Flames draft review

By David Glaz
At the draft of 2001, Craig Button finally put his stamp on the team. He had been ridiculed for not making moves, and now that he did at this year’s draft, there is a lot more talk going on about player moves rather
than the draft picks themselves.

Going into the weekend, the team had a gaping hole at center, nearly
adequate goaltending, decent scoring on the wings, and an up-and-coming defensive corps. They had the eleventh overall pick, and then nothing until the 101st pick in the fourth round. All of this changed thanks to
Button…for better or for worse. Analysis of all the moves is required to create an informed opinion.

The first trade Calgary made was sending their eleventh overall pick to Phoenix in exchange for the 17th overall pick, and a second rounder. This was wise as the Flames needed picks in the second and third rounds where they were completely devoid of picks.

The Calgary Flames sent RW Val Bure, and F Jason Weimer to Florida for C Rob Neidermayer and a second round draft choice this year. Doubters claimed that although Bure caused problems in the dressing room and alienated himself from Flames fans, his goal scoring, albeit inconsistent, will be missed and wasn’t replaced on draft day. They also claim that Weimer was Calgary’s only true rugged forward, and he earned many points with Flames fans by sticking up for his smaller teammates when taking on some of the better enforcers in the league, like Georges Laraque of Edmonton, and Donald Brashear of Vancouver.

However, this deal enables the Flames to finally have a good group of
centers. Marc Savard is the top center, Neidermayer as number two, Craig Conroy the third center, and Clarke Wilm number four which gives
Calgary finally has an adequate group of center icemen.

Neidermayer has offensive skills, but has yet to really show them. Craig Button and supporters of the deal believe that the change in scenery will do wonders
for Neidermayer offensively. Whether or not he breaks out offensively is an arguable point, but he is a good sized center that skates well, has a commitment to the defensive aspects of the game, wins faceoffs, and kills
penalties well. If Neidermayer puts up decent number to compliment Savard on the first line and continues his two-way play, Flames fans will be happy with the deal. The second round pick was used to grab Russian goalie Andrei Medvedev, who will be discussed later.

The second deal Calgary made was trading G Fred Braithwaite, C Daniel Tkaczuk, LW Sergei Varlamov, and a 9th round pick this year to St. Louis for G Roman Turek, and a 4th round pick this year. Critics of the deal again state the Flames gave up on young forwards Varlamov and Tkaczuk far too soon, as many felt that they could have contributed to the team offensively
this coming season. Most, however, are vehemently opposed to the dealing of Brathwaite. Flames fans embraced him in his years in Calgary, and he had
perhaps become the top fan favorite.

Although not a true No. 1 goalie, Brathwaite played solidly for Calgary, and had earned the respect of Flames fans. In return Calgary got Czech goalie Roman Turek to the delight of supporters of Button’s draft day moves. Turek is a big goalie who has had two outstanding regular seasons in St. Louis. However, his poor playoff performances caused him to be traded. Detractors of Turek believe he won’t get the job done in Calgary if he couldn’t get it done in a defensively orientated system like in St. Louis led by stalwart defensemen Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.

Like Neidermayer, a change of scenery could be good for Turek and help bring forth the consistency many feel he has lacked. Turek could turn out to be the number goalie the Flames desperately need while
prospects like Brent Krahn and Levente Szuper develop, but that remains to be seen.
The fourth round pick turned out to be Russian winger Egor Shastin who will also be discussed later on.

The final deal Calgary made was shipping a 4th rounder in next year’s draft
to Philadelphia in exchange for LW Dean McAmmond. Although not of huge consequence, McAmmond is a solid player who plays good defense, gives an honest effort, and can kill penalties with his good speed. This deal won’t make or break Calgary, but will help ease the losses of wingers like Bure, Weimer, and Varlamov.

Now, the draft picks. Button did an excellent job in acquiring extra picks to stock pile more prospects, which elated many a Flames fans.

The picks will now be run down in the order they were drafted:

1). Chuck Kobasew:

Kobasew was taken fourteenth overall. He is a RW who stands 5-11 and weighs 195 pounds. He is a gritty winger who has a knack for scoring big time goals. He is described as an agile skater with soft hands who pursues the puck relentlessly. While playing for Boston College last season, Kobasew scored 27 goals and 22 assists in 43 games.

2) Andrei Taratukhin: This Russian Center was taken 41st overall. He had slipped as he was ranked 49th by the Hockey News. Taratukhin stands 6’0″ and weighs 198 pounds. He is a solid two-way player who is also a nifty puckhandler. He is solid with or without the puck, competes hard and plays in traffic. He is noted by one scout for his excellent vision. He played various tournaments this year from Russia, and in 13 games scored 4 goals and 12 assists.

3) Andrei Medvedez: The Russian goalie was taken 56th overall in the second round, and stands 6-2 and weighs 212 pounds. He is best known as being overweight and having an attitude problem, but Button and his scouts believe that they can harness his tremendous skill, and get beyond his shortcomings. Playing for Spartak in Russia, he had an unbelievable 0.73
GAA. He also had international experience playing in various tournaments. This was the pick that Calgary received from Florida.

4) Tomi Maki: Finish RW Tomi Maki wasn’t taken until the fourth round, 108th overall. Maki stands 5-11 and weighs 173 pounds. In 41 games with Jokerit, he scored seven goals and had eight assists. Flames scouts
believe he is energetic, and plays a gritty game.

5) Egor Shastin: The Ukrainian LW was taken in the fourth round, 124th overall. Shastin stands 5-9 and weighs 172 pounds. He slipped from being ranked 50th by the Hockey News. He has good puck skills, quickness,
and above average offensive skill. In 35 games with Omsk, he scored 3 goals and 11 assists. Shastin turned out to be the pick Calgary received from St. Louis.

6). James Hakewill: The Westminster USHS defenseman was taken 145th overall in the fifth round. He stands 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds. In 23 high school games, he had 4 goals and 15 assists. He will now attend St. Lawrence University in New York.

7). Yuri Trubachev: This Russian Center was taken 164th overall in the fifth round. He stands 5-9 and weighs 190 pounds with a solid build.
Playing for St. Petersburg he collected six goals and five assists in 34 games. He’s described as a smart player with skill and playmaking ability.

8). Garett Bembridge: The Canadian RW played for Saskatoon in the WHL. He was taken 207th overall in the seventh round. He stands six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. In 73 games he scored 38 goals and 40 assists. He is described as a hard working player who needs to add strength.

9). David Moss: The LW played for Cedar Rapids in the USHL. He was taken in the seventh round also, 220th overall. He stands 6-3 and weighs 185 pounds. He had 20 goals and 18 assists in 51 games. He has good size, skating and hands for a big man.

10). Joe Campbell: The defenseman was taken 233rd overall in the eight round. He played for DeMoines in the USHL and stands 6-4 and weighs 172 pounds. He had 7 goals and 11 assists in 56 regular season games. The Flames except him to grow into his body eventually, and be a puck moving, powerplay defenseman.

11). Ville Hamalainen: The Finish forward was selected 251st overall in the eighth round. He stands 5-11 and 187 pounds. He had four assists in 42
games with Saipa. He was the captain of Finland’s team at the World Junior Champions. He’s a skilled player who needs to develop physically and mentally.

No matter what the result, Button took a stand towards molding a team the way he thinks it should be. Like the team now or not, Button is putting his name on the line with these players.