Is it worth cheering for Calgary?

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The Edmonton Oilers own the Pittsburgh Penguins first round pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft, 16th overall, but that pick could become #15 if the Calgary Flames defeat the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Is moving up one spot in the draft worth cheering for the Flames?

I’m not an Oilers fans due to my job, but I’m a proud Edmontonian and I grew up loathing Calgary sports teams, and while I don’t cheer for the Oilers, I still can’t stand any Calgary team. For me, moving up one slot in the draft would not be reward enough to root for a long-standing rival.

That is the emotional side of me, but the rational side decided to look at the history of the NHL draft and see if history suggests it would be a wise decision for Oilers fans to cheer against the Ducks.

Here are the 15th and 16th overall picks from the NHL entry draft dating back to 1979, the first year of the 21-team league.

1979

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Boston Brad McCrimmon   D Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)  1222  81  322  403  1416 
16 Los Angeles  Jay Wells D Kingston Canadians (OHA) 1098 47 216 263 2359

Both were solid D-men, with McCrimmon bringing more offence while Wells was more physical. McCrimmon was a better overall defender, but both played 1000+ games.

1980

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Chicago Jerome Dupont  D Toronto Marlboros (OHA)  214  7    29  36 468
16 Minnesota  Brad Palmer L Victoria Cougars (WHL) 168 32 38 70 58

Neither had a long career. Dupont was tough as nails, while Palmer scored 22 goals his second season. He was much more skilled, but only lasted 2 1/2 years in the league. I’d give slight edge to Palmer.

1981   

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Calgary  Al MacInnis  D Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 1416  340  934  1274  1501 
16 Philly Steve Smith D Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)  18 0 1 1 15

MacInnis is in the Hall of Fame. This was the biggest gap of talent between the two picks during the past 37 drafts.

1982  

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Rangers  Chris Kontos L Toronto Marlboros (OHL ) 230 54 69 123 103
16 Buffalo Dave Andreychuk  L Oshawa Generals (OHL) 1639  640  698  1338  1125 

The Rangers missed out on drafting the 14th most prolific goal scorer in NHL history. Kontos had one excellent playoffs with the LA Kings in 1989, scoring nine goals in 11 games, which was more goals than he ever scored in one regular season. Andreychuk in a landslide.

1983   

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Pittsburgh Bob Errey L Peterborough Petes (OHL)  895 170  212  382 1005 
16 NY Islanders  Gerald Diduck  D Lethbridge Broncos (WHL) 932  56 156 212 1612

Both players had solid NHL careers. Errey was a solid checker, while Diduck was a good stay-at-home defender. I’d call it even.

1984   

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Quebec Trevor Stienburg  R Guelph Platers (OHL) 71 12 161
16 Pittsburgh  Roger Belanger C Kingston Canadians (OHL)  44 3 5 8 32

I’d call it a draw, neither panned out.

1985

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Quebec David Latta L Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 36 4 8 12 4
16 Montreal  Tom Chorske  L Minneapolis Southwest H.S.  596  115  122  237  225 

Chorske won a Cup with the Devils and was a solid third/fourth line checker for parts of ten NHL seasons. Latta was a decent scorer in junior, but couldn’t score much in the AHL or NHL. Chorske wins.

1986

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Montreal  Mark Pederson  L Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)  169  35  50  85 77
16 Calgary George Pelawa F Bemidji H.S. 0 0 0 0 0

Pederson was a talented scorer. He had three 100-point seasons in the WHL, and then he tallied 176 points in 147 AHL games over two seasons, but he couldn’t stick in the NHL. **EDIT**Pelawa died in a tragic accident so impossible to compare.

1987

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Quebec Joe Sakic C Swift Current Broncos (WHL)  1378  625  1016  1641  614
16 Winnipeg  Bryan Marchment  D Belleville Bulls (OHL) 926 40 142 182 2307

An incredible pick for Quebec. Sakic is 9th all-time in points and 15th in goals. Bryan Marchment is one of the best #16 overall picks ever, but he was drafted after Sakic and loses this head-to-head matchup.

1988

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Washington Reggie Savage R Victoria Tigers (OMJHL)  34  12 28
16 NY Islanders  Kevin Chevaldayoff  D Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL ) 0 0 0 0 0

Cheveldayoff was a hard-nosed D-man for Brandon and in the AHL, but he never got a chance in the NHL. Savage was a fantastic scorer in junior, and basically a point-a-game player in the AHL, but he only played 33 NHL games. He was the better player, but neither team got much traction with their pick.

1989

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Edmonton  Jason Soules D Niagara Falls Thunder (OHL ) 0 0 0 0 0
16 Pittsburgh Jamie Heward  D Regina Pats (WHL) 394  38  86  124  221

Soules played 52 AHL games and quit after one season. You will notice a bad trend for the Oilers when it comes to 15th overall picks. Heward wins easily because he played almost 400 games. He had a cannon of a shot.

1990

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Hartford  Mark Greig R Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)  125 13 27 40 90
16 Chicago Karl Dykhuis  D Hull Olympiques (QMJHL) 644  42  91  133  495 

I watched Greig in Lethbridge a lot as a junior player because my brother played on the team, and he had incredible hands, but he wasn’t the most competitive player. Dykhuis had a solid NHL career and wins this contest handily.

1991

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Rangers  Alexei Kovalev R Moscow Dynamo 1316  430  599  1029  1304 
16 Pittsburgh Markus Naslund  L MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik  1117 395 474 869 736

Easily the best #15 and #16 draft duo in NHL history. Both had solid careers, played in Cup finals, the Olympics and more. When Kovalev decided to play he was the better player, but often he was an enigma. I’d call it a draw. Both picks were solid.

1992

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Philly Jason Bowen L Tri-City Americans (WHL)  77 2 6 8 109 
16 Boston  Dmitri Kvartalnov  R San Diego Gulls (IHL) 112  42  49  91 26

Kvartalnov was a much more skilled player. He had 72 points in 73 games as a 26-year-old rookie in 1993, but the next season he split time between the AHL and NHL. He returned to Europe the following year. Bowen was an odd selection by the Flyers. He wasn’t drafted at 18, and he only played 19 games when he was 19, but the Flyers still took him. He had scored total of 33 points in 121 games the previous two WHL seasons and they still drafted him. A win for the Bruins.

1993

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Winnipeg Mats Lindgren C Skelleftea AIK  387  54  74  128  146 
16 Edmonton  Nick Stajduhar  D London Knights (OHL)  2 0 0 0 4

The Oilers never drafted Lindgren, but he ended up playing more games for them than Stajduhar who was remembered more for getting punched outside of Barry T’s than he was for playing with the Oilers. An easy with for the 15th pick.

1994

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Washington  Alex Kharlamov  R CSKA Moscow 0 0 0 0 0
16 Toronto Eric Fichaud G Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)  95 

Toronto traded Fichaud to New York for Benoit Hogue only ten months after the Leafs drafted him. He played 75 games for the Islanders during his first three seasons as a pro, debuting as a 20-year-old, but he never lived up to the hype. He was traded to the Oilers for Mike Watt in 1998, but only played in their farm system. He played in the NHL so a slight win for #16, but neither player made much of an impact.

1995

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Toronto  Jeff Ware D Oshawa Generals (OHL)  21 0 1 1 12
16 Buffalo Martin Biron  G Beauport Harfangs (QMJHL)  508 0 14 14 81

Leafs fans did not like these draft years. Fichaud and then Ware and neither played a game for the Leafs. An easy win for Biron who played in 500 games and had a solid NHL career.

1996

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Philly Dainius Zubrus  C Pembroke (COJHL)  1243 225 359 584 771
16 Tampa Bay  Mario Larocque  D Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)  5 0 0 0 16

Zubrus had a solid NHL career. I was surprised to see he played 1243 games, which is 87th all-time. A lopsided win for 15th overall.

1997

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Los Angeles  Matt Zultek  L Ottawa 67’s (OHL)  0 0 0 0 0
16 Chicago Ty Jones W Spokane Chiefs (WHL)  14 0 0 0 19

Zultek and Jones never panned out. This is an easy draw.

1998

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Ottawa Mathieu Chouinard  G Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)  1 0 0 0 0
16 Montreal  Eric Chouinard C Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) 90 11 11 22 16

The Chouniards were not related. Eric was a prolific scorer in junior, but it didn’t translate to the NHL. Mathieu was drafted by the Senators in 1998, but they never signed him and he was drafted again, 45th overall, in 2000 by the Senators. I’m not making this up. They used two draft picks on him and he never played a game for the. Ouch. I’ll give it to the 16th pick because of the terribly awful drafting decision by the Senators.

1999

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Phoenix Scott Kelman  C Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)  0 0 0 0 0
16 Carolina  Dave Tanabe D U. of Wisconsin (WCHA) 449 30 84 114 245

Kelman was a big centre, but he didn’t put up huge numbers in junior. He was drafted solely for his size and it didn’t work. Tanabe had a solid career.

2000

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Buffalo Artem Kryukov  F Yaroslavl Torpedo  0 0 0 0 0
16 Montreal  Marcel Hossa L Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)  237 31 30 61 106

Marcel Hossa wasn’t as good as his brother, but he was much better than Artem Kryukov.

2001

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Carolina  Igor Knyazev  D Moscow Spartek  0 0 0 0 0
16 Vancouver  R.J. Umberger  L Ohio State University  740 178 203 381 297

A landslide victory for Umberger. He is still in the league, but his foot speed has become an issue.

2002

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Edmonton Jesse Niinimaki  C Ilves Tampere (SM-Liiga)  0 0 0 0 0
16 Ottawa Jakub Klepis C Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)  66 4 10 14 36

I don’t blame Niinimaki for being taken here. The Oilers made a major gaffe by selecting him at 15. He wasn’t rated in the top-100 by many, yet the Oilers felt they knew more than everyone else. Klepis only played 66 games, but the Oilers reach means you have to give it to #16.

2003

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Islanders Robert Nilsson  C Leksands IF (SEL)  252 37 81 118 90
16 San Jose Steve Bernier R Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)  609 104 120 224 291

Another 15th pick that haunts Oilers fans. Edmonton never drafted Nilsson but they acquired him in the Ryan Smyth deal. He had excellent hands and great hair, but his motor didn’t rev high enough. Bernier carved out a solid career.

2004

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Nashville Alexander Radulov  R Tver (Russia) 154 47 55 102 74
16 NY Islanders Petteri Nokelainen R SaiPa Lappeenranta (SM-Liiga)  245 20 21 41 103

Radulov is clearly the better player, but he didn’t like North America, or the discipline needed off the ice,  and returned home to the KHL. I still give the 15th slot the nod, because he was a much better player in his short NHL career.

2005

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Islanders Ryan O’Marra  C Erie Otters (OHL)  33 1 6 7 17
16 Atlanta Alex Bourret R Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL)  0 0 0 0 0

Another Oiler connection at #15. O’Marra was also part of the Smyth trade and he never found a comfort zone in the NHL. He was a better prospect than Bourret, but he couldn’t adjust to the NHL game. Draw.

2006

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Tampa Bay  Riku Helenius  G Ilves Tampere (SM-Liiga)  1 0 0 0 0
16 San Jose Ty Wishart D Prince George Cougars (WHL)  26 1 5 6 10

Just like the 2005 draft neither played long enough to make any sort of impact. I’d call it a draw again.

2007

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Edmonton  Alex Plante  D Calgary Hitman (WHL)  10 0 2 2 15
16 Minnesota Colton Gillies  L Saskatoon Blades (WHL)  154 6 12 18 72

Another nightmare at #15 for the Oilers. They reached on Plante and he was unable to live up to the unrealistic expectations of his draft slot. Concussions also derailed his career. Gillies was another big body from the WHL, but he too struggled in the NHL. Slight edge to 16, but not by much.

2008

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Ottawa  Erik Karlsson  D Frolunda Jrs (Sweden)  397 84 219 303 202
16 Boston Joe Colborne  C Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)  160 19 43 62 83

Colbourne has emerged as a solid role player, but Karlsson is one of the best D-men in the league. A decisive win for #15.

2009

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Anaheim  Peter Holland  C Guelph Storm (OHL)  130 21 21 42 55
16 Minnesota  Nick Leddy D Eden Prairie H.S. 336 30 100 130 48

Like Colbourne, Holland has become a useful NHLer, but Leddy is a top pairing D-man. Easy win for #16.

2010

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Los Angeles  Derek Forbort  D U.S. National Development Team  0 0 0 0 0
16 St. Louis Vladamir Tarasenko  R Novosibirsk Sibir (KHL) 179 66 69 135 57

Could you imagine if the Kings had taken Tarasenko instead of Forbort. They’d likely still be in the playoffs. A great pick for the Blues.

2011

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Rangers J.T. Miller  C U.S. National Development Team  114 15 18 33 49
16 Buffalo Joel Armia  F Assat Pori (SM-Liiga) 1 0 0 0 0

Armia had more hype leading up to the draft, but the Rangers made the right selection taking Miller ahead of him. Miller is emerging as a key piece for the Rangers, while Armia was traded to the Jets in the Evander Kane trade and is trying to find his way. #15 all the way.

2012

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Ottawa  Cody Ceci  D Ottawa 67’s (OHL)  130 8 22 30 20
16 Washington  Tom Wilson  R Plymouth Whalers (OHL)  149 7 20 27 323

Ceci and Wilson are regulars in the NHL and both are effective. I think it is too early to say who becomes better. I’d call it a draw today.

2013

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 NY Islanders  Ryan Pulock  D Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)  0 0 0 0 0
16 Buffalo Nikita Zadorov  D London Knights (OHL) 67 4 12 16 55

Again, too early to tell, but I was a huge fan of Pulock in junior. Zadorov has had some off-ice issues and was rushed to the NHL, while Pulock had a solid rookie pro season scoring 17 goals and 29 points as a D-man for the Islanders’ AHL team.

2014

# Team
P Drafted From GP G A PTS PIM
15 Detroit  Dylan Larkin  C U.S. National Under-18 Team  0 0 0 0 0
16 Columbus  Sonny Milano  L U.S. National Under-18 Team 0 0 0 0 0

Larkin and Milano are both good prospects. Larkin had a great WJC, but again it is too early to tell.

CONCLUSION…

I didn’t see enough of a trend to make it worthwhile cheering for the Flames just to move up one spot. The 15th spot did produce MacInnis, Sakic, Karlsson, Kovalev and Zubrus, while the 16th spot had Andreychuk, Tarasenko, Naslund, Leddy and Umberger.

Overall I see eight years where #15 turned out better, and 13 years where #16 turned out better. The rest were either draws or too soon to tell.

I realize this draft is completely different, and it is considered a very deep draft. In theory, drafting higher should give you a better player, but history shows us that isn’t the case in many situations ranging from the first overall pick to the last pick. It can vary from year-to-year.

I don’t think it is worth it for an Oilers fan to sell their soul and cheer for the Flames. Do you?

Recently by Jason Gregor:   

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Back when the Flames were doing their run in 04, someone came on the radio to give their opinion on this very debate – though there wasn’t a draft pick situation involved. Their answer has stuck with me. (Paraphrasing) “I look at Manitoba or Saskatchewan, and realize that as Albertans we are lucky to have not just one, but two teams in our province. So I say go Flames go.” It stuck with me because of how wrong he was. Sure, it’s great we have two hockey teams in the province, but it’s great because of the rivalry, not the comradery. True, of my closest hockey friends, one is a Flames fan and the other a Vancouver fan, but those relationships are great because the moments of triumph and loss are heightened, not shared.

    Now, as a fan of hockey in general, I am glad the flames won the last series. Because, lets face it, Flames suck but Vancouver is the worst. Also, the Flames actually played hockey in the last round. But now that that is over, I am really looking forward to watching the ducks put the Flames in their place. I want the Burke’s former team – that he did nothing to establish or build – to come out and demonstrate why building a team of small, skilled – albeit hard working – forwards, will never win you a cup. I want to watch as the stars the Flames are pinning their future hopes and dreams on, get gridded into a fine paste.

    I cannot wait for Hartley to start the game with the fourth line on the ice, and have Anaheim pull and Iceland in Mighty Ducks 2, and just skate right over top those plugs. I look so forward to seeing the Kesler line manhandle the Monahan line, that afterwards I’m going to need to question my sexuality. I am counting the minutes until Cogliano effortlessly outskates the entire Flames roster, and makes Hiller look like Oilers Dubnyk. I even hope Johnny – patented his name – hockey gets off a ton of shots, just so I can watch Anderson easily brush them aside.

    Yes, it is time to witness what Oiler fans have been waiting all year to see, the demise of the Flames.