I am going to take a look at the Flames last ten years of first round draft picks and tell you if I think it was a bust or not.
Chuck Kobasew 2001 1st rd. 14th overall.
Kobasew wasn’t the only player from the 2001 draft that became a regular NHLer for the Flames. David Moss was the other player but besides those the rest of the draft has become a bust. Kobasew had his best year with the Flames in the 2005-2006 season when he scored 20 goals in 77 games. Near the trade deadline of the 06-07 season Kobasew was traded to the Boston Bruins along with Andrew Ference for Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. Kobasew only played 50 games split between CGY an BOS. He followed the trade with his two best season of his career so far. In the 09-10 season he was traded from the Bruins to the Wild, injuries have been an issues for Kobasew the last two season taking a toll on his production. So the verdict is NHL REGULAR.
Eric Nystrom 2002 1st rd. 10th overall
Son of NY Islanders great Bob Nystrom Eric never turned into the offense player the Flames had hoped for. He instead found a role on the third and forth line plus on the pk. His best offensive numbers came in the 09-10 season, which was a big help as Eric was a UFA at the end of the season. Darryl Sutter refusing to over pay for a fourth line pk specialist made it so Eric was forced to test the market where he landed with the Wild. Verdict never lived up to first round status but did become a NHL REGULAR.
Dion Phaneuf 2003 1st rd. 9th overall
Flames fans had been waiting a long time for the team to hit a home run with a draft pick. In June of 03 fans had finally witnessed that player in Phaneuf. Starting his rookie season after the lockout Phaneuf busted on to the scene with twenty goals and a calder trophy nomination. With big hits and booming shots he soon became a fan favorite. One problem with early success comes huge expectations. After putting up one 20 goal season and two 17 goal seasons, his goal production dropped and so did his defensive play. Entering the 09-10 season the Flames had just acquired Jay Bouwmeester at the draft and signed him to a new 6 year deal. With Dion’s play declining, Darryl Sutter was able to trade Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs ending the tenure of Calgary’s blue chip draft pick. You could say Dion was a victim of his early success, but in this blogger’s opinion the Flames gave up too early on a player who hadn’t even entered his prime yet. Time will tell if this was the right decision or just another busted move for the Flames organization. Verdict NHL REGULAR.
Kris Chucko 2004 1st rd. 24th overall
Drafted out of the BCHL with great offenseive numbers, Chucko has never been able to translate that to his game in the AHL. Injuries have also stalled his growth to the pro level, Forcing him to retire early. Verdict NHL BUST.
Matt Pelech 2005 1st rd. 26th overall
Pelech was picked as a large stay home defenseman that would help shore up the Flames blue in the future. Just like Chris Chucko, Pelech pro career has been plagued by injuries. Having has a taste of the NHL with a five game call up in 08-09 season, Pelech looked good to fight for a position the following season. But Pelech never was able to make the move to the big club. He has also seen his stock drop on the depth chart with the emergence of TJ Brodie & Cristopher Breen. Verdict: BUBBLE NHLER
Leland Irving 2006 1st rd. 26th overall
Irving was selected as a long term project to replace the aging Kiprusoff. The work seems to be paying off, after spending three seasons in the AHL last with Heat, Irving was able to become the true number one with Calgary’s AHL team. . Verdict: PROSPECT
Mikael Backlund 2007 1st rd. 24th overall
Backlund of the ten number one picks is the only one on the Flames roster. Having split last season between The Heat and Flames, Backlund showed this season he was ready to stick with the big club. With a late season injury to Brendan Morrison, Backlund was placed on the first line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Backlund progressed quickly in short opportunity he was given and looks like an option the Flames will have to play with Iginla. Verdict: NHL REGULAR
Greg Nemisz 2008 1st rd. 25th overall
Nemisz a three time 30 goal scorer for the OHL Windsor Spitfires and a Back to Back Memorial Cup Champion. May be a product of his line mates but has to prove that he is a good player without like Taylor Hall. Getting a 6 game stint last season with Flames showed that Nemisz can keep up with the big boys. Still to early to tell if he a bust or not. Verdict: PROSPECT
Tim Erixon 2009 1st rd. 23rd overall
Erixon was a safe bet to be a blue chip prospect and almost a given to make the squad this year. But that all changed for the Calgary Flames. Word had come down that the Flames where not going to be able to sign Erixon before the June 1st deadline. So in an attempt to salvage some assets the Flames traded Erixon and a 2011 fifth round pick to the NY Rangers for two 2011 2nd round picks and prospect Roman Horak a teammate of Flames prospect Ryan Howse. Whether it was the fact that Erixon just didn’t want to play in Calgary or that he didn’t want to play in Abbotsford the verdict becomes a BUST for the Flames. It always hurts when you lose a blue chip prospect.
Conclusion: You may have noticed that I didn’t list the 2010 first round pick, that’s because there wasn’t one. So in ten years and 9 picks the Flames have one player on their current roster. Dose that mean the 1st rounds are a bust not for the league just for the Flames.