The Calgary Flames relied on some of their younger players during their run to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and heading into the 2015 NHL Draft they expect to find another quality player to add to the organization.
Although most of the headlines surrounding this year's draft class has been centered on Erie center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel, Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said he likes the depth of the talent pool and expects to find a quality player when the Flames' turn in the first round comes at No. 15.
Who that player could be, however, Button isn't sure about. He and his scouts have assembled a list of players who could be available when their spot comes up. Button did say the Flames would not use their first pick on a goaltender.
"We're looking for best player available," Button told the Flames website. "When you're picking at 15 that means there's 14 guys going ahead of you. You have be to ready and you have to be organized. We're looking for the best player."
Assistant general manager Craig Conroy also believes the depth of talent in the draft means the Flames are in good shape at No. 15.
"I think we have a pretty good feel," Conroy said. "Probably the first nine of the draft will be gone. From that point on you don't know. We want to make sure we've got the list in the right order. You always think maybe there's a defenseman, maybe there's a forward. There will be lots of decisions. It'll be exciting when we get to that 10th pick and we go from there. Some guys just fall. Some guys maybe we like, maybe he's 10th on our list, maybe he's sitting there at 15. It could very easily happen."
The Flames have tended to draft forwards in the first round the past few seasons. Last year they selected Sam Bennett with the fourth pick, and after recovering from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the majority of the season he had three goals and four points in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games. They've had six first-round picks in the past four drafts and used all of them on forwards, among them center Sean Monahan, the sixth pick of the 2013 draft. The last time the Flames picked a non-forward in the first round was 2009, when they used the 23rd pick on defenseman Tim Erixon.
"We're looking for speed, skill, character, hockey sense," Button said. "I think it's universal throughout the League what teams look for. It's broken down maybe differently but you can never have enough skill. We were the seventh-highest scoring team and that speaks to it; you need skill. You need players that can play in multiple situations so that speaks to versatility. And the bigger the better. If you get skilled big guys, you look at Anaheim, [Corey] Perry and [Ryan] Getzlaf, those are skilled, big players. Size is important if it goes along with the skating and the skill. We want to get as high a quality player as we can get and that means skill and offensive production."