By Tom Hunter (@)
Reports out of Canada – Jeff Marek on the Fan590 – suggest that Flames General Manager Brad Treliving has been working hard to try to get up to the 4th pick. Marek suggested that the Flames desperately want to get their hands on Cape Breton forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. The big winger would be a great fit for the Flames organization, but getting up to the 4th pick is going to be difficult as it would mean trading with their provincial rival.
A lot can change between now and tomorrow night but assuming the Flames stand pat with the sixth overall pick, here are some prospects that I think the team could target with each of their picks.
6. Alexander Nylander – W – Mississauga, OHL
He’s no Dubois, but he’s not a bad consolation prize. Not quite as complete a player as his brother was at the same age, Alex has the same sort of highlight reel offensive talent as his brother. He plays his best hockey with the puck on his stick. He has great vision that makes him a very good facilitator, but he’s not afraid to hand on to the puck to create his own scoring chances.
His play away from the puck is another story. He will go shifts and even whole periods where he looks disengaged and disinterested – the Top Prospects game is a perfect example of this. Consistency is a huge issue that Nylander will have to work on but if he can learn to contribute every shift, he’ll be a home run pick at #6.
Thanks to a loophole in his transfer to the OHL, Nylander is actually AHL eligible next season – whereas other CHL prospects would not be. After being drafted, the organization will have the option of sending Nylander to the AHL, the OHL or even back to play pro in Sweden. The unlimited options for his development will likely be seen as a bonus for any general manager calling his name at the draft.
35. Alex DeBrincat – RW – Erie, OHL
DeBrincat can score, there’s no debating that. If he were a little bigger or could skate a little better, he’d be in the conversation to be a top-10 pick. Some draft rankings have DeBrincat as high as the early 20s but there is a very good chance he falls to the mid-second round.
People will blame DeBrincat’s fall on draft day on a size bias – he’s only 5’7 – but that’s not the key issue. DeBrincat scores a lot of his goals without his feet moving. He’s too often a stagnant scorer and that might not translate over to the pro game as well as many would hope. He doesn’t have the speed and elusiveness that make players his size successful in the NHL.
DeBrincat is great value early in the second round and will be a guy to watch in hopes that his pure sniping ability can turn into a secondary scoring option in the NHL.
54. Ryan Lindgren – D – USNDT
He’s a smart, good skating defender that shows poise beyond his age. He plays well in all three zones and is the kind of defender that won’t necessarily lead the rush but is very good at starting the breakout. He’s a good passer and plays a simple game with the puck.
Lindgren isn’t big by defensemen standards, but he plays a well-positioned game that keeps him competitive against bigger forwards. Lindgren has the potential to develop into a solid secondary all-around defender.
56. Cameron Morrison – F – Youngstown, USHL
A big, strong all-around player who can play any forward position. He has very good hockey instincts and thinks the game at a level you want to see from a top prospect. He has very good vision, puck skills and board-play, Defensively sound, using his size to his advantage along the boards and getting his stick in place to deflect passes out of harm’s way. Moving forward, Morrison will have every opportunity to develop into a smart power forward who can play in all situations and make it difficult on the opposition
66. Chad Krys – D – USNDT
Krys took a tumble down the draft rankings this season. To begin the season he was seen by some as a lottery pick and potential top-3 defender in the draft – some now have him in the 90-100 range. In the third round, Krys is a gamble worth taking.
Chad Krys is a pure puck-moving defender. He’s a smooth skater with great vison and passing ability. On the flip-side, Krys is not a quick decision maker and often doesn’t think quickly enough to keep up with his physical ability.
He doesn’t always engage the way you would like from a defender in his own zone, and his size was a real issue when playing against bigger opposition. He’s a legitimate boom or bust prospect, there won’t be an in between.
96. Benjamin Gleason – D – Hamilton, OHL
Gleason is a tremendous skater that has can do things with the puck that you’d usually expect from a skilled forward. The downside to that is that he’ll sometimes get too fancy with the puck leading to bad turnovers. If he can simplify his game, Gleason has the potential to be a really good possession defender. He has a well above average outlet pass to make him a complete puck-mover.
Unfortunately, his defensive instincts are not quite as strong as his offensive ones. Gleason is a little slow to react in his own end but he got better as the season went on. He’s gained some weight but will need to continue to get stronger before he makes the jump to the pros.
126. Ondrej Najman – C – HC Dukla Jihlava, Czech
Najman opened eyes at the U18 tournament this past spring, Leading the Czech Republic in scoring. He is a smart center that is strong on his skates and looks to control the paly with the puck on his stick. He’s not overly dynamic with the puck but he has great playmaking skills and will make the optimal play more often than not.
He is a solid two-way center that is a long way from being a prime North American pro player but he has the potential to be an NHLer down the road.
156. James Sanchez – LW – USNDT
Destined for the University of Michigan in the fall, Sanchez a power forward who plays a heavy forechecking game. He’ll need to improve his skating over his four years in the NCAA, but he has a projectable game to be a contributing bottom-6 forward.
He plays well down low in the offensive zone and when he has the puck on his stick he knows how to use his body to protect it. He is by no means dynamic but can chip in on offense by winning battles and creating space for his linemates.
166. Joachim Blichfeld – RW – Malmo, Switzerland
Blichfeld is a very you, very raw right winger that was dominant for Denmark internationally. At the U18s, Blichfeld went from being an unknown to likely getting himself drafted into the NHL.
Tall and very lanky, Blichfeld has a long stride that leads to a very high-end top speed. He’s not the most creative with the puck but when he gets going, he doesn’t have to be. He has decent enough finishing skills and the ability to score in a variety of ways.
He’s a long way off, but is the kind of pick that could turn out to be something special for an organization that has patience.
186. Brinson Pasichnuk – D – Arizona State University, NCAA
Heading down to play for Arizona State in their inaugural seasons as a Division-1 NCAA school, Pasichnuk is an intriguing defenseman with some decent upside. He’s not the fastest skater but he is very strong on his skates and has great footwork when making the transition from offense to defense and vice versa.
He is a very aggressive and physical defender that does well in his own end when he has to battle down low or in front of the net.
Offensively, Pasichnuk has a heavy shot but will need to work on getting it on net from the blue line. He does relatively well when skating with the puck on his stick but doesn’t necessarily have the instinctive vision to find the optimal pass.
He’s a longshot to make the NHL but there is some talent there. A few years in the NCAA could turn him into a good pro player.