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Immediate jump not expected for Flames first rounder

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Sean Monahan did it. Sam Bennett, in a roundabout way, did too.

But will Pierre-Luc Dubois, Matthew Tkachuk, Olli Juolevi, or whomever else the Calgary Flames manage to nab with their first round pick in this week’s NHL Draft, follow in those footsteps?

Don’t bet on No. 6 jumping immediately into the National Hockey League.

Not at this stage, anyway.

“Those are all to be determined,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said.

“We don’t look at it as a prerequisite for who is going to play first. You’re looking for a player that is going to be a good player for you for a long time. I really do believe in giving players time, at that age … it’s difficult for 18-year-olds to play in the league.”

It was the exact line of thinking from director of amateur scouting Tod Button when Monahan was selected, coincidentally, sixth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.

“I don't think he's going to come in and make an impact, be a top player by any means, but he's got a whole summer ahead of him,” Button said from the draft floor at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey nearly three years ago. “He's got development camps, World Junior tryouts. We'll see what happens in September.

“You don't give guys spots this time of year."

Monahan played, and scored 22 goals as an 18-year-old rookie.

Bennett, recovering from shoulder surgery for much of his 18-year-old season, was returned to Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League for their final 15 regular season and playoff games before rejoining the Flames for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He recorded an assist in his only regular season game, and added three goals and four points in 11 postseason games.

Calgary cautioned against such an immediate jump when drafting Bennett two years ago at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time with Sam over the summer, working, make sure he’s prepared for training camp, but I want to be very clear from Day One, there is zero expectation or design to rush this player,” Treliving said following the pick. “Sam’s going to determine when he’s going to play. I think I was clear from the last few weeks. This wasn’t solely about who was ready in October. This is going to be who’s ready for the next 10 Octobers.

“This isn’t about whether he can jump in right now. It’s about having a really good summer, lets get to work, lets see where we are at development camp next week, see where we are in training camp and go from there.

“The timeline will be based upon where he gets to.”

That will go for Dubois, or Tkachuk, or Juolevi, or whomever the Flames target, too.

“It depends on his summer,” Button said. “It’s June right now. Training camp starts in September. There’s a few months or training left. Depending who the kid is, they may need another year or two or they may be able to step in and play. It all depends on the kid we draft. I’m not anxious.

“I’m excited about that pick.”

But past decisions won’t impact future picks.

The prospect will.

“We’ve had some in the past here,” he said. “Some of it is a product of where we were as an organization. Some of it as being young players just stepping in and saying ‘Good luck trying to cut me.’

“Those things are all determined by what they do in the summer, how mentally ready they are. Obviously there’s a physical component to it. You’re going to a man’s league now. Those are all things that will determine it.”

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