Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the Calgary Flames draft history and their biggest boom and bust since 2000.
Calgary Flames Draft Booms and Busts
In the lead-up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Johnny Gaudreau’s talent was undeniable. In his draft year, he scored 36 goals, and 36 assists in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Gaudreau’s skill was undeniable, however, many teams were skeptical about picking him due to his small stature. Due to this, the Flames were able to pick an extremely skilled forward in the fourth round of the draft with the 104th overall pick.
“Johnny Hockey” continued to improve after being drafted as he had a massive impact with Boston College in his first season in the NCAA. Boston College went on to win the Frozen Four that season, and Gaudreau picked up 44 points in 44 games, which was second on the team behind only Chris Kreider. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Gaudreau took his performances to another level. During those two seasons, he scored 51 and 80 points respectively, while winning the Hobey Baker Award in the 2013-14 season.
He earned the opportunity to join the Flames for the final game of the regular season in 2013-14. In that game, he made an immediate impact by scoring a goal on his very first NHL shot. Since his very first game, Gaudreau has been an elite offensive player for the Flames as he has produced at nearly a point per game pace throughout his career. His best season came in 2018-19 when he scored 99 points and led the Flames to the best record in the Western Conference. Gaudreau is already a five-time All-Star, and he still has a lot of time to improve his already impressive resume. He will likely be a major part of the Flames plans as they move forward.
Other Notable Booms
For a player who was drafted in the 4th round, T.J. Brodie has had a massive impact. For multiple seasons, Brodie has found himself on the top pair, alongside Mark Giordano. Brodie has become a key contributor and has averaged over 20 minutes per game in eight straight seasons. Brodie has rounded out his game, and become a fairly reliable player all over the ice. Even though Brodie was an excellent steal in the draft, he has not become one of the faces of the franchise like Johnny Gaudreau.
Even though Jarret Stoll never played a game for the Flames, he was still an excellent find by the Flames as they picked him in the second round. The Flames traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Leafs intended to sign him to an entry-level contract. However, their fax to the NHL arrived after the deadline, therefore the contract wasn’t approved. Stoll then decided to enter the draft once again in 2002. Stoll was picked in the 2nd round in the draft that year, and he went on to have a lengthy NHL career that totalled 872 games. He produced 388 points over the course of his career. Stoll capped off his solid career by winning two Stanley Cups as a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.
Adam Fox hasn’t even played one full season in the NHL, but he has already made an impact on the New York Rangers. The Flames selected Fox with the 66th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. After that, Fox developed extremely well in the NCAA and immediately proved that he was worthy of a higher pick. The Flames traded Fox to the Hurricanes because it seemed unlikely he would sign in Calgary. Ultimately, Fox found a home in New York, and he has had an awesome rookie season. If he continues on this trajectory, he could become an even bigger boom.
Brent Krahn was one of the best goalie prospects in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. In his lone season in the WHL, he put up a GAA of 2.38, and a Save% of .912 for the Calgary Hitmen. This made him the clear number two goalie prospect in the draft, behind only Rick DiPietro. On draft day, the Flames selected Krahn with the 9th overall pick. At the time, the move made sense for the Flames. They needed a goalie, and they selected a highly touted prospect that was already familiar with the city of Calgary. Krahn never reached the same heights with the Hitmen after being picked by the Flames. The rest of his WHL career was not nearly as impressive as his rookie season in the WHL.
Krahn spent a long-time with Flames organization, but he never earned his way into an NHL game with the Flames. His one NHL appearance came with the Dallas Stars as he came into the game in relief of Marty Turco. However, his performance was extremely poor as he allowed three goals on nine shots. When people look back on Krahn’s career, they are going to see an AHL goalie who played over 200 games in the AHL but never earned a start at the NHL level.
Other Notable Busts
The first round in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft could have been franchise-changing for the Flames. They had three picks in the first round. They selected Monahan with the 6th overall pick, and he has become one of their best players. However, the latter two picks were Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk. Combined, these two played nine games in the NHL. Klimchuk only ended up playing one game in the NHL and looks likely to be a career AHL player. However, he was not picked nearly as high as Krahn.
Sam Bennett has had a decent NHL career so far. However, he was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and a top-five pick is expected to produce much more than Bennett has. He has played his whole career with the Flames so far, and he has scored 128 points in 364 games. But, fourth overall is the highest that the Flames ever selected a player, and he never reached the level that many hoped he would.