With nine draft picks heading into the 2015 NHL Draft, Calgary Flames‘ GM Brad Treliving utilized a package of three picks to acquire one of the most promising up-and-coming defencemen in the game, Dougie Hamilton. GM Treliving sent the 15th pick overall and two second round picks (45 and 52) to the Boston Bruins in return for the 22-year-old blueliner. Last year, in his third NHL season, Hamilton posted career-highs in scoring with 10 goals and 32 assists. Calgary recently signed Hamilton to a six year contract, solidifying their defensive core for the long-term with a new key component.
After a season with a number of young offensive talents in the lineup, Calgary finished seventh in NHL team scoring, so it was prudent for the Flames to take advantage of the 2015 draft to add to their defensive corps. By utilizing three out of their five remaining picks to bolster their blueline prospect depth – along with the acquisition and signing of Hamilton – the Flames have strengthened a key position and look more like a legitimate contender.
The Flames had to wait for the second day to make their first selection in 2015 draft and they continued the trend of boosting their defense by selecting Rasmus Andersson from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Andersson, a native of Malmo, Sweden, is a strong two-way defender who made a smooth transition in his first OHL season. Andersson finished the regular season as the top scoring defenseman for Barrie with 64 points in 67 games. The puck moving rearguard made his playmaking skills apparent with the 52 assists he provided during the year.
The 18-year-old is a promising package for the Flames, given his strong defensive game and offensive upside. At 6’0 and 212 pounds, Andersson carries a solid frame with a right-handed shot. He has the time and the ability to continue to develop his game. Most recently he received an invitation to attend Sweden’s World Junior summer camp and will make his first Flames appearance at their upcoming development camp.
Oliver Kylington, D, Färjestad BK Karlstad (SHL)
2nd round, 60th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 180 lbs
GM Treliving completed his second trade of the draft by sending two third-round picks (76th and 83rd overall) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the 60th pick overall in order to select Oliver Kylington. The 18-year-old defender entered the draft as the sixth-ranked European skater but at the midseason point held the top ranked spot in the Central Scouting European rankings. Needless to say, Kylington’s skating is the strong point of his game, and when the opportunity was made available for GM Treliving to move up and draft him, the Flames could not pass up the option to add another promising blueline prospect to their system.
Last season, Kylington recorded five points in 18 games with his main club Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League, while adding another seven points in 17 games for AIK (Swe-1). Kylington recently took closer steps to bringing his game to North America after being drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings 60th overall in the 2015 CHL Import Draft. Though as a European draft pick, he has several options for next season, Calgary no doubt is eager to see what he can do on the North American ice sheet. The addition of Kylington could prove to be another worthwhile trade the Flames completed in the 2015 draft to bolster their defense for the future.
Calgary remained with a local player when they drafted Pavel Karnaukhov from the Calgary Hitmen. A native of Minsk, Belarus, Karnaukhov completed his first season in North American action with 42 points in 69 games for the Hitmen. As the season progressed, Karnaukhov gained more confidence with his game and carried over the momentum into the playoffs where he produced 11 points in 17 games, which included three power play goals. During the regular season, Karnaukhov also led the Hitmen with ten power play goals.
Although there are still areas of his game to develop, Karnaukhov holds considerable potential given his size and his ability to play at the wing and at center. Karnaukhov finished tied for seventh in WHL rookie scoring for the regular season and third overall in rookie scoring for the playoffs.
Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL)
6th round, 166th overall
Height: 5-10 Weight: 170 lbs
Mangiapane entered the 2014-15 campaign as a determined player after going undrafted in the 2014 NHL draft, as a result he more than doubled his point total in the process. The 19-year-old finished 8th in OHL scoring with 104 points in 68 games for the Barrie Colts, which is significantly more than the 51 points he scored in the same amount of games during his rookie season.
Going undrafted in 2014 wasn’t a new experience for Mangiapane who previously went undrafted in the OHL draft and joined the Barrie Colts as a free agent after an impressive 2013 training camp. Despite the disappointments, Mangiapane remained positive and coincidentally shares the same experience with Flames’ captain Mark Giordano, who also went undrafted a decade earlier in the 2004 NHL draft.
As a strong skater for his size and a talented player maker, Mangiapane has the on-ice skills to become another promising forward for the Flames. However his mental strength and determination to achieve his goals could become the difference maker if he is to elevate to the level that Giordano has been able to achieve.
Riley Bruce, D, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
7th round, 196th overall
Height: 6-6 Weight 205 lbs
With their final pick in the 2015 draft, the Calgary Flames finished the same way they started it: by bolstering their blue line with the selection. 17-year-old Riley Bruce is considered a stay-at-home defender and provides another big body for the Flames’ defensive unit with a valuable right-hand shot. At 6’6 and 200-pounds, Bruce is a project to develop physically however he has a keen hockey IQ and plays a smart positional game which will be key to combine as he continues to grow. In two OHL seasons with the North Bay Battalion, Bruce has recorded seven points in 109 games while improving his plus-minus rating during the same period.
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