Flames Draft History: The Dry Spell (1986-91)

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Calgary Flames hit the mid-’80s riding high! They had made the playoffs for every season since they moved to Canada. They had built up a strong core of talented players through drafting and smart trades.

But while the Flames dominated the late-’80s on the ice – winning two Presidents’ Trophies, making two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and winning a Cup in 1989 – cracks began to form elsewhere.

Wanna know why the Flames fell off a cliff in the early 1990s? Take a look at these five first round selections.

1986: George Pelawa (16th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick.
  • So, George Pelawa was a highly-touted draft choice, but tragically passed away two months after the draft following a car accident. Nobody knows what he would’ve ended up as at the NHL level, but he was very good at the levels he did play at.
  • The Tom Cochrane song “Big League” has long been rumoured to be about Pelawa, though Cochrane himself has denied the song is about any one particular person.
  • The Stat Line: 0 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 0
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 0

1987: Bryan Deasley (19th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick.
  • Deasley never made the NHL. He played in the IHL and was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for future considerations, but ultimately retired.
  • The Stat Line: 0 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 0
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 0

1988: Jason Muzzatti (21st Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick, and the final pick of the first round.
  • Muzzatti was almost an NHL goalie, but not quite. He was recalled a few times, but failed to get his feet on the ground with the Flames. Eventually he was claimed off waivers by the Hartford Whalers.
  • Muzzatti played 70 minutes with the Flames. He is one example of why I am terrified of drafting goalies with high picks.
  • The Stat Line: 0-1-0, 6.86 goals against average
  • Flames Games By Pick: 2
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 2

1990: Trevor Kidd (11th Overall)

  • This was originally New Jersey’s pick. The Flames packaged picks 20, 24 and 29 to the Devils in order to get 11 and 32. New Jersey took the best goaltender of all-time with Calgary’s original pick – Martin Brodeur – while Calgary took Kidd. Whoops.
  • Kidd did a lot better with the Flames than Muzzatti did, but he never really cemented himself as the Flames’ top goalie. After a few years of play that varied from “pretty good” to “frustratingly inconsistent,” the Flames cut bait and sent Kidd to Carolina (with Gary Roberts) for Andrew Cassels and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere was eventually sent to Anaheim for a second round pick. That pick was sent to Washington for Miika Elomo and a pick used on yet another goaltender, Levente Szuper. Cassels, Elomo and Szuper left the Flames organization as free agents.
  • This was Cliff Fletcher’s final first round selection as Flames general manager.
  • The Stat Line: 72-66-26, 2.83 goals against average
  • Flames Games By Pick: 178
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 351

1991: Niklas Sundblad (19th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s pick originally.
  • Sundblad was an utter disappointment as a North American pro. He came over for three seasons and played a pair of NHL games. He had decent if unspectacular AHL numbers. Having failed to stick in the NHL, he went back to Europe.
  • This was Doug Risebrough’s first pick as Flames general manager, as Fletcher left the organization a month before the draft.
  • The Stat Line: 0 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 2
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 2

Man, that was depressing…

Hopefully the Flames are able to do better at this year’s draft! If
you want a chance to witness this year’s draft in person, the Virtual
League of Hockey will be flying two lucky virtual GMs down to Sunrise
Florida to watch it all unfold from June 25th to June 28th. By registering for a free account you
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    Flames Draft History

    • Byron Bader

      Yeah we drafted horrible back in those days. Cliffy was awesome at trades but the drafting……. Risebrough was good at absolutely nothing, I get acid reflux hashing this crap up. Pelawa was the one I was most excited about. Back then we had a long playoff run in 86. The game was rough & this kid was described as being a linebacker on skates. When he hit, players got hurt. I remember when he got killed in that car accident. It was so sad, just thinking of what could have been. So tragic for his family. I remember when they made that Sunblad pick, there was a lot of head scratching even at that time & the scouting coverage was no where near being what it was after the similar reaction to the Janko pick.

      Ryan, this piece has kind of made me feel like the weather out there is currently right now.

    • FeyWest

      The Faults of the Past can lead us to a great future as long as we recognize the problems and learn from them. So far our drafting has really impressed me and it makes me so excited thinking that Age of Flames is coming soon!