Flames 2004 draft evaluation

By Jon Roe

The Flames under General Manager Darryl Sutter (who took over in 2003) have consistently drafted along the same lines: big, gritty, two-way, hard-working and Canadian. The 2004 draft, Sutter’s second with the team, was no different. They picked up 10 players: seven Canadians, eight gritty forwards, one big defenseman and one athletic goalie. What they ended up with was a pile of role-players with limited offensive capabilities, excepting Dustin Boyd, and one diamond in the rough in Adam Pardy.

Of the 10 players selected in the draft, four have seen time with the big club (a combined 240 games) and six are still elsewhere in the Flames system. But four of those six are restricted free agents and a fifth is an unrestricted free agent.

The Flames 2004 picks averaged 24 NHL games played.

Kris Chucko, LW
1st round, 24th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games: 2

With their only first-round selection in the draft, the Flames selected Chucko, who was touted as a physical player with leadership qualities and a mean streak. The Flames knew that Chucko was going to be a long-term project without much scoring potential, and so far, he has put up decent numbers for the AHL. He’s played three full seasons in the AHL and has picked up 109 points (57 goals, 52 assists) and 169 penalty minutes in 234 games. He’s only been called up once by the big club, in back-to-back games in March of this year, and had no points, no shots and only two penalty minutes in a combined 14 minutes of ice time.

With his size, 6’2, 211 lbs, he still has a shot at being a third or fourth line NHL player, but where he gets that shot depends on if the Flames re-sign him. Chucko is an RFA this year.

Brandon Prust, C/LW

3rd round, 70th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games: 46

The Flames were attracted to Prust because of his gritty playoff performance for the London Knights in 2004, when he picked up 20 points in 15 games after scoring only 52 in 64 during the regular season. Prust was seen as gritty and tough and could fit in as a third or fourth line role player. He has managed to fit into that role nicely.

After a penalty-filled stint in the AHL (he picked up 753 penalty minutes in in 221 games) and 10 games in the NHL during the 2006-07 season, he began the 2008-09 season in the NHL, putting up 75 penalty minutes and two points (one goal, one assist) in 21 games before breaking his jaw. He came back for four games later in the season, but was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes as part of the package for Olli Jokinen. Prust played a few more minutes per game while he finished his season out with the Coyotes and provided more of the same with 29 penalty minutes and only one point in 11 games played.

During his short time in the NHL, Prust has proven that he can play a reliable fourth line role and that he’s not afraid of the rough stuff. He has one more season under contract for the Coyotes, and barring injury, should have a chance to continue proving he can fit into the third or fourth line role at the NHL level.

Dustin Boyd, C
3rd round, 98th overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games: 132

Boyd was viewed as the most talented of the Flames draft picks in the 2004 draft and in limited minutes with the Flames has managed to put up decent numbers. In 132 NHL games, he’s scored 38 points, including 22 in 71 games this past season while only playing 12:52 per game.

Boyd was drafted after a low-scoring season in the WHL as an 18-year-old with the expectation that he would light it up with an increased role. He didn’t disappoint, finishing his WHL career with a 90-point season for the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2005-06. The next year, Boyd played in the AHL, with occasional call-ups to the Flames, and finished with 60 points in 66 games in Omaha and four points in 13 games in Calgary. Boyd spent most of the next season in the big league, scoring a modest 12 points in 48 games with the Flames, and only nine points in 18 games in the AHL.

Though his scoring put him tied for ninth on the team for goals in 2008-09, he finished with the second worst plus/minus at -11. He also wasn’t very good in the faceoff circle this past season, placing last among regular Flames faceoff men with a 45.5 winning percentage. Boyd is a restricted free agent, but he may still develop into a decent second-liner should the Flames give him the opportunity.

Aki Seitsonen, C

4th round, 118th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games: 0

Seitsonen was another solid, gritty, two-way player from the Flames draft mold. Though he had scored at the junior level in Finland, he has yet to convert his offense to the North American game.

In his three years in the WHL, he scored a respectable 127 points (60 goals, 67 assists) in 204 games with the Prince Albert Raiders. But so far at the professional level, he has only put up 68 points in 127 games in the ECHL and 10 points in 65 games in the AHL, including six points (four goals, two assists) in 45 games with the Quad City Flames this past season.

Seitsonen has the size to be an NHL player, but like a few other of the Flames 2004 draft picks, he’s an RFA and seems unlikely to be retained.

Kristopher Hogg, LW

4th round, 121st overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games: 0

Hogg was drafted from the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and racked up the penalty minutes in his last three years in junior, posting 130+ PIMs on average, while struggling defensively. In six playoff games in his last year with the Blazers, he was a -8 and the next year, his first with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, he was a -19 in 71 games. He improved to +15 for a Hurricanes team that missed the playoffs in 2005-06, but was never signed by the Flames.

After putting up 194 points (106 goals, 88 assists) in 339 games split between the Blazers and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, he was invited to the Phoenix Coyotes 2006 training camp. He played four playoff games for the ECHL Phoenix Roadrunners, then committed to the Lakehead University Thunderwolves in CIS. He put up 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) and 70 penalty minutes in 41 games played with the T-Wolves this past season.

Adam Pardy, D
6th round, 173rd overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games: 60

Pardy is the biggest surprise of the 2004 draft for the Flames. The 6’4, 220 lb defenseman was drafted as an overager from the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and worked on his game for three seasons in the minors. He got his shot to play regularly with the Flames early this past November, and stuck with the big squad through the rest of the season. Pardy scored 10 points (one goal, nine assists) and was third for Flames defensemen with a +3 in 15:01 minutes per game of ice time. But for a big man, he didn’t use his weight much, throwing only 77 hits.

Pardy showed that he can play a regular shift as an NHL defender this past season and could fit in as third or fourth defenseman for the Flames, provided they re-sign him. He’s a group six unrestricted free agent.

Fred Wikner, W

6th round, 182nd overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games: 0

Wikner was drafted after a decent 15 points in 31 games in 2003-04 in the Swedish junior league, but struggled after a short stay in North America. Wikner played 66 games with the Prince George Cougars, picked up 18 points and was a -9 in 66 games in 2005-06 and was never signed by the Flames. He went back to Sweden for the 2006-07 season and is now playing with Kållereds SK in Division 2 of the Swedish League.

Matt Schneider, C

7th round, 200th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games: 0

The 6’6 center played four years in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans, picking up 91 points in 199 career games. Schneider was a minus player his last two years in the WHL and was held scoreless in 10 playoff games between 2004-06. He was never signed by the Flames and played the last three seasons with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in CIS. He picked up four points (two goals, two assists) and 18 penalty minutes in 20 games played last season at UBC.

Jimmy Spratt, G

7th round, 213th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games: 0

Spratt was drafted after an all-star season in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers. He picked up 19 wins, six losses and five ties that year, with a 2.34 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He followed that up with a 24-11-3 record in 42 games played in his final year in the USHL, with a 2.81 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Spratt moved on to the NCAA and has played the last four years with the Bowling Green State University Falcons. This past season, he finished his university career with his best year for the Falcons: an 11-19-3 record, with a 3.04 GAA and a .891 save percentage. In 100 career games, he had a 27-62-5 record with a 3.45 GAA and a .883 save percentage.

Spratt seems unlikely to be signed by the Flames.

Adam Cracknell, RW

9th round, 279th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games: 0

Cracknell was picked late in the draft after a solid 61-point season with the Kootenay Ice. He finished off his WHL career with a 93-point season in 2005-06, showing he has some offensive capability.

Craknell is still very much a work in progress, but he has shown improvement working his way up from the minors. He started in the ECHL with the Las Vegas Wranglers, scoring 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 31 games in 2006-07 and then putting up a 59-point effort in 2007-08. He also led the Wranglers in post-season scoring with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in their run to the 2008 Kelly Cup. He played this past season in Quad City, putting up only 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists)  in 79 games. Cracknell is also an RFA, but his continued improvement suggests that he still could develop into a third or fourth line player given the opportunity.