Flames expecting big things at four

Thursday, 19.06.2014 / 9:00 AM
Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)

CALGARY, AB -- A swing and a miss won’t suffice next Friday.

The National Hockey League’s entry draft process is the lifeline for all 30 franchises and as such, the Calgary Flames can’t afford to miss with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

“Right now, this is an important time for us,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. “We’re going to go through the draft. As we’re going to build this franchise, we are going to do it through drafting, developing players. It’s exciting.”

But what can the Flames expect to mine after the likes of the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers step to the stage in Philadelphia?

“You’re putting it all together and you think of two, three, four, five, who’s going to be the best player,” Treliving said. “Regardless of size, regardless of skill set, who is going to turn out to be the best asset for the Calgary Flames? It’s a hard discussion.

“There’s a lot of players who all bring a little something different to the table. The good point is we’re going to get a real good player. The scouts have done a good job in terms of their coverage, getting to the games. We’ve beaten this up since I’ve been here in terms of a lot of debate on the different players.

“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to who we think will be the best player for the Flames moving forward.”

At a quick glance, the Flames managed to hit a home run last year when Calgary tagged then Ottawa 67’s standout Sean Monahan with the sixth overall pick in 2013.

At 18, Monahan walked into the Flames’ training camp and wrangled a spot down the middle. The Brampton, ON native went on to suit up for 75 games, recording 34 points in the process. More impressively, though, Monahan’s 22 goals were the most by a Flames rookie since former captain Jarome Iginla hit 21 in the 1996-97 season.

Has Monahan’s rapid ascent increased the urgency and timeline behind Calgary’s highest draft pick in club history?

“You want to give everybody the opportunity,” said Tod Button, the Flames’ director of amateur scouting. “We don’t look at it as putting a guy higher or lower because he is ready next year. We want to get the best player long-term that we can get at four. We’re not looking for a ready plug-and-play player, but if there’s a guy and he’s able to do what Sean Monahan did last year and come in and earn the ice time and play, that’d be terrific.”

With the quality of player that will be left for the Flames at four, there is definitely an opportunity to step in.

“The one nice thing is we’re going to get a very good player,” assistant GM Craig Conroy said. “Is he going to be ready to jump into the NHL next year? I don’t know. We were lucky with Monahan this year. We want to make sure we do the right things. We want to bring him in, we want to make sure when they come here they’re ready to have success.

“At times, you can rush guys in and it just doesn’t work out but I think we’re going to get a dynamic, hopefully star at No. 4. That’s what you’re hoping for.”

But it’s not a prerequisite.

“What we need is another good young player to add to our system,” Treliving said. “We’re not looking at this in terms of positional, but it’s getting the players who we think over the course of their career is going to be the best asset for us. That’s what we’re looking for.

“The good point is we’re going to get a real good player. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to who we think will be the best player for the Flames moving forward.”

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