Flames 2001 draft evaluation

By Jon Hagan

In 2001, the Calgary Flames went for internationally developed talent as opposed to Canadian developed players which they have favored as of late. Then GM Craig Button showed his eye for talent with this fairly good looking draft class. In the end, with 11 picks in total, they drafted only one player from the CHL, one from the NCAA, four from Russia, two from Finland, and three from US junior programs.

While Calgary didn’t get any steals with their late picks, they still have some viable prospects from the class of 2001.

The 11 picks have played a total of 170 NHL games, for an average of 15 games per pick.

Chuck Kobasew, C/LW – 1st round, 14th overall, (Boston College, HE)
Status: NHL player
NHL games played: 170
DOB: April 17th, 1982
HT: 6’1 WT: 190 lbs.

The first round saw the Flames draft Boston College winger Chuck Kobasew with the 14th overall pick. At the time, Kobasew was regarded as a gritty winger, an able-bodied skater with a nose for the puck. Before turning pro, Kobasew played a season in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets, and promptly scored 41 goals in 62 games. He spent a bit of time with the Flames AHL affiliate in Saint John in 2002-03, and during the NHL lockout, got valuable on ice experience with Lowell, where he teamed up with new NHL phenom Eric Stall and scored 38 goals in 75 games with Lowell. Now, 170 games into his career, he has developed into a reliable two-way forward.

Out of the first rounders of the class of 2001, only Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk, Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Florida’s Stephen Weiss and Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky have played more NHL games than Kobasew. Recently re-signed to a two year deal by the Flames, Kobasew, like many of his peers in this draft class, enjoyed a career year. He has gradually improved each season in the league, and the Flames hope he can continue to increase his production as he progresses as an NHL’er.

Andrei Taratukhin, C – 2nd round, 41st overall (Omsk Avangard, Russian Super League)
Status: NHL prospect
NHL games played: 0
DOB: February 22nd, 1983
HT: 6’0 WT: 198 lbs.

A solid two-way player who handles himself well in traffic, Taratukhin fell off a bit during the post season, but overall he did not disappoint in his first season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. He was seventh on team scoring and tops in penalty minutes.

At this year’s Olympics, Taratukhin had the fantastic opportunity to play five games as a linemate with Alexander Korolyuk and Maxim Afinogenov on the Russian team. Being included in the Olympics with Russian NHL’ers showed how far Taratukhin had come since being drafted.

The newly-inked transfer deal that the Russians ratified with the NHL should open a floodgate of Russian prospects coming over, and much to the excitement of Flames’ fans, Taratukhin should be amongst them. While he shouldn’t be expected to step in right away to the NHL, Taratukhin has gained valuable experience playing in the Russian Senior Men’s League and will likely not need much time in the AHL with Omaha.

Andrei Medvedev, G – 2nd round, 56th overall (Spartak Moskow, Russian Super League)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: January 1st, 1983
HT: 6’1 WT: 242 lbs.

When former Calgary GM Craig Button drafted the often out of shape but gifted goaltender, he felt he could mold this diamond in the rough – but he obviously did not. Though Medvedev was grossly overweight for a hockey player, Button thought enough of him to make him a second round draft choice. Medvedev struggled throughout 2005-06 and played most of the season as a back-up. He hasn’t been able to nail down a starting job in Russia the past few seasons, and his chances of making a career in the NHL at this point in time appear slim.

Tomi Maki, RW – 4th round, 108th overall (Jokerit, Finnish SM-Liiga)
Status: NHL prospect
NHL games played: 0
DOB: August 19th, 1983
HT: 5’11 WT: 192

A veteran of 127 games with Jokerit Helsinki, Maki, a right winger, spent the majority of his time playing pivot with the Elite league team. In this his rookie season in North America with the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, Maki struggled a bit defensively, but his 29 points in 80 games did make a positive impact offensively. Incidentally, Maki was the only player on the Knights’ roster to play all 80 games. He has potential as a grinder, but will likely need to spend another full season in Omaha before being considered for an NHL roster spot.

Igor Shastin, LW – 4th round, 124th overall (Omsk Avangard, Russian Super League)
Status: NHL bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: September 10th,1982
HT: 5’9 WT: 176 lbs.

Highly rated going into the 2001 draft, Shastin is a very small, very surly forward who, no doubt as a result of his size and quick hands, was compared to Edmonton’s Sergei Samsonov. Regardless, Shastin has bounced around the Russian leagues since his draft and has not put up enough points to be considered a legitimate NHL prospect.

Jim Hakewill, D – 5th round, 145th overall (Westminster, USHS)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: June 7th, 1982
HT: 6’5 WT: 225

Jim Hakewill, Calgary’s sixth overall choice, is a large, fleet-footed, defenseman who is quite agile for a man his size. Drafted out of prep school, he then completed four years at St. Lawrence University of the NCAA. Hakewill subsequently began his professional career with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL in 2005-06. After playing 31 games with the Steelheads, he was traded to the Johnstown Chiefs. Hakewill has had a tough enough time seeing regular ice time in the ECHL, let alone the AHL, making it doubtful he will ever have much of a future in the NHL.

Yuri Trubachev, C – 5th round, 164th overall (Cherepovets Severstal)
Status: NHL prospect
NHL games played: 0
DOB: March 9th, 1983
HT: 5’7 WT: 165

The small and feisty Trubachev just finished his fifth season with Severstal. His point production for the team in 2005-06 (22 points in 47 games), was just 12 points behind highly-lauded Detroit prospect, Igor Grigorenko and two points behind NHL veteran Andrei Kovalenko. He has significant hockey smarts, shows great leadership skills, and loves the open ice. All those traits should endear him to current Flames GM and Head Coach Darryl Sutter. Despite his size, with the successful crackdown on clutching and grabbing, he eventually could thrive in the NHL.

Garret Bembridge, RW – 7th round, 207th overall (Saskatoon Blades, WHL)
Status: NHL bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: July 6th, 1981
HT: 6’0 WT: 180

Bembridge, originally drafted by the New York Rangers in the fifth round of the 1999 draft, was picked up by Calgary in 2001. He was regarded as a hard working player who needed to develop strength in order to compete.

This past season saw him bounce around three different minor league teams. He played 52 games with the Idaho Steelheads on a team featuring fellow Flames’ prospect, Jim Hakewill, two games with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, and 17 games with the Portland Pirates.

Over the course of six seasons, Bembridge has seen action in 215 AHL games, 65 ECHL games as well as 50 games with Crimmitschau ETC in Germany. At age 25 in July, he’s unlikely to ever see any NHL action.

David Moss, LW – 7th round, 220th overall (Cedar Rapids, USHL)
Status: NHL prospect
NHL games played: 0
DOB: Dec. 28th, 1981
HT: 6’3 WT: 185

Moss, drafted out of Cedar Rapids of the USHL, spent four seasons with the University of Michigan before coming to the professional ranks. Moss is a big man who can skate and score. In his rookie season with Omaha in 2005-06, he posted a team leading 16 power-play goals, and his 48 points were third on the Knights. Had he not suffered a knee injury late in the season, his numbers likely would have been significantly better. Called up by Calgary as insurance for the postseason, Moss did not see any action with the Flames, but he should challenge for a spot come training camp. For a seventh round draft pick, Moss has developed at quite a steady pace and has turned into a nice find for the Flames.

Joe Campbell, D – 8th round, 233rd overall (Des Moines, USHL)
Status: NHL bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: June 26th, 1982
HT: 6’4 WT: 205 lbs.

The Flames brass figured that when they drafted the 6’4, 172 lbs defenseman he would be a real tower of power for them once he put on some weight. Drafted out of Des Moines of the USHL, Campbell went on to play six games over two seasons with the University of Wisconsin before a return to the USHL, but did not continue his hockey career. Not many eighth round draft picks make it to the big show, and Campbell is another example of just that.

Ville Hamalainen, F – 8th round, 251st overall (Saipa, Finland)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0
DOB: April 17th, 1982 HT: 6’1 WT: 190

This former captain of the Finnish junior squad was mentally and physically in need of development when the Flames selected him with their final pick of the 2001 draft. After playing for Tappara Tampere in 2002-03, Hamalainen was not playing in elite leagues until 2005-06 when he resurfaced with KalPa Kuopio. Hamalainen is quite likely to continue and finish his playing career in his native Finland, and hence can easily be labeled a draft bust.

Jared Ramsden contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.