One year ago, the Flames found themselves in a situation they’d never been in before: three picks in the first round. Thanks to management finally, finally, finally realizing that their team was no longer competitive, the fire sale began, and Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla netted Calgary two additional first round picks.
The Flames also had five mid-late round picks to work with, giving them eight total picks for this draft. They selected:
- First round, sixth overall: Sean Monahan.
- First round, 22nd overall: Emile Poirier.
- First round, 28th overall: Morgan Klimchuk.
- Third round, 67th overall: Keegan Kanzig.
- Fifth round, 135th overall: Eric Roy.
- Sixth round, 157th overall: Tim Harrison.
- Seventh round, 187th overall: Rushan Rafikov.
- Seventh round, 198th overall: John Gilmour.
Monahan made the team straight out of camp, and six goals in nine games gave him his ticket to remain in the NHL for the rest of the season. Maybe he shouldn’t have stayed up all year – he had a high shooting percentage and, naturally, it dropped, although he still finished the year with a relatively high 15.7% - and fluctuated throughout the season, most notably suffering a horrific stretch after he returned (and was possibly rushed back) from a broken foot.
Monahan did, however, end up being the Flames’ second highest goal scorer with 22 (beating out Jarome Iginla’s rookie record of 21), so there’s that. Most of his goals came from right in front of the net. He played sheltered minutes, and his team was outshot more often than not when he was on the ice, but this is a rookie on a bad team we’re talking about: it’s going to happen.
In the end, Monahan had a really solid rookie season, and should be one of the Flames’ key cornerstones as the team looks to become competitive again. He should only improve with age, and become a crucial part of the team’s future centre depth. The future is bright both for and with him.
The other first rounders
Poirier was a surprise at 22nd overall, especially with Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk still on the board, but he ended up having a hell of a draft+1 year. He jumped from just over a point per game last season to about 1.4 PPG this year, scoring 43 goals and 87 points in 63 games. (He also amassed 153 penalty minutes, so that should satisfy any organizational desire for truculence.)
Poirier is blazingly fast and can clearly score, at least at the junior level. He likely would have had a shot to make the Flames out of next season’s camp, but an injured arm is going to keep him out until the end of 2014. Because of his December birthday, Poirier is eligible to play in the AHL next season, where he’ll likely start off. If injuries strike the Flames, there’s a chance he could make his NHL debut next year as well.
As for Klimchuk, he also improved from just over a point per game to about 1.3, the highest out of all his teammates on the division-winning Regina Pats. Klimchuk was third in scoring, behind two teammates a year or two older than him, and with fewer games played. He’s younger than Poirier, so he’ll likely return to the Pats for his final year of junior, although there is a chance he surprises at camp.
The Flames selected two defencemen in the mid rounds: one off the board pick, and another pick that fell.
Keegan Kanzig, uh… had 159 penalty minutes in his draft season, so that tells you basically everything you need to know about what kind of player he is. Oh yeah, he’s also listed at 6’7" and 245 lbs. And he’s 19. So… that tells you all you really need to know.
(If you want further information, he scored seven assists two seasons ago. In his draft+1 year, he scored three goals and eight points. It’s not exactly the mark of someone you’d expect to make the NHL, and especially not for a third round pick. Especially when other players, such as Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored 109 points over 69 games this past season, were still available.)
But for all the Flames may have gotten wrong in the Kanzig pick – even if you’re a defenceman, if you can’t score in junior, there’s not really a lot of hope for you – they made up for it with Eric Roy.
Roy was ranked to go much higher than the fifth round he eventually fell to, but a poor season (he dropped from about .77 PPG to .54) for a not-very-good (24-40-4-4, .389 winning percentage) Brandon Wheat Kings team saw him fall. Roy is someone who has shown potential for scoring in junior, and was one of the Wheat Kings’ top players this past season as they climbed back into the playoffs. He’s more of a project, but definitely has a higher ceiling than Kanzig – and considering how hard it is for a prospect to make it in general, ones with a higher ceiling should be greater valued if they have about the same floor; that is, not making the NHL.
When the Flames tried to draft Tim Harrison, the NHL couldn’t figure out who they meant to draft. The pick took much longer than it had any right to because Tim Harrison was not registering in the NHL’s system. Seriously. I was there; I remember sitting in the stands, my head in my hands as the team I cheer for continued to try to do… something. Eventually they succeeded after several minutes.
(Sixth round picks aren’t likely to make it anyway, but Tim Harrison scored five assists in 34 games in his freshman year at Colgate University, for the record. So… yeah.)
The draft got a little more interesting, however, when the Flames did something they hadn’t done in years: drafted a Russian.
This past season, Rushan Rafikov scored eight goals and 20 points for Loko Yaroslavl in Russia’s junior league. He was one of Team Russia’s final cuts for the World Juniors. And he may be coming to North America next season.
Not being able to see much of Rafikov at all makes him an interesting prospect. It’s certainly possible the Flames may have found a seventh round gem.
They rounded out the last draft by selecting John Gilmour, who had already completed his freshman year at Providence College alongside Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies. The Flames likely saw a lot of Gilmour in his freshman year (four goals, 13 points in 38 games), and clearly liked what they saw. Gilmour’s stats improved a little in his sophomore season (five goals, 18 points in 39 games) as Providence improved as well. He may have a shot.
Was 2013 a good year?
Again: remember the goal of each draft is to get at least one NHLer, and possibly a second if you can manage. The Flames already have a surefire NHLer in Sean Monahan. Emile Poirier is likely to join him sooner rather than later, and Morgan Klimchuk may be up there as well.
The first round is where you’re most likely to find your high quality NHLers, and thus far, at least, the Flames appear to have made all of their first rounders count. They certainly made the sixth overall pick count.
Sleeper picks like Roy and Rafikov may be able to round out the draft for the Flames in the future, but in the meantime, the Flames were able to acquire some outstanding young talent: exactly what a rebuilding team needs.