2024 Calgary Flames Draft Prospect Preview: Carter Yakemchuk

Carter Yakemchuk
Carter Yakemchuk / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages

It's been said for quite some time by fans and analysts, but the Calgary Flames front office is in some ways still stuck in the past, but in the 2024 NHL Draft, that may actually help them. Sure, the argument can't be as simple as size vs. skill, but in 2024, there's too much evidence to show that skilled players often win out with the speed and space in today's game, and that needs to come into play with this pick.

Fortunately, there's a player in this draft that may allow the Flames the best of both worlds, and given that he played his WHL games in Calgary, that's another point for familiarity.

Carter Yakemchuk, Calgary Hitmen, D

6-foot-3, 190 pounds, 18-years of age.
2023-24 WHL stats: 66 games, 30 goals, 41 assists, 71 points, -6 differential.

One issue that the Flames have had in recent years is retaining their stars, so when a player is projected to go in the lottery who comes from Alberta, it's safe to say that Craig Conroy and co. are full of interest. On top of that, Carter Yakemchuk plays at a position of need as a defenseman, and with his impressive 6-foot-3 frame, he's a candidate to rise very high on the draft board as the 2024 NHL Draft draws nearer.

Usually with a player of this size, it's the physicality and the defensive presence that draws scouts and GM's to their attention, but in Yakemchuk's own words, while the physicality is there, the defensive side may still need some work.

"“I’d say I’m an offensive defenceman. I can run a power-play. I think I have a good first breakout pass from the D zone and have that ability to create offence.

“I think I play a pretty physical game, as well. I think that’s something the scouts like to see in my game, that I can bring that grit side but also have that offensive touch, as well.”"

Carter Yakemchuk in the Calgary Herald

Unsurprisingly, a player with this combination of size and the ability to create offense from nowhere is a polarizing name ahead of the draft, with some experts predicting him to go as high as No. 4 overall, while others have him falling to the very bottom of the lottery. In Yakemchuk, the Flames would be getting a key piece of their future, as his size would allow him to slide right into the top-four when he's ready, but given the more exciting players that are expected to be on the board, it may be an underwhelming selection for many fans.

On top of that, Yakemchuk has come under fire for his lack of skating ability, as he has been described as 'funky' and 'unorthodox', but at the next level, those types of flaws can be perfected. He makes up for that with pure offensive flair and the ability to create offense from nowhere, so while the Flames should be targeting a center more than any other position, if they need a No. 1 of the future, Carter could certainly be that player.

Reasons to draft Carter Yakemchuk

While Tij Iginla has the last name in Calgary, Carter Yakemchuk hails from Calgary, and given the departure of many players in recent years, it's safe to say that his potential loyalty to the city could be a major plus for this organization. Yakemchuk also brings the size the organization likes, and with the ability to create offense from nowhere, he'd be a spark for a blue line that's full of potential, so don't be shocked if this is the pick at No. 9.

Reasons not to draft Carter Yakemchuk

While there's many reasons for the Flames to draft Yakemchuk, he doesn't have the defensive abilities to adapt at the next level quickly, but with the physical gifts, he certainly could improve with time. Unfortunately for the Flames, Yakemchuk just doesn't have the skating ability and the consistent X-factor to be a No. 1 defenseman, and if they are using a No. 9 pick on a player, they want the potential to be as high as possible.

Will the Flames draft Carter Yakemchuk?

Carter Yakemchuk has plenty of talent, and if the Flames were picking two or three picks later, it would be a no brainer, but at No. 9, it may be a bit of a reach. With so many talented players, the Flames would love to find a potential 1C with this selection, but if somehow all of those players are gone, Yakemchuk wouldn't be a disaster of a move. If they can somehow trade back into the lottery, this would be a smart pick for the Flames, but otherwise, the team should steer clear.