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Flames GM talks about his plan to take plenty of notes during upcoming new-look NFL draft, and what missing out on NHL Combine means for teams

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / calgaryflames.com

With all the uncertainty swirling around the sports world, there's no such thing as a bad idea.

So, when the NFL draft goes down next week in a most unusual fashion, Brad Treliving will be glued to his TV, with a notebook and pen close-by. 

"For sure, I'll be watching," the Flames GM said during his weekly call with media Thursday. "It's going to be really interesting.

"I know the NHL is watching what they're doing closely, and we may be following that lead."

Like many of us right now, NFL executives are forbidden to work at the office, unable to gather at team facilities and conduct 'war room'-style meetings due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

But with what could be a record-setting TV audience out there craving real-time content, the show will go on. 

Virtually. 

Everyone involved in the draft process from 32 teams will work from home - which, according to ESPN's Kevin Seifert, has required a "massive IT effort" to equip the decision-makers with the necessary hardware and network capabilities to support this one videoconference. 

Teams will have a separate, secure broadband connection that will enable GMs, coaches and other advisers to discuss their plans privately before announcing their picks publicly over the larger videoconference. 

Additionally, one 'IT specialist' is permitted to be in the home of the key decision-maker to assist with the tech and any backup connections, if needed. 

So, yes - a massive effort, indeed. 

"Certainly, our draft is going to be remote," Treliving said of the currently postponed event, originally scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "That would be safe to say. 

"We may or may not be able to get together (in person) at that point, but we'll see. I've been doing a lot of homework on not only the NFL draft … but different ideas of how we could potentially hold our draft, whenever that may be."

Treliving and the Flames - along with all 31 NHL teams - are facing a unique challenge this year when it comes to prospect evaluation. 

The CHL season came to a halt on the same day the NHL hit the pause button, but the campaign was officially cancelled only a short while later.

CHL teams had just a handful of regular-season matchups left on the docket, but the entirety of the playoffs, the Memorial Cup tournament, and the IIHF World Under-18 Championship - which was set to get underway today, Apr.il 16, in Plymouth, Mich. - were all casualties of the announcement. 

"If it's a 12-chapter book of the season, we were well into Chapter 12 when the season ended," Treliving said. "What you don't get, or what the scouting staff didn't get for this draft class, is firsthand, draft-year playoff games. You see a player in the most pressure-packed situation, you see him when the games mean the most. Those are great viewings, great player evaluation (opportunities). 

"But this is what we have … and we're not going to (complain) about it. We have lots of information, we've had lots of viewings - and it's a real reminder, too, for everything, about the importance of not waiting until the end."

And on that note …

The immediate future of the NHL Scouting Combine is also in flux, with the league announcing the postponement of that key event only a few weeks ago. 

It's become somewhat of a spectacle over the years, and is now a weeklong affair that begins with club brass meeting with up to 100 of the world's top draft-eligible players, and finishes with a gruelling testing portion that judges the players' strength and fitness. 

Treliving, though, is being as proactive as possible, preparing for the possibility - if not likelihood - that the Combine will eventually be scuffled as well.

The Flames currently have five picks in the upcoming draft - a first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh - but could add a third-round choice depending on when the season officially ends and a resolution on the James Neal-Milan Lucic trade is finalized.

"It's a piece of the puzzle," Treliving said. "If the scouting year is a book, it's sort of the last chapter. 

"But it's not the be-all, end-all. 

"You get a chance to see the players, you get a chance to visit with them. But we've done a lot of interviews prior to the Combine, and we're doing that now. We've talked with NHL Central Scouting and are getting direction from them, but we plan on holding our own quote-unquote Combine in terms of the interviews.

"The biggest thing, probably, in losing the Combine is the physical testing. They all need to get stronger, but you get a sense of their frames, you get a sense of who needs what in terms of their physical maturation.

"Whenever you don't have a piece of the information or a piece of the book, the story isn't fully written. So, we're going to miss it a little bit, but we're finding ways that we can compensate and fill in the blanks.

"We'll be ready for the draft in whatever form it takes." 

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