When you ask an NHL executive if they’d prefer size, speed or skill, most would probably joke with an “all of the above” answer.
Still, if you’re looking at prospects who stand out in a specific category – particularly size vs. speed – you have to wonder what wins out. Especially since the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins left the rest of the league puffing like an out of practice old man at a basketball gym.
If the question becomes speed vs. size, Calgary Flames Brian Burke executive isn’t changing his tune; he told Prime Time Sports/Sportsnet that he’s still going to lean toward the bigger fella.
“You still play 82 games and you’ve got to make the playoffs and to do that you’ve got to play big teams, especially in the West,” Burke said.
“Now you say to yourself ‘maybe we’ve got to go with more speed,’ but the teams that made the playoffs and made it a few rounds like Los Angeles and St. Louis – those are big teams. To get there you need size.”
With pint-sized star Johnny Gaudreau in mind, the Flames realize that there isn’t really a magic bullet to succeeding. A larger frame is merely a convenient tie-breaker.
“Speed is important and size is important but skill is important too,” Flames scouting director Tod Button said. “When I walk into Walmart there isn’t an aisle for big, skilled guys. It’s too simplistic to say you’ll draft fast or big guys. You look at the total package and all things being equal between two guys you take the bigger player.”
/Imagines a Walmart full of scrappy fourth-line wingers instead
Anyway, you get the general idea. It’s probably safe to place the Flames under the “probably won’t copy the Penguins” category this off-season, but then again, maybe an opportunity will spring up and they’ll follow a faster, smaller course after all?