Recapping the Calgary Flames 2011 NHL Draft

Let me start by saying I have zero intentions of addressing the trades and signings by the Calgary Flames during the draft, for while they occurred at the draft, they weren't part of the draft itself. Those will absolutely be addressed, just addressed separately. 

The Calgary Flames walked into Minnesota holding five draft picks: a first, the two seconds from Erixongate, a fourth, and a sixth. The third was gone in the Staios trade, the original second left for Anton Stralman and a mess of other players, and the seventh was traded for a broken wooden doll resembling a Swedish hockey player. 

So without further ado, here's a list of the picks, and how we got to them:

Round 1, 13th Overall: Sven Bartschi

I'll admit to being surprised at Sven's availability at this point, but then, there were some really bizarre picks in front of him. Case in point: Mark Scheifele going to Winnipeg seventh overall in what will surely be known as the first hint that Don Waddell was still running the team despite having been fired and the team no longer being in Atlanta some years down the road. So, reaches like Scheifele and Brodin helped SVEN remain available for the Flames.

After the jump: why Sven is a solid draft choice, who the heck is Laurent Brossoit anyways, and who the raddest Flame is after the draft.

There was a surprising amount of "outrage" at the Flames selecting SVEN, despite the fact that SVEN isn't the reason Tanguay wasn't signed for too long, Regehr was traded, or the goal wasn't goal in 2004. It's hard to say why exactly, but I'm sure a lot has to do with people being sold on lesser players. For the record, he wasn't my first choice, but my top 3/4 were so close that I'm happy. 

What makes him so excellent? He's already capable of two-way play, though his bread and butter is offense. He consistently contributes at even strength (fewest zero point games in the WHL last year, possibly the entire CHL), and has very few flaws in his game. SVEN is a terrific player and is immediately the best prospect in the entire Flame organization. There's a lot of reasons to complain about the direction of the Flames right now, or lack thereof, but selecting SVEN 13th overall certainly isn't one of them.

Round 2, 45th Overall, Markus Granlund

At this point of the second round teams are past the "draft guys who fell out of the first round" part and into the "draft these guys who have high upside with huge holes in their game"  part. That being said, Granlund isn't a terrible pick here. He's not high end like his older brother Mikael Granlund, but he's still a good player in his own right. If he can figure out how to put a few more pieces together, he could easily be the Valeri to Mikael's Pavel Bure. Of course, with picks at this point, I'd guess there's about a 30% chance of that happening.

Round 2, 57th Overall, Tyler Wotherspoon

Everything about Wotherspoon screams completely average- and to me, that's a good thing. At this point in the draft you've left all the true "high risk, high reward" players behind and you have two choices: average and steady or high risk decent reward. Given the location of the pick and the new found paucity of quality defensive prospects in the Calgary farm system, Wotherspoon being an average guy who does nothing great but everything decent works for me.

Round 4, 104th Overall, John Gaudreau

The 4th round and beyond are a totally different type of draft. Here there is no "safe pick" vs. "risky pick". You take who ever looks like they could eventually have a high upside. And that makes John Gaudreau an excellent pick in my opinion. Let me first start by pointing out this article written at the Calgary Flames official website. Like most CalgaryFlames.com written pieces, 90% is fluff, but what it's talking about is actually pretty interesting and something a lot of statistics nerds have been diving into lately. The question that has been posed for so long is "How can you identify a teenage prospect who is not simply dominating at his age but will also continue to dominate as he gets older?" The company the Flames hired, Decision Lens, aims to answer that question. 

Internet nerds have solved several parts of the equation as is, and we can assume these have been incorporated into the Flames new algorithm. These parts include ignoring bulk entirely, paying a lot less attention to size if the skill is there, drafting players who are very young for their draft year, targeting players who score primarily at even strength, and so on. How does this pertain to Gaudreau?

Simply put, he hits several of those checkmarks. Of his 72 points in 60 games, only 25 were on the power play, which is a great proportion. He probably was overlooked by scouts and other teams due to both his height and bulk (5'6" 150lbs.). Why does bulk not matter at all? Mostly because it's one of the easiest things to correct. The height thing only really matters if he's unable to keep his center of gravity low. One of the most important things though is his birthday. Being born in August of 1993, he was 17 for the entirety of his only (also rookie) season in the USHL, while most other players were either turning 18 during the season, or even older. Relative to an older player with more experience at that level, his statistics are more impressive. John Gaudreau is, simply put, my favorite Calgary draft pick.

Round 6, 164th Overall, Laurent Brossoit

If you're gonna take a goalie, this is when you take him. That's all I've got. Really.

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