A brief history of successful Calgary Flames draft picks

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Pals, on Monday night Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane played in his 200th National Hockey League game. In doing so, Mangiapane hit a threshold that prospect wonks have set to determine whether a draft pick is “successful” or not. (It’s admittedly an arbitrary bar to clear, but it’s basically 2.5 full NHL seasons and seems like a decent enough measure.)
Mangiapane became the 125th player to play 200 games for the Flames franchise and just the 52nd homegrown draft pick to play that much for the club. We decided to take a quick look at the other 51 of them, sorted by the general manager who drafted them.

Cliff Fletcher

  • 1972: Jacques Richard
  • 1973: Eric Vail, Ken Houston, Tom Lysiak
  • 1974: Guy Chouinard, Pat Ribble
  • 1975: Willi Plett, Richard Mulhern
  • 1976: Kent Nilsson, Dave Shand
  • 1978: Brad Marsh
  • 1979: Jim Peplinski, Tim Hunter, Paul Reinhart
  • 1980: Håkan Loob, Steve Konroyd, Kevin LaVallee
  • 1981: Al MacInnis, Mike Vernon
  • 1983: Sergei Makarov, Dan Quinn
  • 1984: Gary Suter, Gary Roberts, Paul Ranheim
  • 1985: Joe Nieuwendyk
  • 1987: Theoren Fleury
  • 1989: Robert Reichel
  • 1990: Paul Kruse
Under Fletcher, the Flames were among the first NHL teams to really dive into scouting Europe and American colleges. So in addition to these picks, they made a lot of hay with college signings – hi there, Joel Otto.
That drafting prowess was crucial in building the expansion Atlanta club into the Calgary powerhouse it became. Prior to the relocation, they produced NHL regulars from every single draft (and multiple regulars more often than not). Admittedly, that prowess tailed off in the mid-80s, though.

Doug Risebrough

  • 1991: Sandy McCarthy
  • 1992: Cory Stillman
  • 1993: German Titov
  • 1994: Chris Clark
  • 1995: Denis Gauthier, Clarke Wilm
Risebrough’s drafting was a lot leaner than Fletcher’s, and his tenure began a long stretch of whiffing on first round picks more often than not. Six regulars over five drafts isn’t ideal. Another trend was Flames draftees becoming regulars elsewhere, as eight additional Risebrough draft selections became 200+ NHL gamers on other teams.

Al Coates

  • 1996: Derek Morris, Toni Lydman
Coates helmed the Flames for several drafts. His drafting produced just two regulars. The 1997 draft was particularly rough, combining for just 81 NHL games.

Craig Button

  • 2001: David Moss, Chuck Kobasew
  • 2002: Matthew Lombardi, Eric Nystrom
Button wasn’t GM for too long, but his drafting was extremely solid all things considered. The 2000 draft was a bit odd – Button became GM just before the draft but wasn’t involved in prep, and then three selections became NHL regulars away from Calgary.

Darryl Sutter

  • 2003: Dion Phaneuf
  • 2007: Mikael Backlund
  • 2008: TJ Brodie, Lance Bouma
  • 2010: Micheal Ferland
Sutter was guilty of shipping out high picks to bolster the NHL roster, so he didn’t have a lot of kicks at the can in the early rounds. That said, his staff didn’t hit on a lot of first round picks – Matt Pelech, Leland Irving and Greg Nemisz remain lowlights – but they did find some good players in the late rounds.

Jay Feaster

  • 2011: Johnny Gaudreau
  • 2012: Mark Jankowski
  • 2013: Sean Monahan
Feaster ran three drafts and found three NHL regulars for the Flames. The 2011 draft was a great one, though, as all five selections played NHL games and two non-Gaudreau players broke the 200 game barrier.

Brad Treliving

  • 2014: Sam Bennett
  • 2015: Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Mangiapane
  • 2016: Matthew Tkachuk
In addition to these four, Oliver Kylington and Dillon Dube are closing in on 200 games and Juuso Välimäki is a little bit behind them as well. Like Sutter, Treliving has shipped out a lot of high picks. Unlike Sutter, Treliving has fairly consistent found value in the late rounds and managed to back-fill the farm system without expending additional assets.
Which Flames general manager do you think has used the draft most effectively? Let us know in the comments!

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