Flames 2003 draft evaluation

By Travis Head

In the 2003 draft, the Calgary Flames made a selection in every round. They came out of it with a franchise defenseman in Dion Phaneuf, but not a great deal else. They still managed to average 27.7 games per pick, placing them 18th among all teams.

Tim Ramholt was the lone European selection. Four players from the 2003 draft still remain with the franchise five years later.

Dion Phaneuf, D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

1st Round, 9th overall
NHL Games Played: 243

It’s safe to say the Flames hit a homerun with the ninth overall pick in 2003. Phaneuf is after all not only one of the best young defensemen in the league, but one of the best rearguards in the entire NHL, period.

Phaneuf won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2004 World Junior Championships and a gold in 2005. Phaneuf was named WHL Defenseman of the Year in 2004 and 2005. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that if there hadn’t been a lockout in 2004-05, Phaneuf would have been playing for the Flames and not in the WHL.

In Phaneuf’s rookie season in the NHL, he tallied 20 goals and 29 assists and was a nominee for the Calder Trophy along with Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. In 2006-07, Phaneuf followed up a standout rookie season with a strong sophomore campaign in which he registered 17 goals and 30 assists in 79 games.

In 82 games this season with the Flames, Phaneuf finished with 60 points, the fifth highest total for a defenseman on the season. Phaneuf was also a solid +12 on the season and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy. The 23-year-old defenseman signed a six-year deal worth $6.5 million a season on Feb. 6.

Phaneuf has a cannon for a shot, scores big goals, logs huge minutes, produces big hits and fights when he has to. It’s a wonder eight teams passed him over.

Tim Ramholt, D – Zurich (Swiss-A)

2nd Round, 39th overall
NHL Games Played: 1

The Swiss-born defenseman is one of four players from the 2003 draft that are still in the Flames organization.

After his draft, Ramholt played one year of Canadian major junior with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and put up 36 points (best among Cape Breton defensemen) in 51 games for the QMJHL franchise. Ramholt returned to Switzerland to play two seasons with Zurich and Kloten of the Swiss League. In 83 games, he registered just 5 points. Ramholt has played the last two seasons for the Flames AHL affiliates in Omaha and Quad City. In 144 games in the AHL, Ramholt has 36 points to his name. On Nov. 29, 2007, Ramholt made his debut for the Flames. The outcome was a -1 rating and 45 seconds of playing time in 4-1 home loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Ramholt is a remarkable skater and he does think the game very well. He may simply need a more a little more seasoning and a more consistent opportunity from the Flames.

Ryan Donally, LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

3rd Round, 97th overall
NHL Games Played: 0

At 6’4 210 lbs, Donally was drafted for his size. In the three years Donally played in the OHL after he was drafted, he suited up for three different teams (Windsor, Kitchener, and Sudbury). Unfortunately, his best year statistically was his draft year in which he recorded 26 points in 65 games.

In 2006-07, Donally made the jump to the pro ranks, playing with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights of the AHL and the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. In 18 games with the Knights, Donally registered 5 points and 38 PIMs. The bulk of his time was spent in Las Vegas, where he played in 33 games and tallied 8 points and 79 PIMs with the Wranglers.

Donally spent the past season playing again in both the ECHL and the AHL. Although he suited up for the Quad City Flames for 10 games, he was unable to make an offensive contribution. However, Donally’s 37 points were good for fifth among all Wranglers — perhaps a sign of things to come next year.  A willing fighter, he was also the team leader in penalty minutes.

The Wranglers were beaten in the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals in six games by the Cincinnati Cyclones, but Donally did not play due to a high ankle sprain.

Jamie Tardif, RW – Peterborough Petes (OHL)

4th Round, 112th overall
NHL Games Played: 0

Calgary’s fourth-round choice was used to select Jamie Tardif of the Peterborough Petes. In the season prior to the draft, Tardif recorded 31 goals and 29 assists in 68 games. In the three OHL seasons that would follow, Tardif’s offensive production didn’t deviate considerably from his draft-year totals. Thus is was not a surprise that he went unsigned.

In 2006-07, Tardif would suit up for four different professional teams in the ECHL and AHL. Tardif played 34 games with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL where he registered 10 goals and 20 assists in 34 games. The 6’0 205 lb winger had a cup of coffee with both the Manitoba Moose (1 game) and the Iowa Stars (2 games) before finding a home in Grand Rapids. In 27 games with the Griffins, Tardif tallied 15 points.
This past season Tardif played in all of the Griffins 80 games and chipped in with 17 goals and 17 assists on the campaign.

Greg Moore, RW – University of Maine (Hockey East)

5th Round, 143rd overall
NHL Games Played: 6

Before attending the University of Maine, Moore participated in the US Under-18 Development Program. In his freshman season as a Black Bear, Moore had 16 points in 33 games and was the Flames fifth-round selection. Moore’s best season statistically was his senior year in which he scored 28 goals in 41 games, and had the team lead in points.

Moore has spent the past three seasons in the New York Rangers system, suiting up for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. In the most recent season, Moore played in 72 games for Hartford and produced 26 goals and 40 assists. Moore’s offensive production lead to a six-game call-up with the Rangers this past season. Moore was unable to register any points there.

Tyler Johnson, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

6th Round, 173rd overall
NHL Games Played: 0

The native of Breton, Alberta was the Flames sixth-round pick from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. In the 2002-03 season, Johnson recorded 14 points and 39 PIMs in 49 games with the Warriors. Johnson spent the following season playing with Moose Jaw as well as the Red Deer Rebels. In the 57 games he spent between the two WHL franchises, Johnson registered a total of 20 points. Johnson’s final two seasons in the WHL were spent with Red Deer in 2004-05 and the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2005-06, compiling 55 points over 121 games. It was in his time in Red Deer where Johnson was a teammate of Phaneuf. 

Unsigned by the Flames, Johnson played two games last season in the NAHL with the Alaska Avalanche, adding two assists.

Thomas Bellemare, D – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

7th Round, 206th overall
NHL Games Played: 0

With the 206th overall pick in the 2003 draft, the Flames went to the QMJHL and selected Bellemare of the Drummondville Voltigeurs. At 6’3 236 lbs, it should be pretty obvious why the Flames selected Bellemare — his size and fighting ability. The year he was drafted he managed to compile 474 PIMs in 67 games. He also chipped in with eight points. After one more year as the Drummondville enforcer, Bellemare went to the ECHL to play for both the Texas Wildcatters and the Charlotte Checkers. In 2005-06, Bellemare played 51 games for the Las Vegas Wranglers, where he put up nine points and 115 PIMs. Bellemare also suited up for the AHL Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights for two games and was involved in one fight.

The native of Shawinigan, Quebec has played the last two seasons in the Ligue Nord-Americain de Hockey (LNAH) for the Thetford Mines. In both seasons, Bellemare played 10 games.

Cam Cunning, LW – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

8th Round, 240th overall
NHL Games Played: 0

Despite being the 240th pick in the 2003 draft, 6’0 197 lb Cam Cunning remains in the Flames development system. His gritty play and defensive game has probably been the biggest reason why. In his draft year, Cunning had 7 goals and 13 assists in 71 games for the Kamloops Blazers.

Cunning has spent the past two seasons with the Flames AHL farm team.  In 128 AHL games, the native of Powell River, B.C., has 23 goals and 9 assists to go along with 125 PIMs.

Kevin Harvey, LW – Georgetown Raiders (OPJHL)

9th Round, 270th overall
NHL Games Played: 0

The Flames used their final pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft to select Harvey out of the Ontario Provincial Junior “A” Hockey League. He spent the 2002-03 season playing for the Oakville Blades and the Georgetown Raiders. In 35 games, Harvey scored 11 goals and added 24 assists. Harvey followed that season with an eight-goal, eight-assist performance in 59 games with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. In 2004-05, Harvey returned to the OPJHL to play for the Georgetown Raiders. In 42 games, Harvey recorded 30 goals and 35 assists.

Unsigned by the Flames, the 6’2 213 lb winger has played the last two seasons for the New Mexico Scorpions of the CHL. Harvey has registered 13 goals and 16 assists in 110 games. Harvey has also compiled 486 PIMs in those two seasons.