Flames draft history by size

When you have the 35th overall pick of the draft, as the Calgary Flames do, you kind of have a late first round pick, in a way. There are always some players expected to be taken in the first round who fall – and that’s the value of having an early second round pick.

Some of the players to watch out for are guys who would be higher picks, easily, except for the fact that they’re smaller. Vitalii Abramov, Adam Mascherin, Samuel Girard: all possibilities.

They’re also names the Flames likely wouldn’t have picked 10 years ago. Today, the Flames’ best offensive player is listed at 5’9; one of their most anticipated prospects is 5’10. Over the past few seasons, Calgary has opened itself back up to the little guys.

In the context of size, how successful have Flames drafts over the past 10 years?


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Matt Pelech D Round 1, 26 overall 6’4 220 lbs 13 4
Gord Baldwin D Round 3, 69 overall 6’5 199 lbs 0 0
Dan Ryder C Round 3, 74 overall 5’11 193 lbs 0 0
J.D. Watt C Round 4, 111 overall 6’1 198 lbs 0 0
Kevin Lalande G Round 5, 128 overall 6’0 175 lbs 0 0
Matt Keetley G Round 5, 158 overall 6’1 187 lbs 1 (9 minutes) 1.00 SV%
Brett Sutter C Round 6, 179 overall 6’0 200 lbs 60 10
Myles Rumsey D Round 7, 221 overall 6’2 195 lbs 0 0

The Flames went big in this draft, and came away with 74 NHL games to show for it. Dan Ryder is the exception to this draft class, but heavy external factors prevented him from finding NHL success; meanwhile, Matt Pelech was just a terrible pick.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Leland Irving G Round 1, 26 overall 6’0 177 lbs 13 .902 SV%
John Armstrong C Round 3, 87 overall 6’2 188 lbs 0 0
Aaron Marvin C Round 3, 89 overall 6’2 191 lbs 0 0
Hugo Carpentier C Round 4, 118 overall 6’2 200 lbs 0 0
Juuso Puustinen RW Round 5, 149 overall 6’1 185 lbs 0 0
Jordan Fulton C Round 6, 179 overall 6’1 191 lbs 0 0
Devin DiDiomete LW Round 7, 187 overall 5’11 195 lbs 0 0
Per Jonsson LW Round 7, 209 overall 6’0 172 lbs 0 0

Another largely unsuccessful draft. Bigger players were once again targeted, but none of them really worked out. 


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Mikael Backlund C Round 1, 24 overall 6’0 196 lbs 380 175
John Negrin D Round 3, 70 overall 6’2 195 lbs 3 1
Keith Aulie D Round 4, 116 overall 6’6 208 lbs 167 14
Mickey Renaud C Round 5, 143 overall 6’1 208 lbs 0 0
C.J. Severyn LW Round 7, 186 overall 6’0 185 lbs 0 0

Finally, a draft that yielded a real NHLer. The Flames stuck to players on the bigger side – and even got something of a victory in Keith Aulie – but won with Mikael Backlund. It’s possible this draft could have been even more successful, were it not for the tragedy that befell Mickey Renaud.

Ultimately, though, the Flames pulled the draft off decently enough without targeting any smaller guys, and going after size did have a partial payoff.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Greg Nemisz C Round 1, 25 overall 6’3 197 lbs 15 1
Mitch Wahl C Round 2, 48 overall 6’0 175 lbs 0 0
Lance Bouma C Round 3, 78 overall 6’1 210 lbs 243 60
Nicholas Larson LW Round 4, 108 overall 6’1 182 lbs 0 0
T.J. Brodie D Round 4, 114 overall 6’1 182 lbs 336 145
Ryley Grantham C Round 6, 168 overall 6’3 207 lbs 0 0
Alexander Deilart D Round 7, 198 overall 5’11 180 lbs 0 0

The Flames weren’t hurting for height this draft, but they went with a couple of lighter guys. One of them worked out stupendously in T.J. Brodie; one of the bigger guys in Lance Bouma became a solid bottom six player. On the other hand, Greg Nemisz was supposed to be a big power forward, and that did not work out at all. This draft had successes and failures across all sizes.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Tim Erixon D Round 1, 23 overall 6’2 190 lbs 93 14
Ryan Howse LW Round 3, 74 overall 5’11 195 lbs 0 0
Henrik Bjorklund RW Round 4, 111 overall 6’2 202 lbs 0 0
Spencer Bennett LW Round 5, 141 overall 6’3 185 lbs 0 0
Joni Ortio G Round 6, 171 overall 6’1 181 lbs 37 .901 SV%
Gaelan Patterson C Round 7, 201 overall 6’0 204 lbs 0 0

We’re back to mostly bigger guys: guys who either had the chance to grow into their frames (or, uh, had done so a little too much already). It looks like this draft was mostly unsuccessful though, with only Joni Ortio – one of the smaller guys taken, but automatically special due to the position he plays – holding out any hope for this class.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Max Reinhart C Round 3, 64 overall 6’1 180 lbs 23 5
Joey Leach D Round 3, 73 overall 6’3 187 lbs 0 0
John Ramage D Round 4, 103 overall 6’1 184 lbs 2 0
Bill Arnold C Round 4, 108 overall 6’0 218 lbs 1 0
Micheal Ferland LW Round 5, 133 overall 6’0 195 lbs 97 23
Patrick Holland RW Round 7, 193 overall 6’0 167 lbs 5 0

Considering how the Flames had no picks until the third round, this draft actually turned out pretty decent. There are a fair amount of smaller guys on this list, with Micheal Ferland and Bill Arnold standing out – but so far, Ferland is the only one you could really consider a success, while Arnold still has potential. Everyone else has moved on from the organization.

This was Darryl Sutter’s last draft at the helm.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Sven Baertschi LW Round 1, 13 overall 5’10 181 lbs 138 58
Markus Granlund C Round 2, 45 overall 5’11 166 lbs 102 31
Tyler Wotherspoon D Round 2, 57 overall 6’1 196 lbs 26 5
Johnny Gaudreau LW Round 4, 104 overall 5’6 137 lbs 160 143
Laurent Brossoit G Round 6, 164 overall 6’3 200 lbs 6 .896 SV%

Enter: Jay Feaster’s drafting, and suddenly, whoa, a significantly smaller draft class. But – and say what you will for three of these guys having since been traded – this is, without a doubt, the most successful class we’ve looked at so far. Three guys on this list have already played 100 games, and their careers are all just getting started.

Does this mean small guarantees success? No. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the previous drafts. Johnny Gaudreau’s physical stats at the time of his drafting were insane – but look at where he is now.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Mark Jankowski C Round 1, 21 overall 6’2 168 lbs 0 0
Patrick Sieloff D Round 2, 42 overall 6’0 192 lbs 1 1
Jon Gillies G Round 3, 75 overall 6’4 216 lbs 0 0
Brett Kulak D Round 4, 105 overall 6’1 181 lbs 9 0
Ryan Culkin D Round 5, 124 overall 6’1 176 lbs 0 0
Coda Gordon LW Round 6, 165 overall 6’0 176 lbs 0 0
Matt DeBlouw C Round 7, 186 overall 6’0 179 lbs 0 0

We’re now entering drafts from just a few seasons ago, where it’s mostly too early to truly judge these players. Jon Gillies probably has the best potential of the bunch, and he was the biggest one drafted; however, he’s also a goalie, which is a pretty important difference. Otherwise, this draft looks like it might have some producers – Mark Jankowski and Brett Kulak the bigger hopes on the skater sides – and while Jankowski had a frame to grow into, most of these players were, at the time of their selection, smaller.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Sean Monahan C Round 1, 6 overall 6’2 187 lbs 237 159
Emile Poirier RW Round 1, 22 overall 6’0 183 lbs 8 1
Morgan Klimchuk LW Round 1, 28 overall 5’11 180 lbs 0 0
Keegan Kanzig D Round 3, 67 overall 6’7 241 lbs 0 0
Eric Roy D Round 5, 135 overall 6’2 180 lbs 0 0
Tim Harrison RW Round 6, 157 overall 6’3 175 lbs 0 0
Rush Rafikov D Round 7, 187 overall 6’2 181 lbs 0 0
John Gilmour D Round 7, 198 overall 5’11 173 lbs 0 0

This draft is automatically a success because of Sean Monahan: a high pick with both good size and scoring talent; one of those “can’t miss” types of players. He’s far from the biggest of this draft class though; that honour goes to Keegan Kanzig, who is going to be in extremely tough to get a position on the Stockton Heat next season, let alone any NHL dreams. The other two first round picks weren’t particularly big; they’re still works in progress, though.

This was Feaster’s final draft.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Sam Bennett C Round 1, 4 overall 6’0 178 lbs 78 37
Mason McDonald G Round 2, 34 overall 6’4 178 lbs 0 0
Hunter Smith RW Round 2, 54 overall 6’6 208 lbs 0 0
Brandon Hickey D Round 3, 64 overall 6’1 177 lbs 0 0
Adam Ollas Mattsson D Round 6, 175 overall 6’4 209 lbs 0 0
Austin Carroll RW Round 7, 184 overall 6’3 216 lbs 0 0

Enter: the Brad Treliving era, theorized (by me, at least) to initially be spearheaded by Brian Burke, as Treliving had only had a couple of months on the job at this point. Size was very much the target of this entire draft – except the two smaller players selected, Sam Bennett and Brandon Hickey, are probably the ones with the greatest potential out of this group.


Player Position Draft Position Height Weight NHL Games Played Total Points
Rasmus Andersson D Round 2, 53 overall 6’0 212 lbs 0 0
Oliver Kylington D Round 2, 60 overall 6’0 185 lbs 1 0
Pavel Karnaukhov LW Round 5, 136 overall 6’2 194 lbs 0 0
Andrew Mangiapane LW Round 6, 166 overall 5’10 170 lbs 0 0
Riley Bruce D Round 7, 196 overall 6’6 205 lbs 0 0

Treliving’s second draft sees a healthy mixture of smaller and bigger players targeted. Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington are on the smaller side, while Rasmus Andersson is as well but with a fair amount more weight; they’re three extremely bright spots from this draft class. Paverl Karnaukhov and Riley Bruce are less talked about, but they’re the bigger guys of this group.


There isn’t a direct correlation between size and success. Sometimes big picks work out, sometimes they don’t; sometimes small picks work out, sometimes they don’t. There’s very clear evidence of this in the Flames’ draft history, but especially with bigger players. 

Darryl Sutter’s drafts went almost exclusively after bigger prospects, and only yielded four or five actual NHLers to date, depending on your definition of one. That’s an incredibly poor rate of success: one that was corrected almost as soon as the Flames started considering smaller players under new management. The Flames’ 2011 draft is en route to producing as many NHLers as their 2005-2010 drafts combined.

So what does this all mean? Exclusively targeting big players resulted in little success. Tyler Ennis was taken just one pick after Greg Nemisz is a key example. Diversity is crucial: and it’s great that this decade, the Flames have been open to drafting smaller players.

Hopefully we’ll see a range of talent selected in this upcoming draft; hopefully the later rounds will be more like 2015 – open to talent regardless of size – than 2014.

  • The Fall

    The correlation here is thin at best.

    I get it, some times small players work out. But not sure this article proves any points, other than the Flames have been horrible at drafting: period.

  • Franko J

    The game is predicated on speed, skill and hockey IQ. Having size will always be a contributing factor. As witnessed by the Penquins winning the cup more teams will try and duplicate their success.

    It seems over the past few drafts the pattern is to draft bigger goalies and smaller forwards and defense men who can move the puck.

    It seemed the mandate under Sutter was to draft for size more so than skill.

    Feaster changed the landscape by selecting skill and hockey IQ.

    With Treliving it appears his approach is more focused on positional need and possession. Witness last draft in shoring up the defense and primarily selecting players who drive play.

    I like the factor of diversity throughout the lineup.

  • Connor McDaigle

    Burke’s teams as a rule, draft a goalie every second year, this being a goalie year. Expect one of the seconds, likely #35, if not packaged in a trade, to be ueed to get the jump on one of the best goalie prospects in the draft.

  • Connor McDaigle

    Guess you guys missed it, but Burke mentioned 2 years ago, his teams alternate years goalie drafting strategy. Couple that with Gillies injury and McDonald’s less than stellar play, I see ne way they deviate from that plan.

    • Stan

      Except for the fact that they signed Schneider last year and just signed that goalie out of the Czech league? Don’t take everything you read as gospel, geeze…

      • Connor McDaigle

        Schneider is a non factor in this at this time. Gillies cannot be relied upon to be the AHL starter this season so Czech goalie was brought in for a look. If Ortio is retained, again really is a non factor as he is at best, a poor NHL backup. Those two are interchange for farm or NHL backup rolls. McDonald is ECHL bound with little expectation for the time being.
        So who among this group is the can’t miss developing star teams must be always grooming for the future? if you point to any currently in the system, then it’s all I the response I need from you, as any debate with you is pointless. Geeze…

  • ChinookArchYYC

    From 2005 – 2010 the Sutter regiem found 3 NHLers and 2 solid maybes (in Ferland and Ortio). That is pathetic.

    About 2010, “This was Darryl Sutter’s last draft at the helm.”
    The absolute best thing about Darryl’s removal is that he’ll never draft another Flame again.

    About 2014 “Enter: the Brad Treliving era, theorized (by me, at least) to initially be spearheaded by Brian Burke, as Treliving had only had a couple of months on the job at this point.”
    It’s a good bet that Burke provided the scouting staff the search criteria a long time before Trelliving was hired. To bad, it’s the one thing I liked about Feaster. Big or small doesn’t matter anymore, just accumulating as many NHL assets as possible.

  • Byron Bader

    Yeesh. That is really quite awful. The Flames had some of the worst drafting results for a good decade (starting to turn around in 2011). Darryl and drafting did not mix. The man was majestic at trading for high impact guys for a fair or steal of a deal though. Look at the good talent he traded for … Cammalleri, Tanguay, Langkow, Huselius, Jokinen. Also tried with all his might to sign Savard the year he went Ufa and landed in Boston. Maybe even Drury too. Can’t remember if that was Darryl. All small or average size players except Jokinen who was a big guy but didnt really play big.

    How does he trade like that and draft stationary coke machines??? Huge blind spot. If he could draft as good as he traded earlier on … he would have been a legend of a gm.