Drafting Skills: Calgary Flames

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Calgary Flames

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Sven Baertschi (LW) 13th overall – He never materialized into an NHL star, or even a top-6 forward for that matter. He struggled to find top-6 minutes on one of the worst teams in the league in Vancouver. Brutal pick by the Flames, with much better

Round 2 – Markus Granlund (C) 45th overall – Calgary traded their own 2nd round pick (used on Brandon Saad), and received this one in a different trade from the Rangers in an exchange of prospects and Tim Erixon going to the Rangers. He was traded out of Calgary to Vancouver, where he’s had better luck, but is likely a 3rd line centre at best. Another weak pick, mind you Calgary would have been better off keeping him in the fold, as he’s better than some of their depth centres.

Round 2 – Tyler Wotherspoon (D) 57th overall – Received this from the Rangers in the same trade as above. Wotherspoon is barely an NHL depth d-man, with rare call-ups throughout his career. The worst part, is Nikita Kucherov was taken right after him… big miss for the Flames.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Edmonton for Steve Staios. Staois was at the tail end of his career, and wasn’t very effective in his parts of 2 seasons there, being injured most of the time. The Flames would have been better to stay away here, and add another prospect.

Note: Johnny Gaudreau in the 4th round. He’s the only true bright spot in this draft for the Flames, and is easily their current best player. Top 5 winger in the game today, nicknamed ‘Johnny Hockey’, solid steal in the 4th round.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Mark Jankowski (C) 21st overall – Jankowski has played in exactly 1 NHL game, but had a good year at the AHL level with 56 points in 64 games. It’s now or never for him however, as he’ll have a chance to play his way onto the team at camp next year. The Flames need him in their lineup, and as a former first round pick, he needs to be effective. Olli Maatta was taken right after him, and would have been a much better selection.

Round 2 – Patrick Sieloff (D) 42nd overall – Another miss by Calgary, as he played the season in the AHL for Ottawa’s farm team, after being traded for Alex Chiasson. Chiasson wasn’t much better, with all of 24 points in 81 NHL games.

Round 3 – Jon Gillies (G) 75th overall – It’s believe Gillies is the goalie of the future in Calgary, but they just traded for Mike Smith, so it’s likely another year or more before he gets a shot. Meanwhile, two-time Cup champion goaltender Matt Murray was taken 8 picks later.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Sean Monahan (C) 6th overall – Monahan is one of the lone bright-spots of this list, as he’s developed into a true #1 centre for Calgary. He has great chemistry with Johnny Hockey, and hit the 300+ games played mark this year. Great pick here by Calgary.

Round 1 – Emile Poirier (LW) 22nd overall – Received from St. Louis along with Reto Berra, and another prospect for Jay Bouwmeester. Awful trade for Calgary, and awful pick to boot. Poirier had 17 points in 43 AHL games this year, which is brutal. The Capitals picked Andre Burakovsky with the next pick, who is 4 games shy of 200 played. Big miss by Calgary.

Round 1 – Morgan Klimchuk (LW) 28th overall – Received from Pittsburgh for Jarome Iginla. This was a deal that had to be done, as Iginla was sent out in hopes of getting him a Cup. The Flames missed again in round 1 here, as they really had a chance to build a great team with 3 picks in round 1. Klimchuk hasn’t played an NHL game yet, and scored only 43 points in 66 AHL games this year. Not what you expect from a 1st rounder, 4 years after being drafted.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Montreal with Rene Bourque and Patrick Holland for Michael Cammalleri, Kari Ramo and a 2012 5th round pick. Good trade for Calgary, as Cammalleri was great for them in his short time there.

Round 3 – Keegan Kanzig (D) 67th overall – Surprise, another miss. He played this year in the ECHL, and had 5 points in 40 games. Not good numbers, not promising at all.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Sam Bennett (C) 4th overall – While Bennett has played a lot of NHL games, I still consider this a bad pick by Calgary. William Nylander was available, as was David Pastrnak, Dylan Larkin, and so many more that are better players today.

Round 2 – Mason McDonald (G) 34th overall – Didn’t put up great numbers in the ECHL in his first year as a pro, but will have plenty of time to grow his game with Mike Smith recently being brought in. It’s always a good bet to take a goalie in the middle rounds, as they take a while to develop and Calgary has been searching for a true #1 for a while now.

Round 2 – Hunter Smith (RW) 54th overall – Received from Colorado for Reto Berra. Doesn’t look like a future NHLer, which is alright when you look at the trade, as Berra couldn’t cut it either. The Ducks took Brandon Montour with the following pick, who looks like a promising young defender, and would have been a much better pick.

Round 3 – Brandon Hickey (D) 64th overall – Hickey was traded to Arizona with Chad Johnson for Mike Smith, which is a strange move as Smith is 35 years old. The Flames are not ready to push for a Cup, so this move makes no sense to me. Hickey is coming off a good 3rd year NCAA season, another reason why I wouldn’t move him for an aging goaltender.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded with others to Boston for Dougie Hamilton, and the pick turned into Zach Senyshyn. While Senyshyn shows great upside, Hamilton is top-pairing D-man on Calgary, and one they needed. I think this trade benefited both sides.

Round 2 – Rasmus Andersson (D) 53rd overall – Received from Vancouver for Sven Baertschi. Andersson had a good year at the AHL level, and got the call for 1 game this year. Good signs that he’s close to being considered for an NHL spot, something which Calgary needs, as their prospect pool doesn’t run very deep.

Round 2 – Oliver Kylington (D) 60th overall – Great season in the AHL, and looks like he’s ready for the NHL level. Should push for a spot on the blueline full-time next year, great pick to close out round 2 for Calgary.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Arizona for their pick used on Kylington, as Calgary had traded their second as well to Boston for Dougie Hamilton.

Overall, the Flames have been bad at drafting quality players. They’ve hit on a couple, but missed on so many. They had a great chance at the 2013 draft to really build their team, and look more and more like they failed. They’ve got to hope to be better soon, as their core is hitting their mid-20’s shortly.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm

Outlook on 2016-2017: Calgary Flames

Continuing to attempt to predict outcomes of the 2016-2017 season. Next up: The Calgary Flames

2015-2016 Important Notes:

Finish – 12th place in the Western Conference, 26th overall

Goals for vs. goals against – minus 29 (25th overall)

Picked 6th overall in 2016 NHL Entry Draft – Matthew Tkachuk

Where Will the Flame Finish?

The Flames possess some very young and exciting players in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett. Their biggest obstacle is competing with the likes of San Jose, Anaheim and the Kings in their division. Gaudreau is coming off of a 78pt campaign, and looks every bit like the real deal. He reminds me so much of Patrick Kane when he broke into the league, and has great chemistry with Monahan. These two are the building blocks every team is dying for. Add in a newly drafted Matthew Tkachuk, and this team looks like it’s headed in the right direction.

The biggest struggle last year for the Flames was keeping the puck out of their net. Jonas Hiller looked lost on most nights, and they had 3 other goalies make appearances in a Flames uniform last season. Many thought the Flames would end up with Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes to start the 2016-2017 season, however they went a different route and brought in Brian Elliot. What does this mean to Calgary? They’ve helped stabilize the biggest question mark surrounding their team. Backing up Elliot will be Chad Johnson, who looked great in Buffalo last year, going 22-16-1 with a GAA of 2.36 and a save percentage of 0.920. These are great numbers for what will be your number two goalie. With these additions in net, the Flames should have no problem pushing for a playoff spot this season. If they can stay healthy, and improve defensively (most goals against allowed with 260), they should be a fun team to watch.

Johnny Hockey

One of the smaller guys in the NHL, Gaudreau has not let his size hold him back. He’s improved in each of his first two full seasons, going from 64 to 78 points and finishing in the top 10 in league scoring. How much further can he go? It appears the sky is the limit for the self-named Johnny Hockey. He possesses all of the skill in the world, and is a very competitive player night-in and night-out. He’s had great chemistry with Monahan since they both broke into the NHL, and with the maturation of fellow teammates in Sam Bennett, and adding a skillful prospect in Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames look to be adding more offensive weapons to their roster in the very near future.This will only create more room and opportunity for Gaudreau to score. Gaudreau should continue to be in the top 10 in scoring for many years to come, with the potential to challenge for the Art Ross for many years to come.

Defensive Improvements

When Calgary traded for Dougie Hamilton, many believed they had stolen him from Boston. Did he live up those expectations in his first season in Calgary? Many would argue no, however he still managed to put up 43 pts. Another year playing with a well-respected veteran in Mark Giordano will only help Dougie develop into a better all-around defensemen, as he still requires some improvements in his own end. That being said, replacing the horrendous goaltending in Calgary from last season with Elliot and Johnson will surely help all Flames defenders. Finishing last in goals allowed is never a good indication of your defensive game, however another solid addition by the Flames this past season was replacing Kris Russell with young prospect Jyrki Jokipakka. He should step into the Flames bottom pairing this season and help the Flames in their own end of the ice. Comparing last year to this year, there really is only way one to go, and that is most definitely up.

The future is bright (and now) in Calgary. This is a team to watch in the next few years.