A recent history of sixth overall picks

And so, the lottery has decreed: barring a trade, the Calgary Flames will be picking sixth overall in the 2016 NHL draft. It’s a position they’re familiar with, as recently as just three years ago; it’s also a position they’ve only once picked above, when they selected Sam Bennett fourth overall in 2014.

It varies from draft to draft, but this year, it’s the top three picks that are the big names. Last year it was the big two; the years before, the big four. Rarely do we see it stretch out to the big six.

But some pretty good players have gone sixth overall, and if the Flames do their due diligence, they’ll get a good player at sixth overall. Here’s who’s gone there in recent years.

2015 – LW Pavel Zacha

Pavel Zacha made the jump from playing in his home Czech Republic to the OHL’s Sarnia Sting for his draft year, where he scored 16 goals and 24 points through 37 games.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Zacha posted 64 points in 51 games with Sarnia, leading the Sting in scoring. He also had 13 points through seven playoff games before being were bounced in the first round. From there, he made his NHL debut in the Devils’ season finale, picking up two assists. He also scored three points in the Albany Devils’ final three regular season games in the AHL. Currently he’s playing in the Calder Cup playoffs, in which he has three points in four games so far.

2014 – RW Jake Virtanen

Going into his draft year Jake Virtanen, an August birthday, was one of the youngest players available. He scored 71 points in 71 games for the Calgary Hitmen: third in team scoring. He had four points in six playoff games before the Hitmen were eliminated by the Kootenay Ice.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Virtanen returned to the Hitmen, scoring 52 points in 50 games. He added another 13 points through 14 playoff games before the Hitmen were eliminated. Afterwards, he joined the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, for their playoff run, in which he scored one assist over 10 games. He made his NHL debut in his draft+2 season, scoring 13 points in 55 games for the Canucks.

2013 – C Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan led the Ottawa 67’s with 31 goals and 78 total points through 58 games in the 2012-13 season: 38 more points than his next closest teammate. Though his October birthday marked him as one of the older players of the draft, he was still clearly deserving of the spot he was taken.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Monahan made the Flames out of camp, and scored 22 goals and 34 points through 75 games for a pretty solid rookie debut. He finished his season fifth in team scoring. Today he’s the top goal and point scorer of his entire draft class, so it’s clearly working out so far.

2012 – D Hampus Lindholm

The fourth defenceman taken in the 2012 draft, Hampus Lindholm was also the first European player selected. He spent his draft year playing in Sweden, including 20 games in the Allsvenskan during which he scored one goal and four points.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Lindholm immediately made his way over to North America, playing for the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. He played 44 games for them, and scored 11 points over that time. (Side note: we have a slight comparable here with Oliver Kylington, in that they’re both Swedish defencemen who played in the AHL immediately following their drafting. Kylington scored 12 points through 47 games, for the record.) He made the jump to the NHL in his draft+2 season, scoring 30 points over 78 games and averaging 19:26 in ice time, and he hasn’t looked back since.

2011 – C Mika Zibanejad

Mika Zibanejad spent his draft year playing in his home country of Sweden, in which he scored five goals and nine points through 26 games for Djurgardens in Sweden’s top league.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Zibanejad had a nine-game audition with the Ottawa Senators to start his season. He scored just one assist, and went back overseas to play out the rest of the year; he scored 13 points through 26 games for Djurgardens. He split time between the AHL and NHL in draft+2 year, and became a full-fledged NHLer early into his draft+3 year, and just broke the 50-point barrier for the first time in his draft+5 season.

2010 – RW Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly played just 16 games for the Prince George Cougars in his draft year. He scored 19 points. The season before, however, he played 65 games and scored 60 points.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Connolly went back to Prince George, scoring 73 points over 59 games. He turned professional in his draft+2 season, but only scored 15 points through 68 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thus far, he’s only had what one could reasonably call two full NHL seasons – plus a 50-game season – and his career high is 25 points.

2009 – D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

A July birthday, Ekman-Larsson was one of the younger players available in 2009. He played 39 games in the Allsvenskan in his draft year, scoring 17 points over 39 games.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Ekman-Larsson stayed in Sweden, where he upped his scoring to 27 points through 42 games. He made the jump to North America in his draft+2 year; in his draft+3 year, he established himself as a regular NHL defender and was averaging at least 22 minutes a game.

2008 – LW Nikita Filatov

Nikita Filatov played five games in Russia’s top league and went scoreless; in a lower league, he had 47 points through 23 games.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Filatov played mostly in the AHL, scoring 32 points in 39 games for the Syracuse Crunch. He also made his NHL debut, scoring four goals in his first eight games. However, he only played 53 total NHL games over four seasons; he’s spent the past five seasons playing in the KHL, most recently scoring just four assists over 26 games.

2007 – C Sam Gagner

With an August birthday, Sam Gagner was one of the youngest players available in 2007. He entered his draft year having scored 35 goals and 118 points over 53 games for the London Knights, adding an additional 29 points through 16 playoff games. That sounds elite enough, until you realize he was only third in scoring on that Knights team, at which point alarm bells should have been going off.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Gagner immediately made the NHL, scoring 13 goals and 49 points through 79 games as a rookie. That was his career season; he has never again reached 49 points in the NHL.

2006 – C Derick Brassard

Born in late September, Derick Brassard was one of the oldest players available in the 2006 draft. He scored 44 goals and 116 points over 58 games in the QMJHL in his draft season: the leading scorer on his team by 33 points. He also had nine points in seven playoff games.

How did he do in his draft+1 season? Brassard went back to the Q, in which he was limited to just 14 games (and 25 points in them). He did add on another 24 points through 12 playoff games, however. He turned professional in his draft+2 season, scoring 51 points over 42 games in the AHL, as well as making his NHL debut with two points in 17 games. He’s only just started putting up big numbers the past couple of seasons, however, with 60 and then 58 points for the New York Rangers in his draft+10 and draft+11 years.

What’s the verdict?

Of the past 10 sixth overall picks, eight have been forwards. Filatov was a flat out bust, while Connolly appears he might be headed down the same path. Depending on your expectations for a sixth overall pick, Gagner and Brassard may have been weaker choices, as well; Gagner has more bigger names immediately following him in his draft class than Brassard does.

Zibanejad is rounding into form, while it’s much too early to judge the Zacha pick (and perhaps the Virtanen one as well, although a number of other 2015 first rounders – Nikolaj Ehlers, Dylan Larkin, Robby Fabbri, Jared McCann, David Pastrnak, and even William Nylander [who has the same number of points as Virtanen, but in 33 fewer games played] have already passed him in point totals). Monahan, meanwhile, is doing pretty well.

Assuming the Flames pick a forward at sixth overall – and with one of Matthew Tkachuk, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Alexander Nylander guaranteed to be available, it’s certainly likely – the past decade seems to dictate they’ll get a good, but not necessarily great, player. Recent history also dictates he likely won’t make his NHL debut until his draft+2 season.

Of course, not all draft classes are created equal; but as far as sixth overall picks go, Monahan appears to be more an exception than the rule.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    How much do draft projections change in the 2 months before the draft for the top 6? Top 3 seem solid, but after that is still a guessing game.

    A lot can happen over the next couple of months…


  • freethe flames

    The chief scout for central scouting has said that 4-19 grouping is quite close. The Flames will have their ducks in a row and make a good selection. Some guys may fall and you need to be ready to make the selection. Again we can only wait and see.

  • Stu Cazz

    IMO I do not see the Oilers or Canuckleheads passing up on either Dubois or Tkachuk. They will address the need for experienced defensemen by trading current assets particularly the Oilers with RNH and Eberle. That would leave the Flames with Nylander. Although not the big forward they desire this kid is top end skilled and can play RW. Anyways I agree anything can happen in the next couple of months…we can only guess at this point….

    • flames2015

      Agree with the Oilers, but I think the Canucks will take a defenseman. They don’t have any strong d prospects in their pool. Besides throwing money at an FA this summer, they don’t have good trading pieces like the oilers. Just my opinion.

      • T&A4Flames

        Thing to remember is that teams need to add depth to their organizations. I don’t think the Oilers or ‘Nucks have a strong D prospect pool. Nurse is already an NHL’r and beyond Reinhart (who I still question whether he’ll amount to anything) the Oil don’t have any top end D prospects in their cupboards. The Canucks have nothing.

        I could very easily see both teams taking a D in this draft. Not guaranteeing it but certainly possible.

  • Lombardi

    What are the chances oil or nucks take a D? Canucksarmy seens to want a D. Really hope BT can draft one of PLD or Tkachuks and then find us a right hand forward through FA (Brouwer)

  • The Fall

    Patients seems to be the goal here. Flames have been a little spoiled with Sam and Sean walking into rolls. Sixth overall is a good pick to pump the breaks a bit and let whomever they pick to develop at a predictable pace.

    No one available at 6 meets the immediate needs of the team. It’s going to be a fun summer watching BT make moves.

  • Kevin R

    Wonder what it would take to grab the Canadiens 9th overall pick? They need a now player & they don’t have much D in their pipeline. Could big Joe Colbornes pumped up numbers, Hickey & our #36 pick get the #9. Go with the safe consensus at #6 & then step out for Brown or Jost at #9?

    • T&A4Flames

      I’m not sure why MTL would trade the 9th OA for a D prospect when more than likely a solid D prospect will still be available; like Sergachev. However, if they considered it, we would have to add a higher end prospect like Andersson or Kylington. Nothing against Hickey, I still really like him, but his last season knocked him down a notch, IMO. Plus we would have to get DAL 1st and add that instead of the 2nd.

  • The Fall

    One of the Oilers or Canucks has to draft a D, right?! I mean, they HAVE to…

    So Flames take the best forward on the board: Tkchuck or Dubois… I could live with that.

  • Oil City Roller

    I rooting for you guys. Here’s to the Flames drafting the next Sam Ganger! I kid, I kid 🙂

    In all seriousness though I’m pretty sure the Oil won’t draft a Dman. I think they are going to trade the pick and try to get immediate help on the blue line. Please hockey Jesus let us get some immediate help on the blue line.

    • oddclod

      Having a Sam Gagner wouldn’t be all that bad. Especially knowing Calgary wouldn’t ruin his development years. kidding!

      If Dubois doesn’t fall in our lap. I’d rather take a shot at Tkachuk or Nylander bloodlines since that’s what might be available.

      Burke is always unpredictable. He wrangled the twins, maybe this time he swings for the Finns.

      Satire aside,


  • Cosmic Cowboy

    Hey y’all, first time poster here – been cheering for this team since the since the standing room only days at the corral (which doesn’t make me more of a fan -it just means I’m feelin bloody old!). And I live in Van now which has meant a lot of arrows in the back from ‘nucks fans over the years!

    Anyways… Listening to the radio out here, I’m getting the sense that Benning’s comments about picking a D shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Hutton and Tryamkin?? are two young guys they’re pretty excited about. And I’ve heard a lot of chatter recently about PLD and Tkachuk – and/or trading if they’re out of the top 4, in which case all bets are off. Hope I’m wrong but, if those 2 are off the board when we pick I’ll spit!

  • The GREAT Walter White

    After the interview McDavid gave at this years draft lottery, there should be no doubt that he hates being drafted by Edmonton and hates being sentenced to having to do time in Edmonton….

    It makes me wonder if there is talk between the Oilers and Leafs about a McDavid trade for first overall this year?


        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          The difference is I come here to comment ,make suggestions, and try to mostly have decent conversation .all he does is try to pick fights and antagonize mostly everyone on here including flame fans.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        This is a Serious question: do you think McDavid wants to be in Edmonton?
        Answer: No; he hates it there.

        He is going to resent it even more now that Matthews gets to play for Connor’s hometown team….

        This is the perfect time to make this trade: Toronto has the currency to make the trade and Edmonton can trade McDavid before he has another year of Oiler stink on him…

        Certainly the McDavid camp is asking about it, certainly the Leafs are talking about it, McDavid will be out of Edmonton in 2 years, one way or another; the Oilers may as well save face and get a good piece in return…


        • cberg

          Though I think the possibility of a McDavid trade is next to zilch, the scenario that you raise of, let’s say McDavid for TML’s #1OA pick and Morgan Reilly might give both teams serious pause to consider.

          Personally if I were Edmonton I’d be all over that trade, and likely not if I’m the TML. The biggest downside is that you are more than likely going to have to ride out the rebuild with the current crop of other Oilers, and personally I think the losing “stink” is so great on them that until multiple players are traded out the culture will never change.

  • Baalzamon

    With an August birthday, Sam Gagner was one of the youngest players available in 2007. He entered his draft year having scored 35 goals and 118 points over 53 games for the London Knights, adding an additional 29 points through 16 playoff games. That sounds elite enough, until you realize he was only third in scoring on that Knights team, at which point alarm bells should have been going off.

    We’ll be saying something very similar about Matthew Tkachuk in a few years. The correlations are eerie, right down to playing for London.

    I fully expect Tkachuk to be a much better NHLer than Gagner, though. Marner is good, but he’s not Patrick Kane.

  • freethe flames

    We pick 6. After examining the rankings of 4 ranking agencies Hockey Prospects, ISS, Future Considerations and MCKeens and taking the rankings and averaging them out: here are the results: 4: Dubois, 5 Tkachuk, 6 Nylander, 7 Chychrun, 8 Juolevi, 9 Mcleod, 10 Serg(the Russian defender), 11 Keller, 12 Brown, 13 Jost, 14 Bean, 15 McAvoy, and 16 Gauthier. Not saying this how it will work out but this is what the numbers suggest. As the Flames do you stay the course or do you reach down the list to get someone else.

    • The Fall

      I’d be bummed on Nylander. Right now, holding out for Van or Edm to pick a D. That’s said, any trades throw a wrench in those hopes. That’s said, there’s isn’t a lot of precedence for trading a top 10 pick.

    • Stu Cazz

      You ask a good question! I say with early 1st rounders you do not reach and draft the best player….Nylander is small and that is not to the Flames liking…BUT he has elite skill level and that is what the Flames lack!

      • jakethesnail

        Mangiapane has elite skill level..Flames need a power forward like Tkachuk not another small forward. If he is half the player Gary Roberts was we’d be humming…

        • Stu Cazz

          My suggestion of Nylander was only if Tkachuk was not available which I doubt he will be. With the 6th overall which power forward like Tkachuk do you suggest?? Finding elite skill and scoring at the NHL level is difficult hence building through the draft is the only way.

          An off the chart pick is out of the question for me!

    • jakethesnail

      Iran the Lotto Simulator 5 times and Nylander came up on the Mock draft 4 rimes for the Flames….I hope TreBurke picks someone else. Nylander is an Oiler or Montreal type pick…

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    Personally, I think that unless Oilers trade the pick, they could be taking Juolevi. In which case Canucks will take Dubois because rumours are that Benning prefers him over Tkachuk. And if Oilers take Dubois or Tkachuk, I could see Benning grabbing Juolevi. In that case, y’all will get the talented power forward you’re looking for

  • RKD

    I think Monahan has been one of the best players in recent history picked at the no. 6 spot. He’s accomplished a lot in his young career so far. Glad we took him over other players. I bet a lot of other GMs wished they had a Sean Monahan on their team.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Knock on Tkachuk, and it’s a biggie, is his skating. Never in the history of the NHL has a player’s skating been so important. I don’t care what bloodline Tkachuk has, if he is half a step behind the play he’s out of the play. Certainly, players can improve their skating from junior to the NHL; however, is this guy someone you want a burn a top 10 pick on? Gots to think that if his old man was Keith Tkachuk, flooring salesman, he wouldn’t be ranked as highly. The bright boys are making way too much out of the bloodline. These are humans and not horses or dogs for Cripe’s sake. I’d be very cautious about taking a guy whose skating is suspect with the 6th pick.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    “I’m so grateful with the way it all worked out. I love being an Oiler and playing hockey in Edmonton. I can’t wait to go back next year. No one expected us to make the playoffs last year and there was a change in culture with our club. We can be good. We will be good.”




    • oddclod

      merely professional lip service by the young deity / soon to be saviour of Toronto.

      Regardless, as of our last meeting, Johnny Hockey had McDavids’s number then figured why bother. This puck is mine, mine, mine, yes it’s mine. mine, mine….