What's been worrying me about the Flames isn't this season, in fact, this season looks like it'll be pretty rad. Nor is it even the next season. It's 2 years down the road, maybe 3, and so on. Because while the team is looking pretty good right now, our prospect cubbard is looking, well, like crap.
Don't get me wrong, we have some decent prospects coming up through the system. But that's all they are, decent prospects. The best guy in the Flames system right now is Mikael Backlund, who is kinda chancy at best. He has the potential to maybe be a first line center, maybe picking up 80 point seasons. And that's not bad...if it happens. But he also has a lot of potential to be a huge bust and never leave the 3rd and 4th lines. So let's look at some of the players drafted since the Sutter regime began.
2003: Dion Phaneuf. 1st round, 9th overall. Okay, so Sutter didn't screw the pooch here. But in this draft, you'd have to try to to mess up. I mean, you'd have to pick Hugh Jessiman, Anthony Stewart, or Marc Pouliot (lol Oilers) to mess up in the 2003 first round. Even then, Phaneuf's rookie season was probably his best, and he's definitely taken a step back this year. Not a fan of that.
2003: Tim Ramholt. 2nd Round, 39th overall. This guy has played exactly one NHL game. Since then he's been purely trade fodder. I mean hell, he was traded for Josh Gratton. Who else was taken in this round that we could've got? Dan Fritsche, Matt Carle, Shea Weber, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Patrick O'Sullivan, hell, even BJ Combreen would've been a better option. The upside? He eventually brought us Kyle Greentree, who may turn out to be nothing, or may turn out to be a 2nd line winger. Hard to tell.
2004: Kris Chucko. 1st round, 24th overall. This is where I start to get sad. I mean, 2nd round picks like Ramholt aren't sure things, and the odd one not panning out is understandable. But Chucko was drafted 5 years ago and has yet to play an NHL minute. Yes, his stats have been getting better in the AHL, but a 1st round pick should be at least somewhat dominant there. Maybe he'll be a Black Ace for the playoffs, maybe he'll never be a NHLer and instead is a career AHL player like poor Jamie Lundmark who's probably more deserving of a Flames spot than, say, Andre Roy. Who else could we have taken after him? MIKE FREAKING GREEN.
2004: Brandon Prust, Dustin Boyd, and the Adam Pardy Experiment. 3rd rounds and 6th round, 70, 98, and 173 respectively. For 3rd round picks, these first two guys are pretty solid. Prust is not a regular yet, but he's not far off, and Boyd is getting much better. Again, for 3rd rounders this is pretty solid. As far as Pardy is concerned, hell yeah. He's playing 13 minutes a night, just about every night, more than the next D we drafted...
2005: Matt Pelech. 1st round, 26th overall. Yet another who's never seen the NHL. And looking at his stats (8 points in 53 games this year, 9 in 77 last year), there's a good chance he won't anytime soon. I mean, that'd be acceptable if he were a shutdown D, but I don't see how he can be a shutdown D with 108 PIM in 53 games. Seems like a defensive liability to me. Who could we have drafted instead? M-E Vlasic, James Neal, Paul Stastny (bleah Colorado.
2005: Dan Ryder. 3rd round, 74th overall. This guy gave up. He quit playing hockey for a year. And we drafted him?
After 2005, the players are too young to get a really good bearing on their development. Hell, one of the guys here could turn out to be a late blooming Pavel Datsyuk, it's hard to tell. But as far as young players go, Sutter has not shown to have the eye, at least not in the first round. And obviously I don't expect our draft picks to blossom into flow blown players overnight either, but they could at least be cracking the line-up after four years from being drafted. And every time I see the Caps play, Mike Green will make me weep.
Edit: Also, could somebody explain what the hell a "fanshot" is? It sounds like a new way to consume alcohol that involves blades and horrifying deaths.