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Flexibility the Name of the Game When it Comes to the Flames Picking at #9



Conroy Flames Draft

You almost wanted to check if you were on the right channel. 

The 2024 NHL Draft lottery came and went on Tuesday to startlingly vanilla results.  

Zero teams moved up in the draw. The teams with fanbases suffering the most hardship in the 2023-2024 regular season get to pick exactly in accordance with where they finished in the standings.

San Jose picks first and will (most likely) go for the storybook Hero’s Return of Macklin Celebrini going back to the Bay Area, where his family has resided for years.

A product of the San Jose Junior Sharks program, it only seemed right that the most recent Hobey Baker Award winner would be heading back to Northern California to start a promising NHL career.  

The Blackhawks, who finished the season with a 23-53-6 record, will select after San Jose.  

And so on and so forth. It was almost as if the NHL had adopted the NFL’s rules when it came to establishing draft order. No lottery. If you’re the least successful team across any given season, you get the best pick at the following draft.  

For Flames fans, that means Calgary will be picking at nine after finishing 24th in the standings. Maybe not the result fans were hoping for, but that’s what a 5% chance at winning will get you almost every time.  

That said, let’s examine a few factors to consider given Conroy’s situation. After all, ninth-overall picks don’t grow on trees.  


#1: A Calgary Flames chance to draft Tij Iginla

San Jose may have already gotten their storybook ending to the draft lottery. That potential still exists for the Calgary Flames and their fans.  

The son of arguably the greatest Calgary Flame of all time, Jarome Iginla, is carving out his own legacy in the WHL with a 47-goal, 37-assist regular season with the Kelowna Rockets in 2023-2024. The Lake Country, BC, product kicked his game up a notch in the postseason with nine goals and six assists for 15 points in 11 games.  

The Rockets would eventually bow out in round two after falling to Prince George in five games, but Iginla still had work to do. The 6-foot-0, 185-pound all-positions forward racked up six goals and six assists for 12 points in seven games. Tij scored the game-winning goal at 14:19 of the third period to secure the gold for Canada in a 6-4 win over Cole Eiserman and Team USA. 

Tij excels at making plays in full stride. He doesn’t have the corner game that Jarome had at his age, but his ability to execute plays in high-danger areas has brought him into the conversation as a top-five pick. There is certainly a chance that Tij doesn’t fall to #9, and that’s just fine.  



#2: A good player will fall to the Calgary Flames 

Not everything is going to work out according to plan for general manager Craig Conroy and the Flames brain trust. While fans can throw fits if Iginla or say, Cole Eiserman, don’t fall to their pick, the Flames are guaranteed to have a very good player fall to them at nine.  

Whether it’s Berkly Catton, who powered his team to a playoff birth on an underwhelming Spokane Chiefs team, the offensively abundant Zach Parehk, a right-shot defenceman who notched 33 goals in Saginaw, or the massive Anton Silayev, who skates remarkably well for being a 6-foot-7 defenceman.  

The Flames are in a place where they’ll be able to add to their core going forward.  



#3: The Flames have the option to maneuver 

It’s not unheard of for a pick in the Flames’ range to be moved.  

Ottawa’s #12 overall selection at last draft belonged to the Arizona Coyotes after being included in the Jakob Chychrun trade at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.  

The Blue Jackets picked at six in 2022 after acquiring Chicago’s first round pick in the Seth Jones deal. Chicago, in turn, was selected right after Columbus, using Ottawa’s pick. An asset acquired as part of the return for Alex DeBrincat.  

We could go on, but it’s fair to say that it happens. The Vancouver Canucks even traded their ninth overall pick in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson debacle.   

It would take some bold action, but Conroy has the option to move up or down this season – if he’s willing to pay the price.  

Given his work so far, moving down a couple spots while picking up an underappreciated Slavic player (who is a couple seasons away from unrestricted free agency) from a team picking 10-14 would be right out of Conny’s playbook.  


#4: The Flames have options to build by position 

Scouting departments and the organizations they work for find it difficult to move away from the concept of Best Player Available, or BPA. 

With that said, you’re not going to build a championship roster by selecting all left wingers, or all defencemen, or even all centers. Perennial Stanley Cup contenders invariably deploy a combination of stars at almost every position at the top of their roster.  

Before the Penguins added Malkin and Crosby, they drafted Brooks Orpik and Ryan Whitney. Before the Blackhawks selected Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, they had to draft Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.  

This upcoming draft provides an opportunity to even out the organization in some key areas. While the cupboards may be flush with offensive defencemen, a lack of size and muscle on the blueline prospect pipeline is evident. No offence intended to Joni Jurmo, who has plenty of both.  

A move to answer that need might be trading down to the 12-14 range and picking Carter Yakemchuk, who played for the Calgary Hitmen for the last three seasons. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound, right-shot blueliner skates exceptionally well and has no issues sticking up for his teammates.  

The Flames get an asset only attainable at the high end of the draft and likely pick up a few more picks for moving down.  

Likewise, there is currently a disparity at the center position compared to wingers. It’s possible that Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil will succeed in changing positions next season and filling that need, but getting a top-flight center such as Iginla or Catton or going off the board with Konsta Helenius might be a smart insurance policy.  


#5: The chaos of it all

The best part of the NHL Entry Draft? You’re never going to predict everything.

One player being picked off the board (looking at you, Utah) has the potential to throw 25 other scouting departments into complete and total upheaval.

Suddenly, the player Scout A has been pounding the table over for years over a player that might fall within reach. Scout B now has a chance to make a last-minute case for his team’s List being disregarded for a player his organization never seriously entertained the idea of selecting.

That’s before we even get to the draft floor wheeling and dealing. An offer to move into the top five? Possible. The chance to acquire an established younger star for the ninth overall selection? That’s on the table, too.

The point is to embrace that chaos and have fun with it – and the more attention you pay, the more there is to enjoy.

Or, at least, that’s what you will have to remind yourself as you attempt to read lips from your couch during the June 28 broadcast.


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