Thursday, June 21, 2007

Draft Triumphs

While 1997 was undoubtedly a disasterous draft year for the Calgary Flames, and at the very least a bad draft year for the Edmonton Oilers, each team has had pretty triumphant years as well.

In my estimation it was the Oilers' very first draft, way back in 1979, that was the most productive and most likely set the groundwork for the dynasty to come. With their first ever pick (21st overall) the Oilers selected their current GM, Kevin Lowe.

With their second (48th overall) pick, the Oilers selected some big gangly Edmonton kid named Mark Messier who turned out to be not a bad hockey player, ending his career with the second highest point total in the history of the NHL.

With their 3rd pick, (69th overall) the Oilers selected the man who often play wingman to Messier and would end his career 2nd in playoff OT goals and 5th all time in playoff winning goals.

Now THAT is a draft year.

Calgary's best draft year in 1984 is arguably better than the Oilers in 1979, as they not only identified the top end talent, but also garnered depth guys (and had more successful NHLers). Gary Roberts was selected 12th overall by the Flames, and to put his value in perspective, there is some speculation former Ottawa GM John Muckler got fired due to his inability to aquire Roberts for this post-season. Over 20 years after Roberts was drafted.

Calgary picked Paul Ranheim with the 38th overall pick, a guy who turned out to be a very servicable NHLer, playing in over 1000 games.

The Flames got their most talented player (from that draft) 117th overall. He was a chubby kid which is why he was drafted so late, and he really only played part of two seasons with the Flames before he was traded for a key part of the Flames '89 Cup run. Brett Hull ended up scoring 741 goals in the NHL (including a notorius cup winner) and is third all time on the goals scored list.

With the 159th overall pick, Calgary selected european league player Jiri Hrdina. Hrdina could never be described as a star, but he was one of the first few Czechoslovakia born players to cross into the NHL, drafting him was alone a big risk for Calgary. He was a defensive specialist that was a +19 the year the Flames won the cup, and ended up winning 3 Stanley Cups in playing only 250 games.

Finally, in round 9, 180th overall, the Flames picked someone who was destined to be one of the best American born defenceman ever, one of the dirtiest players ever, and Al MacInnis' long time defensive partner. Gary Suter won the Cup with Calgary in '89, played over 1000 games and scored almost 850 pts.


MetroGnome said...

Talk about a fruitful draft back in '84. If the Flames could get just one of those kinds of players out of each draft these days, I'd be happy.

Kyle said...

I'd be ecstatic. We barely find servicable 4th liners most years.

walkinvisible said...

don't forget that suter won the calder... sure he won a cup and had some serious longevity, but he was really good really young.

Kyle said...

That's true, but it would take a page to fill all the awards that group has won. You have Suter who won the Calder really young, then Roberts who won the Masterton old, Hully who won just about everything in between, Messier who won everything etc.

Those are two unbelievable groups.

leanne said...

Well, remember that back then Calgary was looking a lot of places where nobody else in the league would go for talent: NCAA, Europe... anything to keep up with That Other Team, sigh.