ACME NHL Rebuilding Kit™

 

 

With the Flames rebuilding through the draft I thought I’d take a look at other teams that have drafted their core as part of a rebuild to determine a line as to where success and failure lie.

I decided to look at four recently rebuilt and relatively successful teams that used the draft as a principal means of talent acquisition – Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington. This isn’t an exhaustive search, and doubtless there are other examples of teams rebuilding their roster through various means, but these four are some of the most notable rebuilds since 2000 and three of them have become Stanley Cup champions in the last five years. I also felt that the Flames were closer to the situations in which these teams found themselves at the beginning of their rebuild than most other examples.

I’ve used the draft years from the beginning of each team’s rebuilding efforts to the last year that can reasonably be described as “rebuilding”, all of which were originally outlined in my rebuilding series. I’m counting players who have managed to get 100+ NHL games as successfully drafted players. You may notice that I have used the term “missed on” to note draft picks that did not make the cut, but I need to emphasize that this isn’t intended to suggest that they were mistakes, simply to give some perspective as to the number of selections made in a year relative to those that became NHL players. This helps to illustrate things like luck, scouting skill, development, and different approaches to rebuilding.

We’ll begin with Pittsburgh, whose rebuild began in 2002 and continued to 2006.

The Penguins did relatively well at the draft table early on, finding players with their depth picks, albeit not necessarily developing those players themselves (while Matt Moulson looks like a bit of an organizational misstep now we can at least say that the scouts were right). What is most interesting about this list is how many of these players are no longer members of the Penguins: Whitney, Christensen, Talbot, Carcillo, Bissonette, Moulson, Goligoski, Johnson, and Staal. It also illustrates how many selections, at all points in the draft, can fail to cover the bet as the Penguins failed to convert on four 2nd round picks during this period – 35th, 32nd, 31st, and 32nd. 

Of their current core group, the Penguins drafted four of them during this period while the remaining players were lost to contract attrition and trade. The most significant note on the Penguins’ draft history is winning the lottery to select Sidney Crosby in 2005. This will become a common theme to three of the four teams here.

Chicago Blackhawks

Some things will obviously stand out here, such as it taking Corey Crawford ten years from his draft day to prove that he is an NHL starting goaltender. This is not unlike the emergence of Brian Bickell this past spring, nine years after he was drafted.

Perhaps the two things that stand out most from the ‘Hawks draft record is that they struggled to add players through the draft after 2004 and that they arguably won at least one Stanley Cup the day they won the draft lottery in 2007 to go from picking 5th to 1st and selecting Patrick Kane. It should also be noted how many draft picks the Blackhawks invested in the 2004 and 2005 drafts, an astonishing 17 and 12 selections, respectively.

 

Washington Capitals

The Capitals have built a team almost in spite of their drafting rather than because of it. They lack a significant number of elite-level players acquired through the draft and appear to have relied heavily on one or two core guys. Their inability to find an impact NHL player in 2005 with two first round picks in what was a relatively good draft year has likely had a greater impact on the team than one might initially think. This coupled with the underwhelming results from 2007 mean that the Capitals won the day in 2004 when they won the draft lottery, moving from selecting 2nd to 1st, and were able to select Alex Ovechkin, but have not been able to find enough other talent to push them over the top.

Curiously enough, the apparent luck the Capitals had when they traded Varlamov to the Avalanche two years ago for a 1st and a 2nd round pick which eventually landed them Filip Forsberg was squandered when they then traded that windfall prospect to the Predators for Martin Erat.

 

Los Angeles Kings

*I have given some leeway to Lindon Vey and Brandon Kozun for two reasons – they are still too recently selected to have garnered 100+ games but have performed well enough to give them the benefit of the doubt in so far as it appears that the Kings were correct in selecting these players when they did.

Dwight King, Andrei Loktionov and Jordan Nolan are all just below 100 NHL games, but are almost guaranteed to pass that milestone this season.

We see here that the Kings were able to add, year over year, players who would either form the core of their new roster or would eventually develop into strong supporting players (Lewis, Martinez, King, Nolan). At the same time, the Kings weren’t able to win a Stanley Cup until after they had made some significant roster moves that involved trading away some significant assets (Simmonds and Schenn as well as two 1st round picks). At the same time the Kings never went into the draft with an unmanageable number of draft picks, preferring to select no more than ten prospects in any given draft during this period.

While the Kings emphasized the draft as a part of their rebuilding efforts, they were never bad enough to garner the top picks except in three cases, Drew Doughty, Thomas Hickey and Brayden Schenn. Hickey has famously struggled to meet expectations as a 4th overall selection (one which Lombardi traded up to get) and Schenn was the collateral on the trade that brought Mike Richards to Los Angeles and helped complete the picture of their 2012 Stanley Cup championship.

And Now your Calgary Flames!

Personally, I believe that the Flames’ rebuild began this spring with the trading of Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, but for the sake of providing some background and lead up to their present prospect situation I’ve chosen to show the results going back to the 2011 draft.

Based on what we have seen from the teams listed above, the Flames would need to add at least one or two players from each of these draft years in order to keep pace as they progress through the rebuilding stages. In the draft years that we examined above, no team managed to turn 50% or more of their draft cohort into NHL talent (setting aside the Kings’ 2009 draft for the time being).  

Conclusions

Something that came up during this process was that often there were approximately two years of each team trying to explore alternative routes to a rebuild. Often times they would end up drafting one or two players who would incidentally go on to become a part of their new core. The Flames match up to this pattern almost perfectly with 2011 and 2012 being their “lead in” years to the first rebuild draft (in this case 2013). Based on the most common pattern of teams in this position then, the Flames could expect another four years of drafting somewhere within the top ten.

While one cannot know which players will be around once this rebuild is finished but history has shown that there will be surprises. Already the emergence of TJ Brodie and the importance of Mikael Backlund are important factors in the direction of this team, both of whom predate any thoughts of the Flames’ current situation.

There are, however, two circumstances that need to be taken into account and will have unforeseen effects on this process: new divisional play and luck, specifically the luck involved in winning the draft lottery (ie: 1st overall) which now moves to all non-playoff teams.

I cannot speak as to what the future of the draft holds as a result of the new divisional play, but I suspect there are going to be some teams surprised to find themselves drafting so high next spring because they simply are not good enough to win out their division.

However, the other factor that I think may have less overall impact to the league but a greater impact to the one or two teams at the very bottom, is the expanding of the draft lottery to all non-playoff teams. While the basic math hasn’t changed, the stakes have, with the winner moving up to 1st overall. Granted, there has only been one instance of a team outside of the bottom five winning the draft lottery in the last ten years (the New Jersey Devils in 2011 moving from 8th to 4th), however the percentages of retaining the 1st overall pick have subsequently dropped from 48% to 25%.

It should also be noted that three of the four teams above won the draft lottery during their rebuilding period, moving up to draft 1st overall and in each case that selection became a pivotal one for the franchise (Crosby, Kane and Ovechkin, respectively). Luck, both good and bad, is going to have a significant impact on the Flames rebuild and the new draft lottery rules are likely to play a role at some point in time over the next few years.

The one team that did not win the draft lottery during their rebuilding period, Los Angeles, managed to collect a quality roster by means of strong drafting (which is equal parts good scouting and good luck) and fortuitous trades. Dean Lombardi has done a great deal in Los Angeles with some good fortune and an aggressive management style.

Of the teams mentioned above, every one of them drafted within the top five at least twice during their rebuilding period. While the Flames have never drafted higher than 6th overall, there is a chance they could find their way into the top five sometime over the next few seasons, and arguably they will need to at least two top-5 picks to finally acquire the elite level talent which they currently lack.

Of all the teams mentioned, the Flames are probably closest on course, at this very moment, to follow the Los Angeles Kings in that they have a collection of decent prospects, are beginning the process of rebuilding, and have a General Manager who is far from risk-averse. Perhaps this will change this coming season, but in either case the Flames will need to continue drafting and preferably as high in the draft order as they can manage, if they wish to improve. Only once a strong collection of prospects has been acquired can there be any serious consideration of improving the roster, be it internally or by trade.

  • Kevin R

    Seems to me if we get ranked top 10 for our prospect pool, and this rebuild started 03/13, we are well on our way. I don’t put that much into the charts because we are comparing rebuilds that were well on their way prior to the 2004-05 lockout & beginning of the Cap world, which for good or bad, has changed hockey. LA & Toronto is probably the closest comparable to rebuilds in a NHL cap system & of course the Oilers. Parity has caused teams to look at & revamp drafting/scouting/development since 2004. Unfortunately, with Sutter at the helm, the Flames took longer to adapt. The new brave NHL, we are about to see parity in the scout-draft-develop systems of all teams.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Nice work here Rex. I agree with your assessment that LA is currently the most comapariable to the Flames situation. I also agree that trading away all the veteran players and then promoting the new prospects too early will likely disrupt their development (at least in the short term).

    In thinking about compsrisons over the last few years the Kings would be one flip of the coin and Leafs might just be the other. When Brian Burke began his work he put a primimium on big, strong, mean players. As Burke himself put it “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence, and belligerence.”. He assigned his scouts to look into under aprpreciated hockey markets like the NCAA to find new talent, and had them scour the world of hockey to find a new #1 goalie. This is not to assume that Ramo will not succeed, it’s just I get the feeling we’ve seen this movie before.

    Thankfully, where Feaster failed to land a big risky fish (Brad Richards) by selling the future, Burke succeeded *cough* with Phil Kessel. These are very different circumstances that effectively used the same strategy ‘fix today by ignoring the future in terms of talent and cost’.

    Lastly, while Feaster is no Brian Burke he shares Brian’s affinity for using big fancy words where a simple word would suffice. It’s a habit I hope he drops.

    • RexLibris

      I think the similarities are that both GMs are risk-takers and that perhaps neither team was/will be bad enough to draft 1st or 2nd for several years in a row.

      The downside of that is that it will require a very aggressive and deft hand, and a boatload of luck, to make all the pieces come together.

      For instance, let’s imagine that the Blue Jackets don’t trade Carter and the Oilers don’t trade Penner to the Kings that season. Both players played a role in winning that championship, and it could be argued that the team doesn’t win without them.

      Or what happens if the Kings win that Kovalchuk trade negotiation over the Devils? Perhaps that costs them the assets they used to acquire Richards and Carter, in which case they may or may not have won the championship because of having invested those resources into a single (albeit dominant) player instead of a variety of complementary players who each contributed to the larger whole.

      Lombardi has had a whole lot of luck (Quick’s emergence, for instance) go his way, and the Stanley Cup quickly washes away the errors like taking Hickey 4th overall in 2007.

      We’ll see how the Flames’ development system and prospect pipeline holds up over the next few years. They aren’t be the first team to have their prospect group feted by observers, but it is a long hard mile from prospect to player.

      I think Burke and Feaster do have some similarities, both have a penchant for confidence that can be interpreted as arrogance and neither has shown an allergy to the microphone. I actually think that Burke could become a possible candidate when Feaster eventually loses his job (it happens to all GMs).

  • Skuehler

    I was wondering if anyone was working on an article comparing how teams should treat their prospects during a rebuild and how to move the team forward. I look at this group both the vets, the new comers, and the prospects and wonder how others might use them. For me I would want to see everyone in different situations; win or lose. The problem is we can’t get past the old thinking of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines. In two years I want to know which of the kids can play in tough situations and I can depend on. You don’t hang them out to dry but you must be prepared to lose some games in the name of development. I would love to hear other opinions of this.

  • BurningSensation

    One of my favorite articles to date.. loved it.

    Ive been thinking about this for a bit but it absolutely shocks me how many prospects that are not with the team that drafted them.

    I mean the Flames for one, right off the top of my head.. St. Louis, Savard, Giguere, Craig Anderson, even Travis Moen. I am sure there are a lot more, too lazy to look right now 😛

    A little off topic but I hope Backlund doesn’t become one of these guys that doesn’t stick and goes somewhere else and flourishes.

    • BurningSensation

      StLouis wasn’t a Flames draft pick. I believe he was a training camp invite who earned a few games of play before clearing waivers. The following year he went to the Bolts on a tryout and won a roster spot.

      Nor was Marc Savard a Flames pick. I believe he was a Rangers draftee who ended up in Calgary via trade. Giguere got his start in Carolina/Harford if I’m not mistaken, and bounced around before settling in as a Duck.

      And Craig Anderson? I don’t believe he’s ever been a Flame.

      • BurningSensation

        All those guys were in the system and all moved on to have better careers. Which is the point of the post. Albeit I did forget that Savard was a trade (thx for the heads up).

        Anderson was a later pick and not signed and Chicago drafted him. I went and looked it up and he was a 3rd, 77th overall by Calgary in 1999 and then in 2001 the Blackhawks picked him up in the 3rd also at 73rd overall.

        • BurningSensation

          Yeah, after chillout mentioned that he had actually been a Flames pick I looked it up to be sure.

          It’s interesting how players can bounce around for years before finding their groove and making the show full-time.

          Some guys take the very, very, long road.

  • BitGeek

    I wonder how many teams actually have a 3-5 year rebuild plan and how many teams just adjust from year to year with no really long term vision in place?

    In hindsight many teams that rebuild and make it to the Stanley Cup often look like they purposefully built the team to achieve that goal.

    But I wonder how many just take it from year to year and adapt as they go. “Oh looks a rising star defenceman just became available via free agency, we’d better nab him.” versus “We’re gonna need to add a quality D-man this year, and replace an aging forward next year, and by year three we need to trade 3 ‘post apex’ players to make cap space to get another 2way center”

    • RexLibris

      Thanks.

      My perception of this rebuild is, if you were to place each team’s rebuild since 2000 on a chart such that no two would occupy the same space, then the Flames’ strategy would be finding a line that fit best between a cluster closest matching their own circumstances and goals.

  • DoubleDIon

    On the positive side though, I like our prospect depth now regardless of what prognosticators think. I think we have guys past #20 that will play in the league. Prior to 2011, I could count the guys I thought would play in the league on one hand. Now I don’t think two hands is enough. We’re still devoid of franchise type guys though. Bartschi, Gaudreau and Monahan have really high end potential IMO, but none of them are Crosby/Toews types.

    • BurningSensation

      I wouldn’t rule out Monahan having a ceiling like Toews. A big strong, two-way pivot who scores about a ppg but drives possession like a fiend, that could definitely be Monahan’s ceiling.

      A Crosby-like ceiling is purely a fever dream though.

      • DoubleDIon

        People under-estimate the value of a Toews. I think Monahan ends up more in the Langkow vein then the Toews area. JT is a top 5 player in the league. I’d be shocked if Monahan becomes that good. Langkow is a fine player and in his prime brings a lot of value to a club, but you can get those guys in a trade. Toews types never get moved until they’re exiting their prime.

        • BurningSensation

          Me, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. I see Monahan’s skillset as being very similar to Toews, right down to size and build. The one question I’d have is whether Monahan’s skating can get to the level of Toews.
          Langkow was indeed a very nice player, but what he lacked (size, high end offense, shot) Monahan seems to grade higher in.

          Kool-Aid, because it tastes GOOD

          • BurningSensation

            Langkow actually had a great shot. One of the most underrated aspects of his game, IMO.

            Of course we should hope for more (and arguably there is a chance for more) but realistically Langkow is a GREAT benchmark for Monahan. And let’s not forget that Langkow was a ridiculously high scorer in junior (140(!!) points in his draft year).

            Kool-Aid does indeed taste good, though. Haven’t had any for a while.

          • BurningSensation

            Don’t get me wrong, but I am REALLY hoping Monahan comes out ahead of Langkow.

            Langkow took about 5 years (and a trade to Philly) to break 50 points, and only had the one season of 77 that approached a ppg.

            He was a fine possession player, but lacked the size and strength to check the elite.

            He was essentially Mike Fisher before Mike Fisher (adjusted for offense of the era).

            If Monahan’s career offensive numbers are the .5ppg that Langkow put up, I have to say I’d be disappointed.

            http://youtu.be/nBeUGqeYsQg

          • RexLibris

            Langkow also played in a different era.

            Had he been developed slowly, along the lines of a Couture, and played in a more open era he might have had a higher ceiling.

            I think a Langkow comparison for Monahan is a very reasonable expectation (to quote LT).

          • BurningSensation

            Langkow wasn’t exactly ‘rushed’ into the bigs. He was returned for another season of Jr, and had a cup of coffee with the AHL team before he was promoted full-time. I don’t think he suffered from the same problems guys like Brule did in that regard.

            I have to say I was always a bit disappointed in Langkow’s offensive production in the bigs. I always thought he should have been a #1 offensive pivot, but he topped out as a decent #2 (much like David Legwand in Nsh).

            Yeah, a Langkow like career would be a ‘realistic expectation’ to get from Monahan, but I am hoping/praying that Monahan is higher up the two-way center evolutionary tree than Langkow/Fisher. Something closer to the peak like Toews, or if you are an old-timer like me, Bryan Trottier.

            Here Rex, have some Kool-Aid.

          • I’d be surprised if he becomes as good as Langkow, frankly. Lanks scored 50+ points in 8 straight seasons and drove possession against quality competition. He also scored 20+ goals 7 times in the league. Those are incredibly good results.

            For context, here are a number of recent 6th overall picks:

            2012 – Hampus Lindholm
            2011 – Mika Zibanejad
            2010 – Brett Connolly
            2009 – OE Larsson
            2008 – Nikita Filatov
            2007 – Sam Gagner
            2006 – Derreck Brassard
            2005 – Gilbert Brule
            2004 – Al Montoya

            We don’t know much about Zibanejad, Connolly or Lindholm yet, but out of the rest the only guy might match Langkow’s impact is OEL.

          • BurningSensation

            I have two reasons for thinking that a Langkow like career (however very good) isn’t what I am hoping for from Monahan;

            1. The 2013 draft was steep and deep, and the 6th overall pick would have compared favourably to the 3rd overall in many other drafts.

            2. Monahan was a legit candidate to go 1st overall, but his team gutted the roster around him. Even if you compensate by playing Monahan in all sitations as much as possiblle not having anyone to pass to or to recieve a pass from has to have depressed his offensive numbers.

          • piscera.infada

            Not to argue with you because I agree with most of what you said, but it’s not like he’s going to plop himself down on the current Flames roster (let alone the one next year) and be in a much better circumstance.

            As I said earlier, he’s a damn good player, but he still seems like a guy that needs to be surrounded by some talent in order to reach his full offensive potential. That’s not a knock on him, but it will take some time.

          • RexLibris

            Thanks, I’ve got lots over here. 😉

            Besides, I was taught never to accept Kool-Aid from a stranger.

            Langkow played 246 CHL games, then 2 in the AHL before getting to the NHL.

            Couture did 232 CHL, 46 AHL and then made it to the NHL.

            A difference of 44 games isn’t much but he was drafted in ’07 and didn’t get into the NHL until 2009-2010.

            Langkow was drafted in ’95 and played 4 NHL games in 1995-96 before becoming a regular (79 games) the following year.

            I would argue that he was pushed. And I have my suspicions that Monahan will be as well. This isn’t to say that it will be to his ultimate detriment, but I will say it would be better to let him finish his CHL career and spend a full season in the AHL.

    • piscera.infada

      Just to go out on a bit of a limb (maybe not, I guess it depends who you ask), I do really feel as though Monahan could be a franchise changing player. Maybe not on his lonesome, but I feel if he has some talented, but not necessarily elite guys on his wings, he could be a big-time difference maker.

      I understand he’s a long way out, but I love his attitude towards the game (whatever that’s worth – I know it’s not worth much around these parts). The more I hear former teammates and coaches talk about him, the more I like him – regardless of if he was the “safe pick” or “just outside the elite 4 or 5”.

      • DoubleDIon

        I definitely understand people who feel like Monahan is an elite player. I just think his skill level is somewhat below that of other high end prospects. Personally, I think he’s our 3rd most skilled guy. Behind Gaudreau and Bartschi. I was honestly hoping for Barkov from the start of the year, but when he went #2, there’s nothing you can do about that. Monahan and Nicushkin were the two reasonable picks at #6. I would have been happy with either of them assuming the organization did their homework.

        I guess I disagree with you, but your assessment isn’t ridiculous. I can see how you get there.

        • piscera.infada

          I agree with you. I would have loved Barkov over him – but it was pretty apparent that wasn’t going to happen. I’m with you in saying Monahan doesn’t necessarily have the offensive potential of guys taken ahead of him. As you say about Toews though, I believe it’s the way Monahan thinks the game that is underrated. Of course we wait and see what he can do in the show.

          If he doesn’t turn out to be a phenom though, he’ll for sure be a great player for us – I have little doubt about that one.

          I agree with you on Toews. There are a lot of people out there who can’t seem to grasp why he’s such an exceptional player (ditto for Bergeron, come to think of it). It’s somewhat of an enigma that some players can still be underrated even after they have achieved such amazing accolades. Some hockey fans just want a guy who can score 50 goals, and they don’t care about much else – such is life.

  • beloch

    It took the epic meltdown of Kipper and a decidedly awful backup to net the Flames their #6 pick this summer. Unless MacDonald is still the Flames best goalie, the Flames are going to have to get significantly worse to draft higher. They’re not there yet. Feaster needs to move a another couple of Veterans for picks or prospects.

    • BurningSensation

      Different year, different schedule, tougher division, veterans that just dont care any more, same crappy team……..
      I think it can get worse and they can pick higher.

    • Agreed. I think next year is when the team may truly bottom out – if Stajan, Stempniak, Hudler and Cammalleri are liquidated I doubt the team will be able to replace them via free agency. And guys like Baertschi and Monahan can’t step in a carry team yet (assuming they will be that good at some point).

      • seve927

        So if they dump Stajan, Stempniak, Hudler and Cammalleri: That’s 3.5+2.5+4+6=16 million. Capgeek currently has them at 57.3. Kipper is about 6. That puts them at about 35 million. If they replace those guys without signing free agents, that’s likely Monahan at 1.8, Gaudreau at 3?, and they currently don’t have another contract over 1 million, leaving them at about 43 million while the floor will likely be around 50 million. Something doesn’t add up. Am I missing something, or how do you think they’ll manage to spend another 7+/- mill?

        • Skuehler

          they won’t need to because they can give Mono a raise and sell out the new arena and no one will notice that we suck, actually they will be happy that we are sucking – because hey, slightly higher draft picks. As long as we have hope and a face for the team and a full building, business is good.

      • RexLibris

        Sounds like a worst-case scenario though, to me. In fact, that sounds like more of a tank-job than anything the Oilers did during Tambellini’s tenure – as they didn’t have assets like Cammalleri or Hudler to liquidate.

        As much as the Flames need to draft high, we’ve seen what happens when the reigns are handed over to rookies too soon (Gagner, Brule, Turris, etc)

        This is partially why I compared the Flames to the Kings. They may be best by not aiming too high in the draft order but instead taking their time sheltering and developing their talent and drafting between 4th and 8th for four or five years until they can ice a solid roster. Everybody focuses on the star players (and with good reason), but they often forsake a balanced roster and what that is worth.

        If the Flames aren’t going to become a train wreck that shellshocks their young prospects they’ll need to be extremely patient and take a very long, slow approach until they have amassed enough talent to trade it for plug-and-play NHLers.

          • RexLibris

            And probably for the better.

            Remember all the buzz a few years ago when Jagr was being courted by the Oilers because of his connection to Hemsky? Most fans were anxious and excited to see it happen, but what would have been the benefit? To have him help the team go from 30th overall to 28th?

            I think the Flames need the same thing right now. They could always look for solid veteran leaders (Rob Scuderi and such) who will provide a contribution to the long-term health of the team by helping to develop the young players.

      • DoubleDIon

        Next year is the year to suck hard. Much as I’ve loved Sam Reinhart, he’s no McDavid. More of a RNH type player IMO. Just more physically mature. This year we’ll get a decent player, but I don’t think a franchise changer since I predict we draft 5th and miss out on the top 3 guys. Ekblad or Reinhart would be nice, but I’d move heaven and earth for McDavid.

        We aren’t that lucky though. We’ll finish last in 2015 and end up picking 2nd…

  • beloch

    The thing I take away from this is that all of theses teams took 4-5 years of pure absolute suckery to become elite. Sigh……

    I support and have been pushing hard for a rebuild for 2 years now. I’m just so pissed Feaster didn’t start this 2 years ago. See you guys in 2018-19.

  • RexLibris

    I think you are correct in comparing LA and Calgary at this point. The other 3 teams all started with relatively high draft picks a number of years in a row while there can be no way to predict that this will happen here. I also find it interesting and refreshing that you have not included our neighbors in your discussion. With the exception of the superstars on these teams how quickly did these prospects take to develop into NHlers and how did they develop them. Our 2011 draft class shows plenty of potential to be as deep as your examples first years. (maybe not as high end as a couple) In saying this there is much to be optimistic about. My other thought for all these teams, who provided the leadership/ mentorship as many of these players developed.

    • RexLibris

      Right now the Flames are closest to the Kings, but I strongly believe each team charts their own rebuilding course (partially on account of initial circumstances, management decisions, and most especially luck) so that initial comparison is likely to be useless three years from now.

      As for comparing the Flames to the Oilers, frankly that gets done too often. Different teams, different situations.

      Everybody here knows my loyalties, but I’m honestly sick of having Flames fans compare their situation to the Oilers in 2010 and vice versa. Some generalities apply: the Flames will probably have to be very bad before they can become good – what an epiphany.

      I didn’t focus on the veteran leadership in these examples mostly because it is difficult to chart those intangibles after the fact. Those things tend to be known through access to contemporary media sources.

      Also, Kent said he’d shave my head if I went over 2000 words so…

      • Skuehler

        Thanks for the reply. Too bad Kent might look good bald. The vets will help with the rebuild. I am glad you did not include the Oilers but it will as you say be in our faces all the time.