Tonight is the night, the 2019 NHL Draft is finally here. Dreams are going to be made for many prospects, general managers from around the league will be looking to fix their rosters with the right deals, and a wealth of surprises will emerge that have yet to be sniffed out by NHL insiders.
The Calgary Flames are finally back in action, starting with the 26th overall pick. Of course that is assuming that Brad Treliving doesn’t have something else up his sleeve. The Flames GM has done an excellent job at selecting draft talent, especially in later rounds, during his tenure at the helm of Flames management. Of course, there was only one way to go after the tumultuous drafts of Daryl Sutter and Jay Feaster.
Although there have been some slam dunk picks over the past few years, there is always room for improvement; especially with hindsight being 20/20. We at The Win Column thought it would be interesting to take a look back on the last ten NHL Drafts and see how the Flames could have done things differently.
- All Flames draft picks from 2009-2018 must be used where they selected a player in that respective draft regardless of future trades
- Picks can only be used to re-select players that were drafted below the Flames pick. So no, the Flames cannot draft Olli Juolevi in 2016
- For every round, a pick can only extend the same number of spots as the round number (i.e. a third round pick can extend back three draft positions). This will hopefully mimic real draft situations where teams are selecting from a similar crop of ranked players, rather than cherry picking future All-Stars in late rounds that no one was thinking of selecting
- Preference in picks will come down to NHL careers. AHL and ECHL performances will not be taken into account
- A full breakdown of Flames picks by draft can be found here
Without further ado, I give you the Calgary Flames from an alternate reality:
*= Original Flames Draft Pick
2009 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 23rd Overall: Marcus Johansson
- 3rd Round, 74th Overall: Andrej Nestrasil
- 4th Round, 111th Overall: Lane MacDermid
- 5th Round, 141st Overall: Spencer Bennett*
- 6th Round, 171st Overall: Joni Ortio*
- 7th Round, 201st Overall: Ben Sexton
Starting things off way back when in 2009, the Flames could have made a few changes. In this re-draft, the Flames are able to select Johansson over Tim Erixon. Although Erixon would lead to additional selections down the road, on a player for player basis, this is a simple change. Erixon never played a game with the Flames, while Johansson just played in the Stanley Cup Final and was an effective player for the Boston Bruins.
Nestrasil also gets the nod over Ryan Howse, who never played an NHL game. Nestrasil played 128 games and netted 48 points, but that’s still an improvement over a zero stat line. MacDermid gets the edge in the 4th round over another player that never suited up for an NHL game: Henrik Bjorklund.
We will stick with the Bennett and Ortio picks, as the alternatives are not much better. Who is Ben Sexton you may ask? He was the only player within the seventh round range that suited up for an NHL game (two to be exact). That easily gives him an edge over original pick, Gaelan Patterson.
2010 NHL Draft
- 3rd Round, 64th Overall: Radko Gudas
- 3rd Round, 73rd Overall: Joey Leach*
- 4th Round, 103rd Overall: Marcus Sorensen
- 4th Round, 108th Overall: Philipp Grubauer
- 5th Round, 133rd Overall: Micheal Ferland*
- 7th Round, 193rd Overall: Patrick Holland*
The Flames didn’t have a draft pick until the 3rd round in 2010, which was Sutter’s last as GM. In that round, they should have taken Gudas over Max Reinhart, but stick with the Leach selection. Why would they stay with Leach? Because no one from picks 72-79 ever suited up for an NHL game.
Sorensen is a no brainer over John Ramage. It’s also comical the Flames could have drafted Grubauer over Bill Arnold at 108th, as the now Colorado goaltender just stymied them out of the first round. The Flames obviously stick with Ferland at 133rd, but also keep Holland in the 7th round as he was able to suit up for some NHL games.
2011 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 13th Overall: Sven Baertschi*
- 2nd Round, 45th Overall: Joel Edmundson
- 2nd Round, 57th Overall: Nikita Kucherov
- 4th Round, 104th Overall: Johnny Gaudreau*
- 6th Round, 164th Overall: Laurent Brossoit*
Oh what could have been. This one might sting the most.
It’s a toss up between Baertschi and Jamie Oleksiak in the first round, but Baertschi gets the edge. If he had been given a shot in Calgary, or remained healthy in Vancouver, he could be a definitive selection here. Same thing goes in the second round where it’s a choice between Edmundson or Matthew Nieto. Both players should be selected over Markus Granlund in my opinion, with Edmundson getting the slight edge.
Then it’s just utter sadness. Nikita Kucherov could have been a Calgary Flame, but Feaster opted for Tyler Wotherspoon instead. No brainer here as to who they would select now.
Gaudreau stays the same (duh), as does Brossoit who is a serviceable NHL backup at the moment and was an easy pick over the surrounding players.
2012 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 21st Overall: Olli Maatta
- 2nd Round, 42nd Overall: Jake McCabe
- 3rd Round, 75th Overall: Shayne Gostisbehere
- 4th Round, 105th Overall: Brett Kulak*
- 5th Round, 124th Overall: Dominic Toninato
- 6th Round, 165th Overall: Vinnie Hinostroza
- 7th Round, 186th Overall: Colin Smith
Lots of moves in 2012, where the Flames would only retain one original pick: Brett Kulak.
We prefer Maatta over Mark Jankowski, McCabe over Patrick Sieloff, Gostisbehere over Jon Gillies, and Hinostroza over Coda Gordon. Both Toninato and Smith were picked due to more NHL games played than original picks Ryan Culkin and Matthew Deblouw.
Of course, using our selection rules also can hurt sometimes. In 2012, had we extended the range further the Flames could have had Connor Hellebuyck and Christrian Djoos in the 5th and 7th rounds, but rules are rules!
2013 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 6th Overall: Sean Monahan*
- 1st Round, 22nd Overall: Andre Burakovsky
- 1st Round, 28th Overall: Jason Dickinson
- 3rd Round, 67th Overall: Nick Baptiste
- 5th Round, 135th Overall: Carson Soucy
- 6th Round, 157th Overall: Sean Malone
- 7th Round, 187th Overall: Greg Chase*
- 7th Round, 198th Overall: Andreas Johnsson
Ah yes, the all important rebuild draft. The one that was supposed to change everything for the Flames.
Monahan was the only clear proper selection made in 2013, as the rest of the seven picks were completely botched. Burakovsky, Dickinson, and Baptiste are all upgrades over Emile Poirier, Morgan Klimchuk and Keegan Kanzig.
The remaining picks were all selections based on NHL experience, but frankly no other players available around those picks were relevant. The only exception? Andreas Johnsson in the seventh round, who would have been a quality addition.
2014 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 4th Overall: Sam Bennett*
- 2nd Round, 34th Overall: Thatcher Demko
- 2nd Round, 54th Overall: Brandon Montour
- 3rd Round, 64th Overall: Warren Foegele
- 6th Round, 175th Overall: Samuel Blais
- 7th Round, 184th Overall: Austin Carroll*
A controversial draft for our re-draft, as Sam Bennett remains the 4th pick. Keep in mind our re-draft rules, which limits us between Bennett or Michael Dal Colle. Easy selection there.
Demko is the better version of Mason McDonald, while Montour is an easy pick over Hunter Smith. Foegele’s stock rose this post season, which gets him selected over Brandon Hickey. Recently crowned Stanley Cup Champion Sammy Blais gets the edge over Adam Ollas-Mattsson.
The 7th round had no better options, so we move on and keep the Carroll pick.
2015 NHL Draft
- 2nd Round, 53rd Overall: Rasmus Andersson*
- 2nd Round, 60th Overall: Oliver Kylington*
- 5th Round, 136th Overall: Dominik Simon
- 6th Round, 166th Overall: Andrew Mangiapane*
- 7th Round, 196th Overall: Sami Niku
Finally some amazing news! The Flames made three perfect selections in 2015 with Andersson, Kylington, and Mangiapane. Three key players who panned out to be the best picks at their respective spots.
Simon gets the edge over Pavel Karnaukov, who went straight to the KHL. Niku also gets the major edge over Riley Bruce, as Niku is a top Winnipeg prospect at the moment.
2016 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 6th Overall: Matthew Tkachuk*
- 2nd Round, 54th Overall: Tyler Parsons*
- 2nd Round, 56th Overall: Dillon Dube*
- 3rd Round, 66th Overall: Adam Fox*
- 4th Round, 96th Overall: Victor Mete
- 5th Round, 126th Overall: Mitchell Mattson*
- 6th Round, 156th Overall: Jesper Bratt
- 6th Round, 166th Overall: Matthew Phillips*
- 7th Round, 186th Overall: Stepan Falkovsky*
Things start to get interesting for the recent years, as we have yet to really see many players carve out NHL careers. So take these selections with a grain of salt.
Tkachuk, Parsons, Dube, and Fox are all clear choices to remain at their respective selections. Mete gets the edge over Linus Lindstrom, as we still are unsure if Lindstrom will ever play in the NHL. The fifth round and seventh round were simply not good, so we will keep Mattson and Falkovsky for old times’ sake.
Phillips will stay where he is, as he could surprise in the NHL one day, while Bratt has earned his stripes over the all-inspiring Eetu Tuulola.
2017 NHL Draft
- 1st Round, 16th Overall: Juuso Valimaki*
- 4th Round, 109th Overall: Adam Ruzicka*
- 5th Round, 140th Overall: Zach Fischer*
- 6th Round, 171th Overall: D’Artagnan Joly*
- 7th Round, 202nd Overall: Filip Sveningsson*
This gets very difficult. Valimaki is the only clear player the Flames took that looks to be an NHL player down the road. Additionally, all of the players surrounding the Flames’ selections have yet to debut and don’t present clear options for improvement.
Fischer and Joly would be the most likely to be different, as they are no longer with the Flames organization, but only time will tell who they should have selected instead.
2018 NHL Draft
- 4th Round, 105th Overall: Martin Pospisil*
- 4th Round, 108th Overall: Demetrious Koumontzis*
- 4th Round, 122nd Overall: Milos Roman*
- 6th Round, 167th Overall: Mathias Emilio Pettersen*
- 7th Round, 198th Overall: Dmitry Zavgorodniy*
Way too early to tell. No need to change these up at the moment, as only eight players from this draft have debuted in the NHL. The Flames’ picks look promising to say the least, all developing across various leagues.
Your 2019-20 Alternate Flames
That was fun. It’s clear that the Flames had a few misses over the past ten seasons, but it should also be commended that they nailed a certain amount of picks. Sure we can all revel in the thought of a Gaudreau – Monahan – Kucherov top line, but at the same time Gaudreau himself was an excellent pick.
It is extremely easy to sit back now a few years later and judge selections as we see players develop, but the NHL Draft is a bit of a crap shoot as it heads to later rounds. Some teams draft future stars, while others end up with nothing.
Time will tell if the 2017 and 2018 picks turn out to be studs or duds, but for the time being the focus should be on 2019 and finding the ultimate diamonds in the rough.