With Noah Hanifin also on the Flames trade block — and a few others who could draw offers as well — GM Craig Conroy could potentially add to his first-round haul before the first name is called on Wednesday night.
Barring that, it’s Sweet 16 for the Calgary Flames in the opening round.
Here are 10 forwards who could land around that midway mark of a very deep draft.
Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw, (WHL)
Ranked 11th among North American skaters, Yager has a bomb for a shot and projects as a top six pivot or winger at the next level. He doesn’t have elite speed but has two-way hockey sense. Centre is already a position of need for the Flames with the possible departure of both Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund in the next year.
Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna (WHL)
Cristall put up 69 points in 61 games as a 16-year-old and may be one of the players with the most upside in this first round. Maybe he’s a top 10 kind of guy, but his size and lack of grit compared to some of the others on the list might drop him down a bit. He scored at nearly two points per game last season despite injuries and a bad team. Considering the Calgary Flames have added coaches looking to spark offence, it would be hard to pass on this talent level.
Oliver Moore, C, NTDP (USHL)
I’ve seen mock drafts that have Moore in the top 10, and then not in the top 50. But the majority are in the 10-20 range. Speed is something the Calgary Flames can use much more of and Moore has that as one of the best skaters in the 2023 NHL Draft. He’s not the Selke type but could be a top-line pivot for the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau in the not-too-distant future.
Gabe Perreault, LW, NTDP (USHL)
Bloodlines are always something NHL teams consider and Perreault js one of those players who may be getting a boost in his stock because of what his dad brought as an NHLer. He doesn’t have great speed. He’s smaller. But he does have that vision and beat out Auston Matthews for a USHL record for points in a season with 132. He might be a lottery pick type of guy.
Eduard Sale, LW, Kometa Brno (Cze.)
Another very skilled player whose biggest negative seems to be a missing edge. Hey, not everyone can be as gritty and talented as former Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. I’ve seen mocks with Sale right around the midway mark and he’s another member of this draft class with high upside.
Matthew Wood, RW, Connecticut (NCAA)
At 6-foot-3, 195-lb., this winger is a riser, which means many teams will ignore the skating style as he matures. He has a great shot and the Calgary Flames have long coveted a right-winger with some shooting ability. Maybe this is a guy new management addition Jarome Iginla would push for.
LW Colby Barlow (Owen Sound, OHL)
At 6-foot-1, Barlow does not fall under the category of a big winger. However, he adds other key attributes. Offensively, Barlow — ranked 12th among North American skaters — racked up 46 goals and 79 points in 59 games, but that’s only part of the tale. He was team captain, has already shown a strong sense of defensive play and a competitive nature.
On the Radar
- C Calum Ritchie (Oshawa, OHL)
- C Nate Danielson (Brandon, WHL)
- C Riley Heidt (Prince George, WHL)