The Calgary Flames hold the 14th overall pick for Friday’s NHL Entry Draft and there are plenty of options for them to look at when it’s their turn to approach the podium. I think there’s a very good chance the Flames will make a pick in the first round, but it may not necessarily be at number 14.
I believe there’s a decent chance the Flames will trade down in the first round, dropping a few spots to pick up a pick for a little later on in the draft. Calgary is without their second-round pick this year, as the team dealt it to Buffalo as part of the Robyn Regehr trade at last year’s NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota.
Recouping that second-round pick is one of the main reasons I could see the Flames selecting after 14 on Friday. The team only made five picks one year ago, and with a new regime in place, restocking the system is something the team would like to do. GM Jay Feaster has done this by signing college free agents this summer, but the draft is still the best place to supplement your organization.
With 2010 third round pick Joey Leach no longer in the organization (the team elected not to sign the defenseman last month, thus allowing him to re-enter the draft), the Flames could use a good draft this weekend to continue the momentum they gained with a limited number of selections one year ago. All five of their picks from Minnesota have turned into organizational assets, with Sven Baertschi and John Gaudreau leading the way.
The other main reason has to do with the quality of this year’s draft class itself. The depth of talent this year plays into Calgary’s hands in two ways if they do decide to trade down in the first round. First, I still think they’d be able to select a quality player a few picks down the line. It’s a deep group of blueliners, and names like Cody Ceci, Olli Maatta, Matthew Finn, Hampus Lindholm, and Slater Koekkoek could be around at 14th overall.
However, if the team elects to move to the 18-22 range, a few of those blueliners could absolutely still be around, as could Derrick Pouliot or Dalton Thrower. With names like Zemgus Girgensons, Sebastien Collberg, and Henrik Samuelsson potentially still available in that same range at forward, it shows the 2012 draft class has some options. Trading down a few picks wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
On top of that, the depth of 2012 would also be in Calgary’s favor if they were to pick up an additional pick in the top 60. There are some quality names available that project to be pretty decent NHLers as you start to move into the second round, and if the Flames could pick early on Saturday, they’d be exploiting the strength of this year’s draft.
I’m not saying trading down in the first round is Calgary’s best bet period. Who knows who could fall to them at 14? But having this option in your back pocket would be very smart this year with so many comparable players bunched up. Moving down a few picks would still allow you to choose a solid first round prospect, give you more picks during an important time for the organization, and exploit a pretty deep draft on two separate fronts.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some draft targets for the Flames at 14th overall.