You spend all year at the rinks and you come to this point and you know Sunday is the final day. It's your final exam. It's exciting, it's fun, very little stress involved but it's a culmination of the year's hard work. - Tod Button
JERSEY CITY, NJ -- Ten months of scouting has come down to just three days.
With the 2013 NHL Draft set for Sunday, the Calgary Flames are in the final rounds of debate as the team prepares to finalize the list that will aid them in selecting sixth, 22nd, 28th and beyond in New Jersey.
It's the kind of deadline that has Flames' director of amateur scouting Tod Button eager.
"It's really exciting," Button said. "You spend all year at the rinks and you come to this point and you know Sunday is the final day. It's your final exam. It's exciting, it's fun, very little stress involved but it's a culmination of the year's hard work."
The Flames haven't drafted higher than sixth in franchise history. Sunday's draft will also mark the first time the club will have multiple first rounders at their disposal.
For a rebuilding team, the annual selection process is critical to restocking the cupboard quickly.
But it's not a reason for Button to feel the pressure.
"It's not stressful because it's what you want to do," he said. "You want to get to this point. If you've done the work, and we think we have, and you have all the information you need, it's just a matter of drilling down the final list. It's not stressful at all. It's what makes this job so special is that you have a chance to put this all together and put your painting on the wall so to speak on Sunday day."
Button's tone has set the stage for Calgary's amateur scouts in the days leading up to the draft.
Assembling both North American and European-based scouts together for the first time, the mood in Calgary's draft meetings has been productive.
"It's a real positive mood," general manager Jay Feaster said. "The scouts, this is their time. They've worked hard and this is when all that hard work comes to fruition for them. It's been a long time in terms of drafting this high, number six, and a long time to have this number of picks in three in the first round. They're pumped up, they're ready to go."
That excitement has bred an environment of passion as the Flames continue to put the final touches on the list they'll use to determine the next fleet of Calgary's potential core.
And that has special assistant to the general manger Craig Conroy thrilled.
"It's heated and it's back-and-forth because with three picks, you're not sure who's going to be there," Conroy said. "We have six, there could be three different guys, there could be some surprises. You just don't know. Then we have 22 and 28. For us, you just get excited. Everybody wants their guys; everyone wants to get them in the right spot. It's exciting for the franchise. I'm excited."
What particularly excites Conroy is the emotion being shown by scouts for certain prospects behind closed doors.
It's helping shape Calgary's philosophy on the draft floor.
"You just don't want people to say 'I like this guy'," he said. "You want them to say 'I love this guy and this is why' and then challenge each other. If you're wishy-washy on a player, than maybe we don't want him. We want guys that people are passionate about, say 'this is what it's going to take to turn the Flames around, if we are in a rebuild, this is a guy we want to bring on board'.
"I think it's been pretty heated so far, probably more so than I've seen in the past few years, which is great."
Which makes for long days between the Calgary crew, who hope to have a completed list compiled to draft off of assembled by Saturday, giving the Flames some breathing room and a good night's sleep before Sunday's spectacle.
With plenty of time between now and that self-imposed deadline combined with the scouting staff working together, Conroy called it an attainable goal.
"The way they're going in there right now, I feel like they have a good grasp and they know what they want and what we're looking for," he said. "Now it's just a matter of -- not everyone's going to agree -- but the majority has that."
The discussion will dwindle Saturday, setting the stage for Sunday's big day.
When 10 months of scouting turns into seven hours of excitement for Calgary's scouting staff.