Calgary Flames Wrap up Draft Weekend with Cliched Optimism
Apart from different voices and names, the wrap-up interviews from all 30 teams after the National Hockey League draft stick to the same script.
“So-and-so is going to be a good player.”
“We can’t believe we got so-and-so.”
“We’re pleased with what we got today.”
It’s probably the only time in the year where there is genuine optimism and excitement from all 30 teams and their energetic crop of promising young players that may or may not pan out to be everything scouts projected them to be. Frankly, that kind of hope is endearing.
But let them have their moment.
Because in a few short weeks, as the new group of players join their existing group of prospects, reality will set in. Honest evaluations begin.
And the real work — another well-oiled cliche at this time of the year — starts.
“We’re happy with it,” said Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving of his team’s haul at the 2016 NHL draft wrapped up at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.
“These kind of drafts, everybody will get all excited here right after … and the reality is (that) it’s going to take time.
“Today, as exciting as it is, the stopwatch goes off and it will be a long time for these players to develop and hopefully one day turn into players for us.”
In their nine picks at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, the Flames were able to find a mix of everything.
“We really looked at a couple things: skill, competitiveness, hockey smarts,” Treliving said. “And if you look at these picks there’s lots of them in all them. Now, they all come in different shapes and sizes, but bringing some skill was an important part, a competitive edge and people competing in different ways, but competitiveness. And really, you look throughout it there’s some guys with a high hockey I.Q., starting with Matthew.”
Calgary’s gem at the draft was Matthew Tkachuk, a player they had been aiming at landing for months.
The son of former NHL-er Keith, the Flames liked his skill, his nose for the net, and his, uh, personality.
“Kid’s a kind of pain in the ass,” said Brian Burke, providing the best quote of the weekend on the teenager. “We don’t have enough guys who are pains in the ass. And the way I like to play, I like guys who are pains in the ass.
“So, I thought that was a real important pick for us.”
Tkachuk scored 30 goals and 77 assists in 57 regular season games for the OHL’s London Knights and added another 20 goals and 20 assists in 18 playoff games.
He scored two goals in the Memorial Cup final, one of which was the game-winning overtime winner.
“Everybody talks about his brawn and his ability to score,” Treliving said. “But this guy, he’s got an elite mind. He can play with top players, he can think the game at a high level and he plays in the areas that aren’t fun to play in.”
As much as he’d like to make the team — and as much as Flames fans would want to see him — Tkachuk’s presence in October isn’t a sure thing. He needs to get stronger this summer. He needs to stack up against other NHL-ers. But that’s not to say it won’t happen, either this fall or in the upcoming years. The same goes for the rest of the lot.
But right now, there’s just genuine optimism.
FLAMES DRAFT SUMMARY
Flames head scout Tod Button breaks down each of Calgary’s 2016 NHL draft selections
1st Round — 6th overall
LW Matthew Tkachuk (6-1, 202) OHL, London Knights
“I see him being a contributor to winning. He’s skilled in the hard areas. He’s a big-time player in winning situations, under-18 world championships, he plays with good players. The biggest thing about Matthew is his skill is underrated. Soft hands, he can shoot the puck, and he’s really, really smart.”
2nd Round — 54th (from Florida for Jiri Hudler)
G Tyler Parsons (6-1, 185) OHL, London Knights
“Tyler’s a very, very athletic and competitive goalie. Our scouts saw him a lot and as the season went on, it’s rare for an 18-year-old to grab the starting job in the OHL or the CHL. But he took a team to the Memorial Cup. There’s some specialness to that.”
2nd Round — 56th (from Dallas for Kris Russell)
C Dillon Dube (5-10, 183) WHL, Kelowna Rockets
“A real skilled player, a shooter. We always talk about upgrading skill and you can never have enough skill. And you watch him in playoffs, goals are tough to come by, he’s a quick shooter. He’s very quick. A very quick player from the dots.”
3rd Round — 66th
D Adam Fox (5-10, 181) U.S. National Team Development Program
“Jimmy Cummins (Calgary’s USHL scout) fought all year for this kid. He’s a small, undersized defenceman. But he’s really smart and he’s another skilled guy who is going to Harvard.”
4th Round — 96th
C Linus Lindstrom (5-11, 165) Sweden Jr., Skelleftea AIK
“He’s one of the captains of the under-18 team. He’s a two-way centre. Bobbie Hagelin (Calgary’s European Amateur Scout) speaks very highly of him as a competitor and a guy that understands the game really well. He’s a guy that can play in multiple situations.”
5th Round — 126th
C Mitchell Mattson (6-4, 191) High school Minnesota, Grand Rapids
“He’s a big tall guy with a huge ceiling. He’s going to the USHL next year and has got skill, he can handle the puck. He’s a skilled forward with some size. We’re happy to get a guy like that.”
*6th Round — 156th
RW Eetu Tuulola (6-1, 224) Finland-Jr., HPK
“He’s a big power forward. He likes to score. He’s got some work to do on his skating. But he rumbles up and down the wing and goes to the net and tries to score goals.”
6th Round — 166th (from Minneosta for David Jones)
C/RW Matthew Phillips (5-6, 140) WHL, Victoria Royals
“That was all Craig Conroy and our two WHL scouts. They saw him play a lot. They loved him. A guy with a lot of skill and smaller guy, that’s worked out for us before. We’re not going to stop looking for those guys at the draft.”
7th Round — 186th (from Freddie Hamilton trade with Colorado)
D Stepan Falkovsky (6-7, 224) OHL, Ottawa 67’s
“Fairly mobile and wants to stay in North America and play. He might be a diamond in the rough. We always think about guys like that. If he was in college, he might be a free agent in two years that everyone’s looking at so we feel we have a head start on him.”