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Feaster knows draft's importance for Flames

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames have a plan for the 2013 NHL Draft -- swing for the fences.

Owning the sixth, 22nd and 28th picks in the first round, the Flames -- who started a rebuild phase after trading Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester prior to the trade deadline -- have the opportunity to kick start their retooling when the team arrives at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on June 30 for this year's draft (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).

General manager Jay Feaster knows just how important this year's draft is to the future of the franchise.

"The importance of this draft is not lost on the organization and it certainly isn't lost on the management of the organization," he said.

In one day, the Flames have the opportunity to change the face and fortunes of the franchise, starting with their highest pick in the process since 1999.

And Feaster could have his sights set on moving even higher.

"I think that the right scenarios, we may be able to do something," Feaster said of the potential to move up in the first round.

The Colorado Avalanche have the top pick after winning the Draft Lottery in April and seem keen on selecting Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon. The Florida Panthers will draft second, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes.

Feaster has done his homework on which teams are willing to part with their pick -- for a price.

"We at least know which teams are willing to do something, and if they are, what it would take to do that, and I think also which teams aren't willing to do that," he said. "I don't want to call it traction, but I think there is a good understanding which picks might be in play."

Regardless of whether or not the Flames manage to move up in the draft, the team can't afford to miss.

Since the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Calgary draftees have played just 408 games for the Flames. Center Mikael Backlund and defenseman TJ Brodie account for 274 of those games.

Admittedly, the Flames have to be better.

"The fact of the matter is we have to do a better job as an organization in drafting," Feaster said. "We think that over the last three years or so, three drafts or so, we've done a better job, but there are not enough players that are pushing through right now. We have to do a better job developing players.

"We have to make sure once we draft them, we do the right thing to develop them."

That starts on the floor in New Jersey.

And whether the team remains at No. 6 -- Feaster said there's no intention to trade down from that spot -- or move up in the draft, the Flames' drafting philosophy remains the same.

"The plan is that we want to get the list in the right order," he said. "We want to make sure that we prioritize the list properly and our intent will be that we draft the best player available at our spots six, 22 and 28, assuming that's where we stay."

A year removed from trading down from 14 to 21 and selecting admitted long-term project Mark Jankowski, a center picked out of Stansted College in Quebec who spent last season at Providence College, Calgary has eyes on drafting prospects that can contribute more immediately to the Flames' lineup.

"I know that (assistant general manager of player personnel) John Weisbrod has talked about the idea that relying upon our picks this year, that they're going to carry the hockey club, clearly that's not the mindset or the mentality that we have," Feaster said. "Having said that, though, we do want to be in a situation where the players we pick do have an opportunity to come into camp in 2013 and show us what they have and compete for a spot."

That's especially true for whomever the Flames select at No. 6, Feaster said.

"The one thing I believe with the pick at six is that we want to get a player who has the opportunity to come in right now and compete for a job," he said.

Having three shots to connect, Feaster said he doesn't feel any additional pressure to find an immediate impact player and pound a pick out of the park.

"From the standpoint of the pressure, I have to be honest -- I don't feel any more pressure at this draft than I did at last year's draft or the one before, in terms of we need to turn things around on the ice for this hockey club," Feaster said. "That's the pressure we deal with every day."

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