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Flames steal show at draft

by Peter Zuurbier / Calgary Flames
The 2009 NHL Entry Draft was expected to be the busiest two days of the NHL offseason, as a number of roster moves were rumoured throughout the league. When all of the dust settled at the end of the seven rounds, no team made more moves than the Calgary Flames. General Manager Darryl Sutter got going while on the clock in the first round, trading the 20th selection to the New Jersey Devils for the 23rd and 84th picks.

Erixon Gallery

With the 23rd pick, the Flames selected Tim Erixon, a hulking defenseman with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elite League. Erixon has NHL blood running through his veins, as his father is former NHLer Jan Erixon. Sutter was very pleased to have a defenseman of Erixon's calibre on the board.

"We got the player we wanted; we didn't think he'd still be available. We were going to take the best player available," said Sutter.

"That's a pretty good hockey team when you look at that national team from Sweden... (Erixon) is a very good skater, sees the ice very well, passes the puck really well and he's probably a bit more mature than most of the kids in that age group, so he was a really good pick for us."

When the bell rang on the draft floor Saturday morning Sutter was already wheeling and dealing. The second round was barely underway when it was announced that the Flames had traded Jordan Leopold and a third round pick (67th overall) to the Florida Panthers for All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester Though Bouwmeester becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the Flames now have an exclusive window to negotiate a contract with him.

"We gave up a good unrestricted player and a third round pick, so I think we gave up a lot," said Sutter.

Bouwmeester vs. Boyd
Bouwmeester, a native Albertan, was complementary about his new team, but knows there is a process that has to take place between his management and the Flames'.

"I'm from Edmonton and I have connections in this neck of the woods. (The Flames) are a great team and a good organization, I'm looking forward to meeting with them," said Bouwmeester.

"There's a lot to think about, I'm sure over the next couple of days we'll get together and see what's up."

Sutter was only getting started with the Bouwmeester move, as he then traded up for the 74th overall pick which they used to select Chilliwack Bruins sniper Ryan Howse.

"We had a lot of picks so we just wanted to get as high as we could as the day went on," said Sutter. "We've got seven picks so it's still about filling the stable up."

Flames Head Scout Todd Button felt Howse, who had 31 goals and 44 points in 61 games last season, addressed precisely what the Flames were looking for.
Ryan Howse

"Going into today we wanted to get a couple of scoring wingers, and Ryan Howse has got really good offensive skills." said Button.

With the 111th overall pick in the fourth round, the Flames drafted winger Henrik Bjorklund of Farjestad (Sweden).

The Flames picked Spencer Bennett from the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL with the 141st overall pick in the fifth round. "Another big scoring winger" was Button's description of the 6'3 forward.

In the sixth round, the Flames drafted Finnish junior goaltender Joni Ortio. Ortio caught the eye of new goaltender coach Jamie McLennan while he was in Finland visiting Miikka Kiprusoff during the last offseason.

"Jamie told us to keep an eye on him, said he had good practice habits," said Button.

In the seventh and final round, the Flames picked Gaelan Patterson of the WHL Saskatoon Blades 201st overall. According to Button, the Flames managed to find great value at the end of the draft.

"Patterson is a really good skater, a character guy... He's going to be a pro, it's just a matter of how good he can get," said Button.

The Flames also made a second trade Saturday as the draft was winding down, sending Jim Vandermeer to the Phoenix Coyotes for Brandon Prust.

After a very busy few days leading up to the draft, Sutter will get little time to rest. He has until the stroke of midnight on June 30th to strike a deal with the coveted Bouwmeester. As for the Flames newest prospects, they can all sleep well tonight, knowing they will be given ample time to develop their skills over the next couple of seasons, since the Flames cupboard is stocked quite nicely for the time being.

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