The Calgary Flames strolled into Buffalo for the 2016 NHL Draft with 10 picks and no clear starting goalie. They left 48 hours later with 10 brand-new players, including a shiny new starting goaltender.
Here’s how Brad Treliving spent his weekend in Buffalo.
After getting a long, long look at him during the Memorial Cup tournament in nearby Red Deer, the Flames were really high on Matthew Tkachuk. Following some surprising selections by the five teams ahead of them, Tkachuk fell into Calgary’s lap at sixth overall. A highly-skilled, versatile forward that can play either wing (and even center, at times), Tkachuk’s father is longtime NHLer and 1,000 point-scorer Keith Tkachuk. Time will tell if the younger Tkachuk jumps right to the NHL like 2013 pick Sean Monahan and 2014 pick Sam Bennett did or if he needs to spent another year in junior first.
Before the first day of the draft was over, the Flames landed a goaltender. While they were linked to names ranging from Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury to Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop – both of whom carry big salary cap hits – they instead swapped the 35th overall pick (and a conditional 2018 third round pick if he re-signs with the club) for St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott. Elliott gets a fresh start (and potentially a new contract), Jake Allen gets the reins in St. Louis as the undisputed number one goalie, and the Flames get a good veteran goaltender with an affordable $2.5 million cap hit.
When the Flames returned to drafting at 54th overall they stuck with the Memorial Cup champions, this time taking star London netminder Tyler Parsons. He’s played a lot over the past two seasons for the Knights, and was good in the regular season but excellent in the playoffs. Two selections later, at 56th overall, the Flames selected Kelowna Rockets forward Dillion Dube. A product of Calgary’s minor hockey system, Dube was a point-per-game player in his second season in the WHL.
In the third round, the club selected Harvard-bound blueliner Adam Fox – who just set the single-record for defensive scoring for the U.S. National Development Program – at 66th overall. He’s not big, but he’s a good skater and incredibly offensively talented. At 96th overall, the Flames snagged talented Swedish center Linus Lindstrom. Again, he’s not a big player, but he was very good in Sweden’s junior league and he even played four pro games this season.
In the later rounds, the Flames added a mixture of size and speed (mostly size). Minnesota high schooler Mitchell Mattson (all 6’4″ of him) went 126th overall. Finnish two-way winger Eetu Tuulola (all 6’2″ of him) went 156th overall. Pint-sized Victoria Royals sniper Matthew Phillips (all 5’7″ of him) went to his hometown team at 166th overall. And they polished off their draft by selecting 19-year-old Belarussian defender Stepan Falkovsky (all 6’7″ of him) at 186th overall.
The Flames needed a little bit of everything when they came to the 2016 Draft. Oh, and a starting goalie.
They selected six forwards, two blueliners and a goaltender. They added two members of the Memorial Cup champion London Knights – and key players, too, in their overtime hero and their star goalie – along with two point-per-game WHL scorers, the highest-scoring single-season defender in U.S. National Development Program history, a point-per-game Swedish junior player, a promising Finnish two-way player with size, and a big-bodied Minnesota high schooler.
Oh, and they also got themselves a starting goalies.
It wasn’t a perfect weekend, but Treliving went a long way towards solving his hockey club’s problems.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.