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Flames scouts have done homework

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
Tod Button knows what the Calgary Flames want in the 2007 Entry Draft. It's simple, really. The Flames want a player who is going to skate in the National Hockey League.

"You always want the best players. You want top six forwards, top three defencemen and you want to get guys that can put up points," said Button, who will be front and centre Friday and Saturday at the Flames table on the draft floor in Columbus.

However, picking in the bottom third of the draft, doesn't always translate into a top six forward, a top three defenceman or a player who is going to put up a ton of points. The last time the Flames picked in the top 10 was in 2003 when they drafted defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

In the past two drafts the Flames first pick has been at No. 26. Last season they chose a promising goaltender, Leland Irving. In 2005 they took a big defenceman in Matt Pelech.

This year the Flames pick 18th overall in the first round. They also have two picks in the fifth round and two picks in the sixth round.

"If we are going to be a good team, we are going to pick in the bottom third of the draft," said Button.

That makes the scouting of players extremely important. In other words, the Flames scouts have had to work plenty of overtime to search out good players for their first round pick and the four picks in the late rounds.

"You might not get flash and dash with your first round pick," noted Button.

But, if the homework is done, you are likely to draft a future NHL player.

"The responsibility for us as scouts is to find players," said Button. "We've done the work. It's quality scouting, not quantity scouting. We've spent a lot of time searching for players and we have put pressure on ourselves since our meetings in January to make sure we get a player."

It's a comprehesive list with more than 55 names on it -- just for the first round pick. "Our list is bigger because it is so widespread. The first five players are usually predictable. After that, you just don't know."

Are the Flames looking for a player at a specific position? No necessarily although it's highly unlikely they will draft a goalie in the first round after selecting Irving in the first round last season.

"We're ranking players by ability, not position," said Button.

Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter, who made a big splash at last year's draft in Vancouver when he traded for Alex Tanguay, doesn't sound like he is making deals this year.

"Our intention is to pick 18 (in the first round), unless something dramatic happens," he said. "We know what we want to do but it's hard to tell what anyone else is doing.

"I think the top-five players are clearly top five and then, from that six to 10 to 30 are all pretty similar. Would we trade our first-round pick? I think just because there's such a big group there, I don't know if it would make much sense."

Expect the Flames to draft a player that fits the Sutter mould -- a player with heart and determination for sure.

"We can change all the rules we want and have the all the opinions you want but it's still a game about being competitors and big is better than little and fast is better than slow and heart is better than a lack of courage," he said. "All those things will never change."

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