A number that should be at the forefront of many conversations about the Calgary Flames in the next couple of weeks.
No, the number isn’t being brought up because of the release of another Theo Fleury book, play, or documentary—although I would gladly welcome another one of those.
The digit, of course, is where the Flames are currently positioned to pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Without possessing a second round pick, due to being shipped off along with Ales Kotalik and Robyn Regehr in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, most of the focus for now is about what to do with their first round selection.
What kind of player should general manager Jay Feaster and the gang go for?
We can rule out them calling a goaltender's name with pick No. 14.
This is not only because goalies are rarely taken in the first round, but because, behind Miikka Kiprusoff, and with the likes of Leland Irving, Karri Ramo, Joni Ortio and Laurent Brossoit, there should be a starter amongst the group.
I would assume it’s down to a forward or defenceman.
Looking at the Flames’ depth chart, I see a lot of holes to fill in both the front and back end. With questions looming about players like superstar Jarome Iginla and fallen-out-of-favor Jay Bouwmeester, you never know what will be the situation will be when the potential No. 14 pick is ready to play.
In general, players picked around the middle of the first round will not make the immediate jump to the NHL.
This makes it hard to forecast what will be needed down the road, but I’ll just stick to who the Flames have in their system now.
They need help up front in the center and right-wing positions badly.
For a long time, the Flames have looked for someone who would be able to be a legitimate first-liner. There are some names who may fill that need down the road, but players like Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund and Ryan Howse still need some time to grow.
A player like Zemgus Girgensons (USHL, 6’2” 198 lbs) may be a good prospect to consider taking this year. He’s a big, talented centerman who is physical and takes a lot of shots— definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Also, if still available, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flames chose the smaller, yet skilled, right-winger Sebastian Collberg (SEL, 5’11” 176 lbs).
The Flames also need to add some size on defense.
They have moved towards taking defencemen who are more skilled than tough and rugged in recent years, so looking to add size may be something to consider for the team.
A few names who have been in conversation are Olli Maata (OHL, 6’2” 202 lbs), Jacob Trouba (USHL, 6’2” 193 lbs) and possibly Cody Ceci (OHL, 6’2” 207lbs.).
The problem is all three are ranked much higher than the Flames’ No. 14 pick, but it isn’t out of the ordinary for players to drop. I expect no different this year.
In the end, the NHL Entry Drafts are always tough to call. I’m sure this year will be very interesting for the Flames.
Which name Jay Feaster decides to call out, assuming the 14th pick is kept, is anyone’s guess.
If I were a betting man, I’d say it’ll be a forward approaching the stage on June 22.