The Flames vowed to get bigger last summer and did with the acquisitions of Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland. But president of operations Brian Burke and GM Brad Treliving wanted to beef up the system as well. Three of the five skaters drafted in 2014 are big boys getting bigger. Hunter Smith, Adam Ollas Mattsson and Austin Carroll average 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. Don’t expect that mandate to change.
Round 1, pick 15
Round 2, picks 45, 52, 53
Round 3, picks 76, 83
Round 5, pick 136
Round 6, pick 166
Round 7, pick 196
David Jones is the only right-shooting right winger with NHL experience, and he’s going into the final year of his deal. Ideally, the Flames could fill a need via the free agent front, but they’re hard to come by. Prospect Emile Poirier is a left-shooting right winger.
Calgary has had 10 first-round picks in the past decade, and only one was used to select a defenseman. That was Tim Erixon, who refused to sign, forcing the team to trade him. So it’s not a surprise to see a dearth of blue-chippers in the pipeline. The Flames have six picks among the top 85 selections this year. Expect three or four of them to be used on blueliners.
Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma and Josh Jooris are the most prominent RFAs who need to be signed, and if Calgary wants UFA goalie Karri Ramo to stick around, that will cost at least $3 million. Fortunately, the Flames have a ton of cap space. They can’t squander it, though, because their best players – Mark Giordano, Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Jonas Hiller and Kris Russell – have expiring contracts in 2016.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16
Sam Bennett averaged more than two points per game in the OHL after returning from shoulder surgery in March. He still has a season of junior remaining, but he won an NHL job with a good showing in the NHL playoffs. Tyler Wotherspoon is also ready.
DID YOU KNOW
The Flames have three potential goalies of the future – AHL standout Joni Ortio, a 24-year-old Finn, NCAA title star stopper Jon Gillies, who is 21, and 19-year-old Mason McDonald, drafted 34th overall in 2014.