Peterborough Petes – OHL
  1. Chicago Blackhawks – Andrei Vasilevski – G – 6’3” – 27 GP, 2.23 GAA, .931 SV % – Tolpar UFA – MHL
  1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Matt Finn – D – 6’0” – 10G, 37A; 47 points in 61 GP – Guelph Storm – OHL
  1. Philadelphia Flyers – Tomas Hertl – C – 6’2” – 12G, 13A; 25 points in 38 GP – HC Slavia Praha – Czech
  1. Buffalo Sabres – Brady Skjei – D – 6’2” – 3G, 9A; 12 points in 24 GP – USNTDP – USHL
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Malcolm Subban – G – 6’0” – 39 GP, 2.50 GAA, .923 SV% –  Belleville Bulls – OHL
  1. Florida Panthers – Ludvig Bystrom– D – 6’0” – 0G, 1A; 1 point in 20 GP – MODO – Elitserien
  1. Boston Bruins – Michael Matheson– D – 6’2” – 11G, 16A; 27 points in 53 GP – Dubuque Fighting Saints – USHL
  1. St. Louis Blues – Brendan Gaunce – C – 6’2” – 28G, 40A; 68 points in 68 GP – Belleville Bulls – OHL
  1. Vancouver Canucks – Oscar Dansk– G – 6’2” – 28 GP, 2.82 GAA, .910 SV% – Brynas J20 – SuperElit 
  1. Phoenix Coyotes – Henrik Samuelsson – RW – 6’2” – 7G, 16A; 23 points in 28 GP – Edmonton Oil Kings – WHL
  1. New York Rangers – Phil Di Giuseppe – C – 6’1” – 11G, 15A; 26 points in 40 GP – Univ. of Michigan – NCAA
  1. New Jersey Devils – Mark Jankowski – C – 6’2” – 53G, 40A; 93 points in 57 GP – Stanstead College – CAHS
  1. Los Angeles Kings – Nicolas Kerdiles – C – 6’1 – 4G, 9A; 13 points in 18 GP – USNTDP Juniors – USHL