Monday, June 24, 2013

Pretty Ugly - The Flames Home Draft in 2000

Talk about a sweet and sour experience.

The 2000 NHL Entry Draft, held in Calgary at the Saddledome, was the Flames best draft in the last decade-and-a-half while also being one of their worst drafts ever.

On the bright side, the nine players drafted that June 24 and 25 weekend have combined to play 1,723 NHL games. That is the most since the 1996 draft when Flames draft picks such as Derek Morris, Toni Lydman and Steve Begin combined for over 2,800 NHL games.

The problem with that 2000 draft is all but 46 of those games were played for NHL teams other than Calgary.

The draft was the first for newly hired General Manager Craig Button.  Because he had joined Calgary from the Dallas Stars organization just a couple weeks prior to the draft, there was an agreement that Button would not sit at the draft table with the Flames contingent and chief scout Ian MacKenzie would make Calgary's player selections.

This draft was an especially important one for Calgary. It came after the Flames had missed the playoffs four seasons in a row, the last three with Brian Sutter as head coach. Journeymen Fred Brathwaite was the team's No. 1 goaltender in 1999-2000 so needless to say, that was one position Calgary was wanting to shore up. The team also had a desire to get bigger and size would be a prevailing theme of that year's selections.

Recapping Calgary's Selections in 2000

1. G Brent Krahn (1st round, 9th)
  • Picking the 6-foot-5 goalie from the Calgary Hitmen was certainly a popular pick with the thousands of fans in attendance. Krahn was the second goaltender off the board after the Islanders bold selection of Rick DiPietro at No. 1. Hampered by knee problems, Krahn never played a game for the Flames and is one of many Calgary examples (Leland Irving, Jason Muzzatti) of why using a first round pick on a goaltender is not a great idea. Krahn played 169 games over five seasons in the minors for the Flames before being released and signed by Dallas in September 2008. The most damning part of this squandered top 10 pick was the collateral damage. The drafting of Krahn is one of the reasons cited by Craig Anderson for why the standout Ottawa Senators goalie chose not to sign with Calgary after being picked by the Flames in the 3rd round of the 1999 draft. 

2. D Kurtis Foster (2nd round, 40th)
  • Also 6-foot-5, Foster was only with the Flames organization for a year-and-a-half and was still playing junior when he was packaged up with winger Jeff Cowan and dealt to Atlanta in exchange for defenceman Petr Buzek, who was highly touted but never established himself in parts of two seasons with Calgary. Possessing a big slapshot, Foster has amassed over 400 NHL games with seven different teams -- most recently with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012-13.

3. C Jarret Stoll (2nd round, 46th)
  • Unable to agree to contract terms with the Flames, Stoll re-entered the draft in 2002 and was selected in the second round again, but this time 36th overall and by the Edmonton Oilers. After four seasons with the Oilers, the 6-foot-1 centre was dealt to Los Angeles where he helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012. Known for his defensive play and prowess at the faceoff dot, he's played over 640 NHL games to date.

4. G Levente Szuper (4th round, 116th)
  • The 5-foot-11 goaltender from Hungary, who had been playing for the Ottawa 67's (OHL), was the 11th goalie taken in the draft. He spent three seasons with the Saint John Flames (AHL) and never got into any game action with Calgary although he was called up when Roman Turek got injured in 2002-03 and dressed as the back-up to Jamie McLennan for nine games.

5. D Wade Davis (5th round, 141st)
  • The quest to get bigger continued, this time with 6-foot-5 Davis, who also playing with the Calgary Hitmen. Things did not pan out for Davis. After his junior career ended, He played one professional season in the East Coast Hockey League and that was it. He then the University of Calgary and played four years of hockey for them.

6. LW Travis Moen (5th round, 155th)
  • Like Stoll, Moen also did not sign a contract with the Flames. He eventually signed as a free agent with Chicago where the big winger began a long NHL career. His most success to date came with Anaheim where Moen, Rob Niedermayer and Sami Pahlsson were a formidable third line that helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007. Moen has amassed over 600 NHL games and is currently with the Montreal Canadiens.  

7. RW Jukka Hentunen (6th, 176th)
  • After one more season with Finland, Hentunen came over to North America and played 28 games with Calgary and nine in the AHL. Later that season, he was dealt to Nashville for a conditional draft pick. He played just 10 games with the Predators before returning to Europe. He's most famous around Calgary for being the lone player left sitting on the Flames bench at the conclusion of the famous fight-filled Ducks-Flames game on December 8, 2001, in which 279 penalty minutes were given out in the final 85 seconds.  

8. D David Hajek (8th, 209th)
  • The 6-foot-3 blueliner never did leave his home country, choosing to remain in the Czech Republic.

9. D Micki DuPont (9th, 270th)
  • The trend of picking kids that played locally or locally born kids continued with the selection of the high-scoring DuPont, who was coming off an 88-point season with Kamloops (WHL). He helped the AHL Flames to a Calder Cup in 2001 and then enjoyed two short stints totalling 18 games with the Flames before being traded to Pittsburgh in a deal that brought second round pick right-winger Shean Donovan to Calgary.

The Flames Five Worst Draft Years

There are different ways to slice and dice draft performance and measure success or lack there of. The list below is not subjective but rather an objective look at the five worst drafts in Calgary Flames history based solely on the accumulative number of games played by the players selected for the Flames.

This list is based on drafts going back to 1980 when the franchise arrived in Calgary and is only up until 2008. Eventually, the 2009 draft may end up on this list as no one yet from the 2009 draft has played an NHL game for the Flames. However, with a guy like goaltender Joni Ortio (5th round, 22th in 2009) still a prospect, I'm not shutting the door on that draft just yet. Same goes for drafts in 2010, 2011, etc.

1. 1982 (Held in Montreal) - 3 games
  • D Mark Lamb (4th round, 72nd) - 1 game
  • D Dave Reierson (2nd round, 29th) - 2 games

2. 2006 (Held in Vancouver) - 13 games
  • G Leland Irving (1st round, 26th) - 13 games

3. 2005 (Held in Ottawa) - 24 games
  • D Matt Pelech (1st round, 26th) - 5 games
  • G Matt Keetley (5th round, 158th) - 1 game
  • C Brett Sutter (6th round, 179th) - 18 games

4. 1997 (Held in Pittsburgh) - 31 games
  • C Daniel Tkaczuk (1st round, 6th) - 19 games
  • LW Erik Andersson (3rd round, 70th) - 12 games

5. 2000 (Held in Calgary) - 46 games
  • RW Jukka Hentunen (6th round, 176th) - 28 games
  • D Micki DuPont (9th, 270th) - 18 games  

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