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Chances are, Flames dealt Iginla for nothing

Jarome Iginla played 1219 games with the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Jarome Iginla played 1219 games with the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a very good chance that when all is said and done a decade or so from now, the Calgary Flames will have garnered next to nothing from trading Jarome Iginla.

Pittsburgh acquired the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer from the Flames for college prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and a first-round draft pick. It’s a return that has been received in Calgary as: two fringe prospects, but at least the Flames get a first-rounder.

Agostino and Hanowski are C-list prospects who are not ranked among Pittsburgh’s top 10 prospects in Future Watch 2013. They are offensive forwards who were impact players at the high school level, good (but not great) at the college level and we’ll wait and see at the pro level. The fact they weren’t identified as top 10 prospects during our Future Watch assessment leads us to believe scouts would be very surprised if they became core players (top nine forwards or top four defensemen) at the NHL level. The odds are heavily stacked against them.

But at least the Flames got a first-rounder in the trade, eh? Don’t get too excited.

While there’s always high hope for first-round picks to some day step in and become at least NHL regulars, past history shows us that’s rarely the case with picks as low as 30th overall. The first-round pick Calgary received from Pittsburgh could turn out to be as high as 25th overall, but it’s going fall in the 27 to 30 window if the Penguins make it to the third round of the playoffs and 30th overall if Pittsburgh wins the Cup. And right now, the Pens are considered the favorites.

A study of 28 players drafted 30th overall (from 1980 to 2007) shows the Flames shouldn’t expect a breakthrough player at that spot in the draft. We classified them into four categories – we initially had a fifth “great” grouping, but no one fell into that. They include very good, good, meh and bad. We didn’t include the 30th overall picks from 2008 to present because the jury is still out.

Only two players drafted 30th overall since 1980 had very good careers – Patrice Brisebois and Sandis Ozolinsh. Five others had good careers, though you might find the classification of “good” to be generous. The other 21 players (that’s 75 percent of the players drafted 30th overall) were disappointments, half of them first-rate flops.

Might the results be any different for the 27th, 28th or 29th overall pick? Maybe a little better the lower you go. But past history shows, it’s largely a shot in the dark.

The Flames might argue that a stronger emphasis on scouting will increase Calgary’s odds of yielding a good or better player at spot No. 30. Then again, none of the teams who picked busts in the 30-hole over the years thought they were doing so at the time.

Here’s the listing of the 30th overall picks since 1980 and how we classify them. The number next to the players name is NHL games. Asterisks indicate he’s still active in NHL. (30th overall picks in drafts prior to 2000 fell in the second round.)

Great
None

Very good
1989 – Patrice Brisebois, 1,009
1991 – Sandis Ozolinsh, 875

Good
1981 – Jan Erixon, 556
1986 – Neil Wilkinson, 460
1994 – Deron Quint, 463
2001 – Dave Steckel, 405*
2002 – Jim Slater, 475*

Meh
1980 – Ken Solheim, 135
1983 – David Bruce, 234
1984 – Peter Douris, 321
1988 – Adrien Plavsic, 214
1996 – Josh Green, 341
2000 – Jeff Taffe, 180
2006 – Matt Corrente, 34*

Bad
1982 – Jen Johansson, 0
1985 – Par Edlund, 0
1987 – Jeff Harding, 15
1990 – Rod Pasma, 0
1992 – Chris O’Sullivan, 62
1993 – Nikolai Tsulygin, 22
1995 – Mike McBain, 64
1997 – J-M Pelletier, 7
1998 – Kyle Rossiter, 11
1999 – Luke Sellars, 1
2003 – Shawn Belle, 20
2004 – Andy Rogers, 0
2005 – Vladimir Mihalik, 15
2007 – Nick Ross, 0

Too Early To Say
2008 – Thomas McCollum, 1*
2009 – Simon Despres, 42*
2010 – Brock Nelson, 0*
2011 – Rickard Rakell, 4*
2012 – Tanner Pearson, 0*

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Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN

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