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The Flames are comfortable holding the 16th overall pick this year

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

This isn't first-come, first-serve for on-the-floor Springsteen or U2 Joshua Tree Tour tickets.

So Brad Treliving doesn't mind being halfway back in the queue.

"We're comfortable,'' insists the Calgary Flames' GM, "picking 16th."

The 2017 NHL Draft at Chicago's United Centre is fast approaching. Consensus is that centres Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads are going 1-2, in either order, to the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.

After that …

"I do think there's a little bit of all-over-the-map involved,'' agrees Treliving. 

"We want to see how it flows. What excites us is that we think we're going to get a good player.

"What I've learned over many years at the draft is to expect the unexpected. There are always surprises.

"So go in with an open mindset and see what happens."

Higher picks, naturally, are a direct result of lower finishes.

Wielding the sixth selection of 2013 and 2016, respectively, the Flames chose Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk, respectively, and used No. 4 in 2014 - the organization's highest-ever slot in the pecking order - to add Sam Bennett.

Those players are integral components of the competitive health of the franchise moving forward, of course.

"I never,'' Treliving confesses, "want to I never, ever, in my life, want to sit in the front row again.

"Higher picks correlate with not being a good team, not being a mature team or being on a different development path.

"When year after year after year your first-round pick jumps right into your lineup, that's not ideal. So let's just say I don't recommend that.

"It's happened here, picking early, and God bless the players we chose. Sean Monahan is drafted, steps right in. Sam Bennett, steps right in. Matthew Tkachuk, steps right in.

"But we probably are, because of the maturity of our team, entering a different phase in our team's development.

"At least I hope so.

"I think we're at a point where that first player we select is going to be headed back to junior, back to college, go back to Europe - to wherever they're from.

"That should not be viewed as failure or disappointment.

Video: Flames GM on the draft, goaltending, expansion draft

"It's a function of picking lower in the lineup. The later you're selecting, that usually indicates the players you choose have a little longer development path.

"And that's fine. The goal is to be a playoff team every year and then a contender, not have a high pick at every draft."

 With Calgary's second-round selection gone to Ottawa in exchange for Curtis Lazar and the third to Arizona in the Michael Stone deal, the Flames don't select until Round 4, 109th, following their first-road selection.

"There's a lot of closeness, so you could see teams, in grouping players, think they could move down a little bit in the order, still get one of the three or four guys they like and acquire an extra pick,'' Treliving concedes.

"Us? We'll see.

"You'd always like to have more. I do think it's going to be difficult. The way I view it is this: We're comfortable with the player we got for what would be out second pick. I look at Curtis Lazar as our second-round pick.

"Would I like to add some? 100 percent. We're sure going to take another couple swings at it."

Having already completed a major deal - acquiring backstopper Mike Smith from Arizona on Saturday - Treliving will be looking to improve his Flames in any way possible.

Muddying the waters, of course, is the expansion draft announcement Wednesday at the NHL Awards. The protected/available lists for the newbie Las Vegas Golden Knights were submitted Saturday and made public Sunday. All kinds of wheeling and dealing will be going on between now and Friday.

One thing's certain: Golden Knights GM George McPhee holds the most sway in Vegas since Sinatra ruled the town from the Sands Hotel back in the '60s.

"This is something I've never dealt with,'' says Treliving. "And it's something our league's never dealt with in a cap era.

"I think everybody's trying to predict what they're going to do. As much as it's about getting the best player or getting the best young player for them, they've got to tick some other boxes, too.

"So it's going to be interesting.

"All roads lead through Vegas at the moment. They're the Belle of the Ball right now."

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