The National Hockey League is expanding to 31 teams for the 2017-18 season, adding a brand new team from the sunny climes of Las Vegas, Nevada. That means that for the 12th time in league history, we’re going to have us an expansion draft.
The Calgary Flames are no strangers to expansion drafts. They came into existence by virtue of the 1972 expansion draft (alongside the New York Islanders) and have given up players to brand new teams in eight expansion drafts since then.
But before you feel too bad for the fledgling Flames losing players here and there to other expansion teams, we’re here to tell you that they usually didn’t lose anybody that was particularly good.
WHO THE FLAMES LOST
1974 Expansion Draft: Kansas City Scouts & Washington Capitals
The Flames lost forwards Butch Deadmarsh (to Kansas City) and Lew Morrison (to Washington). In 1973-74, Deadmarsh was 17th in scoring for Atlanta (with seven points) and Morrison was 19th (with five points). So it’s safe to say that the Flames gave up third liners to the expansion clubs.
1974 Protected: goalies Dan Bouchard, Phil Myre; skaters Curt Bennett, Dwight Bialowas, Jerry Byers, Rey Comeau, Buster Harvey, Ed Kea, Bob Leiter, Jean Lemieux, Randy Manery, Bob Murray, Noel Price, Pat Quinn, Jacques Richard, Larry Romanchych, John Stewart
1979 Expansion Draft: Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques & Winnipeg Jets (the WHA Absorption)
Since four teams were joining the NHL, the Flames (and every other team) lost four players while having the ability to claim back the NHL rights of some players drafted in the WHA Draft. So the Flames managed to claim Kent Nilsson’s rights from the Jets, who had taken him in the WHA Draft. Atlanta also lost four players who you have never, ever heard of: defenseman Rick Hodgson (to Hartford) and forwards Brian Hill (Hartford), John Gould (Edmonton) and Gene Carr (Winnipeg). Gould had 15 points in 1978-79 (14th in Flames team scoring), Carr had 11 (for 18th on the team), while Hill and Hodgson were on the Central Hockey League’s Tulsa Oilers.
1979 Protected: goalies Dan Bouchard, Reggie Lemelin; skaters Ivan Boldirev, Guy Chouinard, Bill Clement, Ken Houston, Ed Kea, Don Laurence, Bob MacMillan, Bob Murdoch, Kent Nilsson, Willi Plett, Jean Pronovost, Darcy Rota, Phil Russell, Dave Shand, Eric Vail
After the WHA joined the league, there wasn’t another expansion draft until 1991.
1991 Expansion Draft: San Jose Sharks
When the Sharks came into the league, the Flames were heartbroken as they lost Salt Lake City defenseman Rick Lessard in the expansion draft. He played a single game with the Flames in 1990-91.
1991 Protected: Rick Wamsley, Mike Vernon; D Jim Kyte, Al MacInnis, Jamie Macoun, Frank Musil, Ric Nattress, Gary Suter; F Theoren Fleury, Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Joel Otto, Colin Patterson, Paul Ranheim, Gary Roberts, Martin Simard, Ron Stern, Carey Wilson
1992 Expansion Draft: Ottawa Senators & Tampa Bay Lightning
The Flames finally lost a player that fans had heard of in 1992: former co-captain and Stanley Cup champion Tim Hunter to Tampa Bay. They also lost forward Chris Lindberg to Ottawa, but promptly traded Chris Osiecki there to reacquire him. Lindberg had seven points in 1991-92 (for 19th in team scoring), while Hunter had four points (for 23rd in team scoring).
1992 Protected: G Jeff Reese, Mike Vernon; D Al MacInnis, Frank Musil, Michel Petit, Gary Suter, Trent Yawney; F Craig Berube, Theoren Fleury, Gary Leeman, Sergei Makarov, Joe Nieuwendyk, Joel Otto, Paul Ranheim, Gary Roberts, Ron Stern
1993 Expansion Draft: Anaheim Mighty Ducks & Florida Panthers
Two players went to Florida (and nobody to Anaheim) in the 1993 expansion. Alex Godynyuk – of the maligned Doug Gilmour mega-trade – and trade deadline acquisition Brian Skrudland went to the Cats. Neither was an impact Flame, with Godnyuk 22nd in team scoring (seven points) and Skrudland 23rd (six points).
1993 Protected: G Mike Vernon; D Kevin Dahl, Al MacInnis, Frank Musil, Gary Suter, Trent Yawney; F Craig Berube, Theoren Fleury, Paul Kruse, Joe Nieuwendyk, Joel Otto, Paul Ranheim, Robert Reichel, Gary Roberts, Ron Stern
1998 Expansion Draft: Nashville Predators
The Flames got creative in 1998. They lost number-five defender Joel Bouchard in the expansion draft itself, but also traded Jim Dowd to the Predators in exchange for them not taking one of Calgary’s available goaltenders. Dowd was 13th in team scoring in 1997-98, while Bouchard was 14th (and fifth among defenders).
1998 Protected: G Ken Wregget; D Tommy Albelin, Jamie Allison, Sami Helenius, Cale Hulse, Todd Simpson; F Valeri Bure, Andrew Cassels, Nils Ekman, Theoren Fleury, Ladislav Kohn, Marty McInnis, Michael Nylander, Dave Roche, Cory Stillman, Jason Wiemer
1999 Expansion Draft: Atlanta Thrashers
As they did the year prior, the Flames lost two players despite the league only adding one team. Forward Ed Ward went to Atlanta in the draft proper, while Swedish forward prospect Andreas Karlsson was traded to the Thrashers in exchange for them not taking particular player(s) that the Flames had left exposed. Ward had eight points in 1998-99 and was the team’s 17th-leading scorer.
1999 Protected: G Fred Brathwaite; D Tommy Albelin, Jamie Allison, Sami Helenius, Cale Hulse, Todd Simpson; F Valeri Bure, Rene Corbet, Hnat Domenichelli, Jarome Iginla, Andrei Nazarov, Jeff Shantz, Cory Stillman, Jason Wiemer, Clarke Wilm
2000 Expansion Draft: Columbus Blue Jackets & Minnesota Wild
In the most recent NHL expansion, the Flames lost a pair of players to the Minnesota Wild (and none to Columbus). Defender Filip Kuba and forward Sergei Krivokrasov were picked up in the expansion draft. Neither were long-term members of the organization; Kuba had been acquired from Florida just after the season in exchange for noted goon Rocky Thompson, while Krivokrasov was picked up at the trade deadline from Nashville. If you pro-rate Krivokrasov’s production over a full season he would’ve been sixth or seventh on the 1999-2000 Flames, but his exposure in the draft meant that he obviously wasn’t in the club’s long-term plans.
2000 Protected: G Fred Brathwaite; D Tommy Albelin, Wade Belak, Denis Gauthier, Phil Housley, Derek Morris; F Valeri Bure, Jarome Iginla, Bill Lindsay, Andrei Nazarov, Marc Savard, Jeff Shantz, Cory Stillman, Jason Weimer, Clarke Wilm
SUM IT UP
As the NHL has expanded, the expansion draft rules have meant that the Flames have rarely lost anybody of note. In fact, they have almost exclusively lost minor-league players, third-pairing defenders or third-line forwards.
But with the way the rules have been crafted for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, it’s looking likely that the Flames could lose somebody significant from their roster.