The Calgary Flames went into Saturday’s draft lottery with the fifth-best odds to win the the first overall pick. But when all was said and done, it was Toronto, Winnipeg, and Columbus with the luck of the draw.
The new lottery system ended up working against the Flames, who have only had a top-5 pick once since moving from Atlanta. Winnipeg moved up five spots, bumping the Flames down to sixth overall, a position this franchise is familiar with at the draft.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 1, 2016
This year’s draft will mark the fifth time in Calgary’s history they’ll select sixth overall. The first was in 1992 when they selected Cory Stillman, who went on to play over 1000 NHL games and score over 700 points. The most recent was Sean Monahan in 2013, who has 159 points in 237 NHL games, with many more still to play.
However, the two players the Flames drafted at #6 in between Stillman and Monahan, Daniel Tkaczuk and Rico Fata, combined for only 74 NHL points. So the Flames are 2-for-4 when drafting sixth overall.
At sixth overall, it’s safe to assume that the consensus top-3 of Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi will all be off the board. Unfortunately, it’s also very likely that Pierre-Luc Dubois will be taken at four or five. Even if the Oilers don’t choose him at four, the Canucks appear to be very high on the 6’3″ 202-pound centre.
GM Jim Benning on @TSN1040 basically confirming that they will likely take Dubois or Tkachuk.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) May 2, 2016
That said, the Flames will still have the opportunity to draft a very good – potentially great – player at sixth overall. Here’s a look at six potential players the Flames could pick at #6.
Size: 6’1″, 195 pounds
Stats: 57 GP, 30 G, 77 A, 107 P
Bob McKenzie actually has Tkachuk ranked ahead of Dubois, although Tkachuk seems more likely to be available at sixth overall. It’s very well possible that both Dubois and Tkachuk are gone when the Flames pick, but if either the Oilers or Canucks pick a defenceman, the Flames shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Tkachuk.
The St. Louis native uses all of his 6’1″ frame as an effective power forward. Playing on Mitch Marner’s wing on the London Knights, there will inevitably be questions on how much Marner helps Tkachuk’s ranking.
There’s no doubt playing with Marner helped out Tkachuk’s point totals, but plays like this show Tkachuk is more than capable of putting the puck in the net without Marner’s help.
In the OHL playoffs, Tkachuk is second in points (33) and goals (16) in just 14 games as the Knights look for yet another trip to the Memorial Cup.
Size: 6’0″, 172 pounds
Stats: 57 GP, 28 G, 47 A, 75 P
Bob McKenzie’s ranking: 6th
If Dubois and Tkachuk are off the board when the Flames are called to make their pick, Alexander Nylander might be the way to go.
Nylander is a right-handed offensive player who likes to play on the left side. His size isn’t a huge plus at 6’0″ and 172 pounds, but he’s big enough that it shouldn’t be a disadvantage either.
Despite losing in the first round of the OHL playoffs, Nylander had a great postseason with 12 points (6-6-12) in just six games. He also had a great showing at this year’s World Junior Championships, leading Team Sweden with four goals and nine points in seven games.
Fittingly, although he is of Swedish nationality, Nylander was born in Calgary, as he was born when his father Michael Nylander was playing for the Flames.
Although a more all-around, physical style of player would suit Calgary’s needs a bit more, Nylander’s elite skating and scoring touch may be too good to pass up.
Size: 6’2″, 180 pounds
Stats: 57 GP, 7 G, 33 A, 42 P
Bob McKenzie’s ranking: 7th
It’s been said that there’s no consensus top defenceman in this draft, but Olli Juolevi is probably the closest one to that this season.
The Finnish defenceman racked up 42 points on a strong Knights team this season and is continuing to produce in the postseason with 11 points (2-9-11) in 14 games.
Similar to Tkachuk, questions are posed on whether the team he plays on impacts his point totals. Again, like Tkachuk, there has to be a degree of truth to this. But you could also argue that Juolevi is a big reason for the Knights’ success. Especially when he sets up goals like this:
Juolevi is a great puck moving defenceman, and was a big part of Finland’s gold medal at the World Juniors when he tied for the scoring lead among defencemen with nine points, all assists.
And for someone who doesn’t score all that many goals, his shot is pretty darn accurate.
Size: 6’6″, 218 pounds
Stats: 59 GP, 21 G, 53 A, 74 P
Bob McKenzie’s ranking: 13th
If the Flames are looking for size down the middle, Logan Brown could be a perfect fit.
The 6’6″ 218-pound American has eye-catching size, but perhaps more noticeable is the soft hands he possesses. Think Joe Thornton or Ryan Getzlaf style.
Brown is the kind of player who can get physical when he needs to, but also has the ability to set up teammates in prime scoring areas.
He’s a bit closer to 10-15 in most ranking lists, but Craig Button had him at #5 in his mock draft following Saturday’s lottery. If the Flames like his unique and coveted skillset, going a bit off the board might be the right thing to do.
Size: 6’2″, 187 pounds
Stats: 57 GP, 21 A, 40 A, 61 P
Bob McKenzie’s ranking: 15th
Another centreman with decent size, McLeod played this season with Alex Nylander on his wing in Mississauga. His all-around game has brought praise from scouts, with some even comparing him to Sam Bennett.
Like Brown, McLeod is a bit farther down in McKenzie’s rankings. That said, outside of Matthews and Dubois, there isn’t a lot of parity between the top centres of this draft.
If the Flames like what they see, McLeod could be another potential off-the-board pick gone right.
Size: 6’1″, 170 pounds
Stats: 68 GP, 24 G, 40 A, 64 P
Bob McKenzie’s ranking: 12th
A local kid, Calgary-born Jake Bean has spent the last two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL. This season he was paired with Flyers 2014 1st-rounder Travis Sanheim, and the two finished second and third in team scoring.
Defence isn’t a huge organizational need for the Flames, but the chance to pick a hometown kid is always something to look at if it makes sense.
Despite Bean’s strong offensive numbers, most don’t consider him to be as strong as Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev, or Jakub Chychrun, who are the consensus top-3 defencemen in the draft.
Still, there’s no denying Bean’s talents, including his wicked accurate wrist shot:
Regardless of who the Flames pick, they’ll hope he turns out more like Stillman and Monahan, and less like Tkaczuk and Fata.