TORONTO -- The Calgary Flames are putting together a list of the players they might select when they announce the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27.
Properly ranking those players, however, remains a challenge.
"It would be easy to say whoever is there at four we'll take at No. 4, but our group is bigger," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said. "We have six, seven, eight guys and we're still sorting that out and this is part of the process."
Making the job harder for scouts is the unique skill sets some of the top prospects bring. Samuel Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl all are centers, but each brings something different to the table.
"You've got three really good centers, but they're all different style centers," Button said. "So I think you're trying to sort out the styles as much as anything to figure out how to close that gap. If you had three like-minded or three with similar playing styles then it's a little easier, you just do it. But they're different style players so it's a little more to sort out. It's exciting. It's not easy and it's not supposed to be easy. But it's fun to do. It's a fun process to go through."
This is Button's 17th season with the Flames, but the first draft in Calgary for president of hockey operations Brian Burke and general manager Brad Treliving. Button said the change in leadership would not change his duties or how he judges players.
"We're looking for hockey players," he said. "Our criteria hasn't changed. Hockey players are hockey players. I think every team has probably the same basic criteria. How you define them and how you separate them, that might be different. When you talk about the fourth overall pick, or the 34th pick, we're looking for hockey players.
"All things being equal you want a bigger guy, you want a more truculent guy. [Burke and Treliving] haven't come in and said, 'Do anything any different.' They want hockey players. Brad, he joined us a little bit later but he was there for our meetings and he said the same thing, 'Let's get some hockey players.' Size is a factor in building our team but it's not going to be a factor in picking the best players."
Last year, the Flames selected center Sean Monahan from the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League with the sixth pick. He had 22 goals and 34 points in 75 games as a rookie. However, the Flames aren't expecting that to happen again with their first pick this year.
"He earned that spot," Button said of Monahan. "It was not given to him. We were more than ready to send him back to Ottawa, but he earned that spot. We want the guy who will play in the NHL the longest and be the best players, not who's there the quickest."