As Flames add draft picks, Tod Button and scouting staff staying busy

‘It’s a big draft for us, so that part is exciting,’ said Tod Button, the Flames’ director of amateur scouting

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The job hasn’t changed for Tod Button and the Calgary Flames’ scouting staff.

There’s just sort of … well, there’s more to do.

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With Flames GM Craig Conroy trading away veteran players this season and building a treasure trove of draft picks that could define the organization’s foreseeable future, there’s going to be a lot of focus on Button, the team’s director of amateur scouting, and the guys he works with.

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Hit with a few picks and the Flames will be well on their way back towards contention.

Miss, and it’s going to take a lot longer.

“It really hasn’t changed the job, because we plan for every eventuality,” Button said earlier this week in an interview before he entered a rural rink for more scouting. “Whether it’s getting more picks, having less picks, whatever the case may be, or trading up or trading down, what it does do is make us a little more hyper-focused as far as knowing that we have a chance to really add to the organization.

“It’s a big draft for us, so that part is exciting.”

There are conditions attached to some of the picks, but it’s possible that the Flames will have as many as eight selections in the first four rounds of the 2024 NHL Draft. Four of those could be in the first two rounds, too, so there’s potential for the organization to fast-track its retool — or whatever we’re calling it these days — by adding some high-end talent in late June.

The Flames currently have the ninth-fewest points in the NHL, with 71, and have a few teams that could easily leapfrog them before the season is through. There are four teams within seven points of the Flames with 11 games to go, after all.

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That should mean good things when the draft lottery comes around, reportedly in the first week of May.

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And while it’s not believed that this draft features a generational superstar like last year with Connor Bedard, Button likes what he sees from the 2024 class.

And additions to the scouting staff could make a big difference, too.

Button is feeling optimistic about what the draft could bring.

“I’ll be honest with you, at the start of the year I was concerned with how deep the draft was,” Button admitted. “But, as usually happens, as the year goes on guys emerge that you may not have known about or they develop a little later.

“You always know who the top guys are. We added a Russian scout, which we didn’t have. We relied a lot on European scouts or InStat video, but we added Denis Grebeshkov this year and he’s been tremendous for us and now we have a way more extensive list. We know more Russian players than I’d say we would have in the past.”

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So the Flames are going to have more information about the players who might be available on June 28-29 in Las Vegas than ever before. That can only be a good thing.

And the team’s scouts are working day and night to get the best possible read on as many prospects as possible.

Some teams might have the luxury of shortening the pool of players they need to look at, but not the Flames.

If a team knows it’s going to be finishing near the top of the standings, it can probably skip out on scouting guys who are going to be selected in the top 10.

If you’re the Flames and you have a bunch of picks scattered throughout the first couple of rounds, you need to try to get your eyes on everybody.

“Even in a year where we have one pick, we still have to put the list in order, evaluate players, say who we think is going to be NHL players and things like that,” Button said. “So that doesn’t change, you still have to have your list. But all this does is make you aware that more picks are going to be available for us and when you have more picks you have more chances to move up, more chances to move down, so it adds some strategy for sure and you have to know a bigger pool of players.”

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