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.
TOUGH TO SPELL, TOUGHER TO STOP
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.
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.
Flames top-10 picks of all time
- 4 – Joe Nieuwendyk
- 5 – Gary Suter
- 6 – Gary Roberts
- 7 – Hakan Loob
- 8 – Mike Vernon
- 9 – Dion Phaneuf
- 10 – Sergei Makarov
All week long the Alberta Nation Network will be pumping our first ever NationDrafts online draft. With over $10,000 in prizes to win and a portion of the proceeds going to local charities, it is the most fun you can (legally) have on the internet.