Our job is to evaluate players and find players that are going to play in the NHL and I think there are a lot of good players in this draft. - Tod Button
CALGARY, AB -- From Tod Button’s vantage point -- typically the stands at any number of hockey rinks around the world -- the 2014 NHL Draft shows plenty of promise.
Which is good news for the Calgary Flames.
“I think it’s a really good class,” said Button, Calgary’s director of amateur scouting. “I know at the start of the year, midway through the year, people talk about it lacking depth or whatever, but I’m excited about it. Our job is to evaluate players and find players that are going to play in the NHL and I think there are a lot of good players in this draft.
“I’m really excited about it, especially having five picks in the first three rounds. We’ve done enough work and we’ve circled the world looking for players so we’re really excited. We think we’re going to get a lot of good players.”
Barring any pre-draft dealings, the Flames enter the draft in Philadelphia holding picks No. 4, 34, 54, 64, 83, 175 and 184.
Though he’s got six other picks at his disposal, Button is especially keen on what Calgary can add at fourth overall.
“There’s probably not one guy you would say is the superstar or two guys, but there are a lot of good players,” said Button, who has been at the forefront of Calgary’s drafting since 2001. “I always hear about the top-4 or the big-4 or however you want to term it. We have it more. We think there are six or eight players in the first round and even extending to 10 if you really want to push it.
“We think there’s a good crop at the top and we’ve done a lot of work.”
The work will continue on leading up to the team’s arrival in Philadelphia, where Button’s crew will spend the final few days deliberating on what will become of the fourth overall selection.
Between scouting meeting and the NHL Scouting Combine, it’s already a heated argument and will only intensify as the draft inches closer.
“There’s a lot of debate,” Button said. “It’s a lot of debate because there are a lot of good players. We think there are more than just four. We think there are six or eight of them.”
That list will be shaved down to four or five prospects. Inevitably, one will become a member of the Flames.
And that one will be given the chance to make an immediate impact.
If they’re ready, that is.
“You want to give everybody the opportunity,” Button admitted. “We don’t look at it as putting a guy higher or lower because he is ready next year. We want to get the best player long-term that we can get at four. We’re not looking for a ready plug-and-play player, but if there’s a guy and he’s able to do what Sean Monahan did last year and come in and earn the ice time and play, that’d be terrific.
“I think especially after going through the interview process, mentally I think a lot of these kids are very smart and very sharp and I think mentally more of them may be ready than they look physically. You take in the next four months. They’ve got four months before training camp starts.
“I’d be surprised if there were nine or 10 guys, but I think there are quite a few, maybe five or six, that are ready both physically and mentally by next September.”
And in that, Button sees plenty of promise.