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Calgary Flames Drafting and Development: Your Analysis

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I'd like to think we'd mostly agree the Flames have improved in this area over the years. The debate is to what extent has it improved and what changes still need to be made. Over the years the Flames have increased their scouting staff, development philosophy and reorganized its executive and organizational structure. We've seen some great results over the last 3 years, do you feel we have a strong enough system in place to become and remain Cup contenders in the future ?

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I'd like to think we'd mostly agree the Flames have improved in this area over the years. The debate is to what extent has it improved and what changes still need to be made. Over the years the Flames have increased their scouting staff, development philosophy and reorganized its executive and organizational structure. We've seen some great results over the last 3 years, do you feel we have a strong enough system in place to become and remain Cup contenders in the future ?

Only time will tell, prospects quality seems to have improved. Picking up college players must be coming from expanded scouting ranks. I think we had an exceptional draft last year along with BT getting a player like Hamilton using picks. We need another offseason like last year to really put us in great shape.

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We've seen some great results over the last 3 years...

 

I think we've seen improvements but we were so bad before that just being average looks like a great achievement.  Those Darryl Sutter years were completely forgettable.

 

I like the variety of picks now and the willingness to draft undersized/skilled players.  While Poirier and Klimchuk don't look to justify 1st round picks, I think they will still be NHL'ers at some point.  I like Karnauhkov.  I think he will pan out as a 4th liner with a lot of energy.  Hickey looks like NHL material sooner rather than later.  Jon Gillies looks like the real deal (hopefully comes back strong from surgery), etc.

 

Only thing that worries me is the track record of our farm system at progressing development.  Some of our best young players were able to by-pass the AHL completely like Monahan, Bennett, and Gaudreau.  At the AHL level, we've seen more promising careers steered off the edge of the cliff than that which have matured.  For example, Poirier and Klimchuk are not progressing well offensively.  Baertschi asked for a trade.  There are also a few fringe guys who are almost there but can't take the next step, such as Wotherspoon, Seiloff, Kulak, and Ortio.

 

I'm not sold that our farm system is effective enough at development.

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Only time will tell, prospects quality seems to have improved. Picking up college players must be coming from expanded scouting ranks. I think we had an exceptional draft last year along with BT getting a player like Hamilton using picks. We need another offseason like last year to really put us in great shape.

Flames are much improved regarding their draft record. I no longer dread the draft, Flames have had some good success of late. It would be great to see another blockbuster trade this year but it just doesn't seem as likely considering out assets and need to keep stocking the farm. Still a long way to go for this team, overall I think Burke and BT have been doing a good job. It will be interesting to see how they approach TDL and Free Agency this year.

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I think we've seen improvements but we were so bad before that just being average looks like a great achievement. Those Darryl Sutter years were completely forgettable.

I like the variety of picks now and the willingness to draft undersized/skilled players. While Poirier and Klimchuk don't look to justify 1st round picks, I think they will still be NHL'ers at some point. I like Karnauhkov. I think he will pan out as a 4th liner with a lot of energy. Hickey looks like NHL material sooner rather than later. Jon Gillies looks like the real deal (hopefully comes back strong from surgery), etc.

Only thing that worries me is the track record of our farm system at progressing development. Some of our best young players were able to by-pass the AHL completely like Monahan, Bennett, and Gaudreau. At the AHL level, we've seen more promising careers steered off the edge of the cliff than that which have matured. For example, Poirier and Klimchuk are not progressing well offensively. Baertschi asked for a trade. There are also a few fringe guys who are almost there but can't take the next step, such as Wotherspoon, Seiloff, Kulak, and Ortio.

I'm not sold that our farm system is effective enough at development.

Looking back at the Sutter regime it was insane how many picks we handed out like candy..never mind the horrid success rate of those we did draft..the Negrins, Chuckos etc.. You're right it was so bad for so long that ANY sign of progress looked amazing.

We have good pieces in place as u mentioned but I echo the sentiment of the Flames still lacking in the prospect promotion department. I don't have much confidence in our farm team development, a lot of the players that were billed as great players have been average at best. With the cap system we need to be more self sufficient with developing talent in house. It feels as tho if our prospects don't skip the AHL right away they get stuck down in the farm until they are no longer even serviceable prospects. Not sure if that falls on the scouts initial assessments or are the Flames mismanaging some young careers. I'm sure a lot of ppl would take Sven B. over Raymond right now

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........ I don't have much confidence in our farm team development, a lot of the players that were billed as great players have been average at best. With the cap system we need to be more self sufficient with developing talent in house.......

Whom exactly(when you reference a lot) were billed as great prospects?

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Whom exactly(when you reference a lot) were billed as great prospects?

 

Why, all the best players not in the NHL of course B)

 

Also, when your "best" assets are Nemisz, Wahl, Negrin, Howse, Erixon (mr. Flake himself), etc for almost a decade.  Then we have a draft problem.  I'd say it's gotten better over the years since then.  The 2000's, minus a gem in Brodie, were abysmal.  Even Bouma - injury laden, and Backlund - injuries and underperformance for most his tenure, haven't lived up to what they were "hyped" as at the draft.

 

Granted, the draft is nothing but a hype party itself.  See Connor McDavid.

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Whom exactly(when you reference a lot) were billed as great prospects?

I was referring more recently to the Sieloffs, Hanowskis, Poiriers and Klimchuks, even Sven to a degree when we had him. The overhype on some of those mentioned can be attributed to Feaster trying too hard to oversell the new talent. I can give Poirier and Kilimchuck a pass as they still have time to adjust to the pro hockey. Sieloff I've given up on, we all know how Hanowski turned out. Sven had the potential but I wouldn't build a franchise around him. This will likely only increase the expectations on guys like Janko and Mangiapane to produce. Still haven't seen the strongest showings from Shore or Arnold either

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Why, all the best players not in the NHL of course B)

Also, when your "best" assets are Nemisz, Wahl, Negrin, Howse, Erixon (mr. Flake himself), etc for almost a decade. Then we have a draft problem. I'd say it's gotten better over the years since then. The 2000's, minus a gem in Brodie, were abysmal. Even Bouma - injury laden, and Backlund - injuries and underperformance for most his tenure, haven't lived up to what they were "hyped" as at the draft.

Granted, the draft is nothing but a hype party itself. See Connor McDavid.

Oh man almost forgot about Nemisz, Mitch Wahl and Ryan Hawse...yeah those used to be the cream of the crop around here and none of them are even close to being NHL players. Who knows maybe Renaud (RIP) was a gem but we've definitely seen higher quality amongst our current prospects.

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I think we've seen improvements but we were so bad before that just being average looks like a great achievement.  Those Darryl Sutter years were completely forgettable.

 

I like the variety of picks now and the willingness to draft undersized/skilled players.  While Poirier and Klimchuk don't look to justify 1st round picks, I think they will still be NHL'ers at some point.  I like Karnauhkov.  I think he will pan out as a 4th liner with a lot of energy.  Hickey looks like NHL material sooner rather than later.  Jon Gillies looks like the real deal (hopefully comes back strong from surgery), etc.

 

Only thing that worries me is the track record of our farm system at progressing development.  Some of our best young players were able to by-pass the AHL completely like Monahan, Bennett, and Gaudreau.  At the AHL level, we've seen more promising careers steered off the edge of the cliff than that which have matured.  For example, Poirier and Klimchuk are not progressing well offensively.  Baertschi asked for a trade.  There are also a few fringe guys who are almost there but can't take the next step, such as Wotherspoon, Seiloff, Kulak, and Ortio.

 

I'm not sold that our farm system is effective enough at development.

 

Completely agree.  I think we've achieved "mediocre" status at drafting, and still have huge holes at development.

 

So:  Yes, we've gotten better.   And we also have a ways to go.

 

 

In draft years:

 

2003 - 2008:  The dark years.  

                      Heavily Sutter-influenced drafting, so bad that our development system couldn't even be evaluated.

 

2009:   Pretty bad.   But, not as bad as previous.   I actually felt Sutter was starting to learn from his mistakes.

            Far too late.

            The development and management of this draft class....was frankly horrible.  But at least an attempt was made.

 

2010:   Didn't even really try.  Traded away all our best picks for short-term futility.  Better picking than 2009, but still bad.   

            Some of our later picks actually turned out to be decent for where they were.

            Development didn't yield anything, despite a number of prospects on the cusp.

 

2011:   Massive improvement at the draft, all the way through.  A genuine attempt at BPA is evident, and it pays off.

            Actually, our best draft in over a decade, if not more.

            Massive failure at player development.

            The only player that turns out is the one that never went through our development system (Gaudreau).

            The only other two possible successes are the ones that escaped our development system (Baertschi, Brossoit)

 

2012:    Massive regression at the draft.  As good as we drafted in 2011, that's how bad we were in 2012.  

             Off the board, crazy gambles.

             Where development was possible, it failed.

 

2013:    We go BPA with our first pick, and nail it with Monahan.  

             How much credit to give Flames?  Not sure.  It was a no-brainer.  But full marks for not messing up.

             After this, we proceeded to off the board again with Poirier.  

             Obvious BPA picks are now looking solid (Shinkaruk, Burakovsky)

             Obviously not as bad as Jankowski...but we definitely picked a player who belonged in a different round.

             We continue to go a bit off the board after (debatable)

             Huge development questions with Poirer and Klimchuk

 

2014:    Sam Bennett handed to us on a silver platter.

             Zero credit for drafting savvy (complete no brainer)

             Full marks for not messing it up.

             Basically went off the board for the rest of the draft, and it currently doesn't look good.

             We may not get to develop many of these kids.  But if we do, hopefully we improve.

 

2015:    I like it.  I feel we went BPA for most of the draft, and I think we're going to get some big surprises out of it.

             Kylington and Andersson both look like winners.

             What I liked most?  We didn't waste our first round pick.   The Dougie Hamilton trade was our best trade in years.

             What's clear:  Kylington and Andersson will require development.

 

             Can we deliver on the development?   I am not so sure.

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Completely agree. I think we've achieved "mediocre" status at drafting, and still have huge holes at development.

So: Yes, we've gotten better. And we also have a ways to go.

In draft years:

2003 - 2008: The dark years.

Heavily Sutter-influenced drafting, so bad that our development system couldn't even be evaluated.

2009: Pretty bad. But, not as bad as previous. I actually felt Sutter was starting to learn from his mistakes. Far too late.

The development and management of this draft class....was frankly horrible. But at least an attempt was made.

2010: Didn't even really try. Traded away all our best picks for short-term futility. Better picking than 2009, but still bad.

Some of our later picks actually turned out to be decent for where they were.

Development didn't yield anything, despite a number of prospects on the cusp.

2011: Massive improvement at the draft, all the way through. A genuine attempt at BPA is evident, and it pays off.

Actually, our best draft in over a decade, if not more.

Massive failure at player development.

The only player that turns out is the ones that never went through our development system (Gaudreau).

The only other two possible successes are the ones that escaped our development system (Baertschi, Brossoit)

2012: Massive regression at the draft. As good as we drafted in 2011, that's how bad we were in 2012.

Off the board, crazy gambles.

Where development was possible, it failed.

2013: We go BPA with our first pick, and nail it with Monahan.

How much credit to give Flames? Not sure. It was a no-brainer. But full marks for not messing up and going nuts.

After this, we proceeded to off the board again with Poirier.

Obvious BPA picks are now looking solid (Shinkaruk, Burakovsky)

Obviously not as bad as Jankowski...but we definitely picked a player who belonged in a different round.

We continue to go a bit off the board after (debatable)

Huge development questions with Poirer and Klimchuk

2014: Sam Bennett handed to us on a silver platter.

Zero credit for drafting savvy (complete no brainer)

Full marks for not messing it up.

Basically went off the board for the rest of the draft, and it currently doesn't look good.

We may not get to develop many of these kids. But if we do, hopefully we improve.

2015: I like it. I feel we went BPA for most of the draft, and I think we're going to get some big surprises out of it.

Kylington and Andersson both look like winners.

What I liked most? We didn't waste our first round pick. The Dougie Hamilton trade was our best trade in years.

What's clear: Kylington and Andersson will require development.

Can we deliver on the development? I am not so sure.

Great post! You covered those draft years well, it's painful to know the Flames are still new to drafting the right way. 2013 was pretty much the start of a new era. Makes u appreciate the Detroits of the world for being so strong in these areas for so long. I still would have preferred Olli Maata in 2012. I liked the Hamilton trade but you have to wonder what kind of player Barzal could become. I think Flames have done much better drafting D men as well. Future looks great with Kulak, Hickey, Anderson and Kylington in the ranks. I couldn't imagine how many more games we'd lose if we didn't have D men that can score.

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Brodie, Bouma, Backlund, Giordano, are all good players that have gone through the system. We almost ruined Backlund. Bouma is what he is and Brodie is a god send. Gio was an undrafted sign but developed with the main club and a bit in Europe. Gaudreau was a great pick.

The rest are unknowns as to what they turn out to be. We were horrible. Now we are nearing average at development. Other than the high picks, Gaudreau and Brodie recently are the only gems.

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In the last 8 drafts (ignoring 2015) the Flames have hit on: Bennett, Monahan, Gaudreau, Ferland, Brodie, Bouma, and Backlund. That is almost one NHL player per draft. Four of them look like stars. We also have a number of other exciting prospects in the system.

Compare that across the league and it's a pretty good average.

I think a lot of the Flames criticism comes from the inability to draft/develop prior to that as well as a general inability to hit on first round picks. Before Monahan only Backlund was a first round hit in that time frame. Though the jury is out on Jankowski.

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Brodie, Bouma, Backlund, Giordano, are all good players that have gone through the system. We almost ruined Backlund. Bouma is what he is and Brodie is a god send. Gio was an undrafted sign but developed with the main club and a bit in Europe. Gaudreau was a great pick.

The rest are unknowns as to what they turn out to be. We were horrible. Now we are nearing average at development. Other than the high picks, Gaudreau and Brodie recently are the only gems.

Honestly I think a lot of that is perception rather then reality. Who are these teams that are more commonly finding these gems outside of the top 10? I am speaking of the modern draft.

I am not suggesting the Flames are the best drafting house in the business. But finding and developing Gaudreau, Giordano, and Brodie in the late rounds (or undrafted signing) is a heck of a feather in the cap.

I am sure many of the other rebuilding clubs wish they had more of those late round guys to boast about.

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Who are these teams that are more commonly finding these gems outside of the top 10?

 

One need only look at the NHL standings, and pick the top teams, to answer that question.   Nobody is saying it's common, but it's the difference maker.

 

The Blackhawks, the Captials, for instance.

 

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/dr00005218.html

 

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/dr00008871.html

 

The blackhawks have very impressively built a strong prospect system not only through the draft, but through signing and developing free agents.

 

Panarin, Gustaffsson, Tanner Kero, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, just to name a few.

 

Everyone is envious of Panarin.   Gustaffsson, on the other hand, is an example of a player where a lesser organization (Edmonton) just completely failed to realize what they had.   While Chicago not only knew what they had, but what Edmonton had missed.  And they developed him right too (and continue to).

 

p.s.....   The average career of an NHL player is 5.5 years.   To replenish a 23 player roster, 23/5.5 =  4 new players per year (obviously a Gaudreau or Monahan should surpass the 5.5 year average).

 

A rebuilding team should be expected to surpass this.  We have been finding one star per year.   But we should remember, as a rebuild, that's almost expected.

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I think the average career length of an NHLer is considerably shorter than 5.5 years, which would mean a higher rate of turnover.  I'd say 6 players per year.

 

I like the Flames' recent draft history.  Last year, I think the Flames called up 13 players from the minors, which suggests to me that they have at least 13 players that they believe have NHL potential.  I'd be more inclined to say that they have a 5 or 6 *probable* NHLers in the hopper.   

 

 

 

 

Edit: My apologies, jjgallow.  According to Google, you were right about the average length of an NHL playing career.

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Flames are much improved regarding their draft record. I no longer dread the draft, Flames have had some good success of late. It would be great to see another blockbuster trade this year but it just doesn't seem as likely considering out assets and need to keep stocking the farm. Still a long way to go for this team, overall I think Burke and BT have been doing a good job. It will be interesting to see how they approach TDL and Free Agency this year.

For a period there they did not even have many picks at all. One thing people need to keep in mind with hockey is that you can crack a NHL line up at a young age these days should you be talented for the position being filled. The reality is there are not a lot of openings at times.

I don't know that there is a long way to go however the team has some maturity and experience to gain by its top players in order to progress. As of today I think we have a solid pipeline of defensemen, a number of good players for our bottom 6 forwards and a couple of goalie hopefuls 2 years away yet. I would like to see us get a RW power forward for the top line by either FA or trade, the rest will come or could come from our system.

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Few things for me:

 

Drafting. I beleive, even under Sutter, the Flames have always been "good" at drafting. Not great, but good and have slightly improved in this area although not by leaps and bounds. I would say the Flames are probably a bit above average in terms of their rank within the NHL. I've beaten this point to death on the boards so I won't again, all i'm going to say is the downside to the Sutter years was the constant trading of 2nd rounders and Darryl Sutter exerting control over the 1st round pick. The averaged close to 1.5 NHlers/draft under the Sutter regime despite almost never having a 2nd rounder and constantly missing with their first so its not like they were awful. 

 

I think they've gotten better mostly because they expanded on what they are looking for. They are willing to look for smaller/skilled players, they are willing to look at more than just Swedes/Fins internationally and they are willing to go heavier into the US route. They were too narrow minded under Sutter. 

 

Development: Again, getting better but this is a tough one because its the chicken/Egg argument. Is it development or is it the player? Wotherspoon is not panning out but IMO thats more player then development as I don't think he was a great draft picks to begin with.  From 2003-2011 the Flames have drafted a total of 2219 Games played by draft picks taken outside the top 2 rounds of the draft. For comparison sakes, the Detroit Red Wings have 2309 Game played. So again, clearly the Flames are doing some things right but they do need to be better. 

 

So I think they are on the right track but do need to see better results. I think a big problem with the development over the last several years has been a lack of high picks and constant change in the farm team. I think the Flames did some damange to their development process by constantly moving farm teams and especially when they put it in Abbotsford. Those teams in abbotsford relaly lost practice time and IMO thats how you develop at that age you need to work on what you learn from in games. Having stability and more talent in the sytem through more draft picks will give you a better indication in the next 2-3 years where the Flames are with their dvelopment. I think they will be fine personally but let's see where it goes. 

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Honestly I think a lot of that is perception rather then reality. Who are these teams that are more commonly finding these gems outside of the top 10? I am speaking of the modern draft.

I am not suggesting the Flames are the best drafting house in the business. But finding and developing Gaudreau, Giordano, and Brodie in the late rounds (or undrafted signing) is a heck of a feather in the cap.

I am sure many of the other rebuilding clubs wish they had more of those late round guys to boast about.

But we didn't develop Gaudreau, Boston College did. Giordano developed in Calgary and in Europe.

Brodie is the only one our system has developed out of those you mention.

I think the biggest problem is developing a player or two for the top 6. We didn't develop Gaudreau.

I think that is the main focus of this thread because we are seeing a lack of high end talent in our system that wasn't a top 10 pick.

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Its relevant to note that the average is VERY skewed by the huge number of players who play only a single season in the NHL. 

 

http://www.quanthockey.com/Distributions/CareerLengthGP.php

 

If you look at players who last 3 or more seasons (ie, more than boarderline players) but less than 21 seasons (not ridiculously long) the average basically doubles to 10 years. 

 

So the replenishment rate drops more to about 2-4 per year. Which is much more reasonable. 

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But we didn't develop Gaudreau, Boston College did. Giordano developed in Calgary and in Europe.

Brodie is the only one our system has developed out of those you mention.

I think the biggest problem is developing a player or two for the top 6. We didn't develop Gaudreau.

I think that is the main focus of this thread because we are seeing a lack of high end talent in our system that wasn't a top 10 pick.

 

Chicago has no one in their top 6 that they took outside the top 10 and drafted and developed. Remember, the Flames do have 2 of probably the top 10 blueliners in the league that they found and developed. 

 

two things I would point out here too:

 

1- in terms of using the current roster, keep in mind that a majority of the Flames picks have come since 2013 until now. Trying to judge a draft 2 years after the fact isn't fair, you need 4-5 years.

 

2- Who exactly did the Flames mess up developing? Who went on and has done great things outside of the organization? 

I think a team likely has devleopment issues if you are constantly seeing players leave the organization, be it trade or whatever, and then go on to have success but that isn't the case which likely means you ahve more of an issue with the draft then development. 

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In defense of Darryl Sutter though, he helped convince the Flames ownership group to snap out of their madness and re-launch their own farm team.  Prior to Sutter's arrival, the Flames closed down Saint John Flames and began sharing a farm team with the Carolina Hurricanes in Lowell.  They weren't even in full control of their own player development.

 

So, even though Sutter's draft era was completely forgettable, he left us with the legacy of our own farm system and he deserves some credit in this topic for that.

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In defense of Darryl Sutter though, he helped convince the Flames ownership group to snap out of their madness and re-launch their own farm team.  Prior to Sutter's arrival, the Flames closed down Saint John Flames and began sharing a farm team with the Carolina Hurricanes in Lowell.  They weren't even in full control of their own player development.

 

So, even though Sutter's draft era was completely forgettable, he left us with the legacy of our own farm system and he deserves some credit in this topic for that.

 

Agreed, He really did do that.

 

Even our two "gems" of development:   Giordano and TJ Brodie..  were largely Sutter-grown.

 

Are two examples of successful development, were largely developed out of the framework and initiative of the guy we fired.  

 

And, we've yet to see much come out of the system since.

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Agreed, He really did do that.

 

Even our two "gems" of development:   Giordano and TJ Brodie..  were largely Sutter-grown.

 

Are two examples of successful development, were largely developed out of the framework and initiative of the guy we fired.  

 

And, we've yet to see much come out of the system since.

 

 

To be fair, Tom Webster should get the credit for that. Webster was the Flames OHL scout and went to bat for both of those guys. But, to your point and Peeps point I do agree that Sutter takes too much heat for the lack of drafting and developing. He did alot of good things he just stayed too "old school" for too long IMO. 

 

 

Going to be interesting to see if the Flames miss Webster, retired 2 seasons ago, because he was one of their best. Most of their better value picks or UFA signings were OHL guys. 

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why are you so many people down on our devolopment? 

 

Ferland, Jooris, brodie, granlund, bouma all played in significant time in the AHL, and for the most part are all turning into competent NHLers. Monahan could end up being the best player out of his draft year, same with bennett. Hickey, kylington and rasmus andersson could all end up being steals in the past couple years of drafting. Just as some examples.

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