Flames First Three Rounds: A Retrospective

It’s almost time!

The 2014 NHL Draft goes Friday and Saturday from scenic Philadelphia, PA. The Calgary Flames own five picks in the first three rounds. To edify my own curiosity, I went ahead and made a fancy table of every Flames pick in the first three rounds since 2001 – the year Tod Button became head scout and began running the draft board. Each player is listed in overall order, and listed with the number of pro games they’ve played split into North America’s three major leagues (the NHL, the AHL and the ECHL).

Table after the jump!

Pick Year Player NHL
4 2014 TBA
6 2013  Monahan 75
2003 Phaneuf 680
10 2002 Nystrom 487 109
13 2011 Baertschi 53 73
14 2001  Kobasew 601 139
21 2012 Jankowski
22 2013 Poirier 2
23 2009 Erixon 51 132
24 2004 Chucko 2 277
24 2007  Backlund 246 55
25 2008 Nemisz 15 220
26 2005 Pelech 13 386
26 2006 Irving [G] 13 194 8
28 2013 Klimchuk 4
34 2014 TBA
39 2002 McConnell 138
39 2003 Ramholt 1 210
41 2001 Taratukhin 80
42 2012 Sieloff 2
45 2011 Granlund 7 52
48 2008 Wahl 71 148
54 2014 TBA
56 2001 Medvedev [G]
57  2011 Wotherspoon 14 48
64 2010 Reinhart 19 134
64 2014 TBA
67 2013 Kanzig
69 2005 Baldwin 263 41
70 2004 Prust 369 221
70 2007 Negrin 3 143 53
73 2010 Leach 6 59
74 2005 Ryder 45 4
74 2008 Howse 59 20
75 2012 Gillies [G]
78 2008 Bouma 121 95
83 2014 TBA
87 2006 Armstrong 177 140
89 2006 Marvin 5 65
90 2002 Lombardi 536 86
97 2003 Donally 104 105
98 2004 Boyd 220 136

-Four straight-up bust first rounders here in Chucko, Pelech, Irving and Nemisz. Granted, Chucko might’ve turned into a Lance Bouma-esque depth guy had it not been for concussion issues. At least the Flames got a roster player for Nemisz, right?

-Second-round whiffs: Taratukhin, Ramholt, McConnell, Wahl… No wonder Darryl Sutter kept trading his seconds away! However, Granlund and Wotherspoon seem good so far.

-Third-round mistakes: Baldwin, Ryder, Howse, Armstrong, Marvin, Donally. Good thirds: Reinhart, Prust, Bouma, Lombardi. Negrin is roughly what I expect from a third rounder – a depth guy for the farm team, verging on being a tweener in the NHL at times.

    • redricardo

      Totally agree. The last couple drafts look like they’ve made up some ground, but overall, this is an organizational area that is holding this team back.

      I won’t be surprised one bit if Button is replaced shortly afer this draft.

    • Ed Wailin'

      Perhaps playing devil’s advocate here…

      Do we think it’s Button or the fact that Darryl Sutter was a one man show as GM of this team for so long? Is the fact that the drafting has improved over the last couple of years more an indication of a more open consensus between Button and Feaster/Weisbrod?

    • BurningSensation

      Given how big a swing we see in quality from Button once Dutter isn’t standing over his shoulder, I’m happy to put the blame on men higher up for Calgary’s horror show at the draft.

    • PrairieStew

      That presumes that Button is responsible for making the picks… he isnt… the GM is.

      How much power and influence he has we will never know… especially under Sutter… interestingly enough things seem to improve under Feaster…

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Given that we have two 2nd & two 3rds, I hope the odds are better for us this year than what history suggests!

    unrelated – If Florida is hell bent on selling the 1st overall, I have a feeling Vancouver is going to make a push for it to select local boy Sam Reinhart.

    I really hope this happens because then Buffalo with #2 (already with strong prospects on defense) likely take Bennett. Given EDM prospect pool is strong on defense and weak on forwards, MacTavish decides to take the big German since that man crush runs too deep. Ekblad then falls to Flames!

  • Lordmork

    But Howse just signed in the ECHL! Maybe he’ll make a comeback!

    Jokes aside, I want to feel better about the past 3 years, but there at 67 is Kanzig. I hope he succeeds, but he feels like a huge waste of a third given his NHLE, and a perfect example of drafting for size, not skill.

    We have a lot of picks this year, and it could be a pivotal draft if we can improve our depth at key positions. Or we could draft more coke machines. I remain cautiously optimistic!

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I found this mildly interesting:

    Without actually tallying it seems Calgary has drafted a lot of the best players (as described) at specific draft positions, going back, way back.

    So, it’s like who is the best* 123rd overall draftpick?

    I was surprised at how many players were Calgary picks.

    *again the best pick might not be a distinguished player. Also, guys like Gretzky weren’t obtained in an amateur draft.

  • Bean-counting cowboy


    I’ll also mention that the latest incarnation of sham sharron, which is literally a non-existent entity, beat the flames drafting over this period as well. so the flames did worse than anyone could have done had you just given them the spreadsheets and a basic understanding of math and age.

    • the forgotten man

      Yeah, the ol’ “even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut” analogy. Irregardless of the last couple of drafts, Button should have been let go ages ago – horrible drafting for over a decade is what has decimated this Franchise – I lay this on Ken King’s shoulders.

    • PrairieStew

      It is fascinating to hear management types talk about how important scouting is, yet the success rate is pretty much 1 in 4 regardless. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a team dispense with amateur scouting altogehter – use Central Scouting’s list and then spend money on development. Instead of employing 10 scouts – have 10 developmental coaches that just work with the guys you have already drafted. Each guy would only have 2 or 3 amateurs to be responsible for.

      • PrairieStew

        I think that there are about 10 core players on a team. over a decade, they need to be replaced. essentially, if you’re finding one top-6 forward or one top-4 defenseman per draft, you’re doing a good job. I count 3 guys (lombardi, backlund, phaneuf) that qualify under that. I think there are 6 maybes too (last year’s first rounders, erixon, granlund and baertschi). if I’m being generous, instead of finding 10 in 10 – which I think should be the goal – button has found like 8 in 13.

        • PrairieStew

          Agree with your numbers 2-3 guys per year; but you didn’t comment on my premise to completely dispense with team amateur scouting. I know it won’t happen but it is an interesting what if ….

  • PrairieStew

    The second most successful pick in terms of games played is Chuck Kobasew. That’s some kind of special awful. Granted it looks like Backlund and Monahan should surpass him but still. And this survery just missed the Krahn, Saprykin, Fata, Tkaczuck first round whiffs…..

    • mattyc

      enjoy the probation. that language doesn’t fly here.

      regardless, if your department was operating at 60% efficiency and you were the head of it, there would be significant reprimands because of it. I’m pretty sure it’s fair to blame the head of amateur scouting for poor amateur scouting. the “sutter drafted those guys” defense doesn’t work either: if button’s input wasn’t being used, what incentive would there have been to employ him?

      • Reidja

        You’re hilarious.

        Your first comment is more damaging than my language. You don’t know enough about how the Flames have operated over Button’s tenure to make that statement. Or can you quantify GM and owner interfernence and the prospect development system?

  • mattyc

    Also: remember when Chuck Kobasew was looking like a super solid prospect. I remember the exhibition season where he was leading the league in goals, and looked like a legit top 6 fwd. What happened?!

  • beloch

    To be fair to Irving, he may still make it in the NHL. He’s certainly close. He’s not a legitimate bust. However, picking him in the 1st round does illustrate rather graphically why you don’t pick goalies in the first round ever!

  • Captain Ron

    I think we may be giving Button too much credit/blame. During the Sutter years I don’t think he had much say as the slugs we tended to pick in the first round had Darrel’s fingerprints all over them. I don’t know if the Feaster drafts were generally better because Button had more say or Feaster/Weisbrod did. That is why this year should be interesting.

  • Ed Wailin'

    Man is that ever depressing!

    This TSN article put things in perspective for me a little however, it really is a crap-shoot:


    And speaking of taking goalies in the first round…. The 1990 Draft was a particularly memorable one for me, as I was super stoked on Trevor Kidd’s flashy pads and insanely sweet mullet, after reading this though, I am so depressed on so many levels:

    “The Flames and Devils swapped picks on draft day (1990) in what would become a goalie swap. Calgary moved up to 13 to take Trevor Kidd. The Devils used Calgary’s pick on Martin Brodeur.”

  • BurningSensation

    Exactly. The guy has survived 5 GM’s, I think? You only do that with meticulous notes on who you wanted vs who they made you take.

    Trying to decipher the inner politics of an organizations decision making process is almost impossible.

    • BurningSensation

      so has holditch, and I’ll remind you about 2008. means nothing. their job description is what they do. the flames are poor in those areas. simple.

      • EugeneV


        The drafting has drastically improved in the years since Sutter’s departure. Especially when you look at the late round picks made by the organization. So, what’s more likely? That Button is a terrible scout (though widely respected) who just turned into a good scout in the last 3 drafts that just so happened to coincide with Sutter’s autocratic regime coming to an end? Or that a massive change in organizational philosophy culminating with the ousting of Sutter allowed for Button along with Feaster and Wisebrod to improve the flames stable of prospects dramatically in the 3 years since…?

        The logic of blaming Button for a series of decisions that weren’t REALLY his to make seems flawed to me. His job is to inform the decision makers so that they can make the best decision. If they decide they know better or to disregard his input altogether then what more can he actually do?

  • EugeneV

    Justin, at the risk of being cut off by you again, I think you show all the maturity I expect of a 22 year old University student.

    How is my language on this post?