It’s no secret that this season couldn’t have gone much further south for Calgary. The only upside to missing the playoffs in six of the last seven years though, is that they’ve accumulated some high draft picks by doing so. With the Flames holding the sixth overall pick this year, this article will examine whether history is on Calgary’s side when it comes to draft day.
The Flames took a backseat in last year’s draft after sending their first round pick and two second round picks to Boston in exchange for Dougie Hamilton. That being said, the Flames made the most of their five picks last year, drafting three players that are all arguably NHL bound.
The Flames took a pair of defencemen in Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington with their two second round picks, and both blue liners are likely to see time in the NHL in the coming seasons. Andersson scored at almost a point per game rate with the Barrie Colts of the OHL this season, while ending the year an incredible +34. Kylington was solid on the blue line for the Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, and even played in Calgary’s last game of the season against Minnesota.
The Flames sleeper pick was found in the sixth round, when they selected Andersson’s teammate, Andrew Mangiapane 166th overall. Mangiapane scored 106 points in 59 games with Barrie this season, and recently signed an entry level contract with the Flames. Look for all three 2015 draftees to start the season in the AHL and become standouts in Stockton.
Overall Grade: B
Though the Flames made due with their picks, drafting very skilled defencemen, lacking a first round pick stopped them from taking a top prospect winger, an area in which they’re lacking.
With their first pick in 2014, the Flames took OHL breakout star Sam Bennett fourth overall. Bennett made the jump to become a regular with the Flames this season and had a strong rookie campaign, scoring 36 points in 77 games, very similar to Sean Monahan’s rookie season (34 points in 75 games).
There’s no doubt that Calgary got an A-level prospect in Bennett, but it can be argued that the rest of their draft didn’t go as well. The Flames used their second round picks to select goaltender Mason McDonald from Charlottetown (QMJHL), and 6’7″ enforcer Hunter Smith from Oshawa (OHL).
There was a lot of hype surrounding McDonald when he was the first goalie taken in the draft, but after two mediocre seasons to end off his junior career, and a weak World Junior Hockey Championship showing, Calgary has to question if McDonald will ever amount to what they initially thought of him. McDonald even had a lower save percentage and higher goals against average than Charlottetown’s 16-year old backup goalie. As for Smith there’s really little hope that he’ll ever crack the Flames’ main roster – let alone make any impact – after scoring only two goals and six assists in the AHL this year.
The Flames’ then went on to select Jack Eichel’s former teammate, Brandon Hickey, drafting him 64th overall from Boston University. Hickey represented Canada at the World Junior Championship, but similar to McDonald, was somewhat of a disappointment. Though Hickey may be good enough to play as a third pair defenceman in the NHL, there is so much overcrowding on the Flames blueline it may be unrealistic to see Hickey make the jump anytime soon.
Overall Grade: B+
Calgary has a lot of potential with these picks, but this draft could turn out to be a giant bust, minus Bennett, if McDonald and Hickey continue to lack signs of improvement moving forward.
Calgary had so much potential coming into this draft, but if not for one pick out of three, Flames fans would have a hard time looking back at it. With three first round picks the Flames were poised to take three franchise players to lead the team into a new era. However, it seems Calgary went just one for three on that day when it came to drafting, with Sean Monahan as the only pick to become an NHL regular.
The others, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk, have yet to crack Calgary’s main roster, and after three years it’s starting to become clear that they weren’t the right picks. Poirier has played just eight total NHL games, picking up one assist, while spending the majority of his time in mediocrity providing secondary scoring for Stockton in the minors. Klimchuk produced even less with Stockton in his first AHL season this year, putting up just 9 points in 55 games. To put it simply, Calgary was expecting two 2006 Jonathan Cheechoos, but instead they got a couple of 2010 Jonathan Cheechoos.
Overall Grade: B
Sean Monahan saved the draft for Calgary, but there was still so much potential wasted with their two other first round picks.
Four years later it looks like we’re finally about to see whether Calgary’s drafting paid off. The Flames used their first round pick to select Mark Jankowski, who has spent the last four years playing at Providence College. He finally signed with the Flames at the end of the 2015-16 season, ending the year by playing eight games in the AHL with Stockton, where he scored two goals and added four assists.
Jankowski will almost certainly start the season in Calgary, meanwhile the other two ’12 draftees will be on the fence. Patrick Sieloff, who went 42nd overall, has spent parts of his last three seasons in the AHL, and scored his first NHL goal in his only NHL game. If Sieloff is to start the season in Calgary, even though Calgary has a crowded blueline, he could take the place of a cap-space-eater like Deryk Englland, or better yet, Ladislav Smid (no, believe it or not, he isn’t retired).
At 75th overall Calgary took Jon Gillies, a 6’6″ net minder from Indiana of the USHL. Gillies played with Jankowski for three years at Providence College before starting this season in the AHL. Unfortunately for Flames management, Gillies had an early injury that sideline him for the season, so it was hard to get a very good look at him. That being said, Gillies has posted consistently solid numbers dating all the way back to his early USHL days, and overall is probably a better goaltending prospect than Mason McDonald.
Though these three only have one combined NHL game to their names, there’s a good chance all three will be able to make an impact in Calgary within the coming years.
This draft marked one of the biggest NHL draft day steals of the past decade. Calgary used their first three picks to select Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, and Tyler Wotherspoon, but it was their fourth round pick who made the splash. At 104th overall the Flames took a chance on a 5’9″ winger from the USHL named Johnny Gaudreau – and they definitely don’t regret it. Gaudreau has became the face of the Calgary Flames, scoring almost a point per game with the Flames this past season. At only 22-years-old Gaudreau still has many years to come as a top force in the NHL.
Baertschi and Granlund didn’t really pan out, and are no longer with Calgary. In trading them, though, the Flames were able to acquire a draft pick that turned out to be Rasmus Andersson, as well as soon-to-be NHL regular, Hunter Shinkaruk. With the combination of the players that Calgary picked up from this draft, both directly and indirectly, the 2011 draft may be one of Calgary’s most successful drafts in recent memory.
Stealing Johnny Gaurdreau, and trading a draftee for Hunter Shinkaruk, make this the most productive draft in the past half-decade for Calgary.
Ben is a journalism student at Ryerson University and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs.