The best Calgary Flames draft choices in rounds that don’t exist anymore

2018 NHL Draft
Photo credit:Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports
Ryan Pike
23 days ago
The National Hockey League’s entry draft is a big event on the league’s calendar. Every year, typically at the end of June, teams gather to select from a brand-new crop of fresh-faced prospective NHLers. The draft is full of pomp, circumstances, and a lot of rules that structure the event. It didn’t used to be that way: in the early days it was done via conference call, and teams regularly forgot the draft order or accidentally selected players that another team had already taken or that weren’t even eligible. It was chaos.
As part of the reining in of the draft’s chaos has been gradually shortening the event. Since the 2005 collective bargaining agreement, the draft has been limited to seven rounds – though it’s gotten longer since 2005 due to the addition of expansion teams.
Because of the change in the draft’s order, when you look at the Calgary Flames’ draft history… there are a lot of good players selected in rounds that do not exist anymore. Here’s a snapshot of players the Flames selected in rounds that no longer exist that ended up playing 200+ NHL contests.

The eighth round

In my opinion, the 1984 draft is the Flames’ best haul from a single draft ever – I wrote an entire chapter about it in On The Clock, available now online and in bookstores everywhere. A good example of why the Flames did so well for much of Cliff Fletcher’s reign as general manager at the draft can be found in the eighth round, where they went to Czechoslovakia to select forward Jiri Hrdina. At the time, European players weren’t yet a hot commodity in the draft, so often the Flames filled out their late rounds with high-end Europeans on the off-chance they wanted to play in the NHL. Hrdina came over late in the 1987-88 season and ended up playing 250 NHL games, including winning three Stanley Cups.
The Flames went in a slightly different direction late in the 1987 draft, instead selecting undersized Moose Jaw Warriors forward Theo Fleury. Fleury had produced a ton of offence in junior and the thought at the time was that maybe he’d turn into an attraction for their minor league team in Salt Lake City. Fleury ended up playing over 1,000 NHL games. (There’s a chapter in On The Clock devoted to Fleury’s selection.)

The ninth round

In 1980, the Flames leaned on their “take Europeans late” strategy when they selected Swedish forward Hakan Loob in the ninth round. Loob had one of the best short careers in modern NHL history, playing six seasons (450 games), becoming the first Swedish NHL player to score 50 goals in a season, winning a Stanley Cup, and then returning to Sweden.
The standout 1984 draft class continued in the ninth round with University of Wisconsin freshman Gary Suter, an offensively talented underclassman who didn’t yet have a big role on a veteran-laden college team. Suter ended up playing over 1,000 NHL games.
By 1996, a lot of teams had adopted a European draft strategy, but the Flames still found ninth round value with Slovakian forward Ronald Petrovicky. Petrovicky’s older brother Robert had a more decorated career and the younger sibling bounced around the NHL a bit, but Ronald still played 342 NHL games.
The final ninth-rounder ever taken by the Flames was forward Adam Cracknell, an overage winger from the Western League’s Kootenay Ice, in 2004. Cracknell spent this past season with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights, and he’s played over 200 NHL games and over 700 AHL games. He’s bounced around a bit from team to team, but he’s always found a landing spot. Heck, he’s played at the Olympics and the Spengler Cup for Canada. He’s had a splendid career, even if it’s a bit lean on NHL accolades.

The 10th round

In 1992, the Flames kept with their traditional “late round Europeans” philosophy when they selected Swedish forward Jonas Hoglund. Hoglund played seven seasons in the NHL – split between the Flames, Maple Leafs and Canadiens – before heading back to Europe. He played 545 NHL games.
The Flames selected forward German Titov in 1993, a Russian playing in Finland at the time. Titov came to North America the following season and stuck around for a decade, bouncing from club to club and accumulating over 600 NHL games played. He’s gotten into coaching in Russia since retiring, and he briefly coached top 2024 draft prospect Ivan Demidov this past season.

The 11th round

In 1973, the Flames selected collegiate defenceman Greg Fox out of the University of Michigan in the 11th round. He played three more years of college then went pro, becoming a pretty serviceable depth forward. He played 494 NHL games over eight seasons.

The 12th round

Finally, the Flames had one 12th round pick that panned out, but it really made them look smart for taking the gamble. In 1983, they selected Red Army star Sergei Makarov. At that point, Makarov was well on his way to becoming a legend – he had just led the World Championships in scoring, and his trophy case included two World Junior gold medals, five World Championships, a Canada Cup and an Olympic silver medal. But because NHL clubs were skeptical that the Soviets would ever let him come over to play, he was available in the 12th round. A year after Sergei Priakin joined the Flames and became the first Russian to be allowed to play in the NHL without defecting, Makarov joined the Flames. He won the Calder Trophy – promoting an age limit to be placed on that award – and played over 400 NHL games across seven seasons. (For a history of players escaping the Iron Curtain, we highly recommend Tal Pinchevsky’s 2012 book Breakaway.)

Check out these posts...