The Calgary Flames have a strangely spotty record in the fifth round

Photo credit:Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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The fifth round of the NHL Draft is often where things start to get a little lean and teams start to lean on their area scouts for their expertise on specific longer-shot players. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it does not. The Calgary Flames’ history in the fifth round is a bit clunky.
The Flames do not own their fifth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, having traded it to the Montreal Canadiens for Tyler Toffoli.

Their last five picks

Here are the last five fifth-round selections for the Flames:
  • In 2022, the Flames selected forward Parker Bell from the WHL’s Tri-City Americans at 155th overall.
  • In 2021, the Flames selected defenceman Cole Jordan from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors at 141st overall.
  • In 2020, the Flames selected forward Ryan Francis from the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles at at 143rd overall.
  • In 2019, the Flames selected forward Josh Nodler from the USHL’s Fargo Force at 150th overall.
  • In 2017, the Flames selected forward Zach Fischer from the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers at 140th overall.
The Flames traded their 2018 fifth-round selection to Arizona in the Michael Stone trade.
Bell had a strong Draft+1 season with Tri-City and seems like a reasonable bet to get an entry-level deal.
But the four guys selected before him in the fifth round haven’t been signed. Nodler, about to enter his fifth year of college, is still eligible to sign an ELC, but probably won’t.

Some notable selections

So here’s the weird thing: the Flames tend to do well enough in the fourth round. They find some occasional gems in the sixth and seventh rounds. But for whatever reason, their record in the fifth round is pretty spotty.
Notable fifth-rounders include:
  • Willi Plett (1975) was an important player for the Atlanta squad for several seasons, through their move to Calgary, basically serving as their version of Matthew Tkachuk. (Opponents hated him.)
  • Micheal Ferland (2010) emerged as a really fun, throwback style player. He could skate, hit and scrap, but unfortunately his career was cut short due to concussion issues.
Sami Helenius (1992) spent some time in the NHL, briefly with the Flames. Nils Ekman (1994) played several seasons in the NHL, but not with the Flames. Travis Moen (2000) played over 700 games, none with the Flames, and won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

Some notable misses

The Flames have made 54 fifth-round selections. Of those, 41 never played NHL games and 47 never played for the Flames. The weird quirk here is that six of the 13 fifth-rounders that made the NHL (at all) never suited up for the Flames – it’s a weirdly high proportion relative to players selected in other rounds.
Additionally, no fifth-round selection has played NHL games for the Flames since Ferland (selected in 2010). Before that, the last NHL regular selected in the fifth round was Plett (1975).

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