On February 14, the Calgary Flames took a big swing at winning a championship by acquiring Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. In acquiring Toffoli, the Flames acquired a high end goal scorer to bolster their forward core. The package heading back to Montreal featured Tyler Pitlick, propsect Emil Heineman, a 2023 5th round pick, and 2022 1st round pick.
Trading first round picks can be risky business in the NHL but the Flames were smart to Top 10 protect their pick in case things completely go off the rails, but it looks very very unlikely. Anyways, with the trading of the first rounder, I wanted to take a look back at past seasons where the Flames didn’t make a pick in the first round and look at the player who was selected with the Flames original pick.
For simplicity I’m only counting years where they didn’t make a first round pick, not years where they may have acquired a different first round pick or traded up/down. Including the Atlanta years, there have been seven drafts where Calgary did not possess a first round pick, with 2022 very possibly being the 8th time. Here’s a look at each player chosen with the Flames original pick, and what that pick had been traded for.
1974 - Traded to Montreal for Chuck Arnason in 1973.
The Pick: #10 Overall, D Rich Chartraw.
1977 - Traded to Montreal from A Big Pick Swap in 1973.
The Pick: #10 Overall, RW Mark Napier
Trades in the 70’s were wild.
His Career: Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres; 767 GP, 235 G, 306 A, 541 Pts. Two Stanley Cups (1 w/MTL & EDM)
1982 - Traded to Buffalo for G Don Edwards as part of Pick Swap on Draft Day
The Pick: #9 Overall, LW Paul Cyr
His Career: Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers; 470 GP, 101 G, 140 A, 241 Pts.
1989 - Traded to Philadelphia for D Brad McCrimmon in August 1987
The Pick: #21 Overall, D Steve Bancroft (Selected by TOR after subsequent trade with PHI)
McCrimmon went on to be a major piece of the Flames Stanley Cup championship squad in 1988-89 and play three full seasons with the club. He would finish his career with 1222 games played with six different teams and also was an assistant coach for four different clubs. He passed away in September 2011 in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy.
2010 - Traded to Phoenix for C Olli Jokinen in March 2009
The Pick: #13 Overall, D Brandon Gormley
Ah Olli Jokinen is a name that brings a lot of fright and sadness to Flames fans as the experiment with him as the 1C in the early 2010’s. The Flames would bring him in and send the pick along with Matthew Lombardi and Brandon Prust to the Coyotes in a big deadline move. The result? Calgary missed the playoffs in 2008-09 in the first of six straight years that they would miss the playoffs and could really be one of the major reasons the team had to enter the rebuild they only recently emerged from.
2015 - Traded to Boston for D Dougie Hamilton at the Draft
The Pick: #15 Overall, RW Zach Senyshyn
His Career: Boston Bruins; 14 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts.
In the context of this deal, the Flames come out looking really good as the top pick used by Boston in this trade was used on Senyshyn. Of course with this pick the Bruins immediately passed on Matt Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot who were taken with the three picks after them. Oof. Hamilton was later used as part of a package to land Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin which is paying off pretty handsomely right now.
2018 - Traded to NY Islanders for D Travis Hamonic at 2017 Draft
The Pick: #12 Overall, D Noah Dobson
His Career: NY Islanders; 122 GP, 12 G, 31 A, 43 Pts
At the time this trade was made, the Flames thought they were adding a final piece to their puzzle by having Hamonic round out their Top 4 on the blue line. Instead the trade didn’t really work out as he never fully settled in during his time with Calgary, and the Flames went on to miss the playoffs in ugly fashion in 2017-18. The pick had no protections and a bad trade nearly became even worse as the Islanders missed out winning the #2 pick in the lottery by a mere one point in the standings. Dobson has had a tremendous start to his career and has the potential to be a long term star on the Island.
2022 - Traded to Montreal for RW Tyler Toffoli
We will see where the Flames end up finishing this year. It’s quite likely that it ends up in the mid 20’s but fingers crossed that the pick ends up being #32, because that would mean something very good happened.
Trading your first round pick can be a very risk maneuver in the NHL as evidenced by disappointing seasons following the Jokinen and Hamonic trades, but it can also bring in big pieces of your team for the future as we saw with the McCrimmon and Hamilton deals. We will see how Montreal drafts and develops the player they choose as that could swing this trade in their favour down the road, but for now the Flames got a whole lot better.