SUN Hockey Pool

Sutter's forward thinking

Flames GM Darryl Sutter is trying to move up the draft ladder. SUN MEDIA/Darren Makowichuk

Flames GM Darryl Sutter is trying to move up the draft ladder. SUN MEDIA/Darren Makowichuk

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

They've got goaltending prospects galore.

Defence is a spot of strength, too -- both in numbers and talent.

So what the Calgary Flames will be looking to add is another future top-end forward Friday night when they make their pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.

The only question is when they make that pick.

Sure, the Flames own the 17th overall selection. That doesn't mean they won't make some sort of swap between now and when they're called to the podium.

"We're trying to move up," Flames general manager Darryl Sutter said yesterday at the Saddledome, making mouths drool in anticipation of a potential trade.

"And we're trying to move down," he added, taking the wind out of everybody's sails.

"And we're trying to stay where we are," he finished, confusing the lot.

What he means is they're exploring all options, but believe they will get their money's worth at No. 17.

After all, it's a better spot than they've seen since grabbing Norris Trophy finalist Dion Phaneuf ninth overall in 2003.

Two picks in the 24th spot and another pair in the 26th are signs the team has done well, but picking that low makes it tough to snag top-end talent.

"That in itself is significant -- seven spots up -- and with this being I think probably the best draft since Phaneuf's year in terms of the depth of it all, I think that's significant," said Sutter, adding there has been a big gap between the 18th and 30th picks in the past few years.

The Flames probably have their eyes on a handful of what they consider to be the top wingers or centres who will be available at their current slot.

Should that list dwindle earlier than expected, they could move up a few spots to snare someone they expect to have an impact in the NHL a few seasons from now.

If many remain when their turn comes around, they could look to move down and add a pick in the second round -- the only round the Flames currently lack a selection -- and still get one of the targeted players.

A talented winger like Sweden's Mattias Tedenby or a centre such as Greg Nemisz (of the Windsor Spitfires) could be on the radar at No. 17.

Dealing down could still see them land a good ol' Western Canadian kid like Regina's Jordan Eberle (C, Regina Pats) or Calgary's own Joe Colborne (LW, Camrose Kodiaks).

Zac Dalpe has turned heads in junior A, leading the Penticton Vees to a BCHL championship, and could go anywhere in the latter half of the first round.

"I like that pick (at No. 17). It's hard to tell who falls there because there's so many good defenceman, and I think they'll be in the top 10. And probably three or four centremen, too, in the top 10," said Sutter.

About the only certainty is the Flames' need.

"I'm sure there are some goalies that will go in the first round -- one or two -- but we won't be in that market.

"We think on defence, with the guys that we have and the kids that we drafted, if it was a saw-off between a defenceman and a forward, we wouldn't take a defenceman.

"The chances are, if we stay at 17, that we take a forward there."

But unless they move into the top 10, prepare to be patient with the prospect.


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