2014 NHL Draft: Calgary Flames draft review

By Brian Jung
Sam Bennett - Calgary Flames

Photo: Kingston center Sam Bennett was Calgary’s 4th overall selection, the highest pick in Flames’ history (courtesy of Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

As the Calgary Flames advance into the next stages of their rebuild, the selection of six prospects from the 2014 NHL Draft will look to provide additional strength to the foundation.

The draft represented the first major opportunity for new GM Brad Treliving to put his signature on the organization, which included the distinction of drafting the highest player in team history to date with the fourth overall pick.

During the draft, Treliving dealt one of the Flames’ third round picks (83rd overall) to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Brandon Bollig. The 6’2” Bollig adds size and a formidable presence to the lineup, the type of player Treliving seeks as he starts to build the Flames into a heavy team. GM Treliving continued the trend to add size at the draft by selecting six players with an average size of 6’3” and 195 pounds.

The squad of prospects chosen by Treliving in his first draft with Calgary bring a quality mix of talent, size, and character that could turn out to be one of the most valuable draft classes in team history.  

Sam Bennett, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
1st round, 4th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 178

Good things come to those who wait, and for the Calgary Flames, they only had to wait for three picks before they could land Central Scouting’s number one ranked skater heading into the draft, Sam Bennett. Despite the variety of rankings among the top prospects this year, they are all considered exceptional talents and each will be eager to make an impact for their respective NHL teams.

Bennett indicated his eagerness in an interview with Hockey’s Future, saying, “my compete [level] and my hockey sense will help me jump into the NHL as quick as possible.” However, whether Bennett is ready to make the leap to NHL like Sean Monahan did in his first season is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, having Monahan around has helped Bennett already as he stated, “I spoke to [Monahan] before the draft and after talking to him, it made me want to come to Calgary even more, he made it sound so good, and definitely if I had a chance to play with him that would be unbelievable.”

As the second OHL center selected by Calgary in consecutive years to make the journey out west, Bennett was also asked about playing in the stronger Western Conference and responded by saying, “the harder the challenge, the better it is for me because that’s just going to push me harder and make me a better player and I’m up for the challenge.”

In his second season with the Kingston Frontenacs, Bennett demonstrated his push to become a better player by more than doubling his points total from his rookie season by amassing 91 points (36 goals, 55 assists) in 57 games along with 118 penalty minutes. The Flames have further strengthened the center position with the skillset, determination and edge that Bennett brings to the game, and with the potential of Bennett and Monahan spearheading the top two lines in the future for Calgary, the Flames could grow into a strong Western Conference team.

Bennett met with the media after being chosen by the Flames, with some of his comments captured in this HF video.

Mason McDonald, G, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
2nd round, 34th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 181

The Calgary Flames decided to utilize their second pick in the draft to bolster their goaltender position. With no goaltender selected when Calgary’s turn came up with the 34th pick, Treliving had the opportunity to choose any of the top ranked goaltenders this year and decided to opt for Mason McDonald from the Charlottetown Islanders. It was a prudent move to add McDonald and help solidify the position in goal, given the fact that the Flames did not qualify an offer to Olivier Roy, which opened up a spot in the depth chart. McDonald understands his position with the organization as he indicated to Hockey’s Future, “I know they have a few goalies there now. I’m not looking at next year; I’m looking at progressing and being the goalie there down the road in a few years’ time.”

At 6’3” and 181 pounds, McDonald stands tall in the crease while having strong lateral movements and rebound control. He covers angles well and has a calm demeanor to his play, which was reinforced when asked to describe his personality and style. “I’m pretty laid back, I go with the flow and get along with all my teammates, I try to be a leader in the dressing room and when I am on the ice I try to be calm, laid back and help my team win every night.” To add a goaltender with this type of mindset at this stage of his development, can only help build the future in goal.

McDonald spoke with the media in the media scrum that followed his selection by the Flames, with some of his comments being captured in this HF video.

Hunter Smith, RW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
2nd round, 54th overall
Height: 6-6 Weight: 210

The Flames addressed a few areas with their third pick in the draft with the selection of Hunter Smith from the Oshawa Generals. At 6’6” and 210 pounds, Smith generates energy as a power forward, while adding a valuable right hand shot that the Flames desperately need.

The Windsor, Ontario native provides a physical combination of laying out the big hits and dropping the gloves in order to provide a spark for his team. Smith not only has a physical side to his game but also possesses good positioning and hands to set up screens and deflections in front of opposition goals. As a result, Smith found chemistry playing with the fifth overall pick this year, Michael Dal Colle (NYI). The ability to be on the same page with a talent like Dal Colle illustrates Smith’s hockey sense and similar results could be found if perhaps paired with the likes of Bennett or Monahan.

In 64 games last year, Smith posted 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) while leading the team with 100 penalty minutes. In two rounds of playoff action, Smith posted 11 points in 12 games, while again posting a team high 25 minutes in the box.

Smith spoke with the media after being chosen by the Flames, with some of his comments being included in this HF video.

Brandon Hickey, D, Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
3rd round, 64th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 180

The first defensemen selected by the Flames in 2014 came via Leduc Alberta native, Brandon Hickey. The 6’2” defenseman spent the last two seasons playing for the Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL and has committed to play at Boston University in the upcoming season.

Hickey is a strong skating two-way defenseman, who can utilize a collegiate career to improve his defensive game and increase his physical strength. The 18-year-old is another prospect selected by the Flames who experienced an offensive breakout last season. Hickey finished second among Saint’s defensemen in scoring, posting 22 points in 49 games, while adding another five points in 13 playoff games last year. Previously, Hickey only recorded seven points in 73 games, which includes zero points in 16 playoff games, during his first season-plus with the Saints.

Hickey met with the media at the 2014 NHL Combine, with much of that conversation captured in this HF video.

Adam Ollas Mattsson, D, Djurgarden Jr. (SWE)
6th round, 175th overall
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210

As the only European selected by the Calgary Flames in 2014, Adam Ollas Mattsson provides another big-body presence on the blue line for the organization. Mattsson stands tall at 6’4” and plays a physical style of game. Overall, the 17-year-old has good fundamentals and will continue to grow into the role of a shut-down defenseman. The Stockholm native was called upon to represent Sweden in last year’s U18 WJC and the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and will most likely be considered for future representation at the national level.

However Mattsson suffered a setback with an injured shoulder last season, and considering his style of play, it will be something to monitor as he progresses. Nevertheless, Mattsson ended the 2013-14 season on a strong note by finishing 15th among European skaters in Central Scouting rankings.

Austin Carroll, RW, Victoria Royals (WHL)
7th round, 184th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight 214

Treliving concluded the 2014 draft by giving the honor of announcing the Flames’ final pick to retiring amateur scout Tom Webster. The selection adds a tough physical player that Keegan Kanzig is familiar with, Austin Carroll, his teammate from Victoria. The 6’3” right winger joins the 6’5” Kanzig as two of the taller Royals that have found their way to the Flames organization.

Carroll finished the 2013-14 season second in scoring for the Royals with 57 points in 70 games. In his third season in Victoria, Carroll demonstrated great improvement in his game, specifically with his scoring production and his plus/minus rating. The 20-year-old turned around his first two seasons where he posted a minus-12 and minus-18 rating, respectively, into a positive 2013 season where he put up a plus-18 season. Carroll also more than doubled the goals he scored from 15 in 2012-13 to 34 last year, all while still putting up 114 penalty minutes.