Comparing Flames and Oilers Drafting Since 2002

The 2015 NHL Draft is later tonight, and it’ll be Tod Button’s 14th at the helm of the Calgary Flames scouting group. I had originally wanted to put together an All-Button Team, looking at the best roster the Flames could put together based upon their drafting since Button’s been head amateur scout.

Unfortunately, the tougher part was coming up with a comparison so we could put Button’s performance in context. Thankfully, a perfectly fine comparison lives up the road in Edmonton. The Oilers have been blessed with many, many high-end draft picks since 2002 – much more than Calgary.

So their roster of drafted players should look better than Calgary’s, right?

Well, somewhat…

Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers
Goaltenders
(2 each)
Curtis McElhinney (2002; 176th)
Joni Ortio (2009; 171st)
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (2002; 31st)
Devan Dubnyk (2004; 14th)
Defensemen
(6 each)
Keith Aulie (2007; 116th)
T.J. Brodie (2008; 114th)
Tim Erixon (2009; 23rd)
Adam Pardy (2004; 173rd)
Dion Phaneuf (2003; 9th)
Tyler Wotherspoon (2011; 57th)
Taylor Chorney (2005; 36th)
Matt Greene (2002; 44th)
Oscar Klefbom (2011; 19th)
Martin Marincin (2010; 46th)
Theo Peckham (2006; 75th)
Jeff Petry (2006; 45th)
Forwards
(12 each)
Mikael Backlund (2007; 24th)
Sven Baertschi (2011; 13th)
Lance Bouma (2008; 78th)
Dustin Boyd (2004; 98th)
Adam Cracknell (2004; 279th)
Micheal Ferland (2010; 133rd)
Johnny Gaudreau (2011; 104th)
Markus Granlund (2011; 45th)
Matthew Lombardi (2002; 90th)
Sean Monahan (2013; 6th)
Eric Nystrom (2002; 10th)
Brandon Prust (2004; 70th)
Kyle Brodziak (2003; 214th)
Andrew Cogliano (2005; 25th)
Jordan Eberle (2008; 22nd)
Sam Gagner (2007; 6th)
Taylor Hall (2010; 1st)
Riley Nash (2007; 21st)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011; 1st)
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (2009; 10th)
Marc-Andre Pouliot (2003; 22nd)
Jarret Stoll (2002; 36th)
Zack Stortini (2003; 94th)
Nail Yakupov (2002; 1st)

Players are listed with their year of selection and their placement overall.

The Flames roster skews fairly heavily towards more recent drafts, while the Oilers seem to have been equally competent throughout the period that we looked at. I didn’t base this entirely on regular season games played, but mostly. Granlund and Cracknell just edged out Max Reinhart and David van der Gulik, so you can see that Calgary was just woeful at producing NHLers.

In terms of goaltenders, Edmonton easily gets the edge. Dubnyk is easily the best guy, though McElhinney has carved out a good niche for himself in the big leagues.

Defense is probably a toss-up: Brodie and Phaneuf are better than the rest, but Edmonton’s selections are likely at least as good as Calgary’s remainder, and Petry and Greene are damn good role guys at the least.

Forwards? Edmonton’s bevvy of first overall picks gives them a clear edge, though Calgary’s recent selections of guys like Monahan and Gaudreau make it a bit closer.

In terms of pick placement? The Edmonton Oilers have been given a lot of early picks. But they have hit very frequently on good players in the first three rounds of the draft, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Of Edmonton’s 20 best picks listed here, only one was drafted outside of the top 100 in their respective drafts. Of Calgary’s 20 best? Eight were chosen lower than 100th, including both goalies, T.J. Brodie, Johnny Gaudreau and Micheal Ferland. The Flames have been fortunate in finding lots of value picks later on in the draft, but they are much worse than the Edmonton Oilers are, historically, at finding good players when you’re supposed to be able to find them more readily.

Finally, the thing I really noticed is that if you combined these two teams into one big team, you’d actually have a pretty damn good roster. The forward ranks would be pretty deep with players that can skate and wear down teams with speed (as well as some guys with size, if you want that in your fourth line) and the goaltending would be pretty solid. The weak spot would probably be defense, which does explain why the fortunes of Alberta’s two teams have drifted the way they have over the past decade or so.