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Hot Talk: Deep NHL draft has Flames, league GMs gushing



Craig Ellingson: I’ve never sat at a draft table before, but the experience to me looks like it would be similar to a fantasy draft, at least the ones back in the day when a bunch of guys would roll a keg into someone’s basement and we’d do a draft live.

You know, cheat sheets and printed lists and all that.

Steve Macfarlane: Minus the alcohol, that’s pretty much it from my experience in watching the NHL drafts unfold live.

Laptops have replaced the paper lists, too, but there is a lot of projection, ranking and re-ranking.

Craig: They must have something in those drinking cups to help grease the gears in their heads when it gets to like Round 4.

If it was me, I’d be pulling out a dart board just like I do when I’m drafting fantasy football players.

Steve: I love paper. How do you roll? Best player available or positional need?

Craig: I’m a positional guy. You really can have too many QBs.

When I get to the later rounds, it’s tempting to take chances, even do it blindfolded.

I hear the Flames are more the ‘best player available’ type, at least this year, for their first-round pick, although they probably need organizational depth at forward given they’ve got a few prospects in that department who’ll be in the NHL soon enough.

Steve: I think they might land both the best available player and a positional need at No. 16 overall this year.

Given the lack of depth up front before the reports suggesting the team might have to move Tyler Toffoli (update: Toffoli was traded to New Jersey today), Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund this summer, it is less of a debate.

Even without Noah Hanifin — another player who won’t sign an extension with the Calgary Flames — the team has good depth on the back end.

Up front will be a train wreck without two of the three top centres and the Flames’ best right winger this season. And there aren’t many prospects ready to jump in just yet. The forwards will need to be replenished.

Craig: If new GM Craig Conroy does pull a trade before the draft begins, we could see the Flames adding more picks to their list this year, too.

Steve: It’s definitely a possibility. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility for them to end up with some real draft commodity that could help them move up and down based on their preferences. But as of now it is Sweet 16.

Craig: That’s Round 1, though. Isn’t that, like, the easiest of all the rounds to pick?

By the time they’re getting to the later rounds — like I’ve suggested before, I would be swapping out BioSteel in my cup for something stronger — that’s when the real work comes in.

All those mounds of paper they have stacked on the table, or these days stored in the cloud via their laptop/phone, the software they use to help compute/decide who they should take — that’s the fun/fascinating part.

At least I think it should be for the NHL team draft gurus as much as it is for me choosing that long shot wide receiver out of Tulsa, let’s say, in Round 7.

Steve: By all accounts, this is a very deep draft, so teams will gush regardless of who they get.

To be honest, the whole first round after Bedard is a bit of a crap shoot. And we all saw what happened with last year’s Shane Wright snub.

The Flames aren’t sharing names but you can bet their list is purely based on talent assessment this year as opposed to position. Maybe other than leaving goalie to the later rounds.

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