Unless the Calgary Flames hit a speed bump of epic proportions after the Olympic break, chances are they will sneak into the playoffs at the eighth or seventh spot in the Western Conference.
It is what we have come to expect over the past five seasons.
That would mean the club would most likely be selecting anywhere from the 19th pick to the 24th come the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles...which is something, as Flames fans, that we have also become accustomed to.
Continuous years of inconsistency, where the team has managed to sneak into the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round.
Yes, we as fans can take solace in the fact we have been to the dance five straight seasons, but they weren't crowned prom king and have paid the price dearly for there efforts when it comes to draft day.
As far as prospects go, Calgary looks good in goal with the up-and-coming Leland Irving, who at 21-years-old has carried a successful junior career into the AHL for the Flames affiliate in Abbotsford.
On defence, the team has a plethora of young blueliners that are close to making the jump to the NHL with names like Matt Pelech, Keith Seabrook, John Negrin, TJ Brodie and last years top pick Tim Erixon–all of whom are under the age of 22.
That being said, it is highly unlikely that Darryl Sutter will address either position come the draft, as it has become painstakingly obvious over the years that the Flames continue to lack skill at the forward position.
Whether or not Sutter can find that late in the first round is the real question. Though the 2010 NHL Entry Draft looks as good as any when it comes to landing an offensive minded young forward who may make an impact someday.
With that in mind, I thought I would take a look at a few players that may be on Darryl Sutters radar, and if not, they probably should be.
C Jeff Skinner, Kitchener Rangers (Ranked 22nd in TSN's Prospect Rankings)
There is a lot to like about the 5'10", 197 lbs, centerman who brings as much work ethic to the table as he does pure natural ability. So far, Skinner has 41 goals and 34 assists in 55 games for the Kitchener Rangers, and would be a solid pick for a team that relies heavily on one or two players to carry the load when it comes to scoring goals.
C Brock Nelson, Warroad HS (Ranked 25th in TSN's Prospect Rankings)
At 6'2", 205 lbs, Nelson is a power forward who has NHL size to go with all-around high end skills. He has a great stride, a powerful shot, a superb passer, and has the bloodlines as his uncle is former NHLer Dave Christian. It's little wonder he has put up 34 goals and 28 assists so far in just 22 games for Warroad HS.
RW Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa 67's (Ranked 26th in TSN's Prospect Rankings)
Toffoli has the skill to make things happen–which if you watch the Flames is something they sorely lack most nights. He has good hands in close and is a precise passer, which is the reason he has racked up 30 goals and 34 assists in 55 games so far for the 67's. At 6'0", 181 lbs, he could be a difference maker in the NHL sooner rather than later.
C Jaden Schwartz, Tri-City Storm USHL (Ranked 29th in TSN's Prospect Rankings)
Every scout that sees him play can describe Schwartz in one word: smart. Which is a big reason he is second in league scoring at just 17-years-old with 24 goals and 46 assists in 45 games. What he lacks in size at 5'10", 193 lbs, he more than makes up for with his creativity and shiftiness. He is very strong on the puck and dependable at both ends of the ice.
C Jordan Weal, Regina Pats (Ranked 39th in TSN's Prospect Rankings)
At 5'8", 160lbs, many teams may stay clear of the dynamic Weal come draft time, but he may just be the next Theo Fleury which would make him as good of a fit in Calgary than any NHL team. He was last year's WHL Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year after putting up 16 goals and 54 assists in 65 games for Regina. This year he has 26 goals to go along with 54 assists in just 60 games.