This past week, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman took a look back at the past four draft classes in the NHL from 2021 all the way back to 2018. With the knowledge and hindsight we now have, he has re-ranked multiple drafts—going over every prospect from the 2018 to 2021 drafts who he sees still has NHL potential.
As we all know, drafting in the NHL can be a complete crapshoot past the first couple picks, so it’s always interesting to look back and see how each pick turned out down the line. You’ll see some players shoot up draft boards in re-drafts and some completely fall off the face of the earth after disappointing starts to their careers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Pronman’s redrafts would’ve impacted the Calgary Flames had the picks been made now. We’ll start with the most recent draft and work our way back.
The Flames made eight picks during the 2021 draft, including one in every round except the fourth round. They made four within the first four round. The number in brackets beside the new picks are their original draft spots in 2021.
|Pick Held||Actual Pick||Redraft Pick|
|1st round (13th overall)||F, Matthew Coronato||F, Wyatt Johnston (23rd)|
|2nd round (45th overall)||F, William Stromgren||D, Sean Behrens (61st)|
|3rd round (77th overall)||F, Cole Huckins||F, Jakub Demek (128th)|
|3rd round (89th overall)||D, Cameron Whynot||F, Dylan Duke (126th)|
In Pronman’s redraft, he actually has Matthew Coronato slipping seven spots to 20th overall, with the Flames taking Wyatt Johnson instead who originally went 23rd overall. I’d say that would be a win for the Flames at this point. Coronato has lit up both the USHL and NCAA level, however he’s still unsigned and obviously completely unproven at the pro level. However, Coronato’s path to the Flames might accelerate by season’s end.
Johnson meanwhile is already in the NHL at just 19 years old and coming off a year in which he led the entire CHL in scoring. Had the OHL not shut down for the 2020–21 season due to COVID-19, there’s no way he would’ve slipped to 23rd overall which is reflected in Pronman’s redraft. Johnson would be Calgary’s most NHL-ready prospect.
William Stromgren who was taken 45th overall, slips to 94th in Pronman’s redraft. In his place he has the Flames taking defencemen Sean Behrens who originally went 61st overall. Stromgren has far from impressed since being drafted, as he’s put up just one point in 18 SHL games over two seasons.
Behrens posted 29 points in 37 games as a freshman in 2021–22, good for second on his team. He also represented USA at the 2022 World Juniors. Behrens isn’t a can’t miss prospect, but at this point I think it’s fair to say he has more promise than Stromgren, who’s struggled to earn a roster spot in the SHL and failed to make Sweden’s World Junior roster despite being 19 years old.
Cole Huckins only slips three spots to 80th in Pronman’s redraft, but thus far he hasn’t shown much of anything. His production actually went down in his Draft+1 year. In his place, Pronman has the Flames taking centre Jakub Demek. Demek was originally selected 128th overall.
Demek posted 54 points in 55 games in the WHL last season, including 17 in 19 playoff games to help the Oil Kings win the memorial cup. He also represented Slovakia at the 2022 World Juniors. Considering Huckins managed a measly 26 points in 41 games in the QMJHL last year, I’d say Demek would be a more valuable asset at this point. He at least has some NHL potential.
Outside of having the best name in the draft, Cameron Whynot has not amounted to much since being picked. His production has gone down since being drafted, but Pronman has him jumping three spots to 86th overall in his redraft.
Instead, Pronman has the Flames landing left winger Dylan Duke who originally went 126th overall. Duke plays for the University of Michigan in the NCAA and posted 19 points in 41 games in 2021–22. That said he’s started the 2022–23 season on a great note with 10 points in just six games. This one is a wash as both prospects haven’t shown much to date.
Of the Flames remaining draft class from 2021, Jack Beck climbs up from his original draft slot of 168th overall to 115th overall. Meanwhile Arseni Sergeev makes a huge climb, landing at 84th overall after being selected by the Flames at 205th overall. Cole Jordan and Lucas Ciona didn’t make the list.
The Flames made a total of eight picks in 2020, including five within the first four rounds of the draft. The number in brackets beside the new picks are their original draft spots in 2020.
|Pick Held||Actual Pick||Redraft Pick|
|1st round (24th overall)||F, Connor Zary||D, Shakir Mukhamadullin (20th)|
|2nd round (50th overall)||D, Yan Kuznetsov||F, Roby Jarventie (33rd)|
|3rd round (72nd overall)||D, Jeremie Poirier||F, Kasper Simontaival (66nd)|
|3rd round (80th overall)||D, Jake Boltmann||F, Mikael Pyyhtia (114th)|
|4th round (96th overall)||G, Daniil Chechelev||G, Jakub Dobes (136th)|
Pronman has Connor Zary going up one spot to 23rd overall and the Flames taking defenceman Shakir Mukhamadullin instead at 24th. Mukhamadullin controversially went 20th overall on draft night after being ranked as a late second-round pick by most experts. I’d say this would be a pretty big downgrade for the Flames.
Zary is already a top-six player in the AHL at 21 years old. Despite his scoring struggles with the Heat last season with 25 points in 53 games, he’s started 2022–23 off on a strong note with three points in four games. He could challenge for a roster spot on the Flames as soon as next season.
Mukhamadullin meanwhile has failed to make an impression since being drafted, and is still playing in the KHL. He’s posted nine points in 21 games this season in Russia. He’s a long-term project at this point compared to Zary who is much closer to playing NHL hockey.
The Flames original selection Yan Kuznetsov completely falls out of the first four rounds of Pronamn’s redraft. Kuznetsov is a long-term project but still has lots of room to grow although there isn’t much upside there. In his place, Pronman has the Flames landing left winger Roby Jarventie who was originally picked 33rd overall.
Since being drafted Jarventie has posted 39 points across 79 AHL games, and 25 points in 48 SM-liiga games. He also racked up nine points in seven games at the 2022 World Juniors. Neither player jumps off the page, but I think at this point Jarventie probably comes with more upside and NHL potential compared to Kuznetsov.
The Flames originally took Jeremie Poirier here who slips to 79th in Pronman’s redraft. In his place the Flames land right winger Kasper Simontaival who went 66th in 2020. Poirier was a boom or bust pick at the time and is still a couple years away from the NHL, but he has tremendous upside if he can put it all together. He’s currently playing top four minutes in his rookie AHL season.
Simontaival meanwhile has posted 26 points in 75 games across three seasons in SM-liiga since being drafted. He’s also posted seven points in seven games in back to back World Junior tournaments. Like Poirier, Simontaival carries tremendous upside but is a boom or bust prospect. Personally I’d rather have the defenceman in Poirier but both players carry similar value right now.
The Flames originally took Jake Boltmann here, who unsurprisingly falls out of the first four rounds in Pronman’s redraft. Boltmann has posted a measly 14 points in 65 NCAA games since being drafted and is miles away from ever making the NHL.
Instead Pronman has the Flames landing left winger Mikael Pyyhtia. Pyyhtia has posted some decent numbers in SM-liiga since being drafted, with 43 points in 96 games across three seasons. He doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’d still be a big upgrade over Boltmann.
The Flames took Daniil Chechelev here, who also falls out of the first four rounds in Pronman’s redraft. The Russian goaltender lit up the MHL after being drafted, but has since struggled in the AHL and ECHL since coming to North America. In his place the Flames take fellow goaltender Jakub Dobes who went 136th overall in 2020.
Dobes is currently playing in the NCAA where he’s posted outstanding results the last two seasons. In 2021–22 he posted a .934 save percentage and so far in 2022–23 he’s sitting at .931. He’s yet to play any pro hockey, but Dobes would certainly be an upgrade over Chechelev right now.
Of the Flames remaining draft class from 2020, Ryan Francis moves up from 143rd overall to 117th overall although he’s no longer with the organization. Rory Kerins meanwhile makes a big jump from 174th overall to 106th overall in the redraft. Ilya Solovyov didn’t make the cut.
The Flames only picked five times in this draft, and only three times in the first four rounds. Pronman only has 106 players from this draft listed with NHL potential still, so the Flames fourth round slot at 116th overall wasn’t picked again.
|Pick Held||Actual Pick||Redraft Pick|
|1st round (26th overall)||F, Jakob Pelletier||G, Dustin Wolf (214th)|
|3rd round (88th overall)||F, Ilya Nikolayev||D, Michael Vukojevic (82nd)|
The Flames originally selected Jakob Pelletier here, however Pronman has him sliding up to 21st overall in his redraft, so in his place he has the Flames taking none other than Dustin Wolf. Whether it was on purpose or a random coincidence, it seems like a perfect scenario for the Flames.
Pelletier has developed into arguably the team’s most NHL-ready prospect after lighting up the AHL for 62 points in 66 games during his rookie season in 2021–22. He didn’t make the Flames out of camp, but he’d likely be the first name getting the call in the event of an injury.
Wolf meanwhile was already selected by the Flames in this draft, just 188 spots later. Wolf has since developed into one of the premier blue-chip goaltender prospects in the entire NHL, and was named the AHL’s goaltender of the year during his rookie season in 2021–22. It’s no surprises he’s now considered a first-round talent.
This one is tough to judge considering the Flames drafted both players in real life, and both have experienced great success since being picked. If we had to pick one though, I think ending up with Wolf over Pelletier would be considered a slight win for the Flames.
With this pick the Flames took a long-term project player in Ilya Nikolayev back in 2019. Since being drafted Nikolayev has played in six different league’s across three years and has experienced varied success in each league. He lit up the USHL last season with 72 points in 58 games, however he failed to make the Wranglers this year and is currently down in the ECHL where he has no points in two games.
Instead of Nikolayev, Pronman has the Flames picking up defenceman Michael Vukojevic. Vukojevic has played in the AHL the last three seasons, posting 28 points in 80 games. He doesn’t come with a ton of upside, however considering he’s entering his third pro season at just 21 years old he’s a more valuable prospect than Nikolayev at this point.
Of the remaining three picks in the Flames 2019 draft class, Wolf was the only one who earned a spot in Pronman’s redraft rankings. As mentioned, he shot up with 214th overall to 26th overall. To no one’s surprise Josh Nodler and Lucas Feuk didn’t make the cut.
With the Flames only owning five picks in this draft, and their first pick not coming into 105th overall they didn’t have any draft slots on Pronman’s revised rankings for the 2018 draft. He only views 92 players from the draft class with NHL potential. That said there are some players picked by the Flames who rose up from their original draft slots.
|Pick Held||Actual Pick||Redraft ranking|
|4th round (105th overall)||F, Martin Pospisil||80th overall|
|6th round (167th overall)||F, Emilio Pettersen||71st overall|
As mentioned the Flames held five picks in this draft, three in the fourth round, and one in the sixth and seventh rounds. Only two players from this draft class cracked Pronman’s top 92 players four years later. Martin Pospisil who the Flames took 105th overall, lands at 80th in the redraft rankings.
Pospisil has spent the last four seasons with the team’s AHL affiliate, posting 46 points in 91 games. There’s still some slight hope he can become a bottom of the lineup NHL player which explains why Pronman has him at 80.
Emilio Pettersen meanwhile sees himself jump way up in the rankings from his original draft slot of 167th overall to 71st in the redraft rankings. Pettersen has developed into an underrated prospect for the Flames after being a 6th round pick. He’s posted 40 points across 89 games in the AHL and like Pospisil still has an outside shot of making the NHL one day as a depth player.
Also worth noting from this draft is that Pronman has right winger Kirill Marchenko listed in the Flames’ first-round draft spot of 12th overall, had they not made the Travis Hamonic trade. Noah Dobson who the Islanders drafted with the Flames pick at 12th see’s himself rise all the way up to 6th overall. Pain.
Hindsight is 20/20
Looking back on old draft classes and seeing where things went right and where they went wrong can be a tedious exercise. Some picks just don’t pan out while other come out of nowhere to become draft day gems, it’s just the nature of the sport.
That said it’s always fun to check back and see how the Flames could’ve ended up with had they known what they know now about each player available to them when it was their time to pick. Overall, I’d say they’ve pretty well over the last four drafts outside of 2018.
Photo by Marissa Baecker via NHL.com