The Calgary Flames definitely weren’t known as the best at drafting players during the early to mid 2000’s, which led to the rebuild that the organization is just coming out of. Luckily they’ve found some mid-late round gems in recent years, but here are ten guys they drafted who were immediately followed by long tenured or really good NHLers.
The rules for this article are that it only includes any players picked with the three picks immediately after a Flames selection and doesn’t include any first round whiffs as that would be too easy.
Pick 116: Drafted G Levente Szuper, 0 NHL Games
Pick 118: Los Angeles Selects D Lubimir Visnovsky, 883 NHL Games
Visnovsky would play 14 seasons in the NHL split between Los Angeles, Edmonton, Anaheim, and the New York Islanders. He made the All-Star Game once and had four seasons of at least 40 points, including two seasons of 67 points. Szuper spent three years in the AHL system before jetting off to Europe for the rest of his pro career.
Pick 238: Drafted D Jyri Marttinen, 0 NHL Games
Pick 241: Buffalo Selects D Dennis Wideman, 815 NHL Games
I know Wideman is a player that this fanbase isn’t ever going to love, but he was a solid NHLer for seven years before eventually making his way to Calgary. He played for St. Louis, Boston, Florida, Washington, and the Flames. Marttinen on the other hand never left Europe.
Pick 270: Drafted RW Kevin Harvey, 0 NHL Games
Pick 271: Montreal Selects G Jaroslav Halak, 489 NHL Games
This pick was made pre-Kiprusoff so the Flames may have realized they had a need down the road in the net. Of course when you’re this late in the draft it’s all a coin flip, but Halak would’ve been a great 1-2 punch with Kipper and then possibly flipped for assets later on like Montreal ended up doing with him.
Pick 213: Drafted G Jimmy Spratt, 0 NHL Games
Pick 214: Chicago Selects RW Troy Brouwer, 838 NHL Games
Okay, if the Wideman one didn’t rile people up, this one might. Yes I know Brouwer was terrible in Calgary and we couldn’t get rid of him fast enough but prior to coming here he had a respectable career in Chicago, helping them win a Cup. I would’ve taken him on the cheap contracts Chicago and Washington had him on at the start of his career.
Pick 69: Drafted D Gord Baldwin, 0 NHL Games
Pick 72: Los Angeles Selects G Jonathan Quick, 602 NHL Games
So this was the draft right after the lockout and the Flames were still fresh off Kipper taking them to the Cup finals, so I understand why they didn’t take a goalie, but it’s still a miss.
Pick 70: Drafted D John Negrin, 3 NHL Games
Pick 71: Florida Selects RW Evgeni Dadonov, 211 NHL Games
While Dadonov didn’t look like much and the Flames might not have had the patience for him when he returned to Russia, he has since come back and become a top player in the league the last two years. The Flames were very anti drafting Russians until only very recently so it makes sense, but still.
Pick 48: Drafted RW Mitch Wahl, 0 NHL Games
Pick 51: New York Rangers Select C Derek Stepan, 669 NHL Games
After two years of college following his selection, Stepan stepped into the NHL with the Rangers and immediately made an impact surpassing 45 points in his first two years before having 44 points in 48 games in the lockout year. He could’ve been the centre the Flames were craving towards the end of the Iginla years.
Pick 57: Drafted D Tyler Wotherspoon, 57 NHL Games
Pick 58: Tampa Bay Selects RW Nikita Kucherov, 447 NHL Games
It’s crazy to think that the Flames were SO close to coming away with Johnny Gaudreau AND Nikita Kucherov in the same draft class. It’s speculated that the Flames had Kucherov on their board but felt he’d be available in later rounds. That’s wasn’t the case. Wotherspoon is now gone, and Kucherov had 128 points last year alone.
Pick 75: Drafted G Jon Gillies, 12 NHL Games
Pick 78: Philadelphia Selects D Shayne Gostisbehere, 310 NHL Games
Gillies was regarded as the goaltender of the future for a number of years but now it looks like that isn’t the case anymore. Gostisbere meanwhile has had a solid start to his career with the Flyers, picking up 187 points over the last four seasons.
Pick 34: Drafted G Mason McDonald, 0 NHL Games
Pick 36: Vancouver Selects G Thatcher Demko, 10 NHL Games
Yeah, this was a pretty big yikes from Day 1. McDonald never really made it past the ECHL while Demko looks like he’s about to become the Canucks franchise goaltender. The fact that it’s a major divisional rival hurts even more.
This was a painful excersize looking back on the mistakes of the previous management groups. Probably is a good reason why they aren’t around now.
I guess all there really is to say is: