The Calgary Flames used to be pretty bad at drafting and developing hockey players.
During the tenure of former general manager Darryl Sutter, the Flames frequently traded away high draft picks and often drafted players due to their physical attributes rather than, y’know, their potential to be effective hockey players at a higher level. If you were physically large and possibly Western Canadian, you were selected. It worked for Dion Phaneuf, but it didn’t really work out otherwise.
Thankfully, Sutter’s successors made some changes that have seemed to result in more success in Flames draftees (a) becoming professional hockey players and (b) playing in the National Hockey League. Let’s take a look at the changes that were made by each GM.
Feaster was GM for three seasons, more or less. Assistant general manager John Weisbrod (and eventually special assistant to the GM Craig Conroy) were also involved in scouting.
- 2011: Sven Baertschi (WHL), Markus Granlund (Finland), Tyler Wotherspoon (WHL), Johnny Gaudreau (USHL), Laurent Brossoit (WHL)
- 2012: Mark Jankowski (high school), Patrick Sieloff (USHL), Jon Gillies (USHL), Brett Kulak (WHL), Ryan Culkin (QMJHL), Coda Gordon (WHL), Matthew DeBlouw (USHL)
- 2013: Sean Monahan (OHL), Emile Poirier (QMJHL), Morgan Klimchuk (WHL), Keegan Kanzig (WHL), Eric Roy (WHL), Tim Harrison (high school), Rushan Rafikov (Russia), John Gilmour (NCAA)
- Played in NHL (at all): Baertschi, Granlund, Wotherspoon, Gaudreau, Brossoit, Jankowski, Sieloff, Kulak, Monahan, Poirier
- Feaster grew his scouting staff upon taking over for Darryl Sutter, bumping the “area” scouts (the ones that have a specific “home” area) from seven to 11. Tod Button was retained as director of amateur scouting.
- Notable additions were Frank Anzalone (NCAA), Jim Cummins (USHL), Bobbie Hagelin (Europe) and Rob Sumner (WHL). WHL scout Blair Reid and European scout Anders Steen left the organization during Feaster’s tenure. The expansion of American scouting was the main thing that was accomplished during Feaster’s tenure.
- Brandon Benning, son of Jim, joined the organization for one season as a scout before leaving to join the Canucks. New England scout Mike Adessa joined the organization shortly after Feaster, but left at around the same time.
Treliving has been GM for three seasons. Conroy was promoted to assistant GM and Brad Pascall was recruited as the other assistant GM.
- 2014: Sam Bennett (OHL), Mason McDonald (QMJHL), Hunter Smith (OHL), Brandon Hickey (AJHL), Adam Ollas Mattsson (Sweden), Austin Carroll (WHL)
- 2015: Rasmus Andersson (OHL), Oliver Kylington (Sweden), Pavel Karnaukhov (WHL), Andrew Mangiapane (OHL), Riley Bruce (OHL)
- 2016: Matthew Tkachuk (OHL), Tyler Parsons (OHL), Dillon Dube (WHL), Adam Fox (USHL), Linus Lindstrom (Sweden), Mitchell Mattson (USHL), Eetu Tuulola (Finland), Matthew Phillips (WHL), Stepan Falkovsky (OHL)
- Played in NHL (at all): Bennett, Kylington, Tkachuk
- Treliving did some shuffling of scouts, but ultimately ended up with a net gain of four – ending up with 15 “area” scouts. Button was retained as director of amateur scouting.
- Three scouts were added to replace previous scouts: Eric Soltys in New England (replacing Adessa), Terry Doran in the OHL (replacing a retiring Tom Webster) and Brad McEwen in the WHL (replacing Rob Sumner, fundamentally). Four scouts have also been added, providing additional coverage in existing areas: Allister MacNeil (WHL), Corey Krakower (QMJHL), Luke Strand (USHL) and Petri Skirko (Europe).
- Rather than filling gaps in the existing scouting team, Treliving’s focus seems to have been finding ways to provide additional depth in specific areas.
Sum It Up
Are the Flames the best drafting team in the league? Nope. Are they in the top half? That’s debatable. But they once were objectively awful at drafting and developing, and they’ve made huge strides in the recent past in shoring up their amateur scouting.