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Draft 2008: Flames to go offensive

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames will go on the offensive at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa this week. As in, they will be looking for a prospect with the potential to put up numbers in the National Hockey League.

"It's an old line but we want a top six forward. We want a guy who can put up offensive numbers," said Flames director of scouting Tod Button in an interview. "We want to take the best player available. We want to take an offensive forward."

1 17 ??
2 Currently no pick
3 78 ??
3 108 ??
4 114 ??
5 138 ??
6 168 ??
7 198 ??
Visit our special Entry Draft 2008 section for more news and features on this year's draft crop. Entry Draft 2008
The Flames currently have the 17th pick overall and general manager Darryl Sutter said the draft is deep enough that the Flames may get the type of player they are looking for without moving up in the draft.

"Because of the depth of it we are trying to move up and move down and stay right where we are," said Sutter, noting the draft is the deepest  of the six drafts he has conducted as the Flames head hockey man.

"I think it is the best draft year, depth-wise, since I came here," he told reporters on Monday.

Sutter's first draft as a general manager with Calgary was in 2003 when the team picked defenceman Dion Phaneuf ninth overall. Since then the Flames have picked 24th (Kris Chucko); 26th (Matt Pelech); 26th (Leland Irving) and 24th (Mikael Backlund).

"I'd like to pick in the top 10 every year but that means you not be a playoff team. Some teams say 'We'll be good in two years' but we're not doing that. We're trying to be a top, competitive team every year," said Sutter.

Still, Sutter said picking 17th overall, isn't bad with this year's crop. "I like that pick," said Sutter.
"It's hard to tell what will be available there...It's hard to predict how it is going to play out."

The general manager isn't expecting to move into the top pick area to get projected No. 1 Steve Stamkos or one of the highly-rated defencemen expected to go in the top 10.

"Not unless we give up Jarome (Iginla) or Dion (Phaneuf)" said Sutter with a smile. "I'm sure there is a small faction here that might do that but I won't."

The past couple of drafts have seen the Flames makes some trades -- they acquired forward Alex Tanguay in 2006 and defenceman Adrian Aucoin just before the draft in 2007. If there is another move for this draft, Sutter wasn't tipping his hand.

He said both those deals had been talked about previously -- sometime around the trade deadlines in those respective years. "That's just when we decided to do it," said Sutter. "We had talked about those a lot from the deadline on."

The focus, after watching hundreds of players and holding a number of mock drafts, is simple for Calgary: Get a player who will play in the NHL two to four years down the road. "That's what our goal is," noted Button.

And the chances are that prospect is going to be a forward -- the Flames are set in goal with Miikka Kiprusoff and the developing Leland Irving and like the current defence corps as well as some of the defencemen they have on the farm.

"If it was a saw-off between a forward and a defenceman, we wouldn't take the defenceman. I would say if we stay at 17, we will take a forward," said Sutter.

Button added that whether it is a forward or a defenceman, there is one quality they must have.

"Skating is essential for any position. Darryl and (head coach) Mike (Keenan) want a pursuit team, a pressure team. If you can't skate, you can't pressure."

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