When the Calgary Flames opted to keep their first round pick at this year's NHL Entry Draft, instead of passing it to Phoenix as part of the deadline deal they made to acquire Olli Jokinen
, they had done their homework, weighed the pros and cons. And they fully expect to get a good player with the 20th pick overall Friday in Montreal.
"We did all the pros and cons. We're going to get a really good player at that spot," said Flames director of scouting, Tod Button.
When the Flames were reviewing their options -- they could give Phoenix their first round pick this year or in the 2010 Entry Draft -- the scouting team had the Flames picking 21st overall. At that spot, they figured it was going to be a good player and that thought was only strengthened when the Carolina Hurricanes went to the Eastern Conference Final, bumping the Flames one more spot up in the draft.
"We felt the first 40 or 50 players were really even," explained general manager Darryl Sutter. "We couldn't say that the last three or four years and you can't predict it going forward. That's too hard to do. It's better, once you have done the work and seen the quality of the draft, to take that player now and have him with you."
While the big names -- John Tavares and Victor Hedman -- will obviously be gone by the time the Flames pick 20th, Button and Sutter are confident the draft prospect pool this year is deep enough to get the type of player the Flames want with the 20th pick. "I think this year's draft is clearly deeper than last year's draft," noted Sutter.
"We've got a list and we've got some fine-tuning to do but not much is going to change," Button said.
The Flames scouting staff and hockey operations group, which includes general manager Darryl Sutter, have a list of their top 35 players to work off of for the first round of the draft.
'We think we've got good prospects at every position -- wing, centre, defence and goalie," explained Button.
The Flames conducted more than 50 interviews at the recent NHL combine, where top prospects gathered in Toronto for fitness testing and meetings with teams. By the time the draft begins Friday in Montreal, they will have interviewed about 120 players,
"We try to talk to all the players on our list," said Button.
While the first round of the draft is one that has plenty of focus, Button and his staff also concentrate on picks in the lower rounds.
"You have to make picks count. There are no throwaways," noted Button.
Indeed, the Flames have some late picks playing in the NHL right now -- David Moss
and Adam Pardy both had strong showings last season in Flames uniforms and both were late round picks. Moss was a seventh round choice out of university hockey in 2001 and Pardy was a sixth round pick out of junior hockey in 2004. There's also Dustin Boyd, a third round pick who is certainly coming into his own in the NHL.
"Until they prove themselves in the NHL, they are known as seventh round picks. Then when they score 20 goals, people say 'How long can that last?'," noted Button.
But the Detroit Red Wings, who chose two exceptional players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, with late round picks serve as a reminder that first rounders sometimes fail and late rounders sometimes exceed expectations.
"The Detroit Red Wings have let their dynasty run longer with late picks," said Button.
Sutter said the Flames hope to continue to stock their stable with players for the future.
"We have a good enough team here that we don't draft high enough that a player is going to step in and make our team out of the draft," he said. "I think we have been fortunate to get some really good players between the third and sixth round and we want to continue to do that."
The Montreal Canadiens celebrating their 100 year centennial play host to this year’s draft featuring seven rounds and a total of 211 picks.
North American players eligible for selection in the seven rounds of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft must be born between January 1st, 1989 and September 15th 1991 and non-North American players born between January 1st, 1988 and September 15th, 1991.
The first round will take place on Friday, June 26th beginning at 5 pm (MDT) and will be broadcast live on TSN/Versus and the FAN 960. The remaining six rounds (2-7) will take place on Saturday, June 27th. The Flames have a total of seven picks in this year’s draft.
Below is a list of traded and acquired draft picks for the 2009 Entry Draft.
- Flames traded its 2nd round choice, 51st overall, to Los Angeles as part of the trade for Michael Cammalleri
- Flames acquired Phoenix’s 3rd round choice, 67th overall, as part of the trade with Phoenix for Olli Jokinen
- Flames traded its 3rd round choice, 81st overall, to Philadelphia as part of the trade for Jim Vandermeer.
- Flames acquired Columbus’s 4th round choice, 111th overall, as part of the trade for Kevin Lalande
The Flames first round choices over the past seven NHL Entry Drafts include: Greg Nemisz (25th overall in 2008), Mikael Backlund
(24th overall in 2007), Leland Irving
(26th overall in 2006), Matt Pelech (26th overall in 2005), Kris Chucko (24th overall in 2004), Dion Phaneuf (9th overall in 2003), and Eric Nystrom (10th overall in 2002).