I apologize for not posting this earlier than a few hours before the draft. Better late than never, right?
I used to scoff at those diehards who sat through the entire NHL draft (especially considering that typically, the first 5-10 picks aren't that hard to predict). But this year, the relative desperateness of the Flames' prospect pool - and future as a whole - has caused me to become much more anxious about the draft than usual. Don't get me wrong, I have always realized that the draft is the single most important factor in building a winning team. But let's just say that when your organization is ranked 24th out of 30 by Hockey's Future.com, there is a greater compulsion to plop yourself in front of TSN for two hours on a Friday in June.
The Flames pick 17th today, the same position as last year. Darryl Sutter has said he's "comfortable" with this position but has hinted at trading up or down (like virtually every other GM). Last year, he traded down for the 24th and 70th pick, which allowed him to take the players highest on his board, Mikael Backlund and John Negrin. However, I'd be surprised if Sutter traded down again, unless he can get a 2nd rounder in the deal, which is unlikely.
The draft is an area of hockey where my knowledge is admittedly small. Virtually all of the information I know about prospects, I find out through mass media scouting reports (mostly websites such as HF). With that in mind, I am on the Joe Colborne bandwagon for the Flames' pick. HF and Pierre McGuire both predicted the Flames would draft him at 17, and looking at the prospect rankings, I don't think there will be a more suitable player available. What's there not to like about Colborne? He's a Calgary kid who grew up cheering for the Flames. He's been compared to Joe Thornton. Neither the fact that he comes from a multimillionaire family or his first round status seems to have gone to his head. The only knock against him I've read is that he has not learned to take advantage of his huge frame yet, but he's heading to the NCAA so he'll have plenty of time to adapt his game. Of course, his NCAA status means that the Flames won't get a really good look at him for at least three years, but this would be a long term investment worth taking.
Whether or not the Flames pick the hometown kid or not, though, one thing is clear to me: the Flames need the best natural scorer they can get. Their prospect pool is full of defencemen, goalies, and third to fourth line "leader" or energy guys, but little scoring. Scott Cruickshank joked about this in his pre-draft article yesterday: for all the attention on Colborne, the Flames' draft record makes them more likely to pick a defenceman or goalie. Suffice to say, if Sutter picks a defenceman or goaltender, I will want to puke. And I might actually puke if he picks another one projected for the second or third round.
Although the Flames' position is hardly a historical hotbed for superstars, I get the feeling the lower rounds will end up being much more important for the Flames. They have no second rounder this year, having given that up to the Kings for Craig Conroy last year. This draft is being called the deepest since 2003 by every analyst, but regardless, I've been wondering how having no second rounder will affect the Flames. Last year, the Ducks traded down three spots from no. 16 and got a second rounder out of the deal, so the possibility of getting a 2nd through a trade down isn't entirely out of the question. However, I think trading a player for a 2nd would be a more likely trade, namely Alex Tanguay. If Darryl Sutter hopes to get draft picks for Tanguay from this year's draft, he needs to convince him to waive his no-trade clause by tomorrow.
In total, the Flames hold eight selections: the no. 17, no. 78, no. 108, no. 114 (the only compensation for the Brad Stuart trade), no. 138, no. 168 and no. 198. I'll buck my usual norm and be brief here: if the Flames screw up this draft, the scouting staff should be gutted.
(I was in the process of writing a mock draft but ended up admitting to myself, "I have no clue", around pick 16. Here's a no-explanation, quick and dirty top 10 anyway: 1. TB - Stamkos, 2. LA - Doughty, 3. ATL - Bogosian, 4. STL - Filatov, 5. NYI - Pietrangelo, 6. CBJ - Schenn, 7. TOR - Wilson, 8. PHX - Boedker, 9. NSH - Hodgson, 10. VAN - Myers.)