After what seemed like an eternity, the remaining rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry draft came to a close on Wednesday evening. The Calgary Flames, who had a total of eight selections through seven rounds, now have a number of fresh prospects joining the pipeline. There were some slam dunks, some well regarded picks, and some relatively unknown players drafted by the team. Here is all you need to know on the eight newest Calgary Flames:
The Flames had a very successful first round, making a strong selection with some extra picks recouped. The Flames traded down from #19th overall, to 22nd, and then again to 24th. This move gave the team two additional third round selections in the draft from the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals, respectively. With the 24th selection, the team picked Connor Zary:
|Pick #24||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Connor Zary (C)||Kamloops Blazers (WHL)||57||38||48||86|
Zary was projected in our rankings to go 18, with some rankings having him as high as 16. The Swiss army-knife player plays well in all three zones of the ice. He exploded for 86 points last season with Kamloops and is projected to be a strong second line two-way playmaker.
He is the type of player who does a lot of little things well. He reads the play well, makes few turnovers, and is consistent night in and night out. He doesn’t take games off. On top of that, Zary is an elite forward.
Fifth in the WHL in scoring last season, he can beat you from anywhere on the ice with his wicked wrist and snap shots. He isn’t afraid to get into the corners and throw his body around to get the puck, and will battle to get to the front of the net for a tip in.
Some big praise for Zary comes from his GM Matt Bardsley who said: “He wants to be the best, he wants to be a difference-maker. He’s very aware of what’s going on and he’s a student of the game. He’s really dialed in.” Drafting a guy who has a strong hockey IQ, an excellent work ethic, and a willingness to improve sounds like an excellent pick for the Flames.
He likely needs a year or two to be NHL ready, with him expected to be back in the WHL this season. But if he continues to put up points the way he is now, it won’t be long before we see him in Calgary.
|Pick #50||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Yan Kuznetsov (LHD)||U Conn (NCAA)||34||2||9||11|
Kuznetsov is a player that nobody expected much from going into last season. He came over from Russia to the USHL to play for Sioux Falls, and only put up 4 assists in 34 games as a 16 year old. Going into UConn in the NCAA, he was expected to struggle, but he put up two goals and 11 assists as a 17 year old, while also being very reliable defensively. He was the only U18 player in the NCAA last season, and he more than held his own.
The best word to describe him is physical. He was quoted saying: “When I play physical I play good, when I don’t it’s so-so.” At 6’3″ and 201 pounds, the body fits the bill. Like Travis Hamonic, Kuznetsov is a defensive defenceman. He plays a steady physical game in his own end, and uses his long reach to disrupt plays. He skates very well backwards, and has strong gap control. On top of that, he has great vision, and can read plays very well.
While he likely has three more years in the NCAA, with education being a priority for him, he could turn into a strong top four option for the Flames down the road. While he probably won’t put up tons of points, he could anchor a second pairing with an offensive defenceman.
|Pick #72||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Jeremie Poirier (LHD)||St. John’s Sea Dogs (QMJHL)||64||20||33||53|
With the first of the draft picks acquired during round one, the Flames selected defenceman Jeremie Poirier from the QMJHL. Ranked 35th in our compiled draft rankings, Poirier was easily one of the players that fell during day two of the draft. Offensively he is gifted, scoring 20 goals last season on the blueline, and would project to be a mobile puck moving defenseman with a scoring touch. Where his game falls off a bit is on the defensive side, which he himself has admitted to being a weakness.
“The criticisms are not wrong. They’re right. My defensive game is not a strength of mine, I’m not really good enough to be at the next level yet on the defensive side of my game. So I’m going to keep working on that and keep getting better. I’m determined to show the Flames what I can do on the defensive side of my game, too.”– Jeremie Poirier, via the Toronto Sun
This is easily a big reason behind why he fell.
His comparison can directly relate to Oliver Kylington, who was also a projected first round talent that dropped in the draft due to his poor defensive side of his game. There will need to be some work on his end, but at the cost of a third round pick he was well worth the risk.
|Pick #80||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Jake Boltmann (RHD)||Edina High (USHL)||25||4||9||13|
|Lincoln Stars (USHL)||17||2||7||9|
Boltmann was easily the first “off the board” pick for Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames. Ranked at 288 in our compiled rankings, and 113th in North American skaters by Central Scouting, Boltmann was selected much higher than expected. This is most likely a classic case of a scout vouching for a player and the team going with the scout opinion and ensuring they are able to select him.
In terms of scouting reports, Raw Charge had the following to say:
On Boltmann the player, from the limited amount of video I was able to find on him, he is a defenseman that likes to jump up into the rush a lot. This indicates to me that he both wants to be a leader on the ice and go where the puck is offensively, but also that he’s probably playing at a level too low for his skillset right now in Minnesota high school. On the good side, he’s already committed to Minnesota of the NCAA, which will be a great place to develop for up to four years.– Raw Charge
He is a right shot, which is always a good asset to have in today’s NHL, but he is no doubt a project for the team and is a few years before being considered a prospective NHL player.
|Pick #96||2019-20 Team||GP||SV%||GAA|
|Daniil Chechelev (G)||Chekov (MHL)||49||2.20||.922|
It wouldn’t be a Flames draft without a goaltending prospect, and Chechelev is no doubt a prospect. Not ranked by central scouting, or appearing in our compiled listing, Chechelev is an overager who is a bit of gamble for the team. Currently playing for Chekov in the MHL, his stats are decent in his limited sample size.
This is a huge question mark pick for the team, but according to Treliving there was a lot of time spent on him over the past few months. Jordan Sigalet and Thomas Speer both vouched for his skills, and instead of risking losing him in a later round the team used their fourth rounder.
Chechelev now joins a crowded goaltender prospect system behind Artyom Zagidulin, Tyler Parsons, and Dustin Wolf, but will likely spend the rest of this season in Russia
|Pick #143||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Ryan Francis (RW)||Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)||61||24||48||72|
In terms of fifth round picks, the Flames really snagged a good one in Ryan Francis. Ranked by a majority of outlets inside the top 80, the Flames should be thrilled to snag him at #143. The first ever draft pick to hail from Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia, Francis was originally ranked #76 by EliteProspects, #80 by Future Considerations, and #79 by Bob McKenzie. He most likely fell due to his size (5’9″), but all of the assessments on him point to his playmaking abilities as a winger. With a right shot, a particular prowess to dangle, and a fast foot pace, he clearly falls under the new NHL and is similar to a number of past late round Flames draft pics. An above a point per game player in the QMJHL last year, the Flames are hoping that he can translate that same offensive upside to the NHL one day.
|Rory Kerins (C)||Soo Greyhounds (OHL)||64||30||29||59|
Another smaller stature forward that fell much later than expected, Kerins is another solid pick up for the Flames in the sixth round. They have had some excellent luck in this round in the past, so the team is most likely hoping that Kerins is their next diamond in the rough.
Coming in just under a PPG, the Sault Ste Marie Greyhound has been noted to be a goal scorer who likes to get into the high-danger areas. He projects to have more offensive upside, with a strong presence down the center of the ice.
Also, if his goal scoring wasn’t already highlighted enough, per FlamesNation he had the fourth highest ESG of any draft eligible OHLer behind Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti, and Jack Quinn. Not a bad group to be in, and easily an area the Flames need consistent help in. Even if it is many years down the road.
|Pick #205||2019-20 Team||GP||G||A||Pts|
|Ilya Solovyov (LHD)||Saginaw Spirit (OHL)||53||7||33||40|
With the final pick in their draft, the Flames selected overage defenseman Ilya Solovyov. Previously with the Saginaw Spirit, the left shot defenseman is now playing with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL.
He is a big defenseman with the ability to put up points, but is for sure a bit of a gamble. However, Head of Amateur Scouting Todd Button had big things to say about him. They really like that he put up strong numbers in the OHL, and especially like that he is getting playing time against men in the KHL this season. On top of that, Button noted his ability to walk the line on defence and use his hands to create offensive chances.
It is highly likely he remains in Russia for the upcoming season, but where he goes from here is a bit of a question mark. Never say never.
All in all, the Flames had a very successful 2020 NHL draft. They were able to pick up two additional third round picks for just moving down a few spots, they selected a number of players well after they were projected to go, and they also by all indications were able to get the guys the team viewed higher on their own lists.
It is far too early to tell just how well the Flames did based off each individual pick, but there is no doubt adding eight prospects to a depleted system bodes well for the years ahead.
What do you think about the Flames’ 2020 draft? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by: Mike Stobe, Getty Images