2004 Draft Coverage
Draft Analysis

Rick Charlton
June 27th, 2004

The back of the pack sure is pretty much all its cracked up to be.

For the Calgary Flames, a successful season came with a price, dropping down

the pecking order at the NHL draft to sift through the remnants left by the more fortunate - or worst - teams in the league.

In nabbing 6'2", 190 lb Kris Chucko from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL at 24th overall, GM Darryl Sutter conceded he was getting the last man on his preferred list, the drafting of Kyle Chipchura by Montreal at the 18th spot leaving the disappointed Sutter eventually picking up two more selections as he quickly traded down from 19th.

For the second year in a row, the prototypical Sutter player seemed to be the general target in the draft, Chucko the poster boy for a combination of competitiveness, toughness and skill that many of the other picks on the day would resemble.

The only question marks on Chucko's resume seemed to be mobility, although described as an adequate skater by Calgary's chief amateur scout Tod Button, and having played in a lower tier league last season against lesser competition.

Chucko deliberately chose the BCHL so he could maintain his USA College eligibility. He'll be off to the University of Minnesota next season. No doubt that eased Calgary's selection, the opportunity to throw him into the hands of a highly regarded program for three or four years too much to resist.

One of the more intriguing picks came in the fourth round with the acquisition of Aki Seitsonen of the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders, a 6'3", 206 lbs Finnish native who skates like the wind, in keeping with Sutter's desire to have one of the fastest teams in the NHL.

Overall, Calgary selected 10 players in this draft, only two less than six feet tall, only two from Europe, eight forwards, one goalie and one defenceman, all fairly consistent with the trend established by Sutter last summer.

Calgary went off the board a bit in their second selection at 70th, Brandon Prust a crusty 20 year-old with 269 penalty minutes that Button indicated might be ticketed for Lowell in the AHL next year.

Sutter filled some gaps by turning the 19th and 247th picks into the 24th, 70th and 91st overall, making up a bit for the picks he had moved last winter.

The Flames would probably characterize this draft as merely adequate, nothing overly thrilling, and containing mostly projects.

Unlike last year with the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf, there is little resembling star power here, Sutter and Button probably looking five years out at a group of players who can step in and fill the gaps as clone type players, benefiting the greater whole.

As the Flames demonstrated through the season and the playoffs, however, it's those kinds of depth players who are often the critical difference between winning and losing.

Draft Grade C

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