With the 2021–22 NHL season over, the next big date on the calendar is the 2022 NHL Draft slated to go down on July 7 in Montreal. With the draft just under two weeks away, there’s no doubt the Flames are currently in full prep mode, finalizing the list of players they would want to select.
That said, barring any trades, this year will be one of the least exciting drafts in recent memory for the Calgary Flames as the team currently has just three picks and doesn’t own their first-round pick. Knowing there won’t be much excitement or new talent joining the organization this year, it’s worth looking back at some recent Flames drafts to check in on how each draft class turned out after the dust settled.
Let’s take a look at each draft class since the 2010 draft and rank them from worst to best. We’ll be taking into consideration both the impact with the Flames, and in the NHL in general for each class.
Too early to tell from 2020 onwards
Given that the 2020 and 2021 drafts occurred just one and two years ago it’s far too early to make any judgements about each draft class.
That said we can certainly take a quick look at the updated outlook for each draft class based on how the players selected have fared since being drafted.
The 2020 draft featured eight picks by the Flames, including four in the first three rounds. Currently five of the eight picks have received entry-level deals with the Flames. Most recently, the Flames surprisingly let Ryan Francis walk after he seemed like a lock to get a contract last year. Third rounder Jake Boltmann and fourth rounder Daniil Chechelev are the two remaining picks without a contract and both will need to take a big step forward in order to earn one.
Of the picks who earned a contract, Connor Zary, Yan Kuznetsov, Rory Kerins and Ilya Solovyov have all already played AHL hockey, while Jeremie Poirier will be making his AHL debut next season after finishing an illustrious junior career. Zary in particular spent the entire season in the AHL at just 20 years old while Kerins went back to the OHL and lit up the league for 118 points which ranked second in the OHL.
Overall, Zary, Kuznetsov, Kerins, and Poirier all have NHL potential and could make the Flames one day. It’s been just two years, but so far the 2020 draft is looking very solid for the Flames. All four of the above players made our top 15 Flames prospects list.
The 2021 draft is not even a year old yet, so it’s nearly impossible to make any summations about the draft class just yet. Overall the Flames made eight picks, with four coming in the first three rounds. None of the eight picks have received contracts yet.
Matthew Coronato, selected at 13th overall was the Flames highest draft pick since 2016. The freshman posted 36 points in 34 games for Harvard as well as being named to USA’s World Junior Team this past season. Coronato is one of the Flames most promising prospects, but until he signs there will be doubts surrounding his intentions past his college career.
Only two other players from this class had stand out D+1 seasons. Sixth rounder Jack Beck came out of nowhere to put up over a point per game in just his second OHL season. As well, seventh rounder Arseni Sergeev had a great season in the USHL, posting a .918 save percentage across 41 games.
Only a couple of picks from this draft look like they have NHL potential right now, although as mentioned it’s still far to early to make any final conclusions. Coronato, Beck, and Sergeev all made our top 15 Flames prospect rankings.
#10 – 2018
The 2018 draft is only four years old so there’s still some hope for this class, however the outlook isn’t looking great at this point. The hopes of success were low going into the draft considering the picks they had. The team didn’t own a single pick in the first three rounds and just five overall in the draft due to the Travis Hamonic and Mike Smith trades.
With those five picks the Flames made three selections in the fourth round, taking Martin Pospisil, Demetrios Koumontzis, and Milos Roman. They also took Emilio Pettersen in the sixth round and Dmitri Zavgorodniy in the seventh round. Of the five picks, two currently have contracts with the Flames, Pospisil and Pettersen.
Koumontzis is yet to receive an offer and it’s highly unlikely he will as he enters his 5th year in college, Roman went unsigned and is currently a free agent, while Zavgorodniy signed an entry level deal back in 2019 but it was recently terminated as he signed a contract in Russia for next season.
Both Pospisil and Pettersen spent this past season in the AHL, with Pospisil posting 25 points in 47 games and Pettersen putting up 26 points in 59 games. Pospisil is currently an RFA, but the expectation is he’ll be back with the Heat next year.
Both players featured on our top 15 Flames prospects list coming in at 15th and 13th respectively, however neither have a ton of upside right now. The Flames may not get a single NHL game played from this draft which makes it their worst since 2010.
#9 – 2014
This was the first draft for Brad Treliving with the Flames, and the Brian Burke influence was clear throughout. Going into the draft, the Flames possessed their highest pick in franchise history at fourth overall, as well as three more picks in the first three rounds.
After it was all said and done, the Flames picked Sam Bennett fourth overall, Mason McDonald and Hunter Smith in the second, Brandon Hickey in the third, Adam Ollas Mattsson in the sixth, and Austin Carroll in the seventh.
Of the six picks the Flames made, Bennett was the only one to ever play in the NHL. Both Smith and Carroll were truculent over-age players with middling results in the CHL and neither had much upside when picked. Both spent a couple years in the AHL and ECHL before leaving the Flames organization as free agents. Ollas Mattsson played a couple years in the AHL but left as a free agent in 2019 to go back to Sweden.
Hickey showed some promise, as he represented Canada at the World Juniors and put up some decent production in the NCAA, but he was eventually dealt to the Coyotes in the Smith trade after failing to agree to a contract with the Flames.
McDonald was a head scratcher at the time, as the consensus number one goalie in the draft Thatcher Demko was still available and went just two picks later. To make matters even worse, Alex Nedeljkovic and Vitek Vanecek also went later that round as well. All three of those goalies are now NHL starters. McDonald meanwhile spent three middling seasons playing for the Flames AHL and ECHL affiliates before leaving as a free agent in 2019.
Bennett just never found his footing in Calgary despite some flashes of brilliance. He would log 402 games for the Flames putting up just 140 points, incredibly low production for a fourth overall pick. He was dealt to Florida last year where he has experienced some success but is firmly in the bust category in Calgary.
This draft class was doomed to fail from the start outside of Bennett. The former OHL star being a bust just made sure it was one of the worst drafts ever for the Flames as they came away with virtually nothing despite having their highest pick in franchise history and two second-round selections.
#8 – 2010
The Flames didn’t have a pick until the third round in 2010 so it’s not surprising it shows up near the bottom of this list. The team had traded their first-round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Olli Jokinen, and their second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Rene Bourque.
This year, the Flames picked up Max Reinhart and Joey Leach in the third round, John Ramage and Bill Arnold in the fourth round, then Micheal Ferland in the fifth, and Patrick Holland in the seventh. Leach never played in the NHL and Holland managed just five games in the NHL, none of which were with the Flames.
The draft class did have some promise at one point though. Reinhart came from some strong hockey bloodlines and put up 63 points in 67 AHL games in 2013–14 but never found his footing in the NHL. He only played in 19 games for the Flames registering five points, and was eventually dealt for a fourth round pick in 2015. Unfortunately, Reinhart never played in the NHL again.
Ramage was a standout in college and played for Team USA at the World Junior’s twice, but only managed one single game for the Flames. He went unsigned by the Flames in 2015 and was picked up by Columbus where he also only played one NHL game.
Arnold was of course a linemate of Johnny Gaudreau‘s at Boston College, so there was some excitement around the potential of reuniting with Gaudreau in the NHL. Unfortunately the reunion lasted one single game in the NHL and he was out of the Flames organization by 2016.
Ferland saved this draft for the Flames. He would play 250 games for the team, putting up 42 goals and 89 points including a 41-point season in 2017–18. He would be dealt in the Dougie Hamilton deal and would play another 85 games in the NHL before having his career cut short by concussions.
#7 – 2012
The 2012 draft is infamous among Flames fans for the outlandish antics of then General Manager Jay Feaster. The Flames went into the draft with the 14th overall pick, and then one pick in each round from rounds three to seven.
They would eventually trade down from 14th to pick up the 21st and 42nd overall picks which they would then use on a relatively unknown high schooler in Mark Jankowski and Patrick Sieloff in the second round. They would round out their draft with Jon Gillies in the third, Brett Kulak in the fourth, Ryan Culkin in the fifth, Coda Gordon in the sixth, and Matt DeBlouw in the seventh.
Of the seven picks they made, four played in the NHL and only two managed over 40 games in the NHL. Jankowski was dubbed “…the best player in the 2012 draft” by Feaster at the time. Unfortunately he would only play 208 games with the team totaling just 64 points. He would leave as a free agent in 2020. In that same round, the likes of Tom Wilson, Tomas Hertl, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Vasilevskiy were selected after the Flames’ original slot at 14.
Sieloff would spend a couple years in the AHL before logging one game with the Flames in 2015–16. He would be traded in 2016 and has played one NHL game since. He currently plays in Europe. Culkin, Gordon and DeBlouw never played in the NHL.
Gillies showed a ton of promise, winning an NCAA National Championship and gold medal at the World Juniors but never translated that to the NHL. He only managed 12 games with the Flames before leaving as a free agent in 2020. He’s since played in 20 NHL games for the Blues and Devils and has a career .893 save percentage.
The best pick of the draft for the Flames came in the form of Kulak. After working his way up from the AHL squad, Kulak managed to play 101 games for the Flames, before they traded him in 2018. Needless to say that was a mistake as he’s since played 233 games in the NHL and has developed into an underrated bottom-pairing option.
This draft was of little help to the Flames, however three of their picks played in the NHL last season which keeps it from being ranked lower.
#6 – 2017
This was yet another draft in which the Flames didn’t possess very many picks. They went into the draft with the 16th overall pick, and then one pick in each round from rounds four to seven. They had traded their second-round pick for Curtis Lazar, and their third-round pick for Michael Stone.
With their first pick they selected Juuso Valimaki. In what seemed like a great pick at the time, the team is still waiting for Valimaki to make the jump to the NHL. He has shown flashes of brilliance over his career, but this season in the AHL was a major step backwards for him, playing primarily on the team’s third pairing.
There’s no doubt the talent is there for Valimaki and at 23 years old he still holds plenty of potential. However, this coming season may be his last chance with the team as he likely won’t be back if he can’t make an impression.
With their next pick in the fourth round the Flames picked Adam Ruzicka. Ruzicka hadn’t been on many people’s radar until this past season in which he impressed coach Darryl Sutter and earned 28 games at the NHL level. In those 28 games he posted 10 points while playing some dependable two-way hockey. Once an afterthought, Ruzicka may be the highlight of this draft for the Flames as he could be a full time NHLer as soon as next season.
With their remaining three picks the team picked up over-ager Zach Fischer, D’Artagan Joly, and Filip Sveningsson. None of the three earned contracts with the Flames and all three are no longer with the organization.
Valimaki and Ruzicka both still possessing potential to be middle of the lineup NHLers is what is keeping this draft class afloat right now. If they can both become solid NHLers, this draft could be bumped up even higher.
#5 – 2013
This was the hardest draft to rank. On the one hand, considering the number of picks they had, the Flames could have done much much better, but on the other hand, they drafted one of the highest scoring centremen in franchise history.
Going into the draft, the Flames possessed what was at the time tied for their highest pick in franchise history at sixth overall, as well two more first-round picks, a third-round pick, a fifth-round pick, a sixth-round pick, and two seventh-round picks. 2013 was said to be one of the deepest drafts in NHL history, so with three first rounders the expectations were sky high for the Flames.
With their sixth overall pick, the Flames selected Sean Monahan. Regardless of his recent struggles in the present day, the Flames hit the jackpot with this pick. Monahan has logged 656 games for the Flames posting 212 goals and 462 points. He sits third in the draft for games played, goals and points. Outside of Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov, no one has achieved more in this draft than Monahan.
Unfortunately that’s where the success ends. The Flames would use their next two first rounders on Morgan Klimchuk and Emile Poirier. The duo would combine for a total of nine games and one point for the Flames. Among all 30 players selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, only two played less than 10 games in the NHL and the Flames selected both. Neither played in the NHL with another franchise.
The draft didn’t get better from there. The Flames would then take Keegan Kanzig, Eric Roy, Tim Harrison, Rushan Rafikov, and John Gilmour. Not a single one would play a game for the Flames, with Gilmour the only one to play in the NHL at all, logging 39 games with the Rangers and Sabres.
Without the team hitting the jackpot with Monahan at sixth, this would’ve been arguably the worst draft in franchise history. He currently ranks 7th all time among Flames forwards for points and sixth all time for goals. Even if his time as a Flame ends soon, drafting him at sixth overall was a huge win.
#4 – 2019
I think we’ve seen enough from this past season to say this was a great draft for the Flames. Despite only having five picks in the draft, the team got a great haul that only continues to looks better.
The Flames came into the draft with the 26th overall pick, as well as third, fourth, fifth, and seventh round picks. With their first pick they selected Jakob Pelletier. Pelletier put up a point per game in the World Juniors en route to a silver medal, and led his QMJHL team in scoring in the regular season and playoffs before losing in the QMJHL final in his D+1 season.
He made the jump to the AHL in 2021-22 where he was exceptional, posting 62 points in 66 games as a rookie. He earned a spot on the AHL’s all-rookie team as he finished 17th in AHL scoring and third among rookies as a 20 year old. Needless to say the outlook looks very promising for Pelletier right now and he could be in the NHL as soon as this coming season.
The other big name from this draft is of course Dustin Wolf who was selected with the fourth last pick in the draft. After being drafted Wolf would win the WHL goalie of the year in both 2019–20 and 2020–21 as well as being named the CHL goalie of the year in 2019–20. He represented the USA at the World Juniors in both 2020 and 2021.
In his first full season in the AHL this past season, Wolf led the AHL in wins while posting a .924 save percentage. His tremendous season earned him the AHL’s goalie of the year award as well as being named to the all-rookie and first all-star teams. Like Pelletier, Wolf seems bound for the NHL sooner than later and perhaps has the best outlook of any Flames prospect right now.
Also picked in this draft were Ilya Nikolayev in the third round, Lucas Feuk in the fourth, and Josh Nodler in the fifth. Nodler has put up average numbers in the NCAA and it’s unlikely he ends up getting a contract. Likewise Feuk is unlikely to receive a contract offer.
Nikolayev meanwhile is an interesting name to watch. Never really gaining much attention, he made his North American debut this season in the USHL where he dominated to the tune of 72 points in 58 games. Nikolayev will join the Heat next season with a chance to further increase his stock.
Overall this looks like a tremendous draft for the Flames. With just five picks they look to have picked up two future NHLers, both with potential to be high impact players. Add on a sleeper in Nikolayev and this was a great draft.
#3 – 2011
Very rarely do you experience a draft in which every player picked plays in the NHL, but the Flames managed to achieve that feat with their 2011 class. The team went into the draft with the 13th overall pick, two seconds thanks to the Tim Erixon trade, a fourth-round pick, and a sixth-round pick.
With their 13th overall selection the team took Sven Baertschi. Baertschi was dynamite in the WHL and AHL, however he could just never earn a full time spot in the NHL with the Flames. He would end up playing just 65 games for the Flames registering 28 points. Like most prospects selected by Feaster he was perhaps overhyped and brought up too soon, which doomed his potential for success in Calgary.
He would eventually be dealt to Vancouver in 2015 for a second-round pick where he would experience some sustained success for a couple seasons. He last played in the NHL for the Golden Knights this past season, getting into one game.
With their two second-round picks the Flames took Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon. Granlund like Baertschi was great in the AHL, but could never translate that to the NHL. He played 86 games for the Flames putting up 28 points before being traded to Vancouver for Hunter Shinkaruk. He had some success in Vancouver and Edmonton for a few years but currently plays in Europe.
Wotherspoon managed just 26 games for the Flames and five points. He left as a free agent in 2018 and hasn’t played in the NHL since.
With their sixth-round pick the Flames selected goaltender Laurent Brossoit. He never managed to play a game for the Flames, however after being traded in 2013 he’s experienced some success as a full-time backup goalie in the NHL for the Oilers, Jets and Golden Knights. Overall he’s played 106 games in the NHL thus far.
The reason this draft ranks so high for the Flames is of course their fourth round pick of Johnny Gaudreau. He is arguably the best pick in franchise history as he’s developed into a superstar with the Flames. In 602 games for the franchise, Gaudreau has put up 609 points and is coming off a career year in which he posted 115 points and finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting.
His 609 points already rank fifth all-time in franchise history, and if he sticks around for a few more years, there’s a very good chance he becomes the franchises all time leading scorer. He’s currently the third highest scorer from this draft class behind only Jonathan Huberdeau and Nikita Kucherov.
Outside of Wotherspoon, every player picked by the Flames in 2011 experienced some success in the NHL. In particular the selection of Gaudreau in the fourth round was a massive steal and makes this one of the best drafts of the 2010’s for the team.
#2 – 2015
In a follow up to the disastrous 2014 draft, Treliving knocked it out of the park in 2015 with one of the best drafts in recent memory for the Flames. The team went into the draft with minimal draft capital after the Dougie Hamilton trade as they started with a second-round pick, two third-round picks, and a pick in each round from rounds five to seven. They would eventually flip the two thirds for another second. Overall they made just five selections.
Their first pick in the second round was the pick they received for Sven Baertschi, and they used it on Rasmus Andersson. Andersson was an offensive machine in the OHL, and continued to put up solid numbers in the AHL after making the jump. He’s since played 298 games for the Flames, posting 112 points as he’s developed into a full-time top four defenceman for the team.
This past season he put up a career-high 50 points while playing top pairing minutes. You really can’t ask for much more from a second-round pick as the Flames absolutely nailed this one.
With their next second round pick they selected Oliver Kylington. Once dubbed a top-15 pick, Kylington fell hard in the draft due to concerns about his defensive game and attitude. For the first couple years of his career it seemed like the risk didn’t pay off, as he struggled to earn a role in the NHL.
That said this past season he broke out in a big way and played top-four minutes for the Flames while posting 31 points. This pick like the Andersson pick currently looks like a home run.
Finally in the sixth round the Flames took a flyer on over-ager Andrew Mangiapane. The pick immediately looked like a steal as Mangiapane would post 106 points in the OHL the next season. From there he posted back-to-back stellar seasons in the AHL. Since making his NHL debut in 2017–18 Mangiapane has logged 260 games for the Flames, posting 78 goals and 132 points.
This most recent season, he put up a career high 35 goals and 55 points while continuing to post elite defensive results. At just 26 years old Mangiapane is currently on track to be one of the best sixth-round picks in NHL history if this keeps up.
Unfortunately it wasn’t all success in this draft, as the Flames fifth round pick Pavel Karnaukhov, and seventh round pick Riley Bruce both never earned a contract from the Flames and have never played in the NHL.
Despite making just five picks in this draft, the Flames came out of it with what looks like three high impact top of the lineup players in the NHL. When you’re able to land half of your top four on defence and a top six winger in one draft without a pick in the first round, you’ve nailed it. This was a tremendous draft by the Flames and one that played a key part in the teams success last season.
#1 – 2016
The 2016 draft is not only the Flames’ best draft since 2010, it’s also one of the teams best drafts in franchise history. The Flames held a wealth of picks going into this one, possessing the sixth overall pick, two seconds, a third, a fourth, a fifth, two sixths, and a seventh round pick. Overall they held nine picks in the draft.
At sixth overall the Flames selected Matthew Tkachuk, after he slipped out of the top five. I’m sure the Flames were ecstatic when he was still available, and for good reason. Tkachuk immediately made the jump to the NHL the next season and has since logged 431 games putting up 230 assists and 382 points for the Flames.
He’s also coming off a career season in which he put up 42 goals and 104 points in 82 games. At 24 years old, he’s just getting started and already looks like one of the best draft picks in franchise history.
With their two second-round picks, the Flames took Tyler Parsons and Dillon Dube. Parsons seemed like the goalie of the future for a while, as he won a Memorial Cup and World Junior gold. Unfortunately he’s since struggled in the AHL and ECHL and will likely leave as a free agent this Summer.
Dube meanwhile captained team Canada to Gold at the World Juniors after being drafted and then proceeded to dominate the AHL in his short time there. He’s currently sitting at 200 games played with 75 points for the Flames, and continues to be a key cog in the team’s bottom-six. At just 23 there’s still a ton of potential in Dube to get much better.
With their third-round pick they absolutely nailed it, unfortunately they’ll never benefit from that. The team took Adam Fox, who soon after went on to dominate the NCAA with historic levels of production. Refusing to sign in Calgary, Fox was dealt to Carolina in the Hamilton trade.
He’s since been traded to his hometown Rangers and has developed into one of the league’s elite defencemen. He became just the second player drafted by the Flames in history to win the Norris in 2020-21. Based on the player alone this was a homerun of a pick, however seeing him have success with a team who passed over him in the draft will always sting.
Next up the Flames took Linus Lindstrom in the fourth, Mitchell Mattson in the fifth, Eetu Tuulola and Matthew Phillips in the sixth and Stepan Falkovsky in the seventh. Of the five players, only one is currently still in the Flames organization in Phillips. He’s also the only one to ever see NHL action.
Phillips has dominated the AHL since making the jump to pro hockey, but has yet to get his shot with the Flames outside of one end-of-season game. With his skillset and AHL production, it should only be a matter of time before he’s in the NHL. If given the chance, he could be a very capable bottom-six winger at the NHL level.
When you can draft two elite level NHL players in one draft, you’ve done well. In Tkachuk and Fox the Flames managed to pick up two future NHL superstars, even if it stings to watch Fox have success elsewhere. Add on a solid middle six NHLer in Dube and Phillips who could be the same very soon, and this was one of the best drafts in franchise history.
Highs and lows
The Flames have certainly experiences the highs and lows of the NHL Draft as they’ve had some downright ugly draft results as well as some stellar ones. It just showcases how much of a crapshoot the draft can be at times.
With that said, the franchise has certainly turned a corner over the last few years since Brad Treliving has been as charge as they seem to come away with very strong classes almost every year now. Time will tell where the most recent classes rank on this list in a few years, but regardless we can confidently say that Treliving has done a great job drafting.