4. Dion Phaneuf – 9th Overall in 2003
Mar 23, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf (3) and Minnesota Wild forward Kyle Brodziak (21) fight during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Minnesota defeated Toronto 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ten years before taking Monahan, the Flames landed a great defenceman with the 9th overall pick in 2003. In what has become one of the deepest drafts in the history of the game, the Flames didn’t miss with a top ten selection and landed a physical force with a booming slap shot in Dion Phaneuf.
Phaneuf played an extra year with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL after being drafted thanks to the 2005 lockout, but exploded onto the NHL scene in the 2005-06 season. The 6’3″ and 215 pound defenceman scored 20 goals as an NHL rookie and had 49 points that season.
He stepped up even more in his next two seasons with the Flames, scoring 17 goals and 50 points in his second year and following that up with 17 goals and 60 points in just his third year in the NHL. He also chipped in three goals and seven points in seven playoff games as the Flames fell in a tight first round series to the San Jose Sharks.
Dion scored 11 goals and 47 points in his fourth NHL season and it would ultimately be his last full year as a Flame. Phaneuf scored 22 points in 55 games in the 2009-10 season before being traded in a completely one-sided deal in favour of the Toronto Maple Leafs. A collection of mediocrity came back to Calgary in the trade and just a few years later the only player left on the Flames roster is Matt Stajan.
Phaneuf continued to play a physical style and chipped in plenty of offence with the Leafs since the trade, but his defensive deficiencies are blown way out of proportion on an otherwise porous defensive team and he is starting to fall out of favour in Toronto.
The 2003 draft was extremely deep and most teams landed cornerstones of their franchise in the few hours it took to select 30 players in the first round of the draft. The Flames were no different, and got a tremendous defenceman in Dion Phaneuf who scored 75 goals and 228 points in just four and a half seasons with the Flames.