SUN Hockey Pool

Flames up front on needs

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

With so many talented defencemen in this year's NHL draft, the forwards are going to be at a premium.

But after Steven Stamkos -- the consensus No. 1 pick in tomorrow night's first round -- where they go is a mystery to even the most experienced scouts.

"It's hard, because there's so many defencemen that if you really value a forward ... they may go earlier than where you have them," said Tod Button, the Calgary Flames' director of scouting.

And the Flames do covet a forward.

General manager Darryl Sutter said as much Monday.

Common sense when looking at the franchise's current stable of prospects would tell you the same.

But while two-way ability is still important to the Flames, size has definitely taken a back seat to skill in today's NHL.

There are some talented but tiny players available this weekend in Ottawa, and the Flames likely won't shy away from grabbing whichever one they have rated the highest when they pick at No. 17.

Mattias Tedenby, Zach Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, and Tyler Ennis are all under six feet in stature. They're big on talent, though, and one of them should be available when the Flames are on the clock.

Not giving away any secrets, Button admits a lack of height won't eliminate any of them from consideration.

"I don't think you look at size anymore," Button said. "Ability is more important than physical stature."

There's always room to grow, or improve strength. Talent is innate.

"When they drafted Gary Roberts, he couldn't do a chin-up," said Button with a laugh. "I know it's hard to believe."

Here are 10 prospects we wouldn't mind seeing pull on the Flaming C tomorrow night.

1. LW Mikkel Boedker, Kitchener (OHL)

- 5-ft.-11, 195 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Dec. 16, 1989, in Copenhagen, Denmark

- There's no way Boedker lasts until the 17th pick of the draft, so the Flames would have to trade up to snag him, but he fits a need on the left side and has the potential to be an impact player in the NHL sooner than later. A great skater with a nice mix of playmaking ability -- he quarterbacked the Rangers powerplay from the point -- and shooting power, Boedker could be the guy who replaces Alex Tanguay when he inevitably leaves Calgary.

2. C Colin Wilson, Boston University (NCAA)

- 6-ft.-1, 215 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Oct. 20, 1989, in Greenwich, Ct.

- Some scouts say he has a choppy stride, others say he has quick feet. What nobody disputes is his hockey sense and vision on the ice. He isn't the fastest forward, but he's got just about every other quality you look for in a pick. Again, he'll likely be gone by the time the Flames make their selection, barring a move up, but he'd look great in the Flaming C. And he wouldn't be the first member of his family to don it, either. His dad, Carey, played for the Flames for eight seasons over two stints.

3. C Joshua Bailey, Windsor (OHL)

- 6-ft., 188 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Oct. 2, 1989, in Oshawa, Ont.

- Ranked 14th among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Service, Bailey would be a steal if still around by the time the Flames pick. He has a little more size than some of the other speedy playmakers, and that could set him apart if the Flames believe he can add a little more grit to his game. He is a skilled guy but can also help out defensively, and his hard work and leadership skills have been praised by scouts.

4. C Zach Boychuk, Lethbridge (WHL)

- 5-ft.-9, 175 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Oct. 4, 1989, in Calgary

Even if he wasn't a local product and didn't play in the Western Hockey League, Darryl Sutter would have to take notice of Boychuk. His size is the one knock on him, but in today's NHL, does size really matter anymore? Not when you can skate as quickly and handle the puck as efficiently as Boychuk. If he slips too far out of the top 10, someone's getting a steal.

5. C Kyle Beach, Everett (WHL)

- 6-ft.-3, 203 lb.

- Shoots right

- Born Jan. 13, 1990, in North Vancouver

- Playing for a defensive-minded team like Everett is a good thing when it comes to what the Flames normally look for in a prospect. They want him to be sound in his own end. Being feisty helps, too, and Beach doesn't lack in that department. He scrapped his way to an average of three penalty minutes a game while also scoring on a point-per-game pace. Two concussions, a hernia and a questionable attitude might see him fall into his hometown Vancouver Canucks' laps at No. 10. We'd rather see him in Calgary.

6. LW Mattias Tedenby, HV71 (Sweden)

- 5-ft.-9, 169 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Feb. 21, 1990, in Vetlanda, Sweden

- Imagine in the not-too-distant future a speedy Swedish duo of the Flames' top pick last year, centre Mikael Backlund, and winger Tedenby on his flank. With the talent each player possesses, it could be deadly for defences to try and shut them down -- especially when you consider the Flames would still have a top line starring Jarome Iginla.

7. C/RW Zac Dalpe, Penticton (BCHL)

- 6-ft., 170 lb.

- Shoots right

- Born Nov. 1, 1989, in Paris, Ont.

- Dalpe left Jr. B hockey back home to join the BCHL Vees and improve his game. He helped lead Penticton to a title and rose to 16th among North American skaters in the Central Scouting rankings. A lack of top competition makes it hard to judge his future, but Vees head coach Fred Harbinson believes "he's got a high ceiling."

8. LW Joe Colborne, Camrose (AJHL)

- 6-ft.-5, 190 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Jan. 20, 1990, in Calgary

- Colborne is another player who is hard to get a read on. He was named playoff MVP after leading the Kodiaks to the Doyle Cup this year. He shares a nickname, Jumbo, with San Jose Sharks star Joe Thornton thanks to a growth spurt that shot him to new heights to go with soft hands and smarts. He's going to Ohio State next year and will get plenty of time to fill out.

9. C Jordan Eberle, Regina (WHL)

- 5-ft.-10, 174 lb.

- Shoots right

- Born May 15, 1990, in Regina

- Eberle calls Calgary home, but he's come a long way since leading the Calgary Buffaloes to an Alberta Midget Triple-A provincial championship and the Telus Cup final in 2005-06. He sniped 42 goals with the Regina Pats last season and already boasts NHL hands. His sneaky speed and touch around the net should translate to the top level.

10. C Tyler Ennis, Medicine Hat (WHL)

- 5-ft.-9, 146 lb.

- Shoots left

- Born Oct. 6, 1989, in Edmonton

- Smaller than Eberle, Tedenby and Boychuk, Ennis was once as tall as No. 5 in the Central rankings before settling in the 31st spot. Undrafted as a bantam, he found his place with the WHL Tigers and was named an Eastern Conference first-team all-star after finishing second in the league with 43 goals and fourth overall with 91 points. He's a dangerous player and tough for his size.

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FLAMES' ALL-TIME ...

TOP BARGAINS

1. RW Theoren Fleury (eighth round, 166th overall, 1987)

2. RW Hakan Loob (ninth round, 181st overall, 1980)

3. D Gary Suter (ninth round, 180th overall, 1984)

4. RW Sergei Makarov (12th round, 231st overall, 1983)

5. G Mike Vernon (third round, 56th overall, 1981)

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BIGGEST BUSTS

1. C Daniel Tkaczuk (first round, sixth overall, 1997)

2. RW Rico Fata (first round, sixth overall, 1998)

3. RW Jesper Mattsson (first round, 18th overall, 1993)

4. RW Niklas Sundblad (first round, 19th overall, 1991)

5. G Brent Krahn (first round, ninth overall, 2000)


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