Usually Flames fans have well over two months to mull over draft day after yet another season of playoff disappointment. However, this season not only has it been just slightly over two weeks since the last Flames game, the team is also picking well back of its usual top 10 position.
So what will happen this Saturday? Will the Flames be looking to move their 19th overall draft pick? Nobody, perhaps even Calgary, knows the answer to that question.
All signs point to a draft where a lot of transactions will take place. Aside from the top two selections, there's not a lot of difference between a number of prospects throughout the remainder of the first round. Usually when that occurs, teams see players they have rated highly start to slip a little and attempt to move up several spots in the draft.
But then there's also the September 15th cloud hanging over everyone's head. Certainly, many teams would love to shed salary in exchange for moving up in the draft but whether or not teams are willing to acquire players will go a long way in determining how interesting draft day will be.
1 Washington Alexandre Ovechkin. The consensus number one pick and has been since Rick Dudley tried to draft him in the ninth round last year.
2 Pittsburgh Evgeni Malkin. He might not be as flashy as his Russian counterpart but with the ability to play centre he could be more versatile while still piling up the points. He's also almost a year younger than Ovechkin. It will be interesting to compare the two even five years from now.
3 Chicago Al Montoya. The Blackhawks go with the hometown favourite in selecting the goaltender Montoya. He's also a low-risk pick budget-wise with two years left to go in college where he will continue to get better.
4 Columbus Cam Barker. If drafted fourth, will become the highest Winnipegger ever selected at the NHL Entry Draft (the highest Manitoban was Reggie Leach taken third). Barker helps solidify the Blue Jackets' blueline. Columbus may even pull off a flip with Chicago to make this one happen.
5 Phoenix Lauri Tukonen. Although he's a Finn, Tukonen plays a classic two-way grinding style as well as being a playmaking centreman. His style of game is just what the Coyotes are looking for as they rebuild.
6 NY Rangers Wojtek Wolski. The Rangers go off the table with the Mississauga native. The Rangers are willing to take a gamble on Wolski as the potential is there for him to emerge as one of the top forwards of this draft.
7 Florida Ladislav Smid. The Panthers likely have their eye on Montoya this draft, with his Miami connections plus their lack of goaltending prospects in the system. However, with Luongo still young they'd be just as happy to pluck a big defenceman who can play with the puck and more importantly play with Bouwmeester.
8 Carolina Marek Schwarz. Aside from Cam Ward, the goaltending prospect cupboard is bare for the 'Canes and Schwarz is a no-brainer pick for them.
9 Anaheim Drew Stafford. Stafford is a player that could go anywhere from fifth to 20th depending on how the teams rate him. His uncle, Barrie Stafford, is the longtime Oilers equipment manager but he won't sink to their position. I'm biased since I know his father Gord, former St. Albert Saints coach and have seen him in person many times in North Dakota but I think he could be a sleeper pick in the draft. He does everything well offensively and knows how to play defensively.
10 Atlanta Andrew Ladd. The highest rated North American skater, Ladd could go as high as third in this draft. Atlanta would be thrilled to scoop him up in the 10 spot.
Who the Flames Pick (19th Overall) ...
Devan Dubnyk. There are no sure things in the Calgary Flames organization when it comes to goaltending prospects and although Dubynk is far from a sure thing himself, the Flames are looking very thin in between the pipes with only an overweight Russian and an injury-prone netminder still looked at as a long-term project. Curtis McElhinney seemed to have plateaued this past season although admittedly the team in front of him took a major step backwards.
Another advantage to drafting Dubnyk is that he's from Calgary and will be readily available to participate in any prospect camps from here on out. It takes a long time to develop goaltenders in today's NHL but with a pick in the lower third of the first round the Flames can take that chance.
Possible Draft Day Movement
There won't be any roster movement by the Flames this Saturday as the team looks to quietly go about their business heading into what's expected to be a lengthy work stoppage. In fact, little in the way of actual bodies will be moved throughout the league with the exception of a richer team like Toronto rolling the dice on a luxury tax and potentially stocking up on players such as Jeff O'Neill.
There may be some movement in the draft order as teams package up second, third or fourth rounders in order to move up several positions in the first round as players they thought would be gone earlier start to fall.
For now Lydman, Gauthier, Montador and Commodore are safe as the Flames wait out a better offeror perhaps simply a different setting to make their move.