SUN Hockey Pool

Flames stocking shelves

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:26 AM ET

ST. PAUL, MINN. - With three picks in the top 57 of the NHL Entry Draft, GM Jay Feaster can finally get started on the next generation of Calgary Flames.

A team that seemed permanently stuck in the present, mortgaging tomorrow for a today that always came up short, the Flames are at last beginning to accumulate some building blocks for the future.

In moving Robyn Regehr and Ales Kotalik for a pair of young Buffalo Sabres and then hauling a handful of prospects out of the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul, the first baby-steps of an eventual rebuilding have begun.

“We get younger, we start to change a little bit the face of the franchise,” said Feaster, who took Switzerland’s Sven Bartschi (85 points in 66 games with Portland last year) at 13th overall Friday and added picks at 45 and 57 Saturday. “We need to start increasing the skill level in the organization.”

They hope they’ve done that with Bartschi and fellow European Markus Granlund, a 52-point in 40-game centre from the Finnish junior ranks.

“He’s a guy who’s a good playmaker, very, very good offensive hockey sense,” said Feaster. “He has good vision and hands and he’s a guy our scouts really like. We’re fortunate to have him there.”

Granlund, who’ll go back to play in Finland next season, isn’t much for words, but they say he’s got game.

“It’s a big honour to be drafted,” he said. “Calgary is a good team, good city and good fans. I think it’s a very good organization.”

With No. 57, they took another Portland player, defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon. He’s described as a good two-way defenceman with good size for an 18-year-old (6-foot-1, 196-lb.) and mobility enough to explore more of his offensive side.

And it’ll help that he’ll already have a built-in buddy in Dub teammate Bartschi.

“Having Sven go to Calgary is great,” Wotherspoon said. “I didn’t know where I was going, but Calgary is a great city. I’ve been there lots and I’m excited.”

With four players going in the first two rounds — Bartschi 13th, Joseph Morrow 23rd to the Penguins, Ty Rattie 32nd to St. Louis and Wotherspoon 57th — Portland is doing something right.

“Having Mike (Johnston), a professional coach who played in the NHL, really helps,” said Wotherspoon. “He really sets the standards high for us. He makes us as close to pro as he can.”


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