With the NHL draft lottery just a few days away, I thought it would be a fun excercise to take a look at who the Calgary Flames might consider drafting if they get extremely lucky and get themselves a Top 2 pick at this year’s draft. The lottery will be held on Wednesday June 2 and the Flames will come in with the 13th best odds. This means their chances of winning the lottery will be very slim, with just a 2.2% chance of the #1 overall pick, and a 4.6% chance of a Top 2 pick.
However, for the sake of content, let’s say the Flames win a Top 2 pick. What would they do? This year’s draft class is a little bit different than other years in that there really isn’t a consensus number one pick available, and surely isn’t really a consensus number 2 either as a result. This would leave a lot of options for the Flames should they win a top pick.
Scenario #1: Flames Win 1st Overall Pick
I guess the biggest question we would want to answer first is what the Flames currently have for holes both at the NHL level and in the system. With recent first round picks Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary in the forward system, it appears that the Flames would be wise looking at defence with the #1 pick.
After not selecting a defenseman since the first round of 2017 (Juuso Valimaki), the Flames chose four last year, including three consecutive picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds (Yan Kuznetsov, Jeremie Poirier, Jake Boltmann). With Kuznetsov set to join Stockton next year, he’s likely still at least a few years away from really factoring in at the NHL level.
I think it’s really a simple decision if the Flames get the first pick, and that’s to draft Owen Power who has been the closest thing to consensus #1 throughout the year. With the development of Juuso Valimaki and likely departure of Mark Giordano in the near future, adding a LHD could really supplement the team well in the present and future.
I have watched Power at the World Championships over the last few weeks and have really been impressed with his play as he’s earned more time in the lineup for Canada. I think it would make the most sense to add to the defensive core should the Flames have the top pick.
Scenario #2: Flames Win 2nd Overall Pick, Power Already Taken 1st Overall
If the Flames end up with the 2nd overall pick, I think the answer on who they would draft is a lot more debatable. This year’s draft features a number of players who could climb to the #2 spot or fall back as the gap between each is fairly minimal.
I think it has become apparent that the Flames could use some help at the center position should they not make a blockbuster trade. Out of the available players, I think someone like William Eklund could be a good fit for the team. He is currently the top ranked European skater by Central Scouting and had a solid season playing in the SHL as an 18 year old.
Eklund is a very well rounded player both offensively and defensively with the ability to play both Center and Wing positions as needed. Even if he’s not quite NHL ready this year, he would be a great piece to have in the system for a season.
Matthew Beniers is another center who has been projected to go as high as #2 in some mock drafts. He fell to #6 in the rankings among North American skaters but projects as a player who could be in the NHL as soon as this upcoming season.
If the Flames decide to stick with defense with the pick, adding Luke Hughes so they could have a Hughes brother would be a strong pick as well, although maybe a touch high for the #2 spot. Out of all the players mentioned, I would lean towards Eklund, but I could be swayed to any side really.
Scenario #3: Trade the Pick
One thing that winning a lottery and getting a top 2 pick also does is provide the Flames with a ton of extra and unexpected trade value. If the Flames pick suddenly becomes Top 2, could they use it to entice Buffalo for a Jack Eichel trade?
I feel like Eichel is probably the only player worth trading a pick this high for, but it would certainly be an intriguing possibility especially if Buffalo wins the other lottery and can select 1-2 this year. Another option would be trading back as well and picking up some picks for later in this draft or next year. BT showed his mastery of that last year when he picked up a pair of 3rds and still got the player they wanted in Connor Zary.
Of course all of this probably won’t matter with the Flames holding just a 4.6% chance of a top pick, but it’s fun to see what could happen. What will actually happen I’m sure though is the team with the 12th best odds winning a lottery and the Flames missing out because they won an actual game against Vancouver. That would maximize the misery, and that’s just what happens when you’re a fan of the Flames. The lottery goes Wednesday night at 5:00 PM MT.