CALGARY — With six picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming NHL draft and nine picks altogether, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving is in a position of power.
With the big event one week away, Treliving met with the media Thursday to discuss how he’s approaching what’s been called one of the best drafts in years.
“If you look at this draft, it’s unique in the sense that you have six teams without a first round pick,” he said. “That’s a lot of teams. Subsequently, you have a number of teams without a second. So when you’re sitting there with three seconds, you become a little bit more popular.”
That includes being offered established players in exchange for those second round picks.
“I’ve had a handful of NHL players offered but I’ve hated every single one of them, whether it be the term, or whether it’s just not a fit,” Treliving said. “But there’s been players offered that haven’t been in the past.”
In addition to Calgary’s own picks at 15, 45 and 76, the Flames also have Vancouver’s second-round selection (53), which they got for Sven Baertschi and a second (52) and third (83) from Washington, which they received for Curtis Glencross.
Treliving said surplus picks gives the team options to maybe move up a few spots. That said, he’s also fine with staying where he is.
“I really feel comfortable at 15 that we’re going to get a good player,” said Treliving. “I think there’s going to be both positions available in terms of forward and defence.”
Organizationally, the Flames are thinnest on the blue line. Tyler Wotherspoon, 22, is considered the team’s top defensive prospect. However, Treliving says you have to stick to best player available with your top pick.
“When you’re trying to align your immediate needs when drafting 17- and 18-year-olds, you’re going to make mistakes. We’ll take best player available and in a perfect world, we hope that will align with our needs, but we’ll see.”
Treliving says it should be an interesting draft.
“Based on a lot of the conversations and trying to sift through all the lies, the draft could get really interesting at three,” said Treliving.
Treliving sees three defencemen grouped closely together and then a gap after that. He says there’s more depth, especially early, at forward.
After getting Sean Monahan at No. 6 two years ago and grabbing Sam Bennett at No. 4 last year, the Flames are in a different situation this year. Rather than a player that could step right in, it’s about replenishing some depth after Monahan, Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau fast-tracked straight to the NHL.
“As you’re building an organization, those picks turn into prospects that are either going to be players for you or it gives you those assets,” said Treliving.
In a salary cap system, Treliving adds it’s important to continually integrate young players into the lineup as it helps the team stay competitive. It also helps financially.
Treliving said he feels more comfortable going into this year’s draft than a year ago, where he had only been on the job for two months.
“Going in here, you know your people better,” said Treliving, who was named the Flames GM on April 28, 2014. “You have an idea of where they fit, where their ceiling may be, what growth may be left. It’s much more comfortable in terms of valuing our players when you start talking about the market and where they may fit.”