June 20, 2012
Flames have marching 'orders'
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Had the Calgary Flames braintrust not gone over things one last time, Sven Baertschi would not be the club’s top prospect.
Hours before the first round of last year’s draft, Flames GM Jay Feaster, assistant GM John Weisbrod and the army of scouts were giving everything another look.
Baertschi was high on their list, but there was a box around him and the player above him in the order.
“We were challenging the list,” Feaster recalled. “We were challenging the order. We had some that were boxed saying, ‘Are we sure this guy ought to be above this guy?’ ”
So, they once again discussed and looked through their ratings about the players’ character, hockey sense, skating and other criteria.
Ultimately, they made a switch and Baertschi moved up one notch.
“If we had not made the change and not been refining the list, the player we would have drafted is a guy we think will play, but don’t think he’ll play in the same timeframe as Sven and don’t think he has the same upside,” Feaster said.
“What we’ve said and challenged our guys is to make sure the list is in the right order.”
Feaster wouldn’t divulge who that player was, but the next three selections were Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas), J.T. Miller (Rangers) and Joe Armia (Buffalo).
Bank on the Flames again going through their list in the final hours heading into this year’s draft Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh.
The Flames currently own the 14th-overall selection. They don’t have a second-rounder — they traded it to Buffalo in the Robyn Regehr trade which went down at last year’s draft — but have one selection in each of the remaining rounds of the seven-round affair.
“There’s that real upper echelon and it drops off, but at the same time, we think there’s value in this draft,” Feaster said of the calibre of this year’s draft class.
“We certainly think we’re going to get a good player at 14. Whether it’s a player who is as far advanced as Sven, I don’t know about that. Sven was a special case to be available at 13, but we feel good about it.”
Since the Flames need top prospects at both forward and defence, don’t expect them to zero on a position.
In fact, Feaster admits making that mistake during his Tampa Bay days, when he insisted on grabbing a defenceman one year.
“Then you say, ‘Look at all the good forwards we passed by,’ ” he said.
Of course, trades are just as much a part of the draft as nervous teenagers waiting to hear their names called.
Last year, the Flames made big news by dealing away Regehr.
This year, the talk is Jay Bouwmeester or even Mikael Backlund could be in the trade winds. Anything can happen.
“The process starts well before the weekend,” Feaster said. “I’ve been calling teams the last couple of weeks and had discussions.
“What happens when you get there is that gets more focused. The other thing that happens when you get there, you may have a guy that you’ve been talking to for a week here or two weeks, and then you get to Pittsburgh and you’ll call or he’ll call and say ‘Let’s go have a cup of coffee, let’s go down the street and let’s go for a walk.’
“Sometimes literally that process ... makes a difference.”
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak