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Flames focusing attention on first round pick

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

We like the depth of the draft. We’ve spent the first three hours of this meeting and the bulk of what we do in Florida is going to be on that group we think we can get at 15. We’re looking for best player available.Tod Button

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames aren’t sure just yet who will be available to select 15th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. But they like their prospects.

Meeting as a collective group with all amateur scouts assembling in Calgary, the Flames are excited for their first pick at the midway point of the first round in Sunrise, FL despite the uncertainty around who it may be.

“We’re going to get a good player,” said Tod Button, Calgary’s director of amateur scouting. “We like the depth of the draft. We’ve spent the first three hours of this meeting and the bulk of what we do in Florida is going to be on that group we think we can get at 15. We’re looking for best player available.

“When you’re picking 15, that means 14 guys are going ahead of you. You have to be ready. You have to be organized. We’re not looking for positional need. We’re looking for the best player. I would honestly say that goaltending is out for that 15th pick but we’re looking for the best positional player we can get.”

Including their first rounder, the Flames hold six picks in the first three rounds of the 2015 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 26-27 at BB&T Center, the home of the Florida Panthers.

In addition to having their own second round (45th overall) and third round (76th overall) selections, the Flames acquired two extra picks in the second round and one extra pick in the third round. Calgary received a second round pick (52nd overall) and third round pick (83rd overall) from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Curtis Glencross and a second round pick (53rd overall) from the Vancouver Canucks for Sven Baertschi.

The Flames also have their fifth round (136th overall), sixth round (166th overall), and seventh round (196th overall) picks. They dealt their fourth round selection to the San Jose Sharks in the summer of 2013 in exchange for departed forward TJ Galiardi.

But the early focus in on 15th overall selection.

“I think we have a pretty good feel,” assistant general manager Craig Conroy said. “Probably the first nine of the draft will be gone. From that point on you don’t know. We want to make sure we’ve got the list in the right order. You always think maybe there’s a defenceman, maybe there’s a forward. There will be lots of decisions. It’ll be exciting when we get to that 10th pick and we go from there. Some guys just fall. Some guys maybe we like, maybe he’s 10th on our list, maybe he’s sitting there at 15. It could very easily happen.

“I think it’s going to be deep. Obviously the two guys at the top are elite. For me, they’re head-and-shoulders above everybody. From three, there’s another group, three-to-seven, three-to-six, where you think these guys are going to be in there. Eight, nine, then there’s a bigger group we’re in down to 15.”

Calgary selected Sam Bennett fourth overall a year ago and Sean Monahan sixth overall in 2013.

The debate on whom the front-runners are this year is much wider.

“It’s very heated,” Button said. “There’s lots of arguments. There’s lots of good arguments. There’s lots of discussion. There’s lots of time you have to take breaks to cool the air in the room. It’s all for the purpose of getting the order right and also seeing the scout loves his player and that the scout is going to fight for his player. It’s intense."

Two traits are universally sought after, though.

Skill and size.

“We’re looking for skill, speed, character, hockey sense,” Button said. “I think it’s universal throughout the league what teams look for. It’s broken down differently but you can never have enough skill. I know we were the seventh-highest scoring team and that speaks to it. You need skill. You need players that can play in multiple situations so that speaks to versatility. The bigger the better.

“Size is important if they go along with the skating and the skill, but the most important thing is we want to get as high a quality of player we can get and to me that means skill and offensive production.”

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