Pre-Draft Interview with Craig Button

By William Charlton

HF. Could you please rate the top 10 prospects in the Flames organization in your mind? as well as who you feel has a good chance at making the Flames for the 2002-03 season?

CB: Jordan Leopold (Chance to make Flames)

Blair Betts (Chance to make Flames)

Oleg Saprykin (Chance to make Flames)

Chuck Kobasew ( Chance to make Flames)

Steve Montador (Chance to make Flames)

Jarret Stoll

Yuri Trubachev

Mathias Johansson (Perhaps a chance to make Flames – Older European)

Andrei Medvedev

Andrei Taratukhin

HF: With the greatness that Iginla has played with this year (over 50 goals and nearly 100 points, Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophy’s) are you afraid that some American team will try to steal his services by outbidding you? If so what are your thoughts on how you will handle his RFA status?

CB: Group II Free Agency has historically not been an avenue that allowed bidding teams to acquire the player because of the fact that teams have the right to match and in our case we can match a US offer in Canadian Dollars.

HF: With the Hobey Baker trophy winner, Jordon Leopold rising as a great prospect, what are your thoughts as to the situation for the defense next season? Is it possible that one of the four (Lydman, Morris, Regher, or Gauthier) could be traded to make room for a young Leopold? Or will Leopold fit in at #5 for the time being to be allowed to develop if he makes the team?

CB: Those are decisions that get made with only one objective in mind…what can you consider that will make your team better.

HF: Are you considering any sizeable moves during the off-season to try to get the team finally in the playoffs? Or do you feel the team is close as it is and just needs minor tinkering?

CB: We made massive changes last summer and showed a real capability to be a good, purposeful team this season. We need to grow with our team and with maturity I believe it will allow us to be more consistent in our good play and make the playoffs.

HF: Some have wondered about the lack of scoring beyond Iginla, Conroy, Savard and possibly McAmmond – are you considering moving some other commodities to attempt to shore up the offense?

CB: If we have players on our team that are “PLUS” players will be successful. Scoring is important but not on a stand alone basis.

HF: With Mike Vernon having most likely played his last game in a Flames Uniform, are you going to search for a capable backup from within the system? via free-agency? trade? or draft like the Flyers and Oilers both did in recent years?

CB: It is necessary for us to have a solid backup.

HF: Of the prospects in the upcoming draft – what positions are you concentrating on? and what are your thoughts as to the depth of this draft? And what players really impress you and your souting staff?

CB: The depth of high end players is lacking in this draft but there will be good players emerge. We are looking at players who can be good players in their game but remember that it will take 3-5 years before they can impact the Flames.