With the 2015 NHL Draft just over three weeks away, Brad Treliving’s mission is clear.
The Calgary Flames general manager is trying to absorb as much information as he can in six days of the 2015 NHL Combine at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
The homework, it seems, remains extensive.
“We interview between 15 and 20 a day for five, four days,” Treliving said from Buffalo. “There’s a lot of kids. I didn’t count the list up, I just noted we’re talking to a lot. We’re talking to a lot.
“Pretty much everybody that’s here. You’re visiting with a lot.”
The interviews, capped with physical fitness testing to close out the combine, are designed to put a face to a scouting report and provide a bit of context into who the player is.
But it’s one piece of a much larger puzzle, Treliving cautioned.
“We’ve highlighted certain areas we need to go and still continue to look at and research and get answers to, but you don’t want to be coming to the combine with a bunch of dramatic shifts and saying we’ve watched this player, in some cases, for two or three years and seen him play x amount of games, have studied and analyzed his game and then we spent 20 minutes with him in an interview and suddenly he’s ratcheted right up or he’s plummeted,” Treliving said.
“You have to keep it in context. In some cases, this is the last dealing, the last interaction. It sticks with you. You have to put it in context. You can’t forget all the other times you watched this player play over the years. You don’t necessarily come out of here and all of a sudden we’re going to forget all we watched and all the work we’ve done leading up to this combine. In a lot of cases, this rounds out the story.
“You’ve got to keep it in context. It can be dangerous if you put too little or too much stock into the combine. This is just another source of information. It helps you round out the picture, but it’s always good to sit down face-to-face with them and get a little insight into who and what they’re all about.”
It’s not a new process for Treliving.
The combine is his second as Flames GM. A year ago, just a month after he was hired to fill the vacant role, Treliving joined a Calgary club with the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
This year, he’ll select 15th.
The approach, though, doesn’t change.
“The higher up you pick, the more defined it is in terms of you’ve got less players in a grouping,” Treliving started. “The more teams that are in front of you, the more things that can happen. You cast a little wider net. There’s maybe more options, potentially, but the process itself doesn’t change because from our staff perspective, regardless of where you pick things can change. You may have opportunities presented to you; you can be aggressive on certain things.
“Where you’re picking today could change tomorrow or leading up to the draft. If you get too focused on ‘Player X’ and all of a sudden your spot changes and we didn’t really look or talk or do the homework on players’ A through X. That can’t happen.”
The environment, with all 30 teams represented and most GMs present, presents an opportunity for some chatter amongst executives.
The calendar re-enforces the importance of laying that groundwork before the draft.
“The time of the year and the calendar dictates that there’s more talking going on and people, for the most part, have gone through or are going through their meetings and are at the combine now and have done their planning in what they may be looking to do,” Treliving said.
“We’re three-and-a-half weeks from the draft. This is the time that a lot of that work is being done in terms of the discussion of finding what everyone else may be looking for and seeing if there’s a fit somewhere.”