BUFFALO - It always helps to have a franchise legend in your corner.

And that’s exactly the situation the Flames find themselves in at this week’s NHL Scouting Combine, with Jarome Iginla in town as part of the hockey operations staff meeting with prospects during this week-long event.

Serving as Special Advisor to Flames GM (and former linemate) Craig Conroy, Iginla adds another layer of insight to the group as they continue to prepare for the NHL Draft in Las Vegas at the end of the month.

“It’s been good, it’s been very interesting, lots of interviews, for sure,” Iginla said Thursday afternoon. “They’re full days, but it’s very interesting, and it’s cool to see the kids; you get to see them on ice all year, and then to put not only a face to the name, but also to meet them and see a little bit of their personalities.

“Most of them are all really good interviews. A few of them, they could do media later, you know what I mean? It’s really cool, and it’s going to be good for them, too, just the experience, ’cause I can’t imagine how much pressure they feel, wanting to impress each team and all that.

“I’ve been very impressed by all the young guys.”

"Its a big deal to all these young guys"

Times have changed since Iginla was going through this pre-Draft process. But as the 11th-overall pick by the Dallas Stars in the 1995 Draft, Iginla can empathize with the anticipation shared by this year’s class.

Even if the setting has changed a bit.

“We didn’t have a centralized location like this, a Combine,” Iginla recalled. “We used to have to go out and see teams. I remember going to Washington, D.C., then to New York on a trip, with a few prospects. I think I went somewhere else, too. Or even in Edmonton, New Jersey came, and we had to work out for each team and do their own personal workouts. It was interesting, but it was tough, and it was a lot of pressure.

“I think this way is a little better, jammed up, a full week. But I think the young guys have a good time, too, because when they’re not with us, they get a little more spare time than we do and they spend time together. A lot of them are already buddies from playing together one time or another. I think they’re having fun.”

To make the entire process all the more interesting for Iginla, one of the top prospects here just happens to be his son, Tij.

Ranked No. 9 among North American skaters, the younger Iginla is meeting with NHL clubs after a 47-goal, 84-point sophomore junior season with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.

Here, as has been the case all season long, Dad is happy to observe.

“It’s been a blessing this year to have Tij have the fun he’s had, have the success getting to play for the Rockets; Kris Mallette, their coach, bringing him along and having confidence in him, but also pushing him, and being hard on him to keep learning in both areas,” said Iginla. “As a parent, that’s what you love to see, and you see that he’s enjoying it. He’s had success, gotten to go play for Team Canada, the Top Prospects game, it’s really been a blessed season for sure, as a parent, and I’m sure he’d say the same.

“I’ll be happy when it is done, we all want to see our kids happy, and things work out. I know this is just one step, but it’s a big deal to all these young guys in following their dream and working towards it.”

Proud family moments, for sure.

And since retiring from his Hall-of-Fame NHL career, Jarome has been right by Tij’s side, serving as his coach on both sides of the continent.

Back in the hockey operations suite, that experience might just come in handy, as the Flames continue interviews with this year’s Draft hopefuls.

“Lots of them I have gotten to coach against, with Tij, some in the States, some in Boston,” Iginla said. “A lot of these guys were top players all the way through, so they’re on top teams; those guys go to the same tournaments, say in Toronto, or maybe a Minnesota, or the Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament. So you get to see them at different stages.

“You might remember them in a different mold, and they’ve grown a ton, or they were super-fast. Hopefully there are some different things, some other elements I can add on top of it, some layers I guess, but it’s still only a small snippet.“You do get to learn a bit about families, hockey is kind of a small community from those tournaments, you get to know people a little bit personally, too.”

With all three of his kids on to major junior or college hockey, Iginla is stepping away from the coaching game.

But he’s still got a full calendar, both with his role with the Flames, and at home.

“It’s been a busy spring, went to the U18s, (came) here, and still doing a little bit back in Kelowna, some ice-times and stuff. Get back, and it’ll be training for Jade, she’s at home, she just got back from Brown and loving getting back into training. Joe’s back home working out, Tij is going to want to work out and do stuff,” said Iginla. “(We’ll) try to take a little bit of a break and just have fun, and work with them and just be around, and then the Draft, and also take their mind off the Draft, it’s going to be important. Tij here, I know how that goes up in the next bit and you probably get a little antsy, so hopefully we can get away and do some other things.

“It’s fun, though, don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of fun and there’s still stuff to do, see what Conny wants me at, and things like that.”

The relationship between Iginla and Conroy has stayed strong.

As players, Conroy was used to setting up Iginla, but now, it’s Iginla who’s more than happy to lend an assist, with Conroy set to embark on his second NHL Draft as Calgary’s GM.

“It’s been a really busy time for him, but you can tell he loves it,” Iginla said. “He’s in his element, and he’s got the energy for it, as you know him.

“He doesn’t stop buzzing, and moving around.”