The offseason is still happening so there’s time for moves to happen, but we thought it’d be fun to take a look and recap how each career for every current Calgary Flame has gone and what was their journey to joining the team.
Player paths to the Calgary Flames
Jonathan Huberdeau started out by playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. In 2011, Huberdeau was drafted third overall by the Florida Panthers. He continued full time in the QMJHL until the 2012–13 season where he split games between the Panthers and Sea Dogs. Huberdeau spent 10 seasons with the Panthers, becoming the all-time leading scorer for the team in 2020 until Aleksander Barkov surpassed him this previous season. He became a Flame in the blockbuster trade that saw Matthew Tkachuk going the other way last offseason.
Elias Lindholm didn’t play junior, but pro hockey in Sweden with Brynas IF before being drafted. The Carolina Hurricanes were definitely impressed taking him fifth overall in 2013. Lindholm immediately made the jump to the NHL and spent a total of five seasons with the Hurricanes not exactly living up to his potential. Lindholm became a Flame in 2018 through a trade that saw Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland, and an uncommitted Adam Fox go to Carolina. Lindholm broke out with the Flames and has been a big part of the team for the past five seasons.
Nazem Kadri started his junior career with the Kitchener Rangers before being traded to his hometown, London Knights in his draft year. Kadri’s three full seasons in the OHL was impressive enough for the Toronto Maple Leafs to take him seventh overall in 2009. He struggled to make the team, splitting time between the AHL and NHL in his first three seasons.
Kadri was with the Leafs for 10 seasons before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. With the Avs, he had a career year and won the Stanley Cup. Kadri joined the Flames last offseason as a free agent signing a seven-year contract worth $7 million yearly.
MacKenzie Weegar began with the Nepean Raiders of the CCHL and he was passed over in his draft year. He made the Halifax Mooseheads in his D+1 season and his performance was enough to get drafted as an over-ager, 206th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2013. Weegar spent one more year with Mooseheads, and then played in the AHL for the next three. He became a full-time member of the Panthers in 2017 and was with them for five seasons. Weegar came to Calgary in the same blockbuster trade that brought Jonathan Huberdeau to the team and sent Matthew Tkachuk away.
The Malmo Redhawks is the team Rasmus Andersson called home for his first three seasons before coming over to North America to play for the Barrie Colts in his draft year. Andersson was selected 53rd overall by the Flames in 2015. He went back to Barrie for one more season to finish his junior career and then joined the Stockton Heat. He spent two years with the Heat before making the Flames full time in 2018. Ever since, Andersson has become a great defenceman throughout his five seasons with the team.
Noah Hanifin didn’t play in the CHL and instead went the college route. Hanifin played one year in the USHL before making Boston College in his draft year. Hanifin was selected fifth overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015 and made the team out of camp. He spent three seasons with the Hurricanes and wasn’t fulfilling expectations. Hanifin became a member of the Flames in the same trade that gave them Elias Lindholm and saw a package of three players go the other way. Hanifin has been a Flame for the past five years and has developed into a solid top-pairing defenceman.
Jacob Markstrom played junior hockey with Brynas IF in Sweden before being selected 31st overall by the Florida Panthers in 2008. After being drafted, Markstrom made Brynas’ pro team for two years and then came to North America to play in the AHL. He would struggle to take the next step spending most of his time in the AHL with some stints with the Panthers. In early 2014, Markstrom was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. He would flip between the AHL and NHL until the 2015–16 season where he finally became a backup.
He would stay in this role until 2017, where at the age of 27, Markstrom finally became a starting goalie. He would spend three years as the Canucks starter before joining the Flames in 2020 via free agency. He signed a six-year deal with an annual average value of $6.0 million. Markstrom has spent three years with the team and has been a super inconsistent starter.
Dillon Dube played with the Kelowna Rockets during his junior career and spent four seasons with them. He was drafted in 2016, 56th overall by the Flames. He went back to junior for a few seasons before splitting time between the AHL and NHL. Dube played enough games in 2019 for it to count as his rookie season, so even though he spent some time in the minors in 2019–20, he technically became a full member during the 2018–19 season. Dube has been a Flame for the past five years and it looks like he may finally break out.
Flipping between junior and professional hockey in Sweden is how Mikael Backlund started his career. He spent two seasons with Vasteras IK before being drafted 24th overall by the Flames in 2007. After being drafted, Backlund went back to Sweden for the next two seasons and then finished 2009 playing for the Kelowna Rockets. He made the Flames full time in 2010 and has spent the past 13 seasons as a good-to-great middle-six centre with the team.
Andrew Mangiapane started out with the Barrie Colts of the OHL. His draft year was 2014 but likely due to size and not impressive enough production, he was passed over. The following season, Mangiapane took huge strides and saw him get drafted 166th overall by the Flames. Another year of taking steps forward with the Colts before joining the Stockton Heat in the AHL. He played two seasons in the AHL before becoming a Flame full time in 2018. Mangiapane has been a solid contributor for the past five seasons and is looking to bounce back after a disappointing year.
It took Blake Coleman a long time to make the NHL and it started in the USHL where he played his first three seasons. Coleman was passed over and was taken 75th overall as an over-ager by the New Jersey Devils in 2011. Coleman went on to spend the next four years with Miami University in Ohio. After his University play, he joined the Devils’ AHL team for two seasons. In 2017, at the age of 26, Coleman became a full time member of the Devils. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2020 deadline. Coleman spent two seasons with the Lightning and won the Stanley Cup in both. He then left the Lightning to join the Flames as a free agent in 2021 signing a six-year contract worth $4.9 million yearly.
Chris Tanev played junior in what is now the OJHL with multiple different teams. Tanev was passed over several times leaving him to be undrafted. He played one year in the AHA before being signed by the Vancouver Canucks in 2010. He made the Canucks very quickly which was surprising considering he was undrafted. He spent 10 years in Vancouver before ending up in free agency and signed with the Flames on a four-year deal worth $4.5 million annually. Tanev has spent the past three years with the Flames and has been one of the best defensive defenceman in the league.
Making the decision to come over to North America in their draft year is a decision quite a few players make and Nikita Zadorov was one of them, starting out in the MHL and then joining the London Knights of the OHL. He was taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013. He went back to the OHL for his D+1 year and then making the NHL in 2014. That was his only season with Sabres as he was traded to the Avalanche in the 2015 offseason.
Zadorov went on to spend five seasons with the Avalanche building the reputation of being a liability. He was then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks before the start of the 2021 season. He only lasted one year in Chicago before being traded to the Flames as a RFA. Zadorov has had his best two seasons of his career with the Flames and has removed the label of liability that he had gained.
Oliver Kylington started in Sweden with Sodertalje SK’s junior team before switching to the Farjestads. In his D-1 season, Kylington split time between Farjestads’ junior and pro team. He did the same in his draft year, but also spent time with AIK. Kylington was highly touted, but some concerns with his play saw him drop on draft day all the way to the late second round.
The Flames selected him 60th overall in 2015. He played in the AHL for first three seasons after the draft and became a full time Flame in 2018–19. Kylington wasn’t taking huge steps forward and was only a bottom-pairing defenceman. In 2021, he was finally utilized properly, breaking out and becoming a solid offensive defenceman. He missed this past season due to a personal leave of absence. Kylington is readying his return this upcoming season and hopefully he builds off of his 2021–22 year.
Dan Vladar started out playing in his home country of Czechia and was drafted by the Boston Bruins, 75th overall in 2015. He then came over to North America after being drafted and played a singular season in the USHL. Vladar split a ton of time between the AHL and ECHL and only played five games with the Bruins before being traded to the Flames due to having too many goalies. Vladar has been with the Flames for the past two seasons and has been a decent backup goalie.
Like many European players, Adam Ruzicka joined the CHL in his draft year. His season with the Sarnia Sting was enough to be selected 109th overall by the Flames. Ruzicka went back to Sarnia and was traded to the Sudbury Wolves during the 2018–19 season. He then joined the Stockton Heat of the AHL and played there for two seasons. Ruzicka had his rookie year with the Flames in 2021–22 and looked poised to breakout this prior season before being demoted to the fourth line and healthy scratched. Ruzicka should finally break out this year if given proper playing time.
Yegor Sharangovich played for Minsk in the MHL during his draft year in 2016, but was passed over. 2017 came and once again, he wasn’t selected. At this point, Sharangovich has now made Minsk’s KHL team and has one last chance at being drafted, the New Jersey Devils granted his wish selecting him 141st overall in 2018. Sharangovich spent two seasons in the AHL and played in the KHL before his rookie season commenced in 2021. New Jersey was his home for three seasons before being traded alongside a third-round pick to Calgary for Tyler Toffoli. Sharangovich is one of the newest Flames and is bound to have an interesting first season with them.
Jakob Pelletier started with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL and looked promising as he was over point per game as a rookie. The following year was 2019, also known as his draft year, and his impressive play was enough to be drafted 26th overall by the Flames. Pelletier went back to the QMJHL playing a year for the Wildcats before being traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs. He made the AHL in 2021–22, being just under point per game in his rookie year. This prior season, he split time between the AHL and NHL. Pelletier will very likely make the Flames’ upcoming opening night roster and will have his rookie season.
Dustin Wolf played junior with the Everett Silvertips and even though he had very impressive stats in his draft year, his size made him drop to 214th overall to the Flames. Wolf won multiple goalie awards throughout his junior career. He made the AHL in 2021–22 and continued to impress while filling his trophy case. Wolf was even better this past season, setting records and receiving more trophies. Wolf being ready will likely force the Flames to trade one of their goalies to make room for him this season.
The Flames of the present
By seeing how every current player arrived to this team, it shows a lot on how the Flames draft, sign, and trade for players. This current iteration of the team will face a lot of expectations with a new general manager, coaching staff, and a fresh slate to start in 2023–24.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire