Calgary Flames

Who the experts have the Calgary Flames selecting at 16th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft

With the 2023 NHL Draft tonight, we’ll soon find out who the Flames will be selecting at 16th overall barring anything unexpected. Directly in the middle of the draft isn’t exactly a great spot to be come draft night, but in a such a deep draft class, the Flames should still come away with a blue chip prospect.

Given the depth of talent available this year, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will still be available come 16th overall. With a plethora of mock drafts floating around this time of year, there really hasn’t been a consensus on who the Flames will end up with come Wednesday. Below are the wide range of names various NHL draft experts have the Flames selecting when it’s their time to pick.

TSN, Bob McKenzie/Craig Button

The pick: Nate Danielson, C

McKenzie’s rankings come with a small caveat as he just ranks the top prospects in the draft instead of making picks for each team. That said he’s widely regarded as one of the most informed insiders when it comes to the draft so his rankings typically carry a ton of value heading into draft night. It’s likely why his colleague Craig Button has Danielson going 16th in his mock draft.

At 16th overall, McKenzie and Button have centre Nate Danielson out of the WHL. Danielson is of course from Alberta so there’s an immediate fit right off the bat. He also plays centre, a position the Flames may soon be thin at given the current situation with Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund. He brings a dependable two-way game and should translate well to the NHL, but he doesn’t carry a ton of high-end upside.

He’s widely regarded as a safe pick as a player with a high floor but low ceiling. He’s unlikely to be a star, but has all the makings of an NHLer given his size and two-way game. Danielson wouldn’t be a bad pick by any means, but personally I’d prefer the Flames go with someone with a little more upside given how deep this draft is.

The Athletic, Scott Wheeler

The pick: Colby Barlow, LW

In Scott Wheeler’s mock draft at The Athletic, they have the Flames selecting LW Colby Barlow out of the OHL. Although he’s not a defenceman or centre, I can certainly see the fit here. Barlow is a two-way goal scorer who brings NHL size already at the age of 18. With Tyler Toffoli out, bringing Barlow in makes sense considering he translates to a very similar player.

Barlow took a huge jump in the OHL this season, posting 46 goals in 59 games along with 79 points. His 49 goals led all draft eligible OHL forwards. Barlow like Danielson is another high floor, low ceiling type pick. His two-way game and size means he’ll almost certainly be an NHLer one day, but scouts are torn on whether he has the skill to be a top-six winger.

Overall I wouldn’t bet against Barlow as the pick as I think he’s a near lock to become a useful NHLer in a couple years while also carrying some intriguing goal scoring potential, however there are certainly more high upside players out there.

The Athletic, Corey Pronman

The pick: Daniil But, LW/RW

Well wouldn’t this be something. Corey Pronman specifically mentioned in his mock draft that the Flames will be looking to add size with their first pick and goes off the board with the 6’5 Daniil But. This would be a less than ideal pick in my opinion.

But is obviously massive which is always a draw for NHL teams, but he’s also incredibly raw and doesn’t offer a ton of high upside skill. There’s a chance he develops into a premier power forward in the NHL, but there’s also an equal chance he turns into nothing more than a big, heavy bottom six winger.

He’d certainly be worth a gamble near the end of the first round but not at 16th overall when there’s so much talent available. Out of all the projected picks for the Flames, this one is the least favourable and one that doesn’t make much sense for a franchise lacking elite skill and speed., Adam Kimelman / Daily Faceoff, Steven Ellis

The pick: Samuel Honzek, LW/C

Both Adam Kimelman and Steven Ellis have the Flames taking Samuel Honzek. Honzek really came out of nowhere this season as his jump to the WHL and North-America shot him up draft rankings. This may be a bit of a reach at #16 considering the Flames’ current situation but he does carry some intriguing potential and tools.

First of all his size will no doubt factor into where he’s drafted, as he stands at 6’4″. As a pure power forward with skill, there’s undoubtedly some potential there, however he carries some major red flags. He’s still very raw at this time and is more of a project pick than someone you can expect to be in the NHL in the next couple years. He also deals with consistency issues. On top of that some scouts are concerned he may top out as a middle-six option at best.

Personally I don’t see much of a fit here. Maybe if Darryl Sutter was still around this would be the pick, but drafting a big, long-term project power forward with a low ceiling doesn’t make much sense for the Flames given the talent available this year.

The Hockey News, Randy Sportak

The pick: Matthew Wood, RW/C

At #16, Randy Sportak of The Hockey News has the Flames selecting RW Matthew Wood out of the NCAA. Like Danielson, Wood is also an Alberta product. Noticing a trend here? That said this pick makes a ton of sense, and not just because of where Wood was born.

Wood had a great D+0 season, leading his UConn team in scoring as a 17 year old with 34 points in 35 games. This a year after posting 45 goals and 85 points in 46 games to lead the BCHL in scoring. Standing at 6’4 and capable of playing at both centre and right wing, Wood makes a lot of sense for the Flames from many angles.

Personally I’d be surprised if Wood is still available when the Flames head to the podium, but if he was still around I think it’d be a solid pick for a number of reasons.

McKeen’s Hockey, Brock Otten

The pick: Zach Benson, LW

If there’s any mock draft out there that I desperately hope is right, it’s this one from Brock Otten at McKeen’s Hockey. Snagging Zach Benson at 16th overall would be a tremendous win for a Flames team that is desperate for elite talent.

Benson was a monster in the WHL last season, posting 98 points in 60 games on a stacked Winnipeg Ice roster. He beat out two 2022 first-round picks in Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie to lead his team in scoring. His 98 points were also the third most in the WHL behind over-ager Chase Wheatcroft and Connor Bedard.

Benson has all the makings of a top line dynamic winger in the NHL given his combination of elite hockey IQ, speed and skill. Given his size he may fall a bit in the draft, but I’d be shocked if Benson is still around at 16. If he does fall to 16th like Otten suggests, the Flames would be the winners of the first round.

Plenty of options

There’s no doubt that the 2023 draft is one of the deepest in recent memory, which should benefit the Flames as they sit in a less than desirable spot in the first round. No matter who they come away with in the first round, they’ll be adding a blue chip prospect to their cupboards which is desperately needed right now.

All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles

Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw | Otto Stenberg | Gavin Brindley | Daniil But

Back to top button