Flames 2007 draft preview

By Andrew Walker

Flames Top 10 prospects

1. Dustin Boyd, C
2. Leland Irving, G
3. Daniel Ryder, C
4. Andrei Taratukhin, C
5. Mark Giordano, D
6. Juuso Puustinen, RW
7. Curtis McElhinney, G
8. Eric Nystrom, LW
9. Tim Ramholt, D
10. David Moss, LW

The Flames head into the 2007 NHL entry draft with the 18th overall selection. After that, the remaining four picks are all in the fifth and sixth rounds.  Over the last year, Calgary has brought in players such as Alex Tanguay, Craig Conroy, and David Hale, giving up 2007 selections in each deal.  But with a relatively shallow prospect pool on the wing and on the blue line, it isn’t a great year for Calgary to be short on draft picks.  However, it’s the price the Flames decided to pay in hopes of molding their team into a legitimate cup contender.

The picks:
1st round, 18th overall
5th round, 139th overall
5h round, 147th overall (from NJ)
6th round, 155th overall (from WSH)
6th round, 169th overall

Team Needs

One year ago, the need for the Flames heading into the draft in Vancouver was offense.  General Manager Darryl Sutter swung a deal with Colorado, giving up Jordan Leopold, along with a pair of second round picks, for the high-scoring Tanguay. The trade, along with some other moves, seemed to address the problem.  The Flames scored 40 more goals during the 2006-07 season than the year before, and the sixth most in the entire NHL.  For 2007-08, after getting bounced in the first round of playoffs for the second consecutive season, the focus has returned to defensive responsibility and depth.  At this time next year, a good chunk of the Flames roster will be up for new deals, including Jarome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff, emphasizing the need to build up some depth on the farm.

Another concern that came out of last season was a lack of commitment and communication between the coaches and players.  Sutter made a big splash last week to address that, replacing head coach Jim Playfair with Mike Keenan.

Organizational Strengths

The prospect list is littered with capable role players who can, or have had a cup of coffee with the big club, most notably David Moss and Mark Giordano. The highest level of potential lies up the middle and between the pipes.  Despite a rough WHL post-season, Everett Silvertips goaltender Leland Irving is still revered as the future of Flames goaltending, and along with Curtis McElhinney, provides a solid base for the future.  Centermen Dustin Boyd, Daniel Ryder, and Andrei Taratukhin all enjoyed very progressive seasons, with Boyd and Taratukhin set to challenge for regular spots in the fall.

Organizational Weaknesses

While last year’s edition of the Flames played a more offensive brand of hockey, a greater emphasis on defensive responsibility and “Sutter-esque” play is almost assuredly in the cards.  It remains to be seen whether the Keenan hire will help or hurt this cause.  Sutter’s eggs all seem to be in one basket, with 2007-08 the make or break year for the organization.  On the farm, there are a few prospects with scoring potential, (Boyd, Tarathukin, Van der Gulik) but overall, it lacks in high-end talent.  It remains to be seen how much of an impact defensemen Giordano, Tim Ramholt, and Gord Baldwin will have in the long run, so don’t be surprised to see the Flames add another blueliner or two.  A high-scoring winger for the future is also a major need.

Draft Tendencies

Since Sutter took over as GM prior to the 2003 draft, the Flames have chosen 24 forwards (including seven centermen), seven defensemen, and four goaltenders.  Not surprisingly, the organization has looked extensively in the west, taking 14 players out of the WHL, and another (Kris Chucko) from the BCHL.  Nine draft picks have come from the OHL, while only four have been used on Europeans — none from Russia, Slovakia, or the Czech Republic.  With a strong WHL draft crop this year, there is no indication this won’t continue, especially considering the players who may be available when the Flames pick at 18.

Hockey’s Future Mock Draft Result:
Zach Hamill, C – Everett (WHL)

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.