Calgary Flames

Breaking down how every Calgary Flames player was drafted into the NHL

The 2023 NHL Draft is just days away and the Calgary Flames currently hold the 16th overall pick. And while it is likely that it will take a few years until that player makes their NHL debut, the hope is that they can be an impact NHLer in time. The team has a really mixed roster, with a number of their players being drafted by the Flames, but nearly equal numbers being either drafted by other teams or undrafted completely. Last year’s roster is a testament that you don’t need to be a first-round pick to be an impact NHLer, with some of the team’s best players coming from later in the draft.

Here’s a full breakdown on the Flames’ roster composition based on their draft positions.

First-round picks

Jonathan Huberdeau: 3rd overall (2011)

The highest pick in the organization currently, the Florida Panthers took Jonathan Huberdeau from the Saint John Sea Dogs third overall in 2011. The only players ahead of him in the draft were Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog. Huberdeau is third in points in his draft class behind only Nikita Kucherov and former Flame Johnny Gaudreau.

Elias Lindholm: 5th overall (2013)

Drafted by Carolina in 2013, Elias Lindholm was taken just one pick ahead of former Flame Sean Monahan in the 2013 draft. This was the year that the Flames had three picks, but couldn’t get many NHL games out of Morgan Klimchuk or Emile Poirier. Instead, they acquired the services of Lindholm and the next player on the list in the Dougie Hamilton deal.

Noah Hanifin: 5th overall (2015)

Acquired by the Flames in the aforementioned Hamilton deal, Noah Hanifin was a 2015 first-round selection, the same year that Connor McDavid was drafted. That was a draft class that behind the top five saw many NHLers, but not as many high-impact players. The Flames did not have a first-round pick this year.

Nazem Kadri: 7th overall (2009)

The former London Knight was taken very high in the 2009 draft, the year that fellow Knight John Tavares was taken first overall. Nazem Kadri was in Toronto then Colorado before signing as a free agent with the Flames following his Cup-winning 2021–22 season.

Nick Ritchie: 10th overall (2014)

A quintessential power-forward, Nick Ritchie was described as the second-biggest thing on the ice other than the Zamboni in his draft year. Standing a massive 6’3″, the 235 pound, the forward was taken 10th overall by the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately he didn’t quite put it all together at the NHL level, developing into mostly a depth player for the Flames. He put up five points in 16 games with the Flames this year.

Matt Coronato: 13th overall (2021)

The highest Flames pick in the organization currently, the Flames took Coronato out of the Chicago Steel of the USHL following a massive 85-point season. He then played two years with Harvard before signing with the Flames at the end of last season and getting into his first of what many hope will be many seasons with the team.

Nikita Zadorov: 16th overall (2013)

Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013, Nikita Zadorov was expected to be the next Zdeno Chara, a large physical top-pairing blueliner. Instead he developed into a very good second to third pairing defenceman who can play heavy minutes in his own zone. Not as good as expected but still not bad.

Trevor Lewis: 17th overall (2006)

Trevor Lewis was drafted as a two-way skater out of the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, and put up 75 points in 56 games in his rookie year. He spent the majority of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, winning two Cups with the team. He likely won’t be back with the Flames next season.

Mikael Backlund: 24th overall (2007)

The oldest Flames draft pick still on the roster, Mikael Backlund was drafted out of the Vasteras system in Sweden in 2007. An elite two-way centre, Backlund lived up to his prime, earning Selke Trophy votes multiple times. While the future is uncertain for the long-time Flame, his legacy with this team will live on forever, most recently with him winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

Jakob Pelletier: 26th overall (2019)

Jakob Pelletier was drafted by the Flames out of the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL in 2019. While some gave him just an 8% chance of being an NHLer, the Quebec City product has shown himself to be too good for the AHL and is likely to start and end next season in the NHL with the Flames. An excellent two-way threat, Pelletier will be hoping to build on a very good first season in 2023–24.

Second-round picks

Jacob Markstrom: 31st overall (2008)

Were he drafted now, Jacob Markstrom would have been a first-round selection, but unfortunately he fell just outside of the first round, being taken by Florida with the very first pick of the second round in 2008. He was the third goalie taken in his draft class, behind Chet Pickard and Tom McCollum who played a combined three NHL games. Markstrom currently sits second in his class among games played by goalies with 437. Only Braden Holtby has more with 513.

Tyler Toffoli: 47th overall (2010)

Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2010, Tyler Toffoli was described as having an NHL-ready shot and exceptional hands by scouts going into his draft. He dropped from where many expected him to go due to concerns with his size and skating, but his tenacity and ability to put the puck in the net have made him a sought-after option in the NHL. He was acquired by the Flames for Emil Heineman, Tyler Pitlick, and picks in 2022.

Milan Lucic: 50th overall (2006)

One of the best big men in the NHL, Milan Lucic was drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2006 after an enormous season with the Vancouver Giants in which he had 68 points in the regular season and 19 more in the playoffs. He would go on to win the Memorial Cup with them the following season, finishing as the joint-top scorer in the tournament. Lucic was acquired by the Flames in a trade for James Neal, who ironically finished second in scoring in the same Memorial Cup.

Rasmus Andersson: 53rd overall (2015)

Part of what is the Flames’ best draft class since 2010, the team took Rasmus Andersson from the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Since then, he has developed into one of the Flames’ best defencemen and an integral part of the blueline. A leader in the room, Andersson has quickly become one of the faces of the franchise.

Dillon Dube: 56th overall (2016)

A former Captain Canada and projected first-round selection, the Flames snagged the former Kelowna Rocket in the second round in 2016. A strong two-way winger, Dillon Dube has been an effective piece on this team and is the highest pick remaining on the team from the 2016 draft class.

Oliver Kylington: 60th overall (2015)

Drafted just behind Andersson, Oliver Kylington was expected to be a first-round selection, but fell to the second due to issues with his defensive game. While he did not play at all this season, the team really missed him on the blueline and hope to have him back to start next season.

Third-round picks

Michael Stone: 69th overall (2008)

Drafted out of the Calgary Hitmen in the 2008 Draft, Michael Stone would play his most productive seasons of hockey with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, topping out with 36 points in 75 games in 2015–16. He was traded by his draft team to the Flames in 2017, but would develop into mostly the team’s seventh defenceman for the past six and a half seasons. There is a chance he returns next season.

Daniel Vladar: 75th overall (2015)

Drafted out of the Czhech league in 2015, Daniel Vladar was a towering figure at 6’5″. The Boston Bruins jumped on this one in the third round, taking the prospect 75th overall. Goalie development is tough, but with his size and athleticism, there was a lot of hope for the young netminder to develop into an NHLer, and now eight years later, he is showing himself to be a very capable option.

Blake Coleman: 75th overall (2011)

One of just 12 NHLers to be born in Texas and the first to win the Stanley Cup, the New Jersey Devils took Blake Coleman 75th overall in 2011. He took an enormous step forward in his draft year, going from 28 to 92 points and was named USA Hockey’s Junior Player of the Year. He would play for the Devils before being traded to Tampa Bay where he would win a Cup before finally signing with the Flames. Ironically, the one criticism of the defensive forward in his draft year was his two-way play.

Dennis Gilbert: 91st overall (2015)

With a lack of depth on the Flames’ blueline, the former Chicago Blackhawks third-round pick Dennis Gilbert got into a handful of games this past season. Drafted as a very strong skater, Gilbert was a steady defensive defenceman with little offensive upside, and that has mostly been his calling card as an AHLer. He ended with four points and 27 penalty minutes in 23 games this season.

Fourth-round picks

Adam Ruzicka: 109th overall (2017)

Adam Ruzicka was taken by the Flames as their second pick in the 2017 draft. Aside from the Slovak forward, the team got very little out of the draft this year, but to add what has become an impact third liner in the fourth round is excellent drafting by the team. While there were questions in his draft year around his engagement both offensively and defensively, he has developed into an excellent player for the Flames.

Fifth-round picks

There are no fifth-round picks that played for the team this season. The only fifth-round picks in the organization are 2022 pick Parker Bell and depth AHLer Clark Bishop.

Sixth-round picks

Andrew Mangiapane: 166th overall (2015)

Part of that incredible 2015 Draft Class, Andrew Mangiapane was drafted out of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. Since then, he has graduated into one of the Flames’ best two-way wingers and a gifted scorer.

Matthew Phillips:166th overall (2016)

A story of what could have been. The Flames picked up Matthew Phillips in the sixth round in 2016 out of the Victoria Royals. He is too good to be in the AHL right now, and should have an NHL shot next year.

Seventh-round picks

MacKenzie Weegar: 206th overall (2013)

A double over-ager, MacKenzie Weegar was finally drafted in the seventh round by the Florida Panthers. In his draft year, the blueliner put up 44 points in 62 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. Since then, he has blossomed into an exceptional two-way defenceman and signed long-term with the Flames.

Dustin Wolf: 214th overall (2019)

Drafted with the third-last pick in the 2019 draft, Dustin Wolf was passed over by so many because of his size but has quietly developed into one of the best goalies not in the NHL full-time. He is a two-time WHL Goalie of the Year and two-time AHL Goalie of the Year Award winner, and should be in the NHL full time next season after being named the AHL MVP this year.

Undrafted players

Kevin Rooney

Kevin “The Roons” Rooney played in the NCAA with Providence College for four years before signing an ATO with the Albany Devils of the AHL. He played in the New Jersey system six years before going up to New York then coming to the Flames on a two-year deal last season.

Nick DeSimone

A gradute of Union College, the blueliner signed with the San Jose Barracuda after his third season. He would join the Flames’ system in 2021 and earn his first NHL game this past season.

Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev played in the OPJHL before joining the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009. He was scouted by the Canucks that season who signed him following his rookie year, foregoing the rest of his NCAA career. He would make his NHL debut the following season, and would play with the team until 2020 when he signed with the Flames.

Walker Duehr

The first South Dakotan to play in the NHL, Walker Duehr signed with the Flames following four years with Minnesota State Mankato. He would spend the next two seasons mostly in the AHL before showing himself to be an NHLer this past season with the Flames.

Troy Stecher

The former Penticton Vee played three seasons at the University of North Dakota before being signed by the Vancouver Canucks. Stecher would play four seasons with the Canucks before joining the Detroit Red Wings then Los Angeles Kings then Arizona Coyotes before being traded to the Flames this past season.

What to expect from the 2023 Draft

The Flames will have a lot on the line in this year’s draft. With trades expected for Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, and more, the Flames may have more picks than expected in this year’s draft. This is going to be one of the most exciting drafts if Flames’ history.

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