There are only a few days left until the anticipated Seattle Kraken expansion draft, anticipation is sky high about who the Kraken may select from the Calgary Flames. This will be the 18th expansion draft for the Flames franchise since being founded and inducted into the league through an expansion draft of their own in 1972 alongside the New York Islanders.
With the Kraken being the latest in a long line of teams joining the league, let’s break down how the Flames have fared over time. We’ll go back to when the franchise started out in Atlanta before moving to Calgary too.
1974 Washington Capitals – Lew Morrison (RW)
Forward Lew Morrison was picked up by the Atlanta Flames during their expansion draft only to be taken by the Washington Capitals only two seasons later. Teams at the time were allowed to protect 15 skaters and two goalies with first-year pros exempt. Based on this, it’s unlikely Morrison was a noticeable loss to the Flames. He played another five years in the league after leaving Atlanta, having his personal best season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1974–75, putting up 12 points in 52 games. He was a fine player but certainly not a standout, finishing his NHL career with 91 points in 564 games.
1974 Kansas City Scouts – Butch Deadmarsh(LW), Kerry Ketter (D)
The same year, the Kansas City Scouts claimed not one, but two Flames skaters. After playing two seasons with Atlanta, Butch Deadmarsh was the first to be picked up by the Scouts. He only played 20 games with Kansas City before switching leagues to the World Hockey Association where he finished his career. Since Deadmarsh left the NHL rather quickly, it is safe to say that the Flames did not miss out on his services.
Kerry Ketter played exactly 89 games in the NHL and WHA, 41 for the Flames before he was taken in expansion and 48 the season after for the Scouts. That sums up his entire professional career, so it wasn’t a big loss for the Flames at all.
1979 Hartford Whalers – Rick Hodgson (D), Brian Hill (RW)
Rick Hodgson is another skater on the list whose time with Atlanta was short. Very short in fact, as Hodgson never made a game appearance as a Flame. After being selected by the Hartford Whalers, Hodgson played just six NHL games before ending his hockey career. It is difficult to say what he could have achieved with more time in the league, but once again the Flames escaped an expansion draft with minimal loss.
A similar story is that of forward Brian Hill, the second selection by the Whalers. While Hill had a successful professional hockey career, it was not in the NHL. He never played a game for the Flames and only 19 total for the Whalers before moving to Europe. He put up an impressive 416 points over 238 games in the Austrian Hockey League.
1979 Winnipeg Jets – Gene Carr (C)
The Flames lucked out once again when the Winnipeg Jets selected center Gene Carr in 1979. By the time Carr joined the Flames, he was in his eighth—and what would be his final—professional hockey season. He did play 30 games for Atlanta before the draft stole him away, but it’s difficult to say whether or not he had anything left to give to the league. Consistent with the other names on this list, Carr was a solid player during his career but not a huge hit to the Flames.
1979 Edmonton Oilers – John Gould (RW)
In the same (chaotic) expansion draft, the Edmonton Oilers claimed right winger John Gould. Gould had an established career previously playing for the Sabres and Canucks, so when he joined the Flames in 1977, he had his fair share of ice time. He was relatively consistent throughout his career and participated in the playoffs all three years with Atlanta. Gould is probably the first skater on this list to impact the Flames with his departure. He had one more solid season with the Sabres to finish his career, but the Flames could have only benefitted by hanging onto Gould a little longer.
1991 San Jose Sharks – Rick Lessard (D)
The first expansion draft after the Flames moved to Calgary was the 1991 San Jose Sharks entry and Minnesota North Stars dispersal draft. The Sharks selected defenseman Rick Lessard from the Flames, continuing the pattern of Flames losing skaters. At the time Lessard was selected, he had only played seven games with Calgary. Unfortunately for Lessard, his NHL career did not improve much as he only played eight games with the Sharks before spending the rest of his career in the minors. While Lessard was a fairly successful player in the minors, he was neither a significant loss to the Flames or a steal for the Sharks.
1992 Ottawa Senators – Chris Lindberg (LW)
Chris Lindberg was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the 1992 expansion draft, only one year after the previous expansion. However, Lindberg was traded back to the Flames for Mark Osiecki only two days later. Lindberg did play another strong season for the Flames before being traded. He finished his career with 42 points in 116 NHL games before going on to have a far more successful career across Europe.
1992 Tampa Bay Lightning – Tim Hunter (RW)
Forward Tim Hunter was also selected in 1992 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but was traded to the Quebec Nordiques only one day after the draft. After his 11-year run with the Flames, Hunter continued to rack up penalty minutes with three other teams. He still holds multiple penalty minute records in Calgary, including most penalty minutes in one playoff season (108 in 1986) as well as four of the top-five records for most penalty minutes in a season, including first with 375 in 1988–89.
Possibly one of Calgary’s biggest expansion draft losses, Hunter was a part of the 1989 Stanley Cup champion team alongside Lanny McDonald. He went on to finish out a 16-year NHL career with Quebec, Vancouver, and San Jose, at the loss of Calgary who could have benefitted from a few more seasons with the enforcer.
1993 Florida Panthers – Alexander Godynyuk (D), Brian Skrudland (C)
Like most players on this list, Alexander Godynyuk’s time with the Flames was too short. The defensemen played a total of 33 games for the Flames across two seasons before being chosen by the Florida Panthers expansion. He then moved around, never seeming to quite settle into a team or league. He never played a full NHL season, leaving us to believe that both the Flames and fans alike wouldn’t be too upset by his departure.
Brian Skrudland on the other hand, undoubtedly made an impact on every NHL team he was a part of, including the Flames. The centre won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986, before being traded to the Flames for the 1992–93 season. After being selected by the Florida Panthers during the expansion draft the following season, Skurland became the franchise’s first ever captain. He went on to win the Stanley Cup again in 1999 with the Dallas Stars before retiring in 2000. The Flames would have benefitted from his experience and leadership if they only managed to hold onto him a little longer.
1998 Nashville Predators – Joel Bouchard (D)
Defenseman Joel Bouchard was selected by the Calgary Flames 129th overall in the 1992 entry draft. He played a respectable 252 games for the Flames before being claimed during the Nashville Predators expansion draft. Bouchard already had a good run with the Flames, and ended up playing for a total of eight NHL teams through 11 seasons. It’s a shame he couldn’t find a more permanent home after a solid run with Calgary.
1999 Atlanta Thrashers – Ed Ward (RW)
The Atlanta Thrashers joined the league the following year, selecting right winger Ed Ward in the 1999 Expansion Draft. Ward spent his time with the Flames bouncing between the NHL and AHL, playing a total of 278 games throughout his NHL career but never made a playoff appearance. He finished his career playing in Sweden for Timra IK, where Henrik Zetterberg once played.
2000 Minnesota Wild – Filip Kuba (D), Sergei Krivokrasov (RW)
Possibly the shortest lived Flames career on this list, is Filip Kuba. The defenseman was selected by the Minnesota Wild in 2000 before having an opportunity to play a game with the Flames. Kuba went on to have a successful career in the league, being named captain of the Wild and eventually leaving as the leading scorer amongst franchise defensemen. He racked up a total of 333 points in 836 career points, leaving the Flames wondering “what if?”
Sergei Krivokrasov, who was selected 12th overall in the 1992 entry draft, was claimed during not one, but two expansion drafts throughout his career. After being taken from Chicago in the 1998 expansion draft, Krivokrasov was also claimed by the Wild in 2000. Krivokrasov played a total of 12 games with the Flames franchise during the 1999–00 season. Shortly after his move to the Wild, Krivokrasov moved to the Russian Superleague where he finished out his career.
Fun fact: Krivokraso scored the first NHL goal in the 21st century: scoring for San Jose on January 1st, 2000.
2017 Vegas Golden Knights – Deryk Engelland (D)
The most recent expansion draft in 2017 saw the Vegas Golden Knights claim defensemen Deryk Engelland from the Flames. Engelland, who previously signed a three-year, $8.7 million contract with the Flames in 2014 was undoubtedly overpaid. He took a large pay decrease in Vegas, but remained a leader, winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2018. He remains with the organization to this day, having calling it a career midway through the 2019–20 season.
Engelland was set to become a free agent in 2017, and was likely going to sign with Vegas in free agency anyway. The Flames were basically unscathed from this expansion draft, but likely that won’t be the same story this time around.
2021 Seattle Kraken
The Seattle draft takes place in just a few days. A few names that might be in consideration for Seattle to take are captain Mark Giordano, upcoming free agent Derek Ryan who hails out of Washington, defender Oliver Kylington, and winger Matthew Phillips. With the Flames still having a bit of work to do to be fully ready for the expansion draft, time is ticking on GM Treliving and team.
There’s been indications that Giordano is of most interest to the Kraken, which puts the Flames in a moderate panic between now and the draft, as they could be losing their best defenceman at a net loss with no returns. Whatever happens between now and the draft, here is to hoping that the 2021 expansion draft is more like Engelland and less like Kuba.