Flames Go All-In Thanks to Prospect Depth

Over the past few seasons, arguably the biggest thing that Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving has done to improve his hockey club is making trades without losing pieces from the team’s roster. The 2015 off-season was highlighted by Treliving acquiring Dougie Hamilton for draft picks, while a five-month span in 2017 featured the Flames adding Michael Stone, Mike Smith, Eddie Lack and Travis Hamonic without giving up a piece off their roster.

Brad Treliving (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

The Flames’ aggressive additions have been facilitated by Treliving’s guile and negotiating prowess, but also by the fact that several years of smart drafting and developing have given the organization prospect depth they haven’t had in decades.

Picks Out The Door

Treliving’s first few seasons in Calgary saw him make a few moves involving picks and prospects, but the majority of them were arguably lateral moves where the club gained as many futures as they gave. The Hamilton trade at the 2015 Draft saw them ship out three picks to Boston – a first round selection and two second round picks – and was enabled by a move made at the previous trade deadline sending Curtis Glencross to Washington.

When the calendar flipped over to 2017, though, Treliving pushed his chips to the table – in the form of draft picks – as he attempted to upgrade his roster:

  • Michael Stone from Arizona for a 2017 third round pick and a conditional 2018 fifth round pick (the pick transferred when Stone re-signed)
  • Curtis Lazar and minor leaguer Michael Kostka from Ottawa for a 2017 second round pick and depth defender Jyrki Jokipakka
  • Mike Smith from Arizona for pending free agent Chad Johnson, the rights to college player Brandon Hickey, and either a 2019 second round pick (if the Flames make the playoffs in 2018) or a 2018 third round pick (if they don’t)
  • Travis Hamonic and a 2019 (or 2020) fourth round pick from the New York Islanders for a 2018 first round pick, 2018 second round pick and a 2019 (or 2020) second round pick

That’s a lot of picks sent out the door, particularly in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Remaining Picks At A Glance

Here are the selections the Flames currently own in the next three NHL drafts:

2018 Draft:

The Flames can probably make a few snack runs before they pick in the 2018 event in Dallas. If they miss the playoffs this season, they won’t pick until the fourth round.

  • A third round pick (Calgary’s), but only if the Flames miss the 2018 playoffs
  • Two fourth round picks (Calgary’s and Florida’s, acquired in the Jiri Hudler trade)
  • A sixth round pick (Calgary’s)
  • A seventh round pick (Calgary’s)
  • Detroit’s seventh round pick, but only if AHLer Tom McCollum plays a ton in the NHL this season

2019 Draft:

  • A first round pick (Calgary’s)
  • A third round pick (Calgary’s)
  • A fourth round pick (Calgary’s), along with the Islanders’ fourth rounder if the Flames miss the 2018 playoffs
  • A fifth round pick (Calgary’s)
  • Two sixth round picks (Calgary’s and Carolina’s, acquired in the Eddie Lack trade)

2020 Draft:

In 2020, the Flames have all of their own picks. If they make the 2018 playoffs, then the Flames will send their second round pick to the Islanders in exchange for a fourth round pick (as part of the Hamonic swap).

The shipping out of picks dates back to the GM tenure of Darryl Sutter; since 2003, the Flames have only selected with their own second round pick twice: in 2003 and 2014. (They also traded away their 2008 pick before reacquiring it in a different deal.) The big difference now is the Flames have the prospect depth to allow for these moves.

Prospects Added At A Glance

While Treliving’s first year as general manager was a bit bumpy, the organization has been very productive in identifying and acquiring prospects since 2015. Their entry-level system has become well-stocked over the past three years.

The 2015 Draft landed the team Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane. The 2016 Draft produced Matthew Tkachuk, Tyler Parsons, Dillon Dube, Adam Fox, Matthew Phillips and potentially European prospects Linus Lindstrom and Eetu Tuulola. The Flames have already signed 2017 first rounder Juuso Valimaki, and his late birthday likely means he’ll be turning pro next season. In addition to the draft, the club has added European free agents like David Rittich and Daniel Pribyl, college free agents like Spencer Foo, Garnet Hathaway and Josh Healey, and junior free agents like Ryan Lomberg and Glenn Gawdin.

The next step in the team’s evolution and progression is, of course, turning prospect depth into depth on the big-league roster. That is a work in progress – this season we’ve seen prospects Mark Jankowski, Brett Kulak, David Rittich and Garnet Hathaway make the jump to the NHL – but the success of the Flames’ amateur scouting staff has allowed the organization to make some big swings with acquisitions on the pro side of things. If the Flames are success at making the post-season, or at making some noise once they’re there, it’s because their scouts have enabled the types of big moves that made it happen.