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The Calgary Flames are overflowing with left-defensemen. Mark Giordano is firmly holding a spot on the top pairing, Noah Hanifin is just 22 and showed this past season he can handle himself on the 2nd unit, and Juuso Valimaki seems like a lock to claim LD3. Throw Oliver Kylington into the mix and there is a lot of quality, and depth, there.
The right side? Not as much.
When T.J. Brodie (likely) gets traded, they'll have Travis Hamonic and Rasmus Andersson as the only quality options. Michael Stone is an overpaid possession anchor who could very well be bought out, and there is nobody with NHL experience after him.
The Flames are likely going to need to add someone.
Ben Lovejoy would probably be my top realistic target. He is solid defensively at evens, an elite penalty killer, and he worked very well alongside Will Butcher in New Jersey. If he were to join the Flames, he'd be a great compliment for gifted young defenders like Valimaki and Kylington playing a role he's accustomed to.
He'd be a nice piece to have around, especially if Alex Yelesin isn't NHL-ready.
Should the Flames feel confident Yelesin can play every day, perhaps more of a rotational piece like Taylor Fedun could be of interest.
I recently touched on three prospects the Flames might consider with the 26th overall pick
. Among them was 6'4' forward Egor Afanasyev.
I know he might not be the sexiest target on the surface. The more digging I do, the more I like the findings.
Statistically, he stands out in a positive light. He led Muskegon (USHL) in goals, is one of the best volume shooters in this class – he averaged more shots/60 than Cole Caufield and Arthur Kaliyev – and was a very efficient producer at 5v5.
He also impressed by the eye in the games I watched/tracked. While it takes a little bit for him to accelerate, his top speed is solid for a player of his stature. He kind of reminds me of the younger version of Leon Draisaitl in that regard.
Afanasyev has a very strong, accurate, shot and a good set of hands on him. He can confidently stickhandle around defenders and through traffic. I think he's an underrated playmaker as well. He shows good patience while waiting for lanes to develop before firing passes through them. The range of his passing is good – he has the power to distribute it all over the ice.
As you'd expect, he is also quite effective in-zone, cycling, and working below the dots.
If he's the Flames' pick, I wouldn't be disappointed.
Is T.J. Brodie's tenure with the Flames coming to an end?
Three prospects the Flames may consider with the 26th overall pick
What to do with James Neal?
Three potential free agent targets for the Flames
Five pieces the Flames could use as trade bait
Three potential trade partners for the Flames
Don't forget about Dillon Dube