This is my last installment on the examination of Jay Feaster’s tenure as Flames GM. I hope the series has been interesting, informative, entertaining or some combination of the three.
To wind things up I would like to look at the Flames 2012 draft selections. Although Feaster has minimal involvement with assembling the scouting list, it is a product of the scouting staff he has augmented and the software he has employed.
#1 Mark Jankowski: Stanstead College
The Flames made a draft-day swap dealing their 1st round 14th overall selection to the Sabres in exchange for the Sabres 2nd round choice and the Predators 1st round pick that was acquired by Buffalo in a trade that sent Paul Gaustad to the Preds.
It looked like a great move when defenseman Olli Matta fell to the Flames at 21st overall. But when the Flames selected Mark Jankowski who was slotted to go in the 2nd round by Central Scouting, there was a collective query of ‘WHO!?’ by the less informed Flames’ fans and a query of ‘WHY!?’ from the more savvy observers. Now everyone is up to speed on the ‘who’, but perhaps not-so-much on the ‘why’.
Jay Feaster has many times acknowledged the Flames’ top need is a #1 center. As we all know these guys don’t grow on trees and rarely become available through trade or free agency; so that leaves the draft. With the Flames’ choice to rebuild on the fly it is unlikely they will draft high enough in the foreseeable future to get a sure-fire top center ala Nugent-Hopkins. So the Flames elected to roll the dice.
The main criticism of the pick was not the risk-factor though, it was that Jankowski could have been picked up in the second round. Jay Feaster dispelled this criticism when he intimated in an interview that two other GM’s were going to choose Jankowski in the first round if he had been available.
Although Jankowski is young and played against inferior competition in his draft year, most scouts agree he has the size and skill to project as the true #1 guy the Flames covet. However that is his upside. He is so young-the youngest player ever selected in the history of the draft-it is possible he will never develop into a regular NHL player. Was the gamble worth it? Only time will tell.
#2 Patrick Sieloff: NDT-USHL
With the Sabres’ second round choice the Flames went to the USHL and took hard hitting defenseman Patrick Sieloff. Sieloff was rated by most scouts as the hardest hitter in the draft. He does not bring much offense to the table but he is a reliable defenseman who will drop the mitts, kill penalties and oozes character. His bone-crushing hits can also change the momentum of games.
Patrick won a gold medal in 2011-12 with the USA at the WJC under-18 tournament and has been invited to US camp for the upcoming WJCs in 2012-13.
The Flames did not have a second round pick prior to the trade with Buffalo, and unless Matta ends up being a more valuable player than the combination of Jankowski and Sieloff the trade will work in the Flames favour.
#3 Jon Gillies: Indiana Ice -USHL
To me this was a bit of a curious choice since there were goalies ranked higher than Jon and the Flames already have Karri Ramo, Leland Irving, Jani Ortio and Laurent Brossoit in the system. However he does project to be a top goalie if he maxes out his upside.
Jon is a huge kid standing 6’4” and weighing 215 pounds. He plays a modified butterfly style, challenging shooters and covering his angles well. He needs to work on his rebound control and closing up the 6 and 7 holes.
#4 Brett Kulak: Vancouver Giants-WHL
Brett was a standout in Midget, winning the Alberta minor midget's Defenseman of the Year award. In his first full year in the dub’ he played all 72 games for the Giants scoring 9 goals and adding 15 assists.
Brett is not a particularly physical defenseman, but is good defensively and has good offensive instincts as well as good mobility and puck moving skills.
#5 Ryan Culkin: Quebec Remparts-QMJHL
The Flames chose their third defenseman of the draft when Ryan Culkin was available in the 5th round. Culkin was ranked 66th overall by Central scouting and showed steady progress in his second year in the Q’.
He is a solid two-way defenseman with good puck moving skills and skating ability. Ryan has the ability to raise his game when the stakes are high especially in the playoffs.
#6 Coda Gordon: Swift Current Broncos-WHL
Coda is an Alberta boy who slipped in the CSS rankings from his mid-season high of 38th to his final ranking of 61st. He lit up the dub' in his first half, but tailed off as the season wore on, which hurt his ranking.
He was still good enough to be the second-top scorer on the team as a rookie, potting 30 goals and adding 23 assists.
Coda is a skilled player who needs work on his defensive game.
#7 Matt Deblouw: Muskegon-USHL
Matt has good size and speed, but needs to bulk up as many 18 year old prospects do. He had just 11 goals and 23 assists in 58 games which could have been partially because of playing for a poor Muskegon squad who won just 17 games.
Matt was identified as the biggest surprise after his performance at the Flames’ prospects camp.
When Feaster was asked about his reaction to the draft he said “I am excited because the guys are excited”. Even the experts have a tough time evaluating a team’s draft performance so I won’t even try. But it was punctuated by a surprise first round selection and once again a noticeable departure from the Sutter years.
Next time around I will have a look at the current state of negotiations between the League and PA. Gulp!
Factoid: All of the Flames’ 2012 draft selections were ranked within the top 66 players in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American Skaters. The Flames selected no Europeans.
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