NHL Draft

Scouting Director Tod Button breaks down the Calgary Flames 2023 NHL Draft class

The 2023 NHL Draft officially wrapped up yesterday evening. The Calgary Flames selected six players, adding three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie to their prospect cupboards.

  • Round 1 – Pick 16- Samuel Honzek (C/LW) – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
  • Round 2 – Pick 48 – Etienne Morin (D) – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
  • Round 3 – Pick 80 – Aydar Suniev (LW) – Penticton Vees (BCHL)
  • Round 4 – Pick 112 – Jaden Lipinski (LW) – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
  • Round 6 – Pick 176 – Yegor Yegorov (G) – MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)
  • Round 7 – Pick 208 – Alex Hurtig (D) – Rogle BK J20 (J20 Nationell)

Tod Button, the director of scouting for the Flames, spoke after the draft about each of the players selected. Here’s what he had to say about the six newest members of the organization.

Samuel Honzek (C/LW) – 16th overall

The whole package. He’s got skill, he’s got leadership, he’s got character, he’s mentally tough. He passed all our mental performance, all the strength and conditioning di with him. It all added up to a player we coveted. It was positionless. He’s a left wing and we know we have a lot of left wings, but it didn’t matter. He could jump right up to the top of that group.

He’s still young, he’s just 18 years old, but Rick Davis was telling us about his energy systems. In order to train at a high level if you already have really great energy systems in place then it makes it easier, and he does. He’s already athletic, he’s got room to put on a lot more lean muscle mass. His ceiling is so high in our estimation and he was still a high scorer in the WHL this year. We’re just excited about the whole package.

Tod Button

Etienne Morin (D) – 48th overall

Our former scout is the general manager there and we knew a bit about Etienne coming into this year, I saw him last year at the U17s. We were looking forward to seeing him at the Hlinka but he got mono so he didn’t go. We just kept on tracking him. He’s mobile. He’s really, really smart. He played way too much in Moncton, in the playoffs I think they had five overtime games, and it wore him down where he was playing 35–40 minutes. His head, his brain, his ability to play even though he’s tired shows how smart he is. He then hopped on a plane and got parachuted to Sweden for the U18s and he looked burnt, but we know why. Character kid. All the mental performance stuff they do, he was high on the list.

Tod Button

Aydar Suniev (LW) – 80th overall

We knew him from last year, I’ve actually seen him play at St. Andrews College as a younger player. He was a good player; he was a big kid even when he was younger. Obviously we knew about Bradly Nadeau who we saw at the U17s last year and he was a high end player who was really intriguing for us. So in the process of watching Nadeau, we kept on watching Suniev. They were dynamite together. They played the right way the whole time. Even when they were up they didn’t cheat, they backchecked, they worked hard. He’s a big, strong kid with really, really good hands. He can shoot the puck and he’s got a physical side to him; he gets involved physically on the forecheck, he can be an intimidating factor when he’s coming in on the forecheck.

Tod Button

Jaden Lipinski (LW) – 112th overall

A little bit of a later developer. He’s from Arizona but again, a guy who we saw last year and we saw the steps he made this year. He’s a big right-hand shot. He’s more of a possession type right now, cycle guy. He needs to work on his skating but we think the work ethic—he comes from an athletic family—we think the growth potential is there. He just wasn’t exposed to high level hockey when he was younger growing up in Arizona so he came up to Canada to get exposed to it. He’s taken steps every step of the way; we’re excited about him, too.

Tod Button

Yegor Yegorov (G) – 176th overall

Yegor Yegorov is a guy who Jordan Sigalet (Flames goaltending coach) has been tracking all year. Jordan, it’s unbelievable the goalies he watches out here. His list is extensive, not only guys who were drafted, guys who are going to be drafted, next year’s draft, his list is 50–60 long. So he narrows it down towards the end and he had a couple of the guys who went high, and he said this is the guy if we’re going to take a goalie in the sixth or seventh round this is the guy. He had some intel that other teams liked him too so we decided the sixth round that’s the pick to take him—don’t fool around anymore.

Tod Button

Alex Hurtig (D) – 208th overall

David Ackerblom, our Swedish scout, watched him a lot in junior. He was the eighth, ninth defenceman with the Swedish under-18 team and as the year went on a couple guys got hurt and he got in a bigger role and he played more as he went along. Again, you saw from the start of the year to the end of the year the progress and at the U18s one of their top-four got hurt and he stepped in. He was physical, he was really, really good defensively. He’s a bit of a project but we got more time on a European player. When I say project I mean he’s a big kid. The physicality comes naturally to him, he moves well. He’s a little bit stiff in the skill department right now but we thought putting this guy in our pipeline would be really good. We got time on him.

Tod Button

New draft mentality for the Flames

This year, it was clear the Flames prioritized size. However, Button also said that while they were definitely looking for a combination of size and skill, they were not going to take size over skill. Skill was still the top attribute they were seeking, but if they could add the size along with that skill that was ideal.

As always, it’s too early to tell with any of these prospects who have just joined the NHL. We’ll get to see most of them together for the first time at development camp.

The Flames are incredibly happy with their new draft picks and hopefully they all turn into impact NHLers. Best of luck to all those drafted this week.

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