Heads were left itchy after the first round of the NHL Entry Draft as many Flames fans try to get their head around what exactly Jay Feaster and company were thinking in Pittsburgh Friday night.
The Flames were scheduled to pick 14th, a disappointing position with how the season ended but nonetheless, still a good position for the Flames to add to their less than stellar prospect pool. The first round was anything but predictable (2/30 for me in my mock draft) but as the picks went by, names such as Cody Ceci (#6 NHL CS N.A Skaters, #14 TSN), Zemgus Girgensons (#18 NHL CS N.A Skaters, #13 TSN), Teuvo Teravainen (#2 NHL CS Europe Skaters, #7 TSN) and Olli Maatta (#8 NHL CS N.A Skaters, #10 TSN) were still on the board at number 14.
Having no 2nd round pick, dealt away in the Regehr trade last season, Feaster took the opportunity to once again make a deal with the Sabres and swapped the #14 pick in exchange for the 21st pick and the 42nd pick. Not a bad idea with such an unpredictable draft and with the Flames really in need of all the prospects they can get.
Personally, I was a little irritated with the Flames trading the pick because I feel with the lack of high end talent they have in their system, the fact Ceci was still available at 14 and with the Flames having very little success trading down in past years, I thought it was in their best interest to keep the pick.
Before I continue, a quick look at the Flames recent picks when trading down in the first round:
2009- CGY trades #20 to NJ for #23 and #89 and select D Tim Erixon
- Erixon no longer with the organization due to contractual issues, while the 89th pick was swapped and the Flames selected 74th to get Ryan Howse
2008- In acquiring Mike Cammalleri from the LA Kings, the Flames move from #12 to #25 and select C Greg Nemisz
- Nemisz has yet to make an impact with the club, appearing in 15 NHL games
2007- CGY trades #18 to STL for #25 and #70 and select C Mikael Backlund and D John Negrin
- Backlund has yet to develop into a top-6 forward, while Negrin was traded to the Jets for F Akim Aliu
Feaster wasn’t a part of any of those drafts but head scout Todd Button was front and center for all three.
Back to last night, as the unpredictable first round continued, Olli Maatta was remarkably still available after the seven picks the Flames sacrificed and seemed to be a perfect pick for the Flames at number 21.
Feaster stepped up to the podium and made their pick… Mark Jankowski.
Did that come from right field or somewhere further?
Jankowski, who was ranked 43rd by NHL CS and 41st by TSN, played at Stanstead College, a prep school in Quebec’s Eastern Township, where he collected 53 goals and 93 points in 57 games played. Jankowski, who was born in Hamilton, is one of the younger players in the draft as he was born just two days after the deadline for the 2013 draft. Jankowski has grown 8 inches in the last two years and is committed to Providence College. Jankowski is said to be a project, who when he makes the jump to the NHL in 3+ years, projects to be a top-6 centerman and is compared to Jamie Benn while some say they see a young Joe Nieuwendyk.
To bash a pick and a kid merely hours after it has happened isn’t right but to say I have faith in the Flames for making the pick would be a lie. Assistant GM John Weisbrod stated that at least three other teams were ready to select Jankowski after the Flames in the first round, forcing them to take him at 21.
I don’t know if I buy that but regardless, Feaster told a story in his post-pick interview with James Duthie, that the decision to take Jankowski was made after Weisbrod watched him for the first time. That’s pretty bold for a 1st round pick and a kid who will be a project.
I just can’t figure out why the decision to take Jankowski, who we won’t see for three or more years, was the best for the organization. We don’t have a whole bunch of blue-chip prospects to fill in till then; quite frankly we have the complete opposite. Our core is aging and other than Sven Baertschi and John Gaudreau, who hasn’t played a professional game yet, there isn’t a whole lot of excitement when talking about the Flames prospects.
Do the Flames really need another long-shot? Or was it better to go with Maatta at 21 and work on getting Jankowski in the second round, as it seems like it was very possible Jankowski would be still available. The 1st round was unpredictable but other than STL picking Jordan Schmaltz at #25, no one took a leap with their pick which backs up my thinking Jankowski would’ve still been available on day two.
The deal Feaster made complete sense until he announced Jankowski’s name.
I hope all the best for Jankowski and that he pans out, he is a good story and it’s too bad he comes into the situation the Flames are in.
At the end of the day only time will tell, something the Flames don’t necessarily have, at least the fans don’t.
The last question to be asked… Will Feaster still be around if Jankowski does eventually make an impact? Eric Francis tweeted, “Ballsy move by Feaster to take a flier on Jankowski especially since he has two years tops to prove his worth as Flames GM. Wow”
I think Eric said it right.
For Jay’s sake, (and his career) let’s eat some cake.
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