Flames 2002 draft evaluation

By Andrew Walker

The Calgary Flames had a decade-high 12 selections in 2002, resulting in one full-time NHL’er, with three more still knocking on the door.  The four players still in the mix are North American, while all six European selections in 2002 are no longer with the organization.

The Flames averaged 18.1 NHL games played per pick, a bit below the 30-team average.

Eric Nystrom, F
1st Round, 10th Overall – U. of Michigan
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 2

Rugged Eric Nystrom, the son of former Islander-great Bob, could still be an NHL regular in the coming years, but is looking like he won’t be the elite power forward Calgary envisioned when they took him 10th overall.

After a standout college career at Michigan, Nystrom had a solid 2005-06 rookie season with Omaha in the AHL, putting up 15 goals and 33 points in 78 games, garnering a two-game call-up with the big club.

This past season was a trying one, as Nystrom battled shoulder problems, and appeared in just 17 games, regular season and playoffs, with the Knights.  Nystrom is still on the radar to make the Flames in the next two seasons, and will get a long look in training camp.

Brian McConnell, F
2nd round, 39th Overall – Boston University
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

A physical left winger, McConnell played four seasons at Boston University, and is now without an NHL contract. He has since bounced around the ECHL, spending 2005-06 with Trenton, before being claimed off waivers by the Fresno Falcons.  In 68 games this past season, McConnell put up 9 goals and 6 assists in 68 games, playing on the third line.

Matthew Lombardi, C
3rd round, 90th Overall – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 215

Originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2000, the lightning-quick Lombardi re-entered the draft in 2002, and moved up to the third round. Easily one of the top Calgary picks in the last 10 years, Lombardi has established himself as one of the Flames top centermen over the last three seasons.

After one season in the AHL, Lombardi played 79 games with Calgary in 2003-04, scoring 16 goals and 13 assists in 79 games. After breaking his ankle in 2005-06, Lombardi took a bit of a step back in his development. He scored just 6 goals in 55 games, and found himself in Darryl Sutter’s doghouse for most of the season.

However, this past season was a coming out party for Lombardi, who reached the 20-goal mark for the first time, scoring 20 goals and 26 assists in 81 games.  One of the fastest players in the entire NHL, Lombardi re-signed a new three-year contract with the Flames this spring.

Yuri Artemenkov, LW

4th round, 112th overall – Krylia Jr  (RUS)
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Artemenkov is a classic Russian forward, small, quick, and skilled.  A fourth-round gamble, he went unsigned, and has had problems reaching the next tier of pro hockey in his home country.  As of 2005-06, Artemenkov was still toiling away in the Russian 3rd level with HK Dimitrov.

Jiri Cetkovsky, RW
5th round, 141st Overall – HC Zlin Jr.  (CZE)
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

A good-sized 6’4 and 209 lbs, Jiri Cetkovsky came over to North America after being drafted to play for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL as a 19-year-old.  What followed was a terrible season, in which he scored 5 goals and 2 assists in 57 games, and played, sparingly, on the fourth line.  Cetkovsky managed to rack up 126 minutes in penalties, but as one WHL broadcaster related those “were mostly from accidentally running into other players.” 

Cetkovsky went unsigned by the Flames, and played this past season in the Czech Republic’s tier II league.

Emanuel Peter, C

5th round, 142nd Overall – Kloten (SwissA)
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

A rugged centerman who played for the Swiss in the 2003 World Juniors, Peter has played for the Kloten Flyers since 2001-02.  The size is there, but his shot, skating ability, and offensive numbers have not been, and as such, he is no longer in the Calgary organization.

Viktor Bobrov, LW

5th round, 146th Overall – HC CSKA (RUS Jr.)
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Another Russian winger with good size at 6’2, Bobrov never signed with Calgary, and is still playing pro hockey in his homeland.  An above average skater, Bobrov played in the Russian lower league with Khimik this past season, and had his best year as a pro, scoring 12 goals and 12 assists in 45 games.

Kristofer Persson, RW
5th round, 159th Overall – Modo Jr. (SWE)
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

The “big-body” draft continued with the 6’3 Persson, who has since remained in Sweden, last playing for Sundsvall in the second highest Swedish league.  At times, he can be hard for other teams to contain because of his size, but inconsistency has been the biggest drawback in his development.

Curtis McElhinney, G
6th round, 176th Overall – Colorado College (NCAA)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 0

McElhinney has been a pleasant find for the Flames, and continues to be in the mix for a possible back-up role in the future.

The Calgary native was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL this past season, going 35-17-1 with seven shutouts in Omaha. His 35 wins were tops in the league, while his GAA of 2.13 ranked second.

McElhinney could make things interesting with another strong training camp this fall, and has already passed veteran Brent Krahn on the depth chart.

David Van Der Gulik, RW
7th round, 206th Overall – Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 0

Another player still in the Flames system, Van Der Gulik was probably the second biggest surprise on the Omaha Knights this season, behind McElhinney. An average scorer in four seasons at Boston University, he found his touch in his rookie season in the AHL.  His 43 points ranked fourth on the Knights, and 20th overall among AHL rookies.

The most attractive stat as far as Calgary is concerned was his team-leading +27.  Van Der Gulik could challenge for a roster spot in the next year or two if he displays the same aggressive two-way ability at the next level.

Pierre Johnsson, RW
7th round, 207th Overall – Farjestad Jr. (SWE)
Status:  Bust
NHL Games: 0

A defensive forward with good size at 6’1, Johnsson has managed to stick in the Swedish Elite League with Mora IK the last two seasons, putting up 9 points in 83 games.  No longer in the Flames organization, Johnsson could develop a decent career in the SEL, but doesn’t have the offensive instincts to make any type of impact in North America.

Jyri Marttinen,D
8th round, 238th Overall – Jyvaskyla (FNL)
Status:  Bust
NHL Games: 0

A 1982 birthdate, Marttinen was the oldest player selected by the Flames in 2002.  An undersized defenseman, Marttinen enjoyed his finest season as a pro in 2006-07, scoring 13 goals and 17 assists in 44 games with JyP HT Jyvaskyla in Finland’s top pro league.  A move to North America isn’t out of the question if the offensive production continues for Marttinen, but it won’t be with the Flames.

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