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Flames' Treliving, Button content with draft haul

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

The early returns seem bountiful.

But this is a planting, not a harvesting, cautioned Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving at the conclusion of the 2016 NHL Draft.

The rewards will take time.

“At this type of draft, everybody is all excited after -- ‘I can’t believe he was available at that spot,’” Treliving said.

“The reality is it’s going to take time. The players have to put in work and we’re going to work with them. Today, as exciting as it is, the stopwatch goes off which will be a long time for these players to develop and hopefully one day be players for us.”

But it's understandable if there is immediate optimism from Treliving's Flames.

Calgary nabbed nine players at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, including one goaltender, two defencemen and six forwards.

Among them was sixth overall pick Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights, a candidate -- if all goes according to plan -- to compete for a roster spot as soon as September.

“You look at it and there are some guys with a high hockey IQ, and that starts with Matthew,” Treliving said. “Matthew talks about his brawn and his ability to score, but he’s got an elite mind. He can play with top players, think the game at a high level and he can play in the areas that aren’t fun to play in.

"We’re excited.”

A player of his ilk was on the target list.

So too was Tkachuk’s London teammate, goaltender Tyler Parsons. The Memorial Cup-winning stopper was snagged in the second round, 54th overall, to the Flames surprise.

And delight.

“We added a goaltender that if you would’ve asked me yesterday at this time, I didn’t think we would have got him,” Treliving said. “You put them in the order that you want the player, regardless of position, and we thought there was great value. Guys were screaming at me as the picks were coming off the board that if he was there they wanted to take him. We’re happy.

“He’s a real competitive kid, he’s really athletic, he’s a battler, and he’s won. There’s still lots of growth to come but they love his resume, love how competitive he is and love the athleticism. He’s a guy we did a lot of homework on and if he was there at one of our second rounders, they wanted to jump on him.”

Dillon Dube, a centre from the Kelowna Rockets, was added two picks later.

Tod Button, director of amateur scouting with the Flames, summed up the pick efficiently.

“Shooter,” he said. “Skill guy.”

Undersized, but aptly skilled defenceman Luke Fox (“He’s really smart and he’s a skill guy,” described Button) from the National Team Development Program followed in the third round.

Centres Linus Lindstrom ("A guy that understands the game very well," said Button) of Sweden and Mitch Mattson ("Big, tall guy with a huge ceiling," Button detailed) from Bloomington followed in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Right wing Eetu Tuulola of Finland, a "hungry, hungry kid going to the net trying to score goals," according to Button, went in the sixth.

At 166th overall -- the same position as Andrew Mangiapane in 2015 and Theoren Fleury in 1987 -- Treliving took Calgary native and Western Hockey League rookie of the year Matthew Phillips.

All 5-foot-7, 150 pounds of him.

“I have to say I didn’t see him play this year,” Button admitted. “That was all Craig Conroy and our two Western scouts and they loved him. A guy with a lot of skill, a smaller guy, but that’s worked out for us before. So we’re not going to stop trying to find those guys whenever we can in the draft.”

The Flames finished off with 19-year-old Stepan Falkovsky.

All 6-foot-7, 224 pounds of him.

“The guys were talking bout him for a while,” Treliving said. “He can move too. He’s a fluid guy. We talked about him in the sixth. I don’t know him that well. The guys like him. Big, rangy, can move a puck, smart. He’s raw and he’s going to need a lot of time and work, but they were excited to get him.”

Most, if not all, will need some time.

But that won’t stop Calgary from feeling good about their work.

“Five minutes after the drafts over, everybody thinks they did a great job and we’re no different,” Button said. “We liked the haul we got. We thought it was a diverse group. We got some defencemen with size, a lot of skill, Matthew at No. 1, and a goalie was a guy we had higher on our list and didn’t think he would be there. It’s a cliché, but when he was falling, we said we’d take him with that pick if he is there.

“I like to think there was a few nuggets there in the fifth, sixth, seventh round. The Phillips kid from Victoria, the goalie, we don’t know how it’s going to end.

“The kids have a lot of work to do going forward, but like I said, we like the whole group.”

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