Calgarypuck.com Future Watch
When it comes to draft sex appeal, the vast majority of hype and discussion can be found in a young player's potential regardless of their actual chances to even see the inside of a NHL building.
Truth be known, the more assets a team finds in each draft – that is players that go on to have impact careers with a club's farm club, and then actually play at the highest level and contribute are at least equally important, if not more.
Ideally, a team takes a kid in the first round each year that has both the high potential buzz and the safe pick can't miss angle that tends to garner less by way of headlines. A kid like recent Flame Calder finalist Dion Phaneuf had both the jaw dropping potential and the safety in knowing he would be a player. There was very little worry that the young blueliner wouldn't have an NHL career.
In June of 2002 the Calgary Flames took the foundation route and drafted Bobby Nystrom's son Eric with their first round pick, 10th overall. The draft in general, was very top heavy (Rick Nash, Jay Bouwmeester, Kari Lehtonen, etc), with a sharp drop off out of the top five. Rather than take a flier, the Flames selected a guy wit the pedigree and intangibles to suggest a very good chance of playing in the NHL, despite his high end limitations of skill.
The kid didn't disappoint.
Since Nystrom's draft day he's always finished in the top five in terms of Likelihood in Calgarypuck.com prospect rankings, falling behind players like Chuck Kobasew, Jordan Leopold and Dion Phaneuf.
The roster guide puts a 4.0 player at a very strong chance to have in impact in the NHL, with a 5.0 rating an absolute lock. In his four appearances on Calgarypuck lists, Nystrom has put up 4.0, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.5, showing that time has done nothing to wilt this prospect.
The rest of the 2006 Likelihood Honour Role includes a fast charging center prospect in Dustin Boyd who finished second to Nystrom with a 3.88 rating, recent first round pick Leland Irving in third (3.86), college defectee Kris Chucko in the fourth spot (3.83), and finally the agitating Brandon Prust at 3.73.
In the case of Boyd, Irving and Chucko, you have guys with skill and upper roster projections equipped with either solid year to year progression or the attitude to accompany high end skill. While the aforementioned Nystrom and Brandon Prust may not have the highest skill level but they look well on their way to spending time in Flames' silks.
Good teams need both types of players, and draft choices turning into NHL assets, something the Flames appear to be mining with more success of late.