Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Flames Use Draft To Stockpile The Blueline

Ben is a hockey nut and a recent university graduate. Like most post-uni grads he's unemployed and wants to make himself feel better by writing about something he loves. 
As always, feel free to comment on his work or chirp him @BennyGallant
The Calgary Flames young, forward group with notable names like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sam Bennett helped bring the Flames to the second round of the playoffs before losing in five to the Anaheim Ducks. The Flames defence wasn’t bad either featuring Mark Giordano (the mid-season Norris winner), as well as T.J. Brodie, the shot block-machine Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman.
The Flames started the draft day with a shocking trade to bring in Dougie Hamilton - who they've since signed to a great 6-year, $34.5M deal - for a 1st and a pair of 2nd round draft picks. The Flames traded up at times in the draft and Brad Treliving was one of the more active GMs on the floor. He was able to pick up additional seconds to make the Hamilton trade happen in the year by moving Curtis Glencross and Sven Baertschi. The team didn’t have a 4th because of trading for T.J. Galiardi back in 2013.

First Round

Flames made no first round picks. Having Dougie Hamilton on your blueline is a nice consolation though.

Rounds Two and Three

One of the best defensive point totals available in the draft, Rasmus Andersson, is a dynamic, offensive defenseman. His skating isn’t great for a new-age offensive, defenceman but his IQ is high end. He’s an efficient skater and doesn’t expend much energy mostly using positioning in the defensive end and could work on his discipline as he takes a few stupid penalties. All in all he has the potential to be a solid second pairing defenceman that can contribute on a top PP unit.

The Flames moved a pair of third round picks to pick up the sliding defenceman, Oliver Kylington (oddly pronounced Shyl-ing-ton; which surprised me all draft day) at 60th overall. Kylington was ranked as a top five pick this time last year and top 10 at the start of the season, but fell down the draft rankings after going from 32 SHL to 18 SHL games as well as producing at a worse rate at the U20 level. There were questions about Kylington’s commitment to the sport of hockey after participating in a bodybuilding contest in August 2014 as the two sports don’t mix. If he’s able to put all his tools together over the next few years Kylington could still be a top pairing d-man due to his skills, but it’s unlikely he’ll be more than a second pairing guy that can QB a PP.

The Rest (Rounds Four Through Seven)

Playing in their backyard gave the Flames a lot of chances to see Pavel Karnaukhov play for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. Pavel has NHL size that he uses to protect the puck well, but needs to work on his skating, shot, and physicality if he wants to get to the next level. Given the raw status of his skills its unsure where on the team Pavel will end up, but with Calgarians having the chance to watch him play develop in their city he is an intriguing prospect in a deep Flames prospect pool.

You can see my report on the hard working over age draft pick, Andrew Mangiapane, at Dobber Prospects here.

A hulking defenceman, Riley Bruce, has strong reach and is very good at using his 6’6”, 205 lbs frame to clear opponents from the front of the net. Needs to work on his puck skills and skating, but could have some upside as a bottom pairing defensive guy.

Overall grade: A- 

Picking up Hamilton gives the Flames one of the best blue lines in the league and adding prospects like Andersson and Kylington is important to keep the defensive prospect pool full. Later on in the draft the Flames were able to make some nice value picks in Karnaukhov and Mangiapane while adding a 6’6” blue liner in the 7th round is never a bad idea to gamble on.

Feel free to post any questions in the comment section or get at me on Twitter @BennyGallant

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