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Treliving, Flames accomplish draft day goals

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

It was a good day. We came in here and it moves quickly on Day Two. We were prepared. We’re happy with the day.Brad Treliving

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The success of an NHL Draft is measured in months -- not minutes -- but general manager Brad Treliving is excited with the early returns he saw out of the six picks and one trade made by the Calgary Flames in Philadelphia.

“It was a good day,” Treliving said. “We came in here and it moves quickly on Day Two. We were prepared. We’re happy with the day.

“It’s moving quick and we looked at a couple things of adding picks and maybe moving down, adding a couple more picks but things slid and a couple priority guys early on fell to us so we’re excited it was a good day today.”

Picking fourth, the Flames started the draft with a smile, selecting Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs with the fourth overall pick a day prior.

“The day after the draft, everybody’s excited,” director of amateur scouting Tod Button said. “You’ve added a lot to your prospect stable, starting with Sam Bennett. Obviously we think he’s a high-end, top-six forward who is going to bring offensive. The combination of him and Sean Monahan going forward with some of our other centres, we think it makes our future bright.”

Treliving’s crew followed the Bennett selection by taking Charlottetown Islanders goaltender Mason McDonald at No. 34. Hunter Smith of the Oshawa Generals followed at No. 54. Brandon Hickey (No. 64), Adam Ollas Mattson (No. 175) and Austin Carroll (No. 184).

“Mason McDonald is a kid who kept getting better and better as the season went on culminating with a real solid performance with the World Under-18’s,” Button said. “We knew a lot of these kids from last year tracking them as 17 year olds. We saw Mason in the Under-17 Challenge. Just a steady progression for him.

“We had Mason as the number one goalie in the draft. That’s our evaluation and that’s why we picked him.”

In Smith, the Flames added a 6-foot-7 winger Calgary passed on in the draft last year.

“Last year he was a big kid,” Button said. “It was a project. This year, he added some skill to his game. He’s playing with top guys in Scott Laughton and Michael Dal Colle and was productive.

“The whole package got better and the player got better. He improved where we thought he was certainly a top-three round pick and at 54, he was the next guy on our list.”

The 83rd pick was optioned to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Bollig.

Between the selections and trade, Treliving accomplished what he set out to do -- get bigger.

“It’s not about just getting big,” he said. “All these guys bring a little something to the table. Hunter Smith is a guy that took a huge step this year, but there’s still a lot of growth yet to him. You saw the size of him. He still has to fill out. He’s still a young guy that’s going to fill out.

“You look at Ollas Mattsson, a big defenceman and then obviously Austin Carroll, another big body. One of the goals coming in here, again, depending where everything fell, was to see if we could add some size to the organization. We did that today.”

But Button warned it’s not just about size, too.

“You’ve got to be so careful in talking about the mandate to take size because we took guys who were big, but they got better,” he said. “They improved as hockey players. We weren’t going to take them last year just cause they were big, right? It all intersected. The need, positional need but their ability as hockey players have improved a lot.”

At 6-foot, 178-pounds, Bennett was the smallest player picked by the Flames but has a definite edge to his game. Two inches and two pounds separate he and Hickey, while Smith is an imposing 6-foot-7, 220-pounds.

Bollig, who will immediately step into Calgary’s lineup in October, tips the scales at 223 pounds.

“We’ve talked a little bit about wanting to add some size to our lineup,” Treliving said. “I think Brandon’s a guy in a situation where if he’s given a little bit more responsibility, a little bit more opportunity, I think there’s still growth to his game yet. He’s got some size. We’ve got some young people coming in terms of young skill and we want to make sure they’re surrounded with the right people. He’s won a Stanley Cup.

“We’re excited.”

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