Thanks to separate deals for Olli Jokinen and Rene Bourque, the Flames entered the 2010 entry draft without a pick inside the first two rounds. Although active on previous draft days, Darryl Sutter remained surprisingly quiet this year, despite having a number of contracts to dump from the parent club as well a need to add talent to a thin prospect pool. The club did make one notable draft deal, swapping their sixth round choice with San Jose for 26-year-old Swedish goaltending prospect Henrik Karlsson, who figures to be in the mix for the back-up position come October.
Otherwise, the Flames stuck to their previous draft habits of mainly selecting players from North America, specifically the WHL. With six selections, Calgary came away with four forwards and two defensemen.
Max Reinhart , C – Kootenay Ice (WHL)
3rd round, 64th overall
Height: 6’1 Weight: 180 pounds
Son of former Flame Paul Reinhart, Max was a late season riser on most draft lists. Considered a long shot to be drafted at all to start the year, Reinhart parlayed a mid-season offensive surge that saw him increase his point-per-game pace from .39 to .91 into a final ranking in the mid-70’s by NHL Central Scouting. A moderately sized center, Reinhart has good hockey sense and vision, although his competitiveness has been questioned at times. The seventh highest scorer for the Kootenay Ice last year with 21 goals and 51 points in 72 games, the 18-year-old should figure more prominently in the team’s offensive schemes going forward.
The Reinhart pick was somewhat controversial one. When the club chose him at 64, there were still several high-profile offensively talented youngsters on the board, including the enigmatic Kirill Kabanov and the diminutive 100 point getter Jordan Weal. The Flames have a history under Sutter of eschewing high risk talents in favor of ostensibly safer picks. However, the club’s inability to pick and develop quality offensive forwards has been an issue of late, particularly in light of their cap situation and NHL-low offensive output last season.
Reinhart’s teammate led the Ice in plus/minus during the season with an impressive plus-33 rating. Big and mean with a long reach, the 18-year-old Leach is somewhat limited offensively (although he did make some appearances on the Kootenay power play) and isn’t the swiftest skater around. His upside at the pro level might be a shut-down defender, although his ceiling is probably closer to the second pairing. Adding another 20 pounds to his frame prior to going pro would likely help his NHL aspirations immensely, as would improving his skating stride. Leach will likely have a lot of competition in battling for a roster spot once he makes the leap a couple of years down the road given the Flames organizational depth on the blueline.
Passed over in the 2009 entry draft, 19-year-old John Ramage (son of another former Flame, Rob Ramage) is a smallish, feisty defender in the Andrew Ference mold. Despite not being the ideal size for an NHL defender, he can skate and move the puck well, plays with an edge, and isn’t afraid to mix it up physically. His two goals and 12 points in 41 games for Wisconsin were good for sixth amongst blueliners, although he was merely a single point back of former first round choice Jake Gardiner (who is also a year older than Ramage).
Ramage isn’t outstanding in any one area of the game and he doesn’t possess a projectable frame. That said, he plays with passion and aggression and has decent enough puck skills to at least suggest potential NHL upside.
A squat, solidly built center out of the US system, Bill Arnold was the only player selected by the Flames in 2010 whose consensus ranking was well ahead of his actual draft position (36th amongst North American Skaters by Central Scouting).
Described as a capable two-way center with leadership qualities, Arnold’s draft stock probably fell due to his lackluster skating, which is considered to be a significant hindrance for prospects in the post lock-out NHL. He posted decent offensive numbers for the US National Development Team with eight goals and 23 points in 26 games, but projects more as a third line, defensive forward in the NHL.
A rambunctious checker and fighter for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Michael Ferland isn’t the biggest guy around but possesses a similar game to the recently departed Brandon Prust. Like Prust, Ferland has more skill than the average enforcer and is also a capable skater. His nine goals and 28 points in 61 games didn’t exactly set the world on fire last year, but those totals at least suggest more offensive upside than a team would get from most fighters. At the NHL level, Ferland projects more as a “pest” than a straight-up pugilist.
A raw rookie for the Tri-City Americans, Patrick Holland has a powerful shot but not much else to recommend him as a prospect at this time. Owing to his lack of height and weight, he’s not one to engage in the rough stuff or thrive in traffic areas. His 16 goals and 36 points were good for tenth best on his team in scoring. Like all seventh round picks, Holland has a long way to go to become a viable NHL prospect. A step in the right direction would be to add significant mass to his six foot frame.