Flames Draft History: Rock Bottom (2002-06)

Ryan Pike
June 22 2015 01:00PM

The Calgary Flames developed a reputation for really mediocre drafting and player development decisions, and the majority of that reputation was cemented in the early part of the 2000s under general manager Darryl Sutter. The Craig Button era ended with Eric Nystrom's selection, then the Sutter era began with Dion Phaneuf. And then the bottom completely fell out, in the sense the team drafted a series of guys that never really made a mark at the NHL level, and who washed out of the organization for various reasons.

I mean, heck, the 2004-06 first rounders combined for 20 games in a Flames uniform. When Eric Nystrom, hardly a world-beater, has played ten times as many games as three of your first round picks combined, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Some of that was bad luck, for sure, but some of that was also just terrible, terrible drafting.

Welcome to the worst stretch of drafting and asset management in franchise history.

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The Big List of NHL Draft Resources

Kent Wilson
June 22 2015 12:00PM

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There is a lot of information and analysis to consider when it comes to the NHL entry draft. Hundreds of draft eligible kids, thousands of stats lines, dozens of draft coverage publications/blogs and innumerable opinions about who is going to pick whom.

If you're like me, you probably spend a lot of time clicking from tab-to-tab in your browser, or wasting your time searching for draft reports, mock drafts and consensus rankings. So to make things easier for myself (and for you), I've compiled all the lists, ranks and tools I use to follow the draft. 

Enjoy!

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Flames First Round Targets 2015 - Nick Merkley

Kent Wilson
June 22 2015 11:00AM


Every so often a Calgary born kid pokes his head above the crowd and becomes a noteworthy NHL prospect. The Flames franchise, however, have made a habit of not drafting local guys, be it players who were born and raised here, or guys who spent their formative junior seasons here. The one exception I can recall over the years is Brent Krahn of the Calgary Hitmen, whom the Flames took 9th overall in 2000 (aside - don't take goalies in the first round!). 

Nick Merkley might be the player to break that habit. The 5'11", 190 pound centre/right winger was the highest scoring draft eligible player in the WHL this season and has long been considered one of the best young players on the Calgary scene. 

Merkley's consensus ranking is a mid-first round pick, so there's a fair chance Merkely will be around when the Flames take the podium. He's also the guy FN readers most expect the Flames to take in the first round according to our official poll (which you can see to the right of this article).

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Welcome to Draft Week 2015

Ryan Pike
June 22 2015 09:00AM

It's finally here!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to many hockey peoples' favourite time of the year: NHL Draft week!

Last season, the Calgary Flames didn't have a lot of mystery surrounding their first round pick. They selected Sam Bennett at fourth overall, while the hockey world figured they would draft Bennett or Sam Reinhart. This season? The Flames draft in the middle of the first round, and they could draft any number of possible players at that pick.

Last season, the Flames were trying to jump-start their rebuild. Mission accomplished. The big question now is whether or not the Flames can add to their prospect pool and keep the rebuild moving along the tracks towards where they want to be - consistent playoff appearances, and eventually becoming contenders.

A strong 2015 Draft and useful players selected with their nine picks would be a big step in that direction.

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Top-10 UFA Countdown: #4 - Antoine Vermette

Ryan Lambert
June 22 2015 08:00AM

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Photo Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports

The outcome of the Stanley Cup Final will, in many ways, vindicate Stan Bowman's decisions at the trade deadline this year. He spent big to get Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen (a combined cost of two second-round picks, a first, and a decent prospect) and hadn't, for most of the playoffs, gotten much out of them.

There wasn't much of a surprise there with Timonen, because the guy is like 112 years old and coming off a very serious health concern that almost ended his career. But the performance of Vermette, which has only began to sort itself out late in the run, long seemed a point of concern to say the least.

We're obviously working with a very limited data set here (just 39 games from the regular season through the end of the playoffs) but 4-6-10 in all situations and a sub-50 percent possession number on a team as good as Chicago is deeply problematic. Which goes a long way toward explaining his getting just 13:35 per game from Joel Quenneville; he hasn't averaged that few since he was a sophomore in the league, back in 2005-06.

At best, Bowman was "vindicated" with a Cup win (in much the same way the Tomas Kaberle trade once didn't-matter after the Bruins won the Cup), but at worst, the Vermette and Timonen trades could look like terrible decisions. 

And though he came on late, the fact that scoring two goals in six games was a coup probably throws Vermette's price in the UFA market into serious doubt, if nothing else.

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