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Draft process not short on gamesmanship

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

You try to make some assumptions and do your homework, but there is a lot of liar’s poker that goes into the days leading up to the draft. Separating fact from fiction is an art form in itself.”Brad Treliving

CALGARY, AB -- They’re all liars, each and every one of them.

At this time of year anyway.

Don’t believe what you read, he cautions, nor buy into what you may hear.

Because a lot of truth-twisting is going on at the moment.

And that’s not about to change in the days leading up to the weekend of June 24-25 in Buffalo, NY -- the time and site of the 2016 NHL Draft.

“You try to make some assumptions and do your homework, but there is a lot of liar’s poker that goes into the days leading up to the draft,” Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving suggested. “Separating fact from fiction is an art form in itself.”

Yes, it’s that time of year.

Team A is set on Player B. Are you sure?

Team X wants nothing to do with Player Y. Is that so?

The Flames are as guilty as their 29 counterparts, too.

It’s expected when your guard is up.

“We try to throw stuff out, but there’s enough experience around the league that it’s kind of hard,” said Tod Button, Calgary’s director of amateur scouting. “What you can do is get information from teams … who’s showing the most interest. We try to do our interviews at the draft or pre-draft or bring guys into Calgary and you hear ‘You can’t bring him there because Team A is bringing him in first.’

“If they’re bringing him in, they have some kind of interest. If your pick is around theirs, that clicks a box, too. There’s all kinds of information. You hear something or it comes up and you do some research about it.”

Information is the currency of the NHL Draft process.

With that, teams are understandably guarded. All season long.

With what’s on the line on the floor, lies aren’t just reserved for the final sprint towards draft day.

Get used to the tall tales. All season long.

“Absolutely,” Button reaffirmed.

“There are all kinds of disinformation…not only at this stage but throughout the year.

“I was at a game, a Tier II game, a couple years ago … five years ago … this one scout says, in November, ‘I don’t have to come back and watch these guys again,’ and he left after two periods. The next three times I saw that team he was at the game. There are all kinds of that stuff. I always laugh. That team actually picked the player we were there to watch.”

The lesson?

Trust no one.

And read into less.

“Don’t read too much into what you read or hear or see,” Treliving said. “It’s very competitive and everybody is trying to guard state secrets very closely. You try to zone into it as best you can. As much as you’re keeping your thoughts close to the vest, other teams are doing the same thing.”

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