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Top 10 Flames draft steals

Calgary selected Sergei Makarov in the 12th round, 231st overall in 1983

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

 

With the 2016 NHL Draft less than a month away, CalgaryFlames.com has chosen some of the Flames top late round steals. History has proven the importance of hitting on players in the later rounds and the Flames have had some notable picks that have made an impact and gone on to very successful NHL careers.

The criteria: players had to have dressed for 150+ NHL games and be selected in or after the fourth round of the NHL Draft.

CALGARY FLAMES TOP DRAFT STEALS

1. Brett Hull, RW - 6th Round, 117th - 1984

It's hard to believe Brett Hull was passed over not once but twice in the NHL Draft given his storied career.

Back in the early 80's, he wasn't on many people's radars. He went two years without being drafted and in his third year of eligibility, the Flames took him in the sixth round, 117th overall. He had just broken the BCJHL scoring record with 105 goals and 188 points in 57 games with the Penticton Knights but teams were still leery on his conditioning and if his game was too one-dimensional.

As it turned out, he would be just fine.

He played over 1200 games in the NHL, scored 741 goals and 1391 points, won the Stanley Cup twice (1999, 2002), is one of five players to score 50 goals in 50 games, played in eight NHL All-Star games, won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1989-90), nabbed the Hart Trophy (1990-91), won the Lester B. Pearson Award (1990-91), and has been inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame (2008) and the Hockey Hall of Fame (2009).

2. Theoren Fleury, RW - 8th Round, 166th overall - 1987

When the Flames called out Theoren Fleury's name back in 1987, they knew the diminutive forward had plenty of skill -- he put up 129 points in 66 games with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors in his draft-eligible season -- but his size made scouts question what his ceiling would be as a professional.

He silenced any doubters in short order.

Fleury wound up playing in 1084 NHL games in his career, averaging over a point-per-game in both the regular season and playoffs; he scored an impressive 455 goals and registered 1088 points and added 79 points in 77 postseason skates.

Internationally, Fleury has won gold at the World Junior Championship (1988), silver at the World Championship (1991), gold at the Canada Cup (1991), silver at the World Cup of Hockey (1996), and gold at the Olympic Games (2002).

3. Gary Suter, D - 9th Round, 180th overall - 1984

Gary Suter's resume reads like a highly-touted first round pick.

Calder Trophy winner in 1986. Four NHL All-Star appearances. Stanley Cup Champion in 1989. World Cup of Hockey winner. Representative for the USA at World Championship tournaments. Olympic silver medalist. United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.

As it turns out, the Flames selected the defenceman in the ninth round of the 1984 draft. He had just wrapped up his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin, where he would play one more season before making the jump to the Flames. He would spend the next 17 years in the NHL before retiring at the end of the 2001-02 season.

Suter's final stat line is as follows: 1145 regular season games, 203 goals, 642 assists, 845 points. In the playoffs, he dressed for 108 games, scored 17 goals, and amassed 73 points.

4. Kent Nilsson, C - 4th Round, 64 overall - 1976

The Magic Man made quite an impression during his first season in Calgary.

In the franchise's inaugural season in Alberta back in 1980-81, Kent Nilsson set a franchise standard with an amazing 49-goal, 131-point effort that endeared himself to the city immediately.

Nilsson would go on to play 553 NHL games in his career, rattling off 264 goals and 686 points. In the playoffs, he netted 11 goals and 52 points in 59 skates. He holds the record for the points scored by a Swedish player in a single NHL season (131 in 1980-81), the Flames record for points in a single season (131 in 1980-81), the Flames record assists in a single season (82 in 1980-81), the Flames record for shorthanded goals in a single season (nine in 1983-84), was an NHL All-Star in 1980 and 1981, and won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1987.

5. Hakan Loob, RW - 9th Round, 181st overall - 1980

Another Swede to capture the imagination and hearts of Calgary was Hakan Loob.

The Flames opted to nab the right winger in the ninth round in 1980, but he didn't make the move over to North American until the 1983-84 season. Prior to joining the Flames, he suited up Färjestad BK of Sweden's Elitserien league and he ended up setting the league's scoring record in 1982-83 when he fired off 42 goals and 76 points.

He kicked off his NHL career by scoring 30 goals and 55 points in his rookie year, and ended up with 193 goals and 429 points in 450 career games. He is the only Swedish player to score 50 goals in a single season (1987-88), was a First Team NHL All-Star in 1987-88, and won a Stanley Cup in 1989.

Internationally, he has represented Sweden on multiple occasions and has won gold twice at the World Championship (1987, 1991) and captured Olympic gold in 1994.

6. Sergei Makarov, RW - 12th Round, 231st overall - 1983

The Flames took a flyer on Russian winger Sergei Makarov in 1983 and it ended up paying off handsomely.

The Soviets allowed Makarov to join the NHL in the 1989-90 season, and his 86-point rookie campaign ended with him capturing the Calder Trophy at the age of 31. He spent four seasons with the Flames and played for the San Jose Sharks in the final two full year of his NHL career. In total, he played 424 games in the NHL, scoring 134 goals and 384 points.

Internationally, Makarov played for Russian in numerous tournaments; he has 11 World Championship appearances, three Olympic stints, and two World Junior Championship tournaments to his resume.

7. Johnny Gaudreau , LW - 4th round, 104th overall - 2011

"Who?" was a common refrain after then-Flames general manager Jay Feaster called out Johnny Gaudreau's name at 2011 NHL Draft at Xcel Energy Center.

Listed at 5-foot-6 and 141-pounds when he was drafted, Gaudreau had just wrapped up a championship season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League and was preparing for his freshman season at Boston College.

Nabbing the Clark Cup and earning a spot with Jerry York's Eagles were impressive, but a household name, he was not.

He continued to rack up points at BC, eventually winning the Hobey Baker Award in his junior season. Gaudreau also won gold with the USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship.

But like Fleury, many doubted that he would be able to flourish when facing off against men. "Too small," was the brush-off dismal whenever his name was brought up.

Those naysayers were, simply put, wrong.

In two years in the NHL, Gaudreau has scored 55 goals and 143 points. He led the Flames in scoring in the playoffs in 2015 and was the team's top scorer in the 2015-16 campaign with 30 goals and 78 points.

8. TJ Brodie , D - 4th Round, 114th overall - 2008

Flames fans likely didn't know anything about TJ Brodie when he was selected with the 114th pick at the 2008 NHL Draft.

A third round pick of Saginaw in the OHL Priority Selection Draft in 2006, he split his junior career between the Spirit and Barrie Colts. He didn't play in any international tournaments and wasn't a name that was tossed around heading into his draft year.

They know him now.

The 25-year-old has earned a reputation as one of the NHL's top two-way defencemen and has steadily improved his offensive numbers since his first full NHL season back in 2011-12. Last year, Brodie was limited to 70 games due to injury but still set new career highs with 39 assists and 45 points.

Expect Brodie to remain a mainstay in the Flames top-four for years to come.

9. Robert Reichel, C - 4th Round, 70th overall - 1989

The only player the Flames drafted in 1989 to carve out a substantial career in Calgary came in the form of Robert Reichel.

The Czech pivot scored 23 goals and 48 points with HC Litvínov of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League in his draft-eligible season, and the Flames opted to take him in the fourth round. He spent one more year with HC Litvínov before coming to Calgary in 1989-90.

Reichel would end up spending the first 425 games of his NHL tenure in Calgary before making stops with the New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs during his 830-game career.

10. Toni Lydman, D - 4th Round, 89th overall - 1996

Like Reichel, Toni Lydman kicked off his 800-plus game career in Calgary after the Flames took him in the fourth round of the NHL Draft.

While he was drafted in 1996, the defenceman spent four years playing in his native Finland before making his NHL debut in 2000-01. He played four full seasons with the Flames, scoring 19 goals and 93 points in 289 games, and also played with the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks.

In addition to his Stanley Cup Final appearance with the Flames in 2004, Lydman played in two World Junior Championship tournaments, five World Championship tournaments, and two Olympic Games.

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