Flames All-Time Top 10 Draft Picks: #4 Joe Nieuwendyk



As we head into the meat of this list, we hit the rarefied air of all-time NHL greats. Among them lies the pride of Oshawa, Ontario, centreman (and current general manager of the Dallas Stars) Joe Nieuwendyk.


The Flames acquired Nieuwendyk in the second round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. For trivia, they took Chris Biotti in the first round, and he ended up going to Italy to play pro before retiring. Rest assured, they did better with their second round selection. Although, to be blunt, the 1985 draft was not especially good for any NHL club.

In addition to having a last named that frustrated sportswriters during his entire professional career, Nieuwendyk also had a set of on-ice skills that frustrated defenders.

Crafty with the puck with good vision and laser accurate shot, Nieuwendyk won the Calder Memorial Trophy in his first full NHL season, scoring 51 goals, which at the time tied an NHL record for rookies. He repeated the feat the next season and followed that up with a pair of 45 goal efforts. All-told, Nieuwendyk scored 30+ goals on eight occasions and 20+ goals on 15 occasions. He spent the first chunk of his career with the Flames, winning a Stanley Cup in 1989 and serving as team captain for three seasons, before holding out for a new contract following the 1994-95 season.

The Flames, feeling the crunch of the ever-tightening Canadian dollar, traded their captain to the Dallas Stars for reliable veteran forward Corey Millen and some junior prospect named Jarome Iginla, who may or may not have turned into a player of some note in the future. More reearch is needed to confirm this last bit.

Post-Calgary Success

Following his trade to Dallas Nieuwendyk played six and a half seasons for the Stars. The highlight of his tenure was no doubt winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. He was later traded to New Jersey in a multi-player deal and won  his third Stanley Cup with the Devils as well. Following short stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers (neither of which resulted in Cup wins somehow) Nieuwendyk retired and eventually joined the Maple Leafs front office before ultimately being named Dallas’ GM in 2009.

Nieuwendyk was a Flames captain, one-third of one of the best lines the team ever iced (with Gary Roberts and Theoren Fleury) and managed over 1100 points and 560 goals during a lengthy NHL career. Oh yeah – he won three Cups with three different teams and has an Olympic gold medal.

In short: Joe Nieuwendyk was every bit as good a hockey player as his name is hard to spell and easily the best 2nd round pick in the organization’s history.

The Ranks

Player BoL KW VF Justin Ryan Pike
Joe Nieuwendyk 4 4 2 4 6

Flames top-10 picks of all time


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  • supra steve

    I always end up searching his name on wikipedia any time I reference him, just so I get the spelling right and I don’t look stoopid. Sounds like there may be some foregiveness if I do get it wrong in the future. Great pick, deserves top 5 position FOR SURE.

  • NHL93

    Watched a stunning interview with Nieuwendyk. The interviewer brought the dude to tears when he quote an old teammate “of all the great players I had the benefit of calling teammates, Joe Nieuwendyk was the best person I had the benefit of playing with”.

    He was always a class act, winning the Conn Smyth in ’99 with a bad knee was one of my best memories and he is one of the few Flames I had the fortune to meet (on a Flight back from Toronto in the summer of 1990).

  • T&A4Flames

    Nieuwy was the best guy to stand in front of the net, ever! I miss watching that guy tip point shots in behind the goalies. I constantly think about that when I watch current Flames games. Why can’t we find someone like that again.

  • seve927

    Joe Nieuwendyk was a ‘can’t miss’ player from the get go and I whole heartedly agree. He was a great skater and had terrific hand-eye co-ordination evidenced by his goals scored tipping in shots from the point or the outside. His becoming captain of the club was a popular decision during a period of transition in the post-Stanley Cup period. But he was no Lanny, no Jarome.

    A terrific Flame, an exciting player to watch during his tenure here.

    But lets not sugar coat his end in Calgary. He was holding out when he was traded. The Cdn/US $ exchange rate may have played into the situation, but he was a hold out nonetheless. The deal that resulted in the club getting Corey Millen and Jarome Iginla was a decent return, one obtained when the team had the dual guns of dollar differential and a holdout held to its head. Similar situation to Gilmour. In my opinion, it tarnished his achievements wearing Flames livery.

  • BobB

    You guys have got me curious. I had Nieuwendyk pegged as #3, as 1 and 2 are pretty obvious in my eyes. I can’t think of another draft pick I’d rate above Joe than those two though, and one of those is very debatable even, cause he didn’t play much for the Flames.

    I this greatest draft picks? Or greatest impact on the Flames? i don’t remember.

    PS. If anyone needed proof of how important the draft is, at least 6 of ten of these guys will have played on the same ’89 cup winning team.

  • Nieuwy25

    Obviously as you can tell by my online name, I’m a Joe Nieuwendyk fan. I remember when Joe was in his rookie season, lighting it up and being referred to as “Joe Who”. The excitement about having a rookie that could score 50 goals (missed beating Mike Bossy’s record by 3)was awesome. Glad he didn’t break it though, as Temmu would have destroyed it a few years later.

    Back in those days, when you bought a jersey, you paid per letter, so my mom thought I should be a Joel Otto fan instead. Guess I always had more expensive tastes.

    I still have the old, white jersey that I bought and as soon as the Flames brought back the retro jerseys, bought a new red one. It fits a little better.

    I would love to see his number hang in the rafters next to Lanny and Mike, but realize that due to the way he left the Flames, this will never happen. Probably needed a couple more years here too. I won’t be surprised to see the Flames honor Joe the same way they did with Al McInnis last year (which is bush league in my mind…as if #2 shouldn’t have been retired). I also can’t stand any player who wears #25. Sorry Begin.

    I think it’s important to point out, as much as Joe held out and was eventually traded, it was Doug Risebrough as GM at the time. He played hardball with every player at contract time (aside from Gary Roberts). It was a time in the mid-90’s when players salaries were starting to climb and Risebrough couldn’t wrap his head around players making that kind of money. Add that to a terrible dollar, owners who wouldn’t/couldn’t pay superstars, and a Flames team that had numerous future hall of famers, and you get the eventual dissection of a stanley cup winning team and ever so awesome “Young Guns” era.

    I love you Joe!!!!!!(insert man crush here)