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What a Draft Day, Oh What a Draft Day

Calgary Flames make out like thieves in tremendous 2020 NHL Entry Draft

2020 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

It all started when the Flames came up on the clock at 19, and for the first time in round one we heard Gary Bettman’s famous line “We have a trade to announce”. Brad Treliving trades down from 19 to 22 and picks up an extra 3rd rounder. When 22 rolls around he does it again, trading to 24th for yet another third rounder. According to value of draft picks Brad Treliving traded 4.5 wins worth of picks for 5.1 wins. A truly amazing start to a truly fantastic draft from this team. Now onto the Players!

24th overall: Connor Zary - C, Kamploops (WHL), 57GP - 38g - 48a - 86p

The guy they had targeted at 19 still falls to them at 24 thanks to a bunch of questionable defenceman picks in the 1st round. What a gift. Zary is a tremendously offensive player in his own right, but as a 17 year old playing against already drafted 19-20 year olds he ranked in the 98th percentile of neutral zone takeaways. His defensive potential is at the same level as his offensive potential. Truly a great pick by Brad and his crew

Zary has tremendous takeaway skills in the neutral zone, as well as an elite finishing ability & all star level passing potential. Zone exits/entries are a worry, but being on a weaker WHL team can skew those numbers.

NHLe takes the production a player had in their current league (for Zary the WHL) and computes it to what would equate to points in an NHL season. Byron’s created a system that shows players that had similar NHLe trajectories from their DY-1 to their DY, making for a very reliable comparison model. As we can see here Zary had a 37 NHLe and players that look like him become NHL regulars (min 200gp) 65% of the time.

Pick Grade: A

50th overall: Yan Kuznetsov - D, UCONN (NCAA), 34GP - 2g - 9a - 11p

The big thing about Kuznetsov is, well, he’s big. A bit of a reach at 50, and definitely a project player they’ll try and develop into a transitional shutdown defenceman. There were a lot of highly skilled forwards still left on the board so i question this choice. Upside is he was the youngest player playing in all of NCAA hockey last season and he held his own every night.

As we can see here players that develop like Kuznetsov offensively tend to only make the NHL 36% of the time. His real skill here would be in his defensive game, which is not measured in this projection. As the year goes on and more games at UCONN are tracked i will have updates as this pick intrigues me.

Grade: C+

72nd Overall: Jeremie Poirer - D, Saint John (QMJHL), 64GP - 20g - 33a - 53p

This pick makes the trade down in the 1st round even more of a steal. Multiple experts had Jeremie as a top 31 talent and the Flames are able to nab him in the 3rd. So many athletic tools he uses well on the blueline, both with the puck and without it. He himself recognizes his defensive game needs to grow (he told the Fan960 he knew that) and plans to prove everyone wrong for passing on him. Excited to see what such a talented player brings to the fold.

As we can clearly see here this was a steal of a 3rd round pick based on how he was playing. Tremendous offensive potential oozes out of this kid. He gets the puck out of his zone 80% of the time, with control of it. That’s not off the glass, that’s a targeted stick to stick pass or skating it out himself. And he does it while limiting turnovers. Very skilled indeed.

The 17 year old draftee is going to have to be followed closely this coming 2020-21 season. If he continues to produce offence you’re going to see his percentages climb this chart. Plenty of draft experts agree that Poirer was an amazing pick.

Grade: A-

80th overall: Jake Boltmann - D, Edina Minnesota HS, 25gp - 4g - 9a - 13p

Another potential project Dman for the Flames to try and turn into a shutdown guy. A prospect that is most certainly going to need time to marinate, he’s committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2021-22 season so the Flames can wait and see how he turns out until his college career is over. Certainly a long term pick, but with extremely skilled forward Zion Nybeck on the board and two straight defencemen just taken this pick surprised myself.

I’m a little rough on him, but players that look like Boltmann don’t often make it far. Not every draft pick you make is going to succeed, you hope to get at best 2 NHL contributors per draft, in my personal opinion this was a miss by the Flames, but then again 27% chance to make it isn’t 0.

Grade: C-

96th overall: Daniil Chechelev - G, Chekhov (MHL), 49GP - 2.20 GAA - .922 sv%

I’m not gonna try and fool anybody, I straight up have no idea who this kid is, was or anything about him. My goalie guru from twitter, Catherine Silverman, responded that she didn’t have him ranked (neither did draft expert Colin Cudmore) and didn’t know much about his style of play or anything. The Flames scouts obviously liked him, hence why he’s now joined Parsons and Wolf in the prospect crease. He’s got a truly hilarious instagram account as well. Seriously i don’t know anything about this kid.

Grade: N/A (default C)

143rd overall: Ryan Francis - RW, Cape Breton (QMJHL), 61GP - 24g - 48a - 72p

Now comes the fun part, the nifty skilled smaller forwards that fell. Francis has tremendous offensive vision and some highly skilled skating abilities. As a young man in the Q he was able to go over a p/gm with strong metrics on both sides of the puck. Colin Cudmore had this rated as a steal as he should have been drafted way higher than where the Flames got him. The explosiveness in his game isn’t there like Zary’s, but he still has good potential nonetheless.

A 90th percentile passer, that gets the puck out of his zone whenever it’s put on his stick, he takes it through the neutral zone and goes into the opponents zone, all while maintaining possession. Doesn’t seem to have strong forechecking numbers, would not fair well in a dump and chase system, more of a rush chance generator. Has defensive weaknesses that need to be addressed.

For as late as we got him, i’ll absolutely take a 45% chance to play 200 games. Now remember the odds say it’s more likely he doesn’t play, but between him and Kenins i’m positive one of them will turn into a good contributor for this team.

Grade: B+

174th overall: Rory Kerins - C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), 64GP - 30g - 29a - 59p

Another smaller skilled forward, was voted MVP of his team this past season. His ability to put the puck in the net comes from smart positioning when on the ice, he doesn’t possess a lethal shot by any means but he’s a very gifted passer and a zone entry/exit fiend. Again Cudmore ranked this as a steal of a pick for Calgary who loves to have later round picks pan out. Kerins has some aspects to work on in his game, like any 6th pick would, but he has a good competitive motor and will be fun to watch his development path.

Very good at zone entries, and got 30 goals this year. What this chart suggests to me is that he can go quiet at times. He has the ability to score but if in 8 games tracked you can’t get past the 25th percentile in shooting categories you can go vacant, ala Rene Bourque style. No forechecking in his game, completely relies on bigger wingers to retrieve the puck out of the corner for him, but he hardly sumps the puck in he usually strolls over the blue line with possession.

As just mentioned above, 51% chance that the 6th rounder contributes. I’ll take those odds every draft please. The jump in production seems catered to more defensive players and big wingers, to which Kenins is not so it will be interesting to see how his DY+1 plays out.

Grade: B

205th overall: Ilya Solovyov - D, Saginaw (OHL), 53gp - 7g - 33a - 40p

Solovyov is an overage defenceman, passed over in his first two draft eligible years. He came to North America in 19-20 to prove he was a competitive player and to try and get drafted. As a 20 year old in the OHL it was only natural he did well against the competition, but he did REALLY well. He showed up, put in the work and the Flames scouts took notice. Currently playing in the KHL for Minsk against AHL level competition we will immediately be able to see how Solovyov can play.

A 6’2”, 210lbs 20 year old dman SHOULD dominate the younger competition in the OHL, and Solovyov did just that. He came to NA and proved he can play the NHL style of play, now he’s gone to the KHL to see how he fares against Men. With results like he had here, i’ve got decent hopes for the young man.

With a lack of data from his DY-1 to his DY+1 i bring skepticism to this chart. 67% is very generous, but as you can see in the comparisons his NHLe trajectory has been replicated before. Markov would be a best case scenario, but anything Yannick Weber like would be considered a huge 7th round victory for Calgary.

Grade: B-

In Summation: The Flames have easily come away from this historically deep draft class with loads of potential talent. Zary and Poirer seem (at the current moment) like sure bets to develop into impact roster players in the not too distant future. Francis and Kerins hold a lot of offensive potential that should have been snatched way earlier than where they were taken. in regards to the two big project Dmen the team took, we’ll have to see how the college development path works for them, there won’t be a 2 year limit to sign these two players so the Flames will get a good long look at their eventual trajectory before having to decide whether to sign them or not. Solovyov playing in the KHL will surely show us what he’s made of right off the bat, and as for the goalie..... he’s either the next Mason McDonald or the next Dominik Hasek (Honestly i seriously have no clue with him)

OVERALL FINAL DRAFT GRADE: B+

Major shoutout to Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) at HockeyProspecting.com He’s a Flames fan as well and if you love hockey I recommend subscribing to his site.

2nd shoutout to Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) and his NCAA and CHL tracking database. With his work we can explore more in depth about a multitude of prospects. Support his Patreon and get access to amazing data here: https://www.patreon.com/user/overview?u=13951676