Assuming the Flames do not acquire any additional draft picks before the 2018 NHL Draft, they will not have any picks until the fourth round. This has never happened before.
In fact, the Flames have only had one season in which they had no draft picks in the first or second rounds: 2010, when they selected their first pick in the third round. Otherwise, every single year, they have had at least a first or a second rounder.
Their most recent draft without a first round pick came in 2015, when the Flames ended up with two second round picks to open up with. Prior to 2015 and 2010, you have to go as far back as 1989 to find a draft in which the Flames didn’t have a first round pick. Before then, 1982. Before then, well, you have to go back to when the Flames were in Atlanta.
The Flames have four picks in the 2018 draft. In both 1982 and 1989 they had 13 picks, so – in addition to being decades ago – they hold little relevance. In 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2017, the Flames have had only five picks: the fewest in their history, until potentially this season, if they choose to remain at four.
In other words, this isn’t totally new territory for a Flames draft, but it’s still pretty unique circumstances.
Of course, it’s not as though a first round pick guarantees a good player – the Flames have drafted their fair share of busts – nor does a lot of picks guarantee a lot of NHLers. But ultimately, the higher your pick the more likely they will turn out successful; and the more picks you have, the higher the likelihood you’ll get a player out of them.
In 2010, the Flames had six picks, starting in the third round:
- Round 3, 64th overall: Max Reinhart
- Round 3, 73rd overall: Joey Leach
- Round 4, 103rd overall: John Ramage
- Round 4, 108th overall: Bill Arnold
- Round 5, 133rd overall: Micheal Ferland
- Round 7, 193rd overall: Patrick Holland
Despite not selecting until 64th overall, the Flames did manage to find one NHLer in the late rounds: Ferland who, to date, has played 250 NHL games, scoring 42 goals and 89 points along the way. He’s proven himself at worst a reliable, physical depth player, and at best someone who can play on the top line – although maybe not as a full-time first liner.
It took Ferland five seasons to reach the NHL – six to become a full-timer – but in the end, the Flames got someone good out of a draft in which they had little chance.
In 2015, the Flames had five picks, starting in the second round:
- Round 2, 53rd overall: Rasmus Andersson
- Round 2, 60th overall: Oliver Kylington
- Round 5, 136th overall: Pavel Karnaukhov
- Round 6, 166th overall: Andrew Mangiapane
- Round 7, 196th overall: Riley Bruce
With so few picks, the Flames had to make their selections count. It’s still too early to call, but between Andersson (11 NHL games played already, sure looks like he should be a full-timer much sooner rather than later), Kylington (one NHL game played, reportedly starting to knock on the door), and Mangiapane (10 NHL games played, also likely to be ready sooner rather than later as he’s lit up the AHL), this could turn out to be a very impressive draft for the Flames: even without a first rounder or many picks at all.
In 2007, the Flames only had five picks, and it was their first rounder that saved the year for them:
- Round 1, 24th overall: Mikael Backlund
- Round 3, 70th overall: John Negrin
- Round 4, 116th overall: Keith Aulie
- Round 5, 143rd overall: Mickey Renaud
- Round 7, 186th overall: CJ Severyn
Backlund has established himself as one of the NHL’s premier shutdown centres, regularly taking on top competition and preventing them from getting much done, all the while scoring at least half a point per game over the past five years. Renaud, sadly, never had the chance to prove he could be more – but that caveat aside, the Flames were only able to make use of their best chance with few picks in 2007.
The Flames had just five picks in 2011, but they seemed to make them all count, to a degree:
- Round 1, 13th overall: Sven Baertschi
- Round 2, 45th overall: Markus Granlund
- Round 2, 57th overall: Tyler Wotherspoon
- Round 4, 104th overall: Johnny Gaudreau
- Round 6, 164th overall: Laurent Brossoit
Everyone the Flames selected in this draft has played at least 28 games in the NHL, with Brossoit and Wotherspoon being on the lower end of things. No matter what else, though, Calgary got Gaudreau: an undeniable triumph, as a late round pick with few options available to them ended up turning into a first liner and team-leading scorer, and someone who is undeniably one of the most productive players of the entire draft class.
We’ve already covered 2015 up above. The Flames’ most recent draft, however, saw them have a scant few five picks:
- Round 1, 16th overall: Juuso Valimaki
- Round 4, 109th overall: Adam Ruzicka
- Round 5, 140th overall: Zach Fischer
- Round 6, 171st overall: D’Artagnan Joly
- Round 7, 202nd overall: Filip Sveningsson
Having a first round pick aside, the 2017 draft bears a lot of similarities to what’s looking like will be the case in 2018: only four picks, and almost exclusively in the later rounds. While it’s still way too early to make any real call on any of these players, the best of the bunch – unsurprisingly – looks like it’ll be Valimaki, which, perhaps, bodes a little less well for the Flames’ 2018 draft.
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