Flames 2021 NHL Draft Preview: Does immediate need trump development?

Sebastian Cossa of the Edmonton Oil Kings. (Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings)

Given the six-year deal the Flames signed Jacob Markstrom to last summer, you’d think the last position the Calgary Flames would address with their first round pick would be a goalie.

However, Sportsnet draft guru Sam Cosentino believes that’s exactly what they may want to do with the 12th selection on Friday.

“In my opinion they’re in a position where a goaltender is really in play here,” said Cosentino, well aware of the Flames dreadful history of drafting netminders.

“If you have the long-term vision for the best of the franchise, you want to stagger your goalies and to me that five-year development period is perfect. You’re going to have uncertainty in this draft class because you don’t have that many high-level viewings. This is the year I give people the hall pass to draft a goalie in the first round, which I don’t normally suggest until later.”

Some will suggest it’s an asinine consideration given the fact Flames goalie prospect Dustin Wolf just wrapped up one of the most impressive junior careers in recent history and will be given a chance to start proving he can overcome his size (6-foot, 167 pounds) in the AHL this year.

However, with hotshot goalies Sebastian Cossa and Jesper Wallstedt both capable of going top 15, could GM Brad Treliving really be considering it?

Is it a prudent move for a GM on the hot seat, who might want to think shorter term given how important it is to turn the team around immediately?

Tune in Friday to find out.

Draft Picks:

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd (Edm), 5th, 6th, 7th

Potential targets in Round 1:

Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (Swedish Hockey League): The 6-foot-3 Swede has been in the spotlight since he became the youngest player to ever suit up for a game in the country’s top U20 league, which he did in 2017 at 14 years of age.

Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL): Few think the 6-foot-6, 212-pound Fort McMurray native should be ranked ahead of Wallstedt. Either way, he’s certainly a player the Flames would have an excellent read on, having spent the last two seasons in Edmonton compiling a 38-7-4 record.

Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL): A mobile blueliner who can do a little bit of everything. He has good size (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) and showed well while on loan in Finland’s junior league this year with 11 points in 13 games.

Cole Sillinger, W, Sioux Falls (USHL): The son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger is six-foot, 197 pounds and has plenty of offensive talent, having scored 24 goals and 46 points in 31 games.

Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL): 48 goals in 51 games says it all for this slick skating winger who also used his 5-foot-10, 183 pound frame to add nine goals in 8 playoff games.

Last year’s first pick: Connor Zary

Treliving made two trades to acquire picks and move down in the draft order twice before snagging the Kamloops Blazers star 24th overall.

While waiting for the WHL to begin last season, Zary got some bonus time in the AHL where he acquitted himself well with three goals and seven points in nine games for the Flames affiliate. It kickstarted an abbreviated campaign with the Blazers where the left winger had six goals and 24 points in 15 games.

Depending on how the Flames are able to fill holes in their roster this summer, Zary may have an outside shot at making the Flames if able to piece together a monster showing in camp.

It’s a long shot though, as Darryl Sutter prefers counting on veterans and Zary could certainly benefit from a full season in Stockton alongside Flames 2019 first rounder Jakob Pelletier.

Organizational Needs:

The Flames prospect pool isn’t a deep one at the moment, which is why you can bet Treliving will continue his philosophy of drafting the best player available, regardless of position.

After all, every position requires bolstering.

Outside of Zary and Pelletier the organization is lacking high end skill players, which is why many hope the Flames first rounder will be an elite goal scorer.

Adam Ruzicka and Glenn Gawdin currently top the list of forward prospects capable of pressing for NHL duty, and neither are projected to be top-six material.

The club hasn’t drafted many defencemen the last handful of years, with a sharp drop off in prospects behind Juuso Valimaki.

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