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Scouting the Draft: Evaluating the Flames' Needs

With under a month to go until the NHL draft, in which the Flames will enjoy three picks in the first round (for now), let us examine some areas where Calgary could stand to bolster its prospect stable.

Bruce Bennett

After the Flames went off the board in the first round of last year's draft, selecting centre Mark Jankowski straight out of high school with the 21st overall pick, one would have to think no such tomfoolery will be tolerated on June 30th in Newark. Jay Feaster and the Flames have the sixth overall pick in a draft that is thought to be ripe with all sorts of fine young talent deep into the first round.

The Flames have been trying to acquire that elusive first line centre since what seems like the dawn of time, and as it seems unlikely that The Big Jankowski will fill that role any time, well, ever, Feaster and Weisbrod will likely continue looking to land a future impact forward in some way, shape or form this summer, whether it's through the draft, free agency or a trade.

Let's review the Flames' other picks in the 2012 entry draft:

Round 2: D Patrick Sieloff

Round 3: G Jon Gillies

Round 4: D Brett Kulak

Round 5: D Ryan Culkin

Round 6: F Coda Gordon

Round 7: F Matthew DeBlouw

The total count last year was three forwards, one goalie and three defencemen. This year, the Flames could have three picks in the first round alone and at least five picks in rounds three through seven, barring any trades or conditions. When drafting with the highest pick the team has had since 2003, selecting the best player available is imperative, although with the sixth overall pick, drafting according to need could also be a possibility. If the top five goes something like Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov and Valeri Nichushkin, then the Flames could find themselves having to choose between the likes of centres Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm or defender Darnell Nurse.

A top forward is likely the Flames' number one priority in this year's draft. Sven Baertschi will likely be back with the Flames next season and Markus Granlund could be on his way over to North America, but with John Gaudreau choosing to remain at Boston College next year rather than turning pro, the Flames lack any more new and young forward prospects to get excited about at the moment. With the departure of Jay Bouwmeester and Anton Babchuk and the questionable futures of the likes of Cory Sarich and Brett Carson with the Flames organization, there's no doubt the Flames will also have a hole in their blueline, which could be aided by someone like Nurse.

But Nurse could go higher based on the final CSS rankings, and depending on his recovery from a shoulder injury sustained at the World Championships, Barkov could fall a spot or two and potentially make the Flames very fortunate. In all likelihood, however, that is extremely wishful thinking.

Of course Flames management could also choose to make what would probably be considered most fan's worst nightmare come true and select a goalie sixth overall.

I'll be previewing different potential first round picks for the Flames leading up to the Draft and there will probably be an SBN mock-draft as well.

In the meantime, which prospective Flame would like to know more about?