With no pure goal scorers left at pick No. 26, the Calgary Flames addressed a long-term shortage of defensive prospects by going off the board and drafting Matt Pelech of the OHL Sarnia Sting.
The Flames rounded out the draft by selecting two more defensmen, two centers, two goalies and a right winger. They also made a memorable moment when GM Darryl Sutter drafted his son Brett, with the same number of pick that he was drafted with.
Matt Pelech, D – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Round 1 – 26th overall
6’4 220 lbs.
Born: September 4, 1987
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario
Matt Pelech is a big right-handed shot who measures in at 6’4 and 220 pounds. The second round pick of the Sting stepped in as a 16-year-old rookie and played 62 games and picked up 10 points. In his second year, the team started to rebuild and like during his rookie campaign, Pelech struggled to move the puck effectively and consistently. Injuries obviously hampered his development as he only dressed for 31 games due to a pair of incidents that both ended with him breaking his jaw. In his shortened season, Pelech amassed just six points.
He will be counted on to be a key player in what the Sting hope will be a turnaround season in 2005-06.
Gord Baldwin, D – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Round 3 – 69th overall
6’5 199 lbs.
Born: March 1, 1987
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Gordie Baldwin registered 11 points during the regular season as a rookie with the Medicine Hat Tigers and finished the year with a +13 rating. Although he dressed for 66 games, his average ice time wasn’t very significant, but gradually increased over the course of the schedule. Playing behind Cam Barker, Steve Marr, Cody Blanshan and Kris Russell didn’t offer a lot of extra time for Baldwin, but when he got the chance he played well enough to catch the eyes of some scouts.
The 6’5 195 lb Winnipeg native is a physical specimen for the Tigers, a banger who plays sound hockey in his own end and is clearly at his best battling in the trenches of the corners and in front of the net. There is plenty of room on his frame to add 30 pounds and once he does, Baldwin will be even tougher to play against.
Daniel Ryder, C – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Round 3 – 74th overall
5’11 193 lbs.
Born: January 12, 1987
Birthplace: Bonavista, Newfoundland
It is not hard to see the resemblance between Daniel Ryder and his older brother Michael of the Montreal Canadiens. Last year Michael Ryder, a former eighth round pick, notched a surprising 63 points as a rookie with Montreal. Never a top prospect, Michael had a stellar junior career, but made two stops in the ECHL on his way to NHL. What both brothers have is a natural ability to score, due to excellent hockey sense.
Daniel, a 5’11, 180-pound center from Newfoundland, followed up a strong rookie campaign with Peterborough by scoring 29 goals and 82 points this past season. The Petes experienced a 31-point improvement between the two years, and the fact Ryder was tied for tenth in league scoring with linemate Liam Reddox (EDM) was a big reason why. A deceptive skater, Ryder was always impressive defensively and was a fixture on the penalty kill.
Ryder had a solid playoff until the Ottawa 67s swept the Petes in the conference finals. His line was invisible the entire series, although Ryder remained valuable on the penalty kill. He is ahead of where his brother was at the same age in terms of development, but NHL scouts are wary to use a first round pick on players that appear to overachieve simply because they know how to play the game.
J.D. Watt, RW – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Round 4 – 111th overall
6’1 198 lbs.
Born: March 25, 1987
Birthplace: Cremona, Alberta
Watt played 66 games this season with the Giants putting up 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points. He also posted an impressive 213 penalty minutes. Watt is a prototypical Sutter player who is known as a grinder and an agitator.
Kevin Lalande, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Round 5 – 128th overall
5’11 175 lbs.
Born: February 19, 1987
Birthplace: Clarence Creek, Ontario
The Flames then picked their first goaltender of the draft in Lalande of the OHL Belleville Bulls. Lalande posted 15 wins in his second season with the Bulls and had 2.64 GAA along with a .920 save percentage.
Matt Keetley, G – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Round 5 – 158th overall
6’0 215 lbs.
Born: April 27, 1986
Birthplace: Medicine Hat, Alberta
With Kevin Nastiuk entrenched as the team’s starter, Medicine Hat product Matt Keetley was satisfied living out his dream and playing for the local powerhouse junior club. However, Nastiuk’s play dropped off the map following an incredibly hot start to the year and so Keetley was given an opportunity that he gladly ran away with.
Keetley put together a 6-2 January where he held a 1.88 GAA and a .932 save percentage and took over the starting job while Nastiuk nursed a sore hand for an abnormally long period of time amidst rumblings of off-ice problems. At the end of the season, Keetley had posted an incredible 21-5-3 record, 1.66 GAA and .933 save percentage as well as six shutouts. There was much made of Nastiuk setting a new Tigers benchmark for shutouts with seven but Keetley’s total also beat the old team record in just 32 games. Statistically, Keetley had the best regular season goals against average and save percentage in the entire WHL and his .656 winning percentage was bested only by Tyler Plante (.708) and Jeff Glass (.667).
Keetley started in net for the Tigers in their opening playoff series against Red Deer but after winning game one, he surrendered three goals in just over a period in the second game and lost his spot to Nastiuk for the remainder of the postseason.
Brett Sutter C/LW – Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Round 6 – 179th overall
5’11 180 lbs.
Born: June 2, 1987
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta
With genetics on his side, Brett Sutter might receive a second look on nights when comparable players may not. He’s the son of a NHL GM and his uncles make up the most storied hockey family in hockey history, but 18-year-old Brett says that while he fits the stereotypical Sutter mold, he’s his own player and that he’s not trying to ride on any coat tails.
In 70 games with the Kootenay Ice, Sutter scored 19 points but was one of only two non-goalies on the team to not have a positive plus/minus rating; the checking winger was even. Sutter added three points in the playoffs and was a +2 in Kootenay’s 16 games. It was the second season in Kootenay for Sutter who dressed 44 times for the Ice in 2003-04 and had 12 points. It’s disappointing that his point production actually decreased with an extra year of experience and maturity especially considering his year began at Canada’s U-18 camp in Calgary where he unsuccessfully competed for the opportunity to represent in Slovakia in August.
Myles Rumsey D – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Round 7 – 221st overall
6’2 185 lbs.
Born: November 5, 1986
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
There were very few bright spots for the 2004-05 edition of the Swift Current Broncos, a club that finished third to last in the entire Western Hockey League. One of them, though, was draft eligible defenseman Myles Rumsey. Rumsey, in his second full season with the Broncos, finished with six points in just 57 games, a result of injury. Despite the low point production, Rumsey was not only given the Broncos Tom Ham Memorial Trophy as the team’s top defenseman, but was also the recipient of the Coach’s Award.
Although a tough, scrappy defenseman, Rumsey was thrust into an enforcer’s role after Matt Trojovsky was dealt from the club. It was a role that Rumsey had trouble filling, but welcomed, as he tried to fulfill a leadership role bestowed on him when given the third alternate captain’s letter.
True to his word Sutter drafted all North American players this draft with three from the Flames hometown province. With no pure goal scorer available at pick No. 26, the Flames executed a game plan to replenish a future weakness at the defense position and added depth at the forward and goaltending positions.
Aaron Vickers, Guy Flaming and Jason Ahrens contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.