6 best players Flames just missed drafting in the last 20 years

May 26 2023, 8:30 pm

Teams that draft well are often teams that have success.

With that said, it is no surprise to see that the Calgary Flames have struggled in their quest to become an elite team, as they have made their fair share of draft-day blunders over the past 20 years.

While missing on picks is frustrating enough, it only gets amplified when another player taken shortly afterward goes on to have an outstanding career.

In this article, we will be looking at six players who were just missed by the Flames on draft day. This will be painful for fans, as each and every one of these players could have made significant impacts in Calgary.

Cory Schneider (2004)

Who the Flames picked instead: Kris Chucko

Though the first round of the 2004 draft was littered with questionable picks, the Flames made arguably one of the worst in Kris Chucko. The right-winger, who was selected with the 24th overall pick, logged just two games at the NHL level.

While the pick was disappointing enough in itself, what made it even worse was that Cory Schneider was right there for the taking. He wound up going just two spots later to the Vancouver Canucks.

Though Schneider’s career in recent years has been hampered by injuries, he was an All-Star calibre goaltender in his prime. He owns a 2.43 goals against average along with a .918 save percentage in over 400 games at the NHL level.

Nick Foligno (2006)

Who the Flames picked instead: Leland Irving

Though he is by no means a superstar, Nick Foligno has carved out an impressive career that has seen him put up 215 goals and 525 points in 1,081 games. On top of his skill level, he is also a very good leader, having been captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of six seasons.

The Flames had a chance to take Foligno at the 2006 draft, where he wound up being selected 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators. Two picks earlier, the Flames instead took goaltender Leland Irving.

Irving went on to play just 13 games in the NHL. Despite the very brief NHL career, the 35-year-old goaltender was still playing professionally in Switzerland just one season ago.

John Carlson (2008)

Who the Flames picked instead:Ā Greg Nemisz

Had the Flames played their cards right at the 2008 draft, they could have had themselves a game-changing offensive defenceman in John Carlson. The two-time NHL All-Star wound up going to the Washington Capitals at No. 27 overall.

The Flames happened to pick two spots ahead at 25th in that 2008 class but instead chose to go with centreman Greg Nemisz. The now-32-year-old logged just 15 career games in the NHL and retired from professional hockey after the 2014-15 season.

Carlson, on the other hand, continues to be an elite offensive weapon on the Capitals’ blue line and has finished top five in Norris Trophy voting on three separate occasions throughout his career.

J.T. Miller (2011)

Who the Flames picked instead: Sven Baertschi

Another excellent forward the Flames could have picked up at the 2011 draft was J.T. Miller. The 30-year-old has developed into a major offensive threat in recent years, accumulating 299 points over his last 283 games.

The Flames had the opportunity to select Miller with the 13th selection but instead chose to go with another highly skilled forward in Sven Baertschi. While Baertschi wasn’t a total bust, he logged just 292 career NHL games and spent this season playing for Bern SC in Switzerland.

Miller went on to be selected two spots later at No. 15 by the New York Rangers.

Nikita Kucherov (2011)

Who the Flames picked instead: Tyler Wotherspoon

While all of the misses on this list are painful, none are worse than what occurred in the second round of the 2011 draft. The Flames had the 57th overall selection and went with Tyler Wotherspoon, a defenceman who has suited up for 30 career NHL games and is continuing to play in the AHL.

Normally, missing on a second-round pick wouldn’t be the end of the world, as plenty of them don’t turn out. That said, what makes this one ever so painful was that the Tampa Bay Lightning was able to grab Nikita Kucherov with the very next pick.

Kucherov has since become one of the league’s premier offensive forwards. He played a huge role in the Lightning’s Stanley Cup wins in 2020 and 2021, and also has an Art Ross Trophy, a Hart Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award to his name.

As disappointing as this was for the Flames, they were able to make up for it somewhat two rounds later, selecting Johnny Gaudreau 104th overall.

Brandon Montour (2014)

Who the Flames picked instead: Hunter Smith

If you’ve been watching this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s been possible to ignore how good Brandon Montour has been. After a career-best 73-point season, the 29-year-oldĀ  defenceman has six goals and nine points in 16 games. But, did you know he could have been a Flame?

Montour was selected 55th overall at the 2014 Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, just one spot after the Flames had elected to go with Hunter Smith. Smith never played a single game in the NHL and has since retired from professional hockey. Meanwhile, Montour is quickly emerging as one of the game’s premier offensive defensemen.

Colton PankiwColton Pankiw

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