The Calgary Flames have been a part of the NHL Entry Draft now for what will be the 38th year. Over the history of the franchise, there have certainly been superstars as well as disappointments. That begs the question: how have the Flames’ drafts looked overall?

In almost four decades, the Flames amassed 367 prospects at the entry draft: 339 skaters and 28 goaltenders, all of which have donned the Flaming C on their fateful days over many Junes. Since then, countless iterations of the Calgary Flames have come and gone, but the stories and memories are far from forgotten.

To breakdown the entire Flames draft class, a few high-level measures were looked at: draft selection and draft year compared to career points and games played. At the very least, this should give an idea of how often the Flames have succeeded with their drafting, as well as highlight some unique standout players.

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The following charts detail the NHL careers of all Flames draft picks, not including goaltenders. Each chart indicates a player’s career total (shown in grey) as well as how they fared during their time as a Flame (shown in red). A single point with no connecting line indicates that a player was or has been a Calgary Flame for the entirety of their career.

Draft selection order

The Flames have picked as early as fourth overall and as late as 279th. It should be expected that higher draft picks should ultimately see more time at the NHL level, and that holds true for the Calgary Flames.

The higher density of points on the left side shows that indeed more players who were drafted early are more likely to find success at the NHL level.

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Still active

The Flames have drafted 30 players that went on to score at least 200 points over their career. Among those players, four are still active on the Flames roster.

Player
Selection
Round
Points
Sean Monahan
6th
1st
281
Mikael Backlund
24th
1st
273
Johnny Gaudreau
104th
4th
288
TJ Brodie
114th
4th
213

Elsewhere in the league, only one remaining Flames draftee with more than 200 points still plays NHL hockey.

Player
Selection
Round
Points [as a Flame]
Dion Phaneuf
9th
1st
488 [228]

500-point club

Ten players drafted by the Flames surpassed the 500-point total, nine of which were drafted in the 80s, with Cory Stillman being the odd man out, drafted in 1992.

Player
Selection
Round
Points [as a Flame]
Cory Stillman
6th
1st
727 [235]
Gary Roberts
12th
1st
909 [504]
Dan Quinn
13th
1st
685 [191]
Al MacInnis
15th
1st
1274 [822]
Joe Nieuwendyk
27th
2nd
1126 [616]
Brian Bradley
51st
3rd
503 [29]
Robert Reichel
70th
4th
630 [354]
Brett Hull
117th
6th
1391 [51]
Theoren Fleury
166th
8th
1088 [830]
Gary Suter
180th
9th
845 [565]

The highest scoring Flames draftee of all time was in fact Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull, drafted 117th overall.

Late gems

As the draft position gets later, only a handful of Flames draft picks has seen success regarding point production. After the 150th pick, only six players have broken the 200-point threshold over their careers. Hakan Loob was the only player to do so all while playing for Calgary.

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Player
Selection
Round
Points [as a Flame]
Theoren Fleury
166th
8th
1088 [830]
Gary Suter
180th
9th
845 [565]
Hakan Loob
181st
9th
429
Jonas Hoglund
222nd
10th
262 [49]
Sergei Makarov
231st
12th
384 [292]
German Titov
252nd
10th
377 [228]

When looking at the games played chart, a more sizeable amount of players had NHL careers despite being drafted much later in the entry draft. The spread is consequently larger, however, as players don’t necessarily have to be point scorers to be NHLers.

Longevity

Playing 1,000 career games is a rarity in the NHL; only 322 players have made it to that milestone. Nine Flames draftees did so, but none of them did it all as a Flame.

Player
Selection
Round
Games Played [as a Flame]
Al MacInnis
15th
1st
1416 [803]
Brett Hull
117th
6th
1269 [57]
Joe Nieuwendyk
27th
2nd
1257 [577]
Gary Roberts
12th
1st
1224 [585]
Gary Suter
180th
9th
1145 [617]
Derek Morris
13th
1st
1107 [343]
Theoren Fleury
166th
8th
1084 [791]
Cory Stillman
6th
1st
1025 [393]
Paul Ranheim
38th
2nd
1013 [354]

Al MacInnis played the most NHL games as a Flames draftee and also leads the way with games played as a Flame. Mikael Backlund is currently the most likely draftee to catch MacInnis, having logged 543 games.

Draft year

When plotting the Flames draftees by draft year, interesting observations can be made regarding entire draft classes, as well as the drafting strength of the organization.

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In many cases, only a couple of prospects turned into NHLers, and even fewer turned into point scorers.

The only draft year that has seen all prospects get NHL time was 2011 – including Laurent Brossoit (not shown on the plot as he’s a goaltender).

Player
Year
Points [as a Flame]
Games Played [as a Flame]
Johnny Gaudreau
2011
288
312
Sven Baertschi
2011
122 [28]
259 [66]
Markus Granlund
2011
75 [28]
224 [86]
Tyler Wotherspoon
2011
5
30

In all other years, at least two draft picks did not make it to the NHL.

The bust

The worst draft year in franchise history was 1982, when out of 14 selections (13 skaters and one goalie), 11 played zero games in the NHL. Here are the three players from the 1982 draft that ultimately saw NHL time.

Player
Year
Points [as a Flame]
Games Played [as a Flame]
Mark Lamb
1982
146 [0]
403 [1]
Richard Kromm
1982
173 [104]
372 [189]
Dave Reierson
1982
0
2

If not for Kromm, the Flames would have received a total of three NHL games from their entire draft class. It’s easy to conclude that the 1982 draft was a failure of astronomical proportions. The other players a part of that class were: Jim Laing, Dave Meszaros (goaltender), Lou Kiriakou, Jeff Vaive, Mats Kihlstrom, Brad Ramsden, Roy Myllari, Ted Pearson, Jim Uens, Rick Erdall, and Dale Thompson; all household names in NHL folklore.

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Sutter Era woes

More recently, there’s been a few bad draft years in the 2000s, particularly during Darryl Sutter’s tenure as general manager of the Flames. From the 2003 entry draft through to 2010, the Flames selected 54 skaters.

Among them, Backlund, Brodie, and Micheal Ferland are the only Flames still on the NHL roster. Removing these three, as well as Phaneuf, the aggregate point total of the remaining 50 players is 398, and as Flames, that number drops to 169. Not a great result for eight years of drafting.

The present and the future

Suffice to say, some of the most exciting drafts for the Flames have come in recent years. A lot of the drafting that Calgary has been a part of has been exponentially better. With many drafted prospects either playing in the NHL full-time or excelling elsewhere in the system, one could easily expect that these charts would update with a few higher points in the coming years.

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Easter eggs

  • Sean Monahan has played 393 career games, which perfectly lines up with fellow sixth overall pick Cory Stillman, who also played 393 games as a Flame.
  • The Flames have picked twice at 279th, the latest picks in franchise history: Pavel Torgachev in 1994 and Adam Cracknell in 2004.
  • Jarret Stoll was drafted 46th overall in 2000, but couldn’t come to terms with the Flames. He re-entered the draft after a trade between the Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs fell through by not making the trade deadline in time. The Edmonton Oilers then selected him 36th overall in 2002.

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