Flames Draft History: Ups and Downs (1997-2001)

If the goal of drafting is the put NHL players on your NHL team, the late 1990s were a time of moderate success and crushing, abject failure. Three of their five picks were out-and-out not that good, and were also followed by some really shoddy asset management. Two of their picks actually turned into good, albeit not star-level, NHL players, and helped the Flames get to the Stanley Cup Final in the decade that followed.

But just take into account how lucky the Flames are to have gotten Sean Monahan at sixth overall in 2013; the last two times they traded at that spot, they got Daniel Tkaczuk and Rico freakin’ Fata. It could have been so much worse.

1997: Daniel Tkaczuk (6th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick.
  • Tkaczuk was a decent pick at the time, but was derailed by injuries and inconsistency. He had two years in the Flames organization, then was packaged with Fred Brathwaite, Sergei Varlamov and a draft pick to St. Louis for Roman Turek. Turek played for awhile, then retired.
  • The Stat Line: 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 19
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 171

1998: Rico Fata (6th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick.
  • Fata may be the poster child for late-’90s Flames drafting. He was a good pick, in the sense that he turned into a productive AHLer. He just couldn’t put it together in the NHL. The Flames actually lost him for nothing, as the Rangers claimed him off waivers in a move that created a CalgaryPuck meme.
  • The Stat Line: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point
  • Flames Games By Pick: 27
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 27

1999: Oleg Saprykin (11th Overall)

  • This was the Rangers’ pick; the Flames traded down and also got Marc Savard, in exchange for 9th overall, 77th overall and the rights to European forward Jan Hlavac. This was Al Coates’ final first round pick as Flames GM; he left the organization in April 2000.
  • Saprykin was a pretty good pick, becoming a decent depth player and a good role player in Calgary’s 2004 Cup run. He was eventually sent to Phoenix alongside Denis Gauthier in exchange for Daymond Langkow. Langkow was traded back to Phoenix for Lee Stempniak, who was traded to Pittsburgh for a third round pick, which was traded to Chicago for Brandon Bollig.
  • The Stat Line: 29 goals, 47 assists, 76 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 187
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 801

2000: Brent Krahn (9th Overall)

  • This was Calgary’s original pick, and the first selection Craig Button oversaw as Flames general manager.
  • In another edition of “Why I Am Terrified To Draft Goalies Early,” the Flames went for the home-town cheer by drafting the Hitmen goalie at the draft they hosted…and then spent years regretting it. Krahn struggled with injuries and inconsistency. After five seasons in the minor-pro ranks and no recalls to the NHL roster, he left the organization via free agency. Krahn eventually made it to the NHL, playing one period for the Dallas Stars and giving up three goals.
  • The Stat Line: 0-0-0
  • Flames Games By Pick: 0
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 0

2001: Chuck Kobasew (14th Overall)

  • This was the Coyotes’ pick; the Flames traded down and also got the 41st overall pick in exchange for their original pick at 11th overall.
  • Like Saprykin, Kobasew developed into a solid role player for the Flames and played a key part in their 2004 run. Like Saprykin, he was soon traded away. Kobasew and Andrew Ference were sent to Boston for Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. Primeau was eventually sent to Toronto with a second round pick for Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart and a seventh rounder. Before he even played a game, Stralman was sent to Columbus for a pick the Flames used to pick Max Reinhart. Both Brad and Colin Stuart left the Flames as free agents, while the seventh round pick was used to take Matthew Deblouw.
  • The Stat Line: 34 goals, 37 assists, 71 points
  • Flames Games By Pick: 210
  • Flames Games Related To Pick: 354

Flames Draft History

    • Bikeit

      Just checked. Krahn taken 9th, Henrik Lundquist taken at 205. With that said the 2000 draft was a bit of a wasteland for other teams in the first 2 rounds. Just shows that it is good to have as many darts(picks) as possible to throw at draft picks. Maybe the flames should keep the picks this year and if you get 2 nhl players out of it then that is success

    • OKG

      There do seem to be a lot of hit and misses in the early rounds in years past and somewhat less so since 2003 (yes, I’m cherry picking the year).

      But In addition to scouting getting better, I wonder if it isn’t also that coaching and development programs are getting better at more consistently producing quality players. Players with specific attributes get noticed earlier and their weaknesses worked on and strengths enhanced.