Flames employ Forward thinking: Spitfire centre Greg Nemisz (above) chosen in the first round as Calgary selects five forwards at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft
The Calgary Flames were making news before the draft even got underway Friday in Ottawa.
Moments before the Tampa Bay Lightning made the anticipated move of drafting Sarnia Sting centre Steve Stamkos first overall, reports came down the wire of not one, but two Calgary exchanges.
The trade floor transactions by GM Darryl Sutter began with a three-way deal, as he was spotted early on in the evening chatting with Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi and Anaheim GM Brian Burke.
The Flames received 26-year-old centre Mike Cammalleri from Los Angeles in exchange for Calgary’s first-round pick (17th overall). Completing the third leg of the deal, the Kings then swapped two first-round choices (17th and 28th overall) with Anaheim for the Ducks’ 12th overall selection.
Sutter would not be without a first-rounder for long. In a move that had been rumoured in the works since January, Alex Tanguay finally went to the Montreal Canadiens. Tanguay had resisted the move to Montreal when it was discussed before the 2008 Trade Deadline.
At the time, he felt although he had not fit into the team dynamic as well as he could have hoped, a move with the playoffs looming would prove too great a distraction. Following a first-round post-season exit and one year left on his contract, Tanguay waived the no-trade clause and will play next season in his home province.
Acquired by the Flames on Draft Day 2006 from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for blue-liner Jordan Leopold, Tanguay and Calgary’s fifth-round pick (138th overall) were exchanged for Montreal’s 25th overall selection.
After all the wheeling and dealing was done, Calgary had moved nine spots down the first round draft order (17th to 25th overall), removed Tanguay's one-year, $5.25-million contract from the books, and replaced him with a younger, legitimate centre with a price tag of approximately $3.6-million.
For news that made such a big splash within the first minutes of the draft, not very much had changed for the Flames.
Sutter’s Draft Day mandate was to add offensive jump to a club which has been struggling with its identity since the 2004-05 lockout. Having moved the team’s top playmaker after finding a younger version of Tanguay in Cammalleri, the GM went to the draft table and broke from recent form, using his first four picks (and five of the total seven) on forwards.
Throughout the weekend, it was clear that Sutter had already mapped out what he was looking for going forward - pun only slightly intended.
The rearguard choices he did make were for skating, puck-moving defencemen—including the club’s only European choice, Alexander Deilert. Deilert was also the only player Sutter picked who registers under six feet tall.
This year, no goaltenders.
By selecting power forward Greg Nemisz with their first choice, Calgary found a player they hope will develop into a skilled power forward. 6’3” and 197 lbs, the heavy-shooting centreman utilises his size to play a tough game in front of the net.
Nemo, as he is nicknamed, played 68 games for the Windsor Spitfires last year, tallying 34 goals and 67 points. Excited to stay in Canada and eventually play for the Flames, the Ontario native has said he likes to model his play after Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin.
Calgary fans will remember Nemisz’s Windsor team mate Mickey Renaud, a Flames 2007 draft pick who passed away suddenly last season.
Day Two (Saturday) rewarded many players overlooked in the first round. With the 48th-overall pick, Calgary chose six-foot, 175-lbs Mitch Wahl, a playmaking product of Southern California.
Probably the only Flames draftee ever to have a High School surfing credit, the Seal Beach centre is happy to be entering a Canadian market. “It’s a Canadian sport and it’s a big thing in Calgary, so I’m excited”, Wahl told the press. Nicknamed the Wahlrus, he will be expected to draw upon the experience he gained with the Memorial Cup-winning Spokane Chiefs last month.
CALGARY FLAMES 2008 ENTRY DRAFT RESULTS
ADDITIONS: Mike Cammalleri - C/LW - 5’9”-185 lbs. Born - Richmond Hill, ON, 8 June 1982. Drafted by Los Angeles, 49th overall in 2001. NHL - 283 GP -93 G - 112 A - 205 PTS
PROSPECTS: 25th overall - C Greg Nemisz (Windsor - OHL)
48th overall - C Mitch Wahl (Spokane - WHL)
78th overall - C Lance Bourna (Vancouver - WHL)
108th overall - LW Nicholas Larson (Waterloo - USHL)
114th overall - D T.J. Brodie (Saginaw - OHL)
168th overall - LW Ryley Grantham (Moose Jaw - WHL)
198th overall - D Alexander Deilert (Swedish Junior)
RELEASED: Alex Tanguay - LW - 6’1”-188 lbs. Born - Ste. Justine, PQ, 21 November 1979. Acquired by Calgary in trade with Colorado, for Jordan Leopold and a second round choice (59th overall) in the 2006 Entry Draft and a later conditional pick. NHL - 609 GP- 177 G - 362 A - 539 PTS. Drafted by Colorado, 12th overall in 1998.
Elsewhere, centreman Olli Jokinen was dealt from the Florida Panthers to the Phoenix Coyotes. The flashy Finn had been rumoured to be headed to Calgary, but GM Darryl Sutter said the price tag was far too high.
Unwilling to lose Dion Phaneuf or other key players in exchange for a man with no playoff experience, Sutter let any tabled offer pass.
Check back for more information on Calgary’s newest prospects over the summer. With open training camp comes highlights and reviews, and we'll see if these boys have what it takes to skate with the men.
We will also take a closer look at what Mike Cammalleri—and any others who may join him—will bring to the Calgary Flames next season, and examine what he has done in the NHL so far.
Also, tune in weekly (starting Monday, June 23) for a multi-part series of mind-boggling Hockey Trivia. Test your game knowledge and discover the hockey stories that make up over a hundred years of ice time.
M MacDonald Hall is the Bleacher Report Calgary Flames Community Leader, and will be adding to the NHL department over the summer. Future Flames articles include a breakdown of Calgary’s playoff performance in the 21st Century, roster changes and information, and Flames-related trivia. M’s Bleacher Report archive includes an assortment of Flames/NHL articles.