On June 24, the Calgary Flames will head to the podium and draft in the first round for the 43rd time in their franchise’s history. (Well, presuming they don’t trade their pick again.)
Historically, the Flames have had a mixed record in the first round. A perusal of their first round picks reveals a group that includes players that never left Europe, players that faded away in minor-pro, one deceased person (albeit from a really tragic accident) and tons of missed opportunities. However, the Flames have also drafted a few really good players in the first round, including a Hall of Famer and several others that have gone on to really good careers.
The 2015-16 Flames featured three past first round selections: 2007’s Mikael Backlund, 2013’s Sean Monahan and 2014’s Sam Bennett. When you take a statistical look at Flames picks, both in terms of their time with the Flames and their overall NHL careers, Backlund and Monahan are already among the franchise’s best first rounders.
Here’s how they stack up!
BEHOLD, A TABLE
Players in bold are current Flames property. Four Flames-drafted first round goalies – Jason Muzzatti (1988), Trevor Kidd (1990), Brent Krahn (2000) and Leland Irving (2006) – aren’t listed here, but Kidd played 387 games in the NHL and was decent. The others were, um, not. Don’t draft goalies in the first round, everybody.
|Career in NHL||Career with the Flames|
Let’s start at the top: MacInnis and Roberts came from the run of drafts through the 1980s where Cliff Fletcher’s scouting crew hit gold quite often. Heck, five of the top six on the “NHL career” side were selected when Fletcher was GM, and Stillman was grabbed the season after he left and largely scouted by Fletcher’s hires. Phaneuf was as can’t-miss as any Flames pick has ever been, and despite a tumultuous exit from Calgary and some trouble in Toronto he’s been a really good NHLer.
Heading to the mushy middle: in the context of NHL careers Backlund and Monahan are already pretty good first round selections. Backlund’s in his mid-20s and Monahan’s still a pup, yet they’ve already out-scored Saprykin and Nystrom and are closing in on Kobasew. Within Flames circles, they should crack the 200-point mark for their careers next season and enter the unofficial upper-echelon of Flames firsts. (When you take into account that it’s relatively rare that Flames picks crack 100 points with the team, that’s kinda sad…)
Monahan’s already the sixth-highest goal-scorer as a Flame among past first rounders and should hit 100 goals next season (and heck, he could push 30 goals again and catch Stillman and Reinhart).
And now to the very bottom: Poirier, Jankowski and Klimchuk are currently professional hockey players in the Flames organization, so it’s too early to really throw those guys onto the “no points in Calgary/NHL/bust!” pile. All three of them have two seasons remaining on their entry-level deals, so there’s still plenty of runway left for them before we throw them under the bus (so to speak).
Biotti and Deasley puttered around minor-pro and then quietly disappeared from hockey. Pelawa died in a car accident shortly after being drafted by the Flames, so that’s not exactly a development/drafting issue. Mattsson had a lengthy career in Sweden but only briefly came to North America for a two-and-a-half season sojourn before going back home.
And yes, your eyes do not deceive you: Darryl Sutter’s first round picks, aside from Phaneuf, all seem pretty bad when you see them on a list like that. If anything, the Flames’ history of uneven, sometimes disastrous drafting in the first round makes their recent successes all the more stark and impressive.