Even with limited picks, Flames’ 2015 draft class truly starting to shine

Should Andrew Mangiapane dress for the Flames – and really, what’s the point of recalling him if he doesn’t – the team would have four picks from the 2015 NHL draft in their lineup: three they selected themselves, and a fourth they acquired later on. It’s pretty good for a draft in which they themselves only had five picks.

It’s almost slightly reminiscent of the Flames’ 2011 draft. That year, the team only had five picks: Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, Johnny Gaudreau, and Laurent Brossoit. Only one player actually stuck with the Flames – the best of the bunch – but all of their picks from that year have managed to get at least 30 NHL games in, one way or another.

That won’t happen for the Flames’ 2015 draft class: the chance that fifth round pick Pavel Karnaukhov or seventh round pick Riley Bruce ever make the NHL is slim to none.

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But the other three picks – second rounders Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington, and sixth rounder Andrew Mangiapane – are all on the roster. All have played in the NHL. And all have great potential to be contributors to the best league in the world, some of which is already being realized.

Andersson has made it first, and it looks like his minor league days are over. Kylington and Mangiapane are both up with the Flames due to injury – Juuso Valimaki for Kylington, and Michael Frolik for Mangiapane – so while their present stays likely aren’t permanent, that doesn’t mean they can’t make a lasting impression that could carry forward. The future is unpredictable, after all: and it was an injury that was the catalyst to Andersson staying in the NHL. (There are just only so many roster spots, the biggest thing holding back the other two.)

Kylington, in just three games with limited minutes so far this season, has already made his impact felt: he doesn’t look one bit out of place. He may be eased into the NHL at this stage, but it’s starting to look like this could be the league he plays in long term sooner rather than later. He’s making his name known for a team that already has a lot of defensive options ahead of him.

It’s possible Mangiapane does the same, as well. The Flames have probably the deepest forward group they’ve had in some time. It’s going to take a lot for Mangiapane to crack it and get moved up the lineup: this isn’t like Kylington learning to defend at the NHL level; as a forward, at some point, Mangiapane is going to need bigger minutes and more chances to score (exactly what Dillon Dube wasn’t getting). It remains to be seen if he can take that next meaningful step forward, but this is probably as good a time as any to see if it’s possible. He didn’t have too much to show for in his first 10 NHL games, but his AHL play indicates it’s appropriate to give him another, hopefully more intensive, shot.

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The Flames’ best players are all already pretty much 25 and younger (excluding their captain, of course). The future continues to look bright, but the potential success of three of their picks from a draft three years ago all coming to light at once just helps make the case of how strong their roster can be for years to come.

Bonus 2015

And then, of course, there’s Noah Hanifin.

The Flames traded away their 2015 first round pick, 15th overall, in part of a package to acquire Dougie Hamilton; it was the biggest reason they only had five picks in that draft year. But not only have they appeared to make the most of their picks, but when deciding to move on from Hamilton, they tried to make something of their asset: and that involved trading for the fifth overall pick in 2015 and the first defenceman of that draft selected.

Consider this: while some teams struggle to build a competent defence, the Flames are looking like they’ve got a pretty good current set of six – and half of them came out of a single draft class from only three years ago.

  • Korcan

    Kylington has looked good so far, fairly composed in the d-zone and staring to assert himself in the o-zone. His elite skating enables him to get to the puck quickly in his own end and gives him more time to make decisions with it. Nice to see the defensive part of his game evolving. He definitely looks like he’s close.

    Really curious to see Mangiapane play. I thought he had a great camp and, were it not for Dube’s stellar camp, would have likely started the season in Calgary. Here’s hoping he has a great showing tonight (assuming he gets to play).

  • 31 Thoughts With Morgan Freeman

    17. Driving Miss Daisy should have been called “Ridin’ wit Hoke”.

    18. Who would have bet at the start of the season that T.J. Brodes would be leading not only the Flames, but the entire NHL in +/- 26 games in. Am I the only one who didn’t see that coming?

  • Marvin the Paranoid Android

    Yes it’s depressing when things turn out so well. It becomes so wearing as I watch these young prospects succeed. I hope I don’t have to watch them for an interminably long time.

  • Thunder1

    Well, this is all taken a decidedly turn to the weird…

    In other news, random Sean Monahan fact. He’s on the all-star ballot for the Pacific garbage patch this year.

    • Marvin the Paranoid Android

      WW you are so inspiring to me with your views on how bad things can get. I’m so with you … and I thought with my underused brain the size of a planet in my most negative ways … I can’t not let WW feel like he’s not being negative enough! So here I am to speak of only negative things!

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Now that we know what Nylander is going to cost for the next 6 years and keeping Friedman’s reasonable prediction that the Leafs will part ways with Nylander this season or by the next offseason at the latest, should the Flames try and make a play for the Calgary-born Swede? If Klyington is for real along with Andersson and Valimaki and Hanifin, those are four defencemen well under the age of 25. Leafs would want no part of Gio’s big deal, and neither Brodie or Hamonic as a centrepiece is likely to get it done unless a 1st rounder is included and Tre had better just say no to that. So who among the Flames’ defence corps could make a Nylander to Calgary deal possible? Noah Hanifin. His salary is reasonable even for the Leafs who will soon be in cap hell and his age fits well with their young club.

    Whatever you might think of Nylander’s decision to hold out, you can’t deny the kid can play hockey. Nylander would be more valuable to the Flames than Hanifin likely will be which is in no way a knock on Hanifin but more a credit to the upsides of Valimaki, Andersson and Kylington. With Nylander as a Flame, the club could then roll two solid scoring lines. If I am Tre, I would be having some pretty serious chinwags in the war room with my generals and colonels about this one with an eye to trying to pull the deal during the season.

    • Flames fan since 83

      Interesting thought Nigel. I would definitely have to consider your proposal.
      What do you think of trading Brodie and Bennett for Nylander? This would be close to a cap neutral deal.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Brodie and Bennett probably don’t get it done in part because Brodie’s play seems too dependent on his partner and the Leafs are already deep in forwards. Main reason why it might fail is that Hanifin is cost controlled for the next 6 years. Imagine if Bennett went to TO and somehow ended up on a line with Matthews and they clicked and Sam was netting 30+ goals a year without losing any of the grit and pugnacity he already brings. Leafs couldn’t afford to keep him without shuffling out others. Cost control will be a huge issue for the Leafs if they intend to build and maintain the NHL’s next juggernaut.

        • Flames fan since 83

          Good points Nigel.
          I know a bunch of FN don’t like Nylander because he held out.
          But, I’m done with paying big $ for Free Agents like Brouwer, Neal, Wideman, etc.
          Nylander is not much of a gamble at under 7 million. That is where my thoughts are coming from.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            It might be that Willie got advice from his dad to hold out. With so many sons of former players, players who experienced the labour struggles since the 1990s, now in the NHL, you have to think the fathers have a lot to tell their boys about strategies to negotiate contracts. Without doubt, Keith will be blasting in Matty’s ears what he needs to do to realize his full market value. If Matty has to sit out until he gets the contract of his liking, no worries as the old man is loaded and Matty can even get his old bedroom back.

            Nylander is pretty good value for that contract.

            The only FA signing that Tre has made that had my 100% blessing was the Neal deal because it was clearly a case of Tre chanting the “go big or go home ” mantra. Even if the deal doesn’t work for the Flames, I won’t roast Tre over it because in making it, he was thinking the right way.

            If Nylander is available, Tre really has to kick the tires and see if Calgary’s second most famous Swedish hockey son can be brought home.

    • 31 Thoughts With Morgan Freeman

      21. When you speak with a low voice and a rhythmic cadence, people will believe anything you say. I made up 70% of the narrative in March of the Penguins. Nobody fact checks nature documentaries…

      22. Considering the Flames didn’t pick till the 4th round in 2018, their draft class is performing surprisingly well.
      Martin Pospisil currently leads the entire USHL in PPG.
      Mathias Emilio Pettersen is better than a Point per game player in the NCHC.
      Dmitry Zavgorodniy has 33 points in 27 games for Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL.
      Milos Roman has 28 points in 27 games to lead the Vancouver Giants in the WHL.

    • supra steve

      Pronman’s recent “Biggest Risers” from the 2018 draft (from The Athletic) listed 12 players. Three of those players were selected by the Flames. Educate yourself, or you will continue to say stupid stuff.

      • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

        The Flames absolutely destroyed the 2018 draft. Pospisil, Pettersen and Zavgorodniy would all be in the Top. 30 if they did a redraft according to NHLe. Roman and Koumontzis are no slouches either at all.

  • SeanCharles

    It’s not that shocking a comment:


    Nylander is not better than any of those 5 and is probably in the same group as Kadri for Burke as the 6/7th best.

  • oilcanboyd

    A 12.5 million dollar centre that is one of the worst in the league on Faceoffs and an 8.5 million dollar centre who needs to play RW with 12.5 million to get some points. Yes a bag of pucks is too pricey! Too much debt.