Flames Draft for the Future in Dallas

The Calgary Flames headed to the Lone Star State with the fewest draft picks in club history. They owned no first, second or third round selections in the 2018 NHL Draft. Yet somehow general manager Brad Treliving managed to make the biggest splash of any club.

Milos Roman of the Vancouver Giants
The Calgary Flames selected Milos Roman 122nd overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. (Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

The Flames did absolutely nothing on the first night of the draft. They made a blockbuster trade and five picks on the second day. Here’s a quick rundown of how the Flames spent their weekend in Dallas.

The Rundown

The Flames sat idle on the first evening of the draft, sitting and watching as 31 first round picks were made. They weren’t the only ones, as six other clubs were without first round selections and the only major trades saw clubs swapping picks. Things began quietly for the Flames on the second day of the draft, as they didn’t select until mid-way through the fourth round.

Their first selection, at 105th overall, was Sioux City Musketeers forward Martin Pospisil. A rugged Slovakian center, Pospisil led the United States Hockey League in penalty minutes with 253 in his rookie season – the USHL automatically gives a 10-minute misconduct for every fight, which inflated his numbers – but quieted down midway through the season and became a productive scorer. He finished the season with 37 points in 49 games, but a good chunk of his scoring came during his point-per-game second half. He’s committed to St. Lawrence University for next season.

Three picks later, at 108th overall, the Flames selected winger Demetrios Koumontzis from Edina High School in Minnesota. An offensively-talented player who split his youth between Minnesota and Arizona, he scored at over a point per game pace during his senior season and is committed to Arizona State University.

The Flames added a pick before the end of the fourth round, swapping their 2019 fourth round pick with Montreal’s 2018 pick and selected Vancouver Giants forward Milos Roman at 122nd overall. While the previous two picks were a bit out of the Flames’ normal wheelhouse at the draft, the WHL-based Roman is very much the type of player they covet: an offensive-minded player with upside, but who needs to build some consistency and polish into his game.

Around this time, the Flames pulled the trigger on their major move of the weekend: they traded Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and the rights to college defenseman Adam Fox to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin.

They went back to the USHL in the sixth round, selecting Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Mathias Emilio Pettersen at 167th overall. A product of Norway, Pettersen was a YouTube sensation as a youngster, with multiple highlight reels posted of his eye-popping dekes and dangles as young as age 10. It’s probably no shocker that this University of Denver commit projects as an offensive player if he can keep developing into a pro.

Their final selection was small-bodied Rimouski Oceanic import Dmitri Zavgorodny. A Russian import, he fits in well with the recent Flames tradition of taking smaller players with gaudy offensive numbers – such as Andrew Mangiapane in the sixth round of 2015 and Matthew Phillips in the sixth round of 2016. Zavgorodny doesn’t quite have the level of established major-junior performance as those two did when they were drafted, but he has immense upside and is one of the youngest players in the entire 2018 class.

The Verdict

The big news for the Flames was their trade with Carolina. That trade boiled down to the Flames striving for more balance in their line-up: Hamilton’s exit moving TJ Brodie to the first pairing and Hanifin to the second pairing, while Ferland is more cleanly replaced by Lindholm on the top line. The team may be a bit less talented on the blueline, but overall they’re definitely younger and potentially more balanced than before.

With their five selections, the Flames went all forwards and continued their quest for untapped skill. The majority of their selections are longer-term plays: Roman could go pro in 2019-20 and Zavgorodny in 2020-21, but Pospisil, Koumontzis and Pettersen are all college-bound and likely two to three years away from going pro. Considering how raw these players are at this point, giving them the time to develop is definitely the smart play. The success the Flames have had recently – particularly the 2015 and 2016 classes which have stocked their farm system – has given them the ability to be patient with their longer-term projects.