Apr 19, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks fan holding a sign during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames head into the first round of the NHL Draft tonight holding the 15th overall pick after a 97 point regular season and a first round playoff victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a hard fought six game series.
A look back at the long history of first round picks by the Flames, dating back to their arrival in Alberta in 1980, shows a lot more misses than hits in the opening round of the annual event. Ever hear of Chris Biotti, George Pelawa, Bryan Deasley or Jason Muzzatti? They were all first round picks by the Flames taken within five years of each other in the late 1980s.
Trevor Kidd was infamously taken before Martin Brodeur in 1991, and the next year Calgary took Niklas Sundblad in round one. Jesper Mattsson, soon followed and Daniel Tkachuk, Rico Fata and Oleg Saprykin rounded out the 1990’s. The 2000’s didn’t bring better drafting luck as the Flames first three first rounders of the new millennium were Brent Krahn, Chuck Kobasew and Erik Nystrom.
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Kris Chucko, Matt Pelech, Leland Irving and Tim Erixon came recently, but we aren’t here to dwell on the negatives of the past. No matter how plentiful the first round failures were, we are going to count down the five best players that the Flames nabbed with a first round pick, dating back to when they were the first team to pack their bags and leave Atlanta.
The Flames made their way to Calgary in 1980 and their first draft as a Calgary Flames was the 1980 NHL Draft. Since then, they have made 34 selections in the first round of the draft, and the earliest selection they ever had was last year when they took Sam Bennett with the fourth overall pick. They picked sixth overall four times before that, grabbing Sean Monahan in 2013, Rico Fata in 1998, Daniel Tkachuk in 1997 and Cory Stillman in 1992.
The Flames other top ten picks in franchise history were Dion Phaneuf who went ninth in 2003, goaltender Brent Krahn also went ninth back in 2000 and Erik Nystrom was the tenth player taken in 2002. Obviously picking early didn’t necessarily translate to success for the Flames in the past, but let’s take a look back at the five biggest home runs hit by the Flames in round one and how it impacted the franchise.