Drafting has always been crucial to building a good team in the NHL, especially since the salary cap era began. Teams aren’t able to throw money at every big-name free agent like they were in the past, so it is extremely important to draft and develop young talent that is able to make an immediate impact on an NHL roster.
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Successful teams are generally the ones that draft well, while bad teams often tend to draft poorly. Though the Calgary Flames haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1984, they have still had their fair share of good draft choices over the years. With that said, here are their top five draft selections since 2010.
5) Rasmus Andersson
Going into the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Calgary Flames did not have a pick until late in the second round, at 53rd overall. They certainly made it count, selecting defenceman Rasmus Andersson. Andersson had just finished a fantastic rookie season for the Barrie Colts of the OHL, where he put up 12 goals and 52 assists in 67 games.
Andersson played one more year for the Colts before making his transition to professional hockey. He played most of his first two seasons in the AHL for the Stockton Heat and continued to impress offensively with 39 points in 56 games during his second season. The Swedish born defenceman made the team out of camp in 2018-19 and has remained with them since.
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Not only has he stayed up with the Flames, but he has also become a solid top-four defenceman for them. He can play in any situation and is seeing his minutes increase more and more, as he was averaging 19:56 minutes per game this season. His five goals and 22 points this season are career highs for the 23-year-old.
The Flames are clearly high on him, as they recently signed him to a six-year contract extension that will pay him $4.55 million annually. Safe to say, Andersson was an extremely successful second-round pick.
4) Adam Fox
With the Flames third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, they selected defenceman Adam Fox, 66th overall. At the time, Fox was playing for the U.S. National Under-18 Team but had already committed to Harvard University for the following season. He went on to play three seasons with Harvard, putting up a staggering 116 points in just 97 games.
Unfortunately for the Flames, prior to his final college season, he made it clear he was not going to sign a contract with the team. As a result, they sent him to the Carolina Hurricanes in a blockbuster trade during the 2018 offseason. Less than a year later he was traded yet again, this time to the New York Rangers, who he is still with now.
Fox was having a fantastic rookie season for the Rangers before the league was shut down on March 12th due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The recently turned 22-year-old had put up an incredible eight goals and 42 points in 70 games. It is still early into his career, but it appears he is on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite offensive defencemen. Although he never suited up for the Flames, he was still an incredible find in the third round.
3) Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan was selected sixth overall by the Flames in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and became a cornerstone piece of the franchise shortly thereafter. After being drafted, he was sent back down to the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League, where he put up 78 points in just 58 games.
The Flames decided he was ready for the big stage after that and he has been with them ever since. He has been one of the more consistent players in the league over his seven-year career, scoring at least 22 goals every season, including three 30-plus goal seasons.
The 2018-19 season saw Monahan at his best, as he put up career highs with 34 goals and 48 assists. Unfortunately, this season has been the exact opposite. With just 48 points in 70 games, he was on pace for his lowest total since his rookie season. Despite the down season, he has been everything the Flames could have hoped for the day they drafted him, as he already has over 400 career points at just 25 years old.
2) Matthew Tkachuk
The Flames scored big as they were able to draft Keith Tkachuk’s son, Matthew, with again the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He came into the draft after a very successful season with the London Knights, which he capped off by scoring the game-winning overtime goal to win the Memorial Cup.
That turned out to be Tkachuk’s last year spent playing junior hockey as he made the Flames out of training camp as an 18-year-old. It turned out to be the right decision, as he put up an impressive 48 points during his rookie season and helped put the Flames back into the playoffs after missing out the previous season.
The now 22-year-old is getting better and better each year. Last season he put up a career-high 34 goals and 77 points. While those totals would be enough to make him a great player, Tkachuk provides much more than just offense. In just his fourth season in the NHL, he has established himself as one of the biggest pests in the entire league. The fact that he is hated by many opposing players and fans alike proves how frustrating it is to play against him. There is no doubt that this was a fantastic draft pick.
1) Johnny Gaudreau
The Flames struck gold when they drafted undersized American forward Johnny Gaudreau in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He was coming off his first junior hockey season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League and had committed to Boston College where he ended up playing the next three seasons. His three-year college career was extremely successful as he put up a staggering 175 points in just 119 games and took home the Hobey Baker Award in his final season.
After wrapping up his college career, Gaudreau joined the Flames and has remained with the club ever since. He has gone from a player who was considered too small to play in the NHL to becoming one of the top wingers in the entire league. Other than this currently suspended season, he has never had under 61 points in his career. Last season, much like Monahan, saw Gaudreau at his best, as he had career highs with 36 goals and 63 assists.
The one criticism of Gaudreau so far in his career is that he, along with his teammates, has struggled to elevate his game come playoffs. Despite that, Gaudreau is without a doubt the Flames best draft pick in the last ten years. It could be argued that the former Lady Byng winner is the best mid-to-late round draft pick by any team in the past 10 years.
Honourable Mentions: Micheal Ferland (5th round, 2010), Andrew Mangiapane (6th round, 2015)
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.