It's almost like this club follows a script.
Miss the playoffs, but don't miss them by a country mile. Get a
good draft pick, but make sure the draft pick isn't too close to the number one
pick. Have a bad run of hockey, a tough 70% of a decade, but manage to avoid
drafting any clear franchise players in the process.
Gloomy? For sure.
Accurate? Hard to argue isn't it?
Since the 1996 season the Calgary Flames have missed the
playoffs seven straight seasons. They now hold down the longest current running
futility streak in the National Hockey League - that's right folks we can't even
make fun of those funny Bolts from Tampa Bay.
Through these miserable seven seasons of heartbreak the team has
never managed to break into the top five of any draft and grab a "can't
miss" hockey player.
In 1997 they drafted 6th, ditto for 1998. In 1999 they were
slated to pick in the ninth spot but deal the pick to the Rangers and picked
11th. In 2000 they used their own pick at nine again. In 2001 they traded down
again, moving from the 11th spot to the 14th. Last June the Flames took Eric
Nystrom with the tenth pick after moving down again from the ninth overall pick.
That's 6, 6, 11, 9, 14, and 10. The result? A few busts and a
few promising players, but no franchise players.
This season the club flirted with the top five, in fact they
seemed to have a top three spot all but locked up in early March before a final
20 game tear and the collapse of a few basement dwelling compadres (don't even
get me started on the Pittsburgh Penguins) left the club listing up the
standings and out of a solid draft choice.
All that, as they say, is water under the bridge. The club is
once again slated to pick ninth and it's my job to take a wild stab at who they
plan to draft.
To zero in on that pick, I've chosen to look at a prospect grid
based on a few choice comments by the Flames general manager.
"but you can never
have enough defenceman".
B: "you can't
teach size, especially
on the wings".
C: ""I guess
I'd lean towards a North
American player, a
big, and likely a
defenceman or a winger
seems to be the
cooking in the gray
matter of Calgary's
would eliminate M.A.
Fleury as a goaltender (as if they had a chance anyway),
Nikolai Zherdev, Milan
Michalek, Thomas Vanek,
Andrei Kastsitsyn and
since they are European,
and Zach Parise for his
lack of size.
Staal, Nathan Horton and
Ryan Suter, three
players beyond the
Flames reach in the
first round, and then a
bunch of players that
could conceivably fall
tempted to throw my hat
into the ever popular
Dion Phaneuf ring, as my
colleagues have done on
each of the past two
days, but where's the
fun in that?
I'll predict a full
alignment of planets
that sees the hulking
Braydon Coburn fall to
the Flames, after a
heart stopping trade
between Atlanta and
another team in order to
acquire the talented
Czech center Michalek
Unlike the last time we've seen this script play out in Calgary (Jamie Lundmark falling in 1999 - funny how players seem to fall for a reason, isn't it?), Sutter won't have a predraft deal to move down, taking him away from Coburn. However, that doesn't mean there won't be drama. Just as Mr. Sutter is about to climb out of his chair Mike Milbruy will appear on the periphery of your television screen resulting in a time out and a whole lot of hand wringing. Five minutes later a clearly angered Milbury walks away and the Flames head to the podium to announce Coburn.
You saw it here first!
Who will the Flames select in the first three rounds?
Which top prospect will go later than expected?
Dustin Brown, the #2 ranked North American skater falls not only
out of the top ten, but also out of the top 15.
Which top prospect will go earlier than expected?
Ryan Suter ends up in the top three when Pittsburgh takes him
Who will be the best player to come out of the 2003 draft 10 years from now?
picks ... come on they're due! In
all seriousness, Andrei Kastsitsyn
goes onto a brilliant NHL career,
never letting epilepsy slow him
Crackpot draft prediction?
The Philadelphia Flyers finally buckle under Rick Dudley's
pressure and deal Justin Williams and thier 11th pick to the Panthers for the
right to take M.A. Fleury first overall.