CALGARY, AB -- Prior to the 2011 NHL Draft, Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster made it clear he and his scouting team would be sticking to "the list" when selecting players and once again, that is modus operandi heading into this year's draft.
Rather than single out a specific target such as an offensive defenceman or a power forward, Feaster's philosophy is to select the best possible player - regardless of position - when he and his staff step up onto the podium.
"I want us to work our list and take the best player available," Feaster said last summer. "I think that as I look back on my time in Tampa and certainly after speaking with Tod Button about his experience here, I think that when you start setting too many parameters, you can miss some good players."
There are several steps involved in producing a final list. In addition to the traditional individual scouting reports, the Flames use analytics software, Decision Lens, to help clarify where players rank based on their ratings in various categories.
The final tool is the NHL Central Scouting Draft Combine, which starts on May 28th in Toronto and runs until June 2nd. Button and members of hockey operations will interview prospects and evaluate their overall fitness level.
"We don't have a set number," Button said of the number of players on the list. "We don't say we have to get to 100, 200. We just do it until guys say there are no other players left."
Having their list in order is also essential to ensure the team gets the best possible return in trades.
"A situation might come where Jay will get a call and will say 'I can trade this pick down to get two other picks,' and then you have to confer to say, 'These are the guys in that range so we can get two of these 10 guys or one of these three guys. What's the value in that?'
"You can't do that unless those lists are in order. And then you make the decisions."