At the trade deadline on April 3, 2013 the Calgary Flames finally made a decision to begin to try to rebuild the franchise. This decision came three to seven years too late depending on who you talk to, but finally the right decision was made.
Perennial franchise star Jarome Iginla was sent into the sunset given a chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Prohibitively expensive journeyman defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was dumped on the St Louis Blues and Calgary picked up two prospects and a conditional Blues first round pick. How Jay Feaster managed that magic I still don't know.
The Oilers were fighting for a playoff spot at the time. They had 39 points and were in eighth place in the Western Conference. The Flames had dropped to 13-18-4 on the season and had the third-worst record in the NHL. The rebuilding team was in the middle of the draft lottery for Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. These three prospects look to be future NHL stars anyone could build a team around. The rebuild was on schedule.
Since that time, the Edmonton Oilers have only won one game. They have gone 1-8 including a 4-1 loss to these same Flames and have dropped to sixth-worst overall in the NHL. The losing streak got so bad it cost Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini his job.
However this death spiral puts them below the Flames with a 6.2 percent chance of getting the first overall draft pick...again.
The Flames meanwhile have gone 6-4 and climbed past four teams. They are currently the seventh-worst team in the NHL. Their chance of winning the draft lottery has slipped from 14.2 percent to a measly 4.7 percent. This is just about the worst thing this non-playoff, rebuilding team could have done for the long term health of the franchise. Rather then being in the mix for Seth Jones or Drouin, Calgary is more likely to be drafting Sasha Barkov or Elias Lindholm. This may not prove to be a bad thing, but Drouin et al certainly look like better prospects right now.
Two teams with a much better looking set of young prospects, the aforementioned Edmonton Oilers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, are both likely to pick ahead of the Calgary Flames now in this year's NHL entry draft.
The Flames have 42 points and three games left. If they match their current three-game winning streak they could pass the Flyers, Phoenix, Buffalo, New Jersey and end up tied with the Dallas Stars. This must not happen. The Calgary Flames need to lose their last three hockey games this year.
The Flames can still finish very low in the standings. The only team that can't catch them is Florida. I'm not advocating pulling the goalie in the middle of the second period or trying to throw a game. My advice though would be ease up. A six-game win streak at the end of this stub of a season will do nothing for the team. A three game losing streak might just help them draft a franchise player who can lead this team for years to come.
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