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Flames general manager Brad Treliving confident draft weekend will yield big things for organization

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

VANCOUVER - Like many in our frosty, fair town know all too well, the chilly, winter months are no time to drill deep into bedrock and lay the groundwork for a lavish, eye-popping high-rise.

From the moment he was hired in 2014, Flames architect Brad Treliving has made it clear he, too, is a summertime builder.

"This is when you're doing a lot of your heavy lifting," the general manager said Thursday after a briefing with his fellow colleagues and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

"You're starting fresh, right? You're not in the middle of the year; financially you're kind of starting from scratch.

"I always say, those picks now - that second-round pick that you threw out in January - is just a number. Now, there's a name to that number.

"That pick 'capital' has greater value now."






For Treliving and the Flames, parlaying that value into a fix on the roster - immediate or otherwise - has been a slick bit of theatre of savvy business practice, all wrapped in one.

Last year, without a pick until the fourth round, 105th overall, the Flames addressed a number of needs with the acquisition of Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin from the Carolina Hurricanes for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox.

Yes, Treliving has been known make waves on draft day, the Carolina swap his fifth in five drafts with a notable trade involving roster players, but it's necessary.

Treliving, has been working the phones and having plenty of face-to-face dialogue with numerous other managers this week on the west coast, but he argues that apparent flurry of activity is just part of his ongoing due-diligence.

"Work will get done all summer," he said. "We've made some trade here [in the past]. That's not to say we'll get something done this week, though. If we do, we do. If we don't, we don't.

"Everybody's trying to get stuff done at this time of year.

"Everybody's in a bit different of a situation. Everybody's going to be aggressive to help their teams. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I don't think it's more or less busy than it usually is."

As it stands, less than 24 hours before the start of the first round, the Flames have a bounty to work with.

They're back in the first round - No. 26 overall - after a year off, and four other picks in Rounds 3 (No. 88), 4 (116), 5 (150) and 7 (214) to help re-stock the cupboards.


Video: "Everybody's trying to get stuff done."


Now, more than ever, Treliving has to put faith his amateur scouting staff to overcome the challenge of identifying the best of a vast crop.

"What we've got is a big net at that number," Treliving said. "We've been looking at a lot of names.

"There's a volatility in the draft. There's 1 and 2, then there's a handful of teams at 3, and then it opens up. From 15 down, there could be 35 names.

"We're going to get somebody on our higher ledges that's going to be there. There are opportunities to go up or down. I think there will be more teams looking to move down this year than in previous years. But I think there's going to be quite a few names there available for us."

In our Mock Drafts, Brendan Parker and Torie Peterson had the club taking 5-foot-9, 185 lb. forward Nils Hoglander, who played against men in the Swedish Hockey League last year; Paul Mawdsley had them snagging a goaltender - U.S. National Development Team standout Spencer Knight, who is the top-ranked North American puck-stopper.

Yours truly went with Finnish defenceman Lassi Thomson, who had an incredible first year with the WHL's Kelowna Rockets, putting up 41 points and showcasing a fantastic skating ability that will make an impact player at this level soon.

But these are only four names among potentially dozens that Treliving will have to keep an eye on as the first 25 picks go down.

In the end, with the utmost trust in their evaluators, they know - for certain - they're leaving Vancouver with a key piece of the team's future.

"Check back in five years," Treliving laughed when asked what would constitute a successful weekend for the organization. "That's just the way the draft is.

"At 26, I don't think we're getting anybody that's jumping into our lineup [right away]. We're talking years, not months. We want to try and help ourselves (via trade) this weekend - it might not happen. And if it doesn't, we don't play 'til October, so you've got the summer to do some things.

"But we're focused on the draft and adding five prospects to the cupboard.

"Those won't be judged on Sunday.

"Those will be years from now."

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