If there was a season that the Flames maybe shouldn’t have suddenly become exciting and won games, it was the 2014-15 one. The 1997 class would produce Connor McDavid, a talent that has and will far surpass anyone else in the league for a long time, along with a stacked, deep draft unlike one that has been seen since maybe 2003. Calgary of course made the playoffs, but couldn’t advance past the first round, leading to a 15th overall choice. That pick conceivably could have been used on any one of Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, or Mat Barzal, but perhaps as as omen of past draft mistakes, their pick was used on none of those.
They acquired Dougie Hamilton for it and 2 second round picks from the Boston Bruins (who make a second appearance later). The Bruins selected Zach Senyshen which is a very pre-Treliving draft move that the Flames could have made. Hamilton meanwhile, was more than worth the trade as he generated value twice. On top of being a phenomenal young talent that scored at will from the blueline, he was on a team-friendly contract that would help his second transaction. He was traded for a package that included a first line centreman, and the 5th overall pick from this very draft.
Noah Hanifin, although not really near the value he was projected to have when he was taken at #5 by the Carolina Hurricanes, has become a reliable top 4 defenceman. He joins two other players on the back end from that same draft, who were taken just 7 spots apart. The Flames used pick 53 on Rasmus Andersson, which was acquired by trading Sven Baertschi to the Vancouver Canucks. Andersson has shown a lot more offensive promise than Hanifin, but both form the two quarterbacks that Flames deploy on the powerplay. Andersson has become the Flames #1 with the departure of Mark Giordano, but still needs that big breakout year to really go to the next level.
With pick 60, they took Oliver Kylington. Many forget that at some points Kylington was projected to be one of the top defencemen off the board, and a first round lock. The Flames clearly felt they needed him when he was still available, and Treliving packaged off two third round picks to trade up with Arizona and select him. After playing in the AHL AND NHL at just 18 years old, Kylington cracked the Flames full time in 2018-19 and looked close to full time player, but a trend began that trade deadline. Treliving acquired Oscar Fantenburg from LA, and Kylington for all intents and purposes, never played again that year. He was in and out of the lineup the last two seasons and was on waivers at one point. Nonetheless, he re-signed with the Flames, survived another coaching change, and has outright been the best defencemen the Flames have had all year.
Another trade has landed the Flames what appears to be their first goaltender trade success, since they traded for a youngish Miikka Kiprusoff in 2003. Dan Vladar, taken by the aforementioned Bruins 75th overall in the third round, had put up some really solid numbers with AHL Providence and even Boston through a couple starts. An 8 goal drubbing to conclude 2019-20, combined with the high-cost signing of Linus Ullmark, stellar play of the younger Jeremy Swayman, and the ever looming Tuukka Rask rumours, lead to Vladar being the odd man out. He has been everything the Flames have needed in a backup goalie and more, as both he and Jacob Markstrom sport sub-2 goals-against-average.
Last but not least comes the steal of the draft himself, Andrew Mangiapane. The Flames can’t take as much credit as they do for taking him so late, as every team passed him over in the 2014 draft, despite a 51 point rookie season. Even with a 106 points, he still somehow fell to round 6 with a much more prominent size bias in effect. Since he was drafted, Mang has scored and not stopped scoring, as he shocked everyone with a World Cup MVP this summer. That breakout has spilled into the NHL season and he is now part of the NHL goal scoring race conversation.
Brad Treliving certainly deserves the criticism he faces for some of his more recent workload, but it’s tough to not be impressed by the veritable haul he has pulled out of one draft class, with 3 of his top 4 defencemen, his top goal scorer, and potentially elite goaltender.
by Gordie Taylor