Flames Future 2004: Off the Mark
Expectations & Reality
Summer 2004

Between the years of 1989 and 1998 the Flames drafted a total of 25 players that went on to enjoy a sustainable NHL career.

I'm not talking star power here, I'm just saying they managed to stick for an acceptable degree of time.

Over this period names like Kent Manderville, Paul Kruse, Sami Helenius, Jamie Allison and Travis Brigley are loosely referred to as "successes', to give you a hint of the level of scrutiny that was applied.

Twenty-five players ... 10 years, that's 2.5 players per draft that actually went on to make a dent with their NHL careers.

Why drudge up this boatload of depressing Calgary Flames history, you ask? What better way than to introduce the 2004 Way Off the Market feature, where we look back and poke fun at some of the pie in the sky optimism of past Calgarypuck draft analyses.

Through five years of prospect ranking, the Calgarypuck group have tossed up an average of 9.5 players per year that are deemed to be at least average NHL hockey players in the future.

That's 9.5!

When you compare that figure to the aforementioned reality total of 2.5 players per year, you get the feeling that there is bound to be a wee bit of disappointment in the coming seasons.

Oleg Saprykin (2000 4.40)

There are misses of completion and misses of degree, Oleg Saprykin is one of the latter.

The player has gone on to play in Calgary, so you can't out and out call any positive reviews on his future as misguided, but a rating of 4.4 in the summer of 2000 is still looking quite optimistic given his current game in 2004.

Will Saprykin continue to improve? Quite likely. Will he ever reach the clear star status that a 4.4 rating would suggest? Don't count on it.

Egor Shastin (2001 3.70)

Who the heck is Egor Shastin?

Our point exactly.

Shastin was a 2001 draft pick with all world offensive talent and a Theo Fleury sized body, a player that clearly captured the imagination of Calgary hockey fans who gave him a rating of 3.7 a few weeks after his draft selection.

Since then he's literally fallen off the map, and didn't receive a single prospect vote in the 2004 analysis.

Levente Szuper (2002 3.4)

That Calder Cup run really jazzed up the excitement level in the Hungarian stopper with the Hasek like goaltending style.

In fact, during the summer of 2002, Flames fans had Szuper pass all other goaltenders in the Flames system including first round pick Brent Krahn, and second roudner Andrei Medvedev.

A year later Szuper was released by the Flames, joined the Blues organization and spent last year in the ECHL.

Dany Sabourin (2003 2.94)

Heading into training camp last summer, Calgary Flames fans had Dany Sabourin penciled in as the club's new backup goaltender, casting aside Jamie McLennan in the process.

In July of last summer, he was handed a 2.94 potential rating, good for 11th place in the club's prospect roster.

Fast forward to today ... the Flames have released Sabourin after a brutal season that saw him destroyed at the NHL level and struggle in the AHL, while the player he was supposed to replace went on to be a huge fan favourite before being dealt to the Rangers.

Every One Good!

In what may appear as a harsh indictment of the Calgarypuck rating system one fact remains - we have never accurately predicted a star player to emerge from the Flames system.

Player Year Rating
Oleg Saprykin 2000 4.4
Jordan Leopold 2001 4.1
Jordan Leopold 2002 4.3
Chuck Kobasew 2002 4.2
Dion Phaneuf 2003 4.4
Chuck Kobasew 2003 4.2
Dion Phaneuf 2004 4.9
Andrei Medvedev 2004 4.0

The current Calgary Flames have three players that, at this point in time, should be considered 4.0 or greater players on the ratings scale; Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff and Robyn Regehr - the final two are to some point up for debate.

Since none of those three players have come through the Flames system it shows that the Flames Future features has not been proven correct for a single player that has rated a 4.0 or greater mark in any of the five analyses published to date.

That isn't to say that many of these players won't reach their lofty goals, as players like Jordan Leopold, Chuck Kobasew and Dion Phaneuf seem to be on their way to successful NHL careers - but the fact remains, they haven't yet.

So here's a question in closing, which if any player on the left will break the Calgarypuck curse?



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