Calgary Flames

Ranking the best Calgary Flames draft picks by each round since 1980

The first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is this evening from Montreal, and for the Calgary Flames, it’s looking to be a quiet evening on paper. The Flames traded their first-round pick this past winter in a trade for Tyler Toffoli and therefore will be keeping to the sidelines barring any trade news.

Due to this, we thought it would be a fun experiment to take a quick trip down memory lane and revisit the best Calgary Flames draft picks by each round all the way back to 1980. 

Some criteria for this list: 

  • The selection is just based off of picks made by the Flames organization, not prospects traded afterwards
  • Players who were selected by the Flames, but went on to have successful NHL careers are considered, but less favoured
  • The best picks are evaluated by number of NHL games played, number of points, and overall impact on the Flames or the NHL

With that, let’s get started: 

First Round: Al MacInnis (1981)

Honourable Mentions: Gary Roberts (1984), Cory Stillman (1992), Dion Phaneuf (2003), Mikael Backlund (2007), Matthew Tkachuk (2016)

Starting off with somewhat of an easier selection, Al MacInnis is the clear winner in terms of first round picks. While arguments could be made for both Gary Roberts and Cory Stillman, they would be wasted on baited breath. 

MacInnis was taken in 1981, and would go on to help the Flames win their lone Stanley Cup in 1989 and would become one of two players to have his jersey honored by the Flames as a “Forever a Flame”. In reality, his jersey should be in the rafters. He played 1,416 games over his career and amassed 1,274 points along the way.

When you’re drafting in the first round, this is what you are looking for. 

Second Round: Joe Niewendyk (1985)

HM: Jarrett Stoll (2000), Steve Begin (1996), Paul Ranheim (1984)

Another absolute no brainer selection when looking at the second round. Joe Niewendyk played for parts of nine seasons with the Calgary Flames, including the 1989 Stanley Cup run. In his first two full seasons with the team, he scored 51 goals in both, with two 45 goal seasons right after. 

His career would take him across five NHL teams where he would finish with 1257 games played and 1126 points registered. 

Most importantly, when the Calgary Flames were looking to start fresh and trade the super star center, they crafted a deal with the Dallas Stars that would land the Flames Jarome Iginla. 

No overthinking required here.

Third Round: Mike Vernon (1981)

HM: Craig Anderson (1999), Matthew Lombardi (2002), Adam Fox (2016)

Three rounds into the list and we have three easy selections to make.

In the 1981 draft, after taking MacInnis with the 15th overall pick, the Flames didn’t pick again until 56th in the third round. Of course they hit it out of the park again taking Mike Vernon. 

Two of the three Flames players with retired jerseys were taken with consecutive picks in that draft and makes our list a heck of a lot easier to craft. 

Vernon would play in 781 games over his career posting a 385–273–92 record with 27 shutouts to boot. Helping lead the Flames to their only Stanley Cup win as well helps your status. 

Fourth Round: Johnny Gaudreau (2011)

HM: T.J. Brodie (2008), Toni Lydman (1996)

Somewhat peculiar timing all things considered, but Johnny Gaudreau is pretty clearly the Flames’ best fourth-round pick. No disrespect for T.J. Brodie, who put together an extremely solid tenure as a Flame, but Gaudreau moves the needle much, much more.

Through 602 NHL games with the Flames, Gaudreau has put up 609 points. He has been the driver of the Flames since he came into the league in 2014–15 and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come. 

He is *this* close to being an all-time great Flame, he just needs to sign a contract. 

Fifth Round: Micheal Ferland (2010)

HM: Travis Moen (2000)

The fifth round has not been the Flames best at all. Of all the players taken in the fifth round since 1980, only Micheal Ferland and Travis Moen have played over 50 NHL games. That is simply not good, especially when considering the heavy hitters we will see later in this list.

Moen never played a game with the Flames, so the edge here goes to Ferland. Ferland scored 134 points in 335 games, while Moen only potted two more points, 136, in more than double the amount of games (747). Although not the same type of player, Ferland had much more impact in a shorter amount of time. 

Plus who could forget his terrorizing of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2015 playoffs. 

Sixth Round: Brett Hull (1984)

HM: Andrew Mangiapane (2016), Adam Pardy (2004), Laurent Broissoit (2011)

This one’s a bit of a painful no brainer in my opinion. Brett Hull only played five games with the Flames, before being traded for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley in 1988. Although the Flames would go on to win the Stanley Cup the very next year, Hull would go on to have a ridiculous NHL career.

1,391 points in just 1,269 NHL games is absurd, combine that with Hull teaming up with Niewendyk in Dallas for a Stanley Cup about 10 years later just made things even “sweeter”.

There is no doubt that Hull is the pick here, there is just no one else from the sixth round that measures up to him. It just is painful that his success was not with the team that drafted him.

Seventh Round: David Moss (2001)

HM: Stu Grimson (1985)

Some lean pickings in the seventh round as well for the Flames with the winner here going to *checks notes* David Moss. 

Moss was taken in the 2001 NHL draft and would spend parts of six seasons with the Flames. He only put up 78 goals and 100 assists in his 501 NHL game career, but when compared to the rest of the players taken in the sixth round it’s more than impressive.

Stu Grimson had a longer NHL career, including far more NHL teams along the way, but Moss gets the slight edge here for his Flames impact and offensive contributions.

Eighth Round: Theoren Fleury (1987)

HM: Jiri Hrdina (1984)

Theo Fleury, the hockey player, is one of the most important players in franchise history. He gets the clear nod out of eighth round selections. 1088 points in 1084 games is enough to put him in this top tier.

That is all that needs to be said of Fleury’s on ice career. 

Ninth Round: Gary Suter (1984)

HM: Hakan Loob (1980), Adam Cracknell (2004)

The ninth round brought one of the hardest decisions on this list. Gary Suter versus Hakan Loob.

In polling The Win Column team, Suter took the slight edge for a number of factors. First off, Suter had a much longer and more successful career than Loob. His 1145 games played dwarfs Loobs 450. Although Loob posted more points per game than Suter did over his career, Suter also played defence and therefore was not necessarily playing the same type of game as Loob did. 

Loob did play his entire career as a member of the Flames, while Suter spent time with three NHL franchises, which makes us want to lean towards Loob. Plus, he has an all time hockey name. 

Regardless, Suter’s resume had far more contained in it that we have to go with him for this round.

Tenth Round: German Titov (1993)

HM: Jonas Hoglund (1992)

Things start getting a little trickier with the later rounds as the pool of successful NHLers start to dwindle. 

German Titov had a very successful NHL career for being a tenth rounder. With 625 NHL games played, and 377 points accumulated over that time, I’d say that’s pretty good value for that late of a selection. 

Jonas Hoglund also carved out a nice little career, but didn’t register as many points or games played as Titov did.

Eleventh Round: Pavel Torgayev (1994)

HM: Marko Jantunen (1991)

Let’s be perfectly honest here. There were no successful picks in the eleventh round. Pavel Torgayev at least appeared in 55 NHL games and netted 20 points, but that was the best of the bunch.

A win by default. 

Twelfth Round: Sergei Makarov (1983)

HM: Magnus Svensson (1987)

Closing out with our final no brainer pick, the competition for Sergei Makarov was fleeting in the twelfth round. Makarov played for four seasons with the Flames and finished his career with 424 games played and 384 points. Seeing that that was almost 10 times more than anyone else taken in the twelfth round, we finished on an easy layup.

Who do you think was the best pick per round by the Flames? Let us know in the comments!

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