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Scouts ready for anything

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames may not have a first or second round draft Pick when the NHL Entry Draft officially opens Friday.

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But the scouting staff is ready if general manager Darryl Sutter pulls the trigger on a trade that moves the Flames up the picking ladder.

“We’re ready for anything. You’re always prepared,” said Flames director of scouting, Tod Button.

The Flames have held scouting meetings here in Los Angeles for the past two days. And the general consensus seems to be that this is a deep draft and the players ranked from 30 to 100 or so are similar.

“Lots of options,” Button said. “But our initial read of the draft right now is that between picks 35 and 75, there’s not a lot of difference.

“We might get the same guy at 75 that we have rated at 40.”

Button and the scouting group will be keeping close tabs on the picks before them -- Calgary's first pick is 64th overall. The Flames traded their first-round pick (13th overall) to Phoenix in the trade for Olli Jokinen. They dealt their second pick (43rd overall) to Chicago in exchange for Rene Bourque. Calgary has two third-round picks (64th and 73rd overall), two fourth-round picks (103rd and 108th overall) and a single pick in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.

“We’ll have a line that says this is where we trade up,” said Button. “If we have a guy who starts falling into the 50 range that we, for example, have ranked in the top-25, then we’ll explore moving up.

“If not, with what we think is a deep draft, we think holding onto those picks will help you out.”

Certainly Sutter, who is known for making moves at the draft table, is keeping his staff up to date.

“He keeps us right up to date on everything,” Button says. “He’ll sit in on our meetings. Anything I need for information relevant to the draft, I’m aware of.

“If he says, ‘I might be able to get a second-round pick,’ I know that well ahead of time.”

Wherever they end up picking, the Flames are looking at taking the best player available.

“We’re just looking at the best player available, and offensive players are always at a premium,” Button says. “Defencemen or forwards.”

“I think we’re pretty solid in every aspect of our organization,” Button says. “We have checkers coming. We have big centremen like John Armstrong. We’ve got offensive defenceman. Defensive defencemen. Gritty wingers like Lance Bouma. We’ve got scoring. Some playmakers.”

With the Flames not picking early, the scouting staff paid more attention to players outside the top 30.

"We probably know the picks, as a group, from 40 on more than we have known then in the past," said Button. "Some of the guys we found at 60 were really similar to guys we had at 25."

Back in January, the scouting staff met in Calgary to establish their initial list. Then the went back out to the rinks to watch them again. Then they saw them again at the NHL combine where they interviewed more than 60 players.

"For us it works," said Button of the combine. "You get out of it what you want. It's a piece of the puzzle. The biggest part of the puzzle is on the ice."

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