LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 08: Charlie Coyle #18 of Team USA moves the puck around Olli Maatta #59 of Team Finland at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 8, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. Team USA defeated Team Finland 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Flames are currently last in the Northwest, second worst in the Western Conference, and fifth worst in the NHL overall. I don't bring this up revel in the joy of always being right, but rather to look at some of the positive things we have to look forward to- and with the release of Central Scouting's preliminary prospect rankings today, I can't think of a better thing to look forward to than the drafting of a high end prospect for the Flames.
So based on preliminary rankings, who could the Flames draft?
1. Martin Frk- RW QMJHL- Halifax Moosehead
With Yakupov, Grigorenko, and Galchenyuk all likely gone in the top three and Ryan Murray looking like a solid bet for #4 overall, the player with the vowelless last name is likely one of the best players available at forward. He hasn't played a game this season due to post-concussion symptoms (CSS claims he'll start playing again next month), but provided he is able to recover, the six foot winger could be an excellent prospect for the Calgary Flames.
2. Tomas Hertl- C Czech- Slavia Praha HC
While it's a little unsure where the Czech center will go in the draft next season, early reports indicate he's a hell of a player- and the stats back it up. With 15 points in 22 games in a professional league, Hertl is already playing against the men with the size and strength he'd see in the NHL- and doing it pretty well too. Scouting is pretty limited at this time, but if he can play this well as an 18 year old against professionals, he probably has a pretty high ceiling.
3. Olli Maatta- D OHL- London Knights
Admittedly, I'd rather the Flames go after a forward, since that's the part of our team that's falling apart quickest, but I can't say I'd complain too much about drafting the Jyvaskyla, Finland native. Why? The pun possibilities! Just think- the Flames lose a few games: "What's the Maatta, Olli?" Alternatively, the Flames win a bunch of games: "Nothing's the Maatta here!"
Not to mention it's simply impossible to accrue too many players named "Olli".
On a real note- he's a terrific two way defenseman. He may not have gaudy stats, but his defensive game will need little work at this point unlike most defensive prospects coming out of junior. While a defenseman isn't the current priority, a solid one wouldn't hurt.
It's admittedly early to expect the Flames to be drafting in the 5-7 range, or any of these players to be worth drafting at that point, but it's nice to step back and think of the positive things that come out of a negative season every once in a while.