SUN Hockey Pool

Forgettable draft weekend for Flames

STEVE MacFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:00 AM ET

If you were on vacation this weekend, camping in the Rockies or just avoiding technology altogether, you might be wondering what you missed at the NHL draft.

The answer ... not much.

Especially if you’re a Calgary Flames fan expecting general manager Darryl Sutter to make his usual splash at the annual prospect bonanza.

He did make a trade — dealing his sixth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Swedish goaltender Henrik Karlsson — but aside from snagging what could be Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup this season, the roster that missed out on last year’s playoffs remains the same.

Barring a change of heart with regards to what he’s willing to move, or maybe a sudden switch in asking price for allegedly available star centres like Jason Spezza, Marc Savard and Mike Ribeiro, there’s a pretty good chance the Flames will look nearly identical even after unrestricted free agency kicks off on Canada Day.

Sutter was asked if he had any poles in the water on the trade front after talks with other league GMs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on the weekend.

“Not very much, really, not from our standpoint,” was his answer, which encompassed the UFA period that begins Thursday.

“I don’t think free agency has a lot to do with it this year. That free-agent market is not a market with a lot of top end in it anyway.

“I don’t think we’re going to be heavy in that.”

Sutter said before the draft he wouldn’t be a major player.

Turns out he was telling the truth.

But he wasn’t alone in disappointing at what has traditionally been an event promising activity.

The most excitement came early Friday when the Taylor vs. Tyler question was answered, with the Edmonton Oilers scooping up Calgary-born Taylor Hall with the first overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

That left the Boston Bruins with Tyler Seguin — a hell of a consolation prize.

Things were decidedly less dramatic from there.

After a week that saw Nathan Horton, Dustin Byfuglien and Dennis Wideman change addresses and the 15th-overall pick change hands, the biggest name to move during the draft was Keith Ballard.

Ballard went from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks in exhcange for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and a first-round pick.

There were other minor deals, but nothing near last year’s Chris Pronger-to-the-Philadelphia-Flyers or Jay-Bouwmeester’s-rights-to-the-Flames eye-openers.

Spezza, Savard, Ribeiro and Tomas Kaberle stayed put — although any of them could be moved in the next few days if interested teams decide to increase their offers.

So for the first time in recent memory of an event that has seen the Flames land Alex Tanguay, Adrian Aucoin, Michael Cammalleri, and Bouwmeester, Calgary’s draft was all about its picks.

Only time will tell what the six players they drafted in Los Angeles this weekend can do.

The hope is Maxwell Reinhart can be at least as productive a scoring forward as his dad Paul Reinhart was for the Flames on defence.

That Joey Leach can become as intimidating and steady a competitor on the blueline as Robyn Regehr.

That John Ramage pans out the way his dad, Rob Ramage, did during his Stanley Cup season in Calgary.

That potential power forward Bill Arnold becomes a steal from the fourth round.

Or that one or both of Michael Ferland and Patrick Holland outproduce their fifth- and seventh-round status.

Next on the Flames’ task list is Monday’s deadline for qualifying offers to retain the rights of restricted free agents like Ian White, Brett Sutter, Matt Pelech, Matt Keetley, Gord Baldwin, Kris Chucko, J.D. Watt and Brad Cole.

Not the most exciting next step, but excitement might have to wait this year until the regular-season begins.


Videos

Photos