Calgary Flames: Sutter Swaps

Derrick LightfootContributor IFebruary 4, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: Head Coach and General Manager Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames gives orders to the bench against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks during Flames v Ducks NHL Game at the Arrowhead Pond on April 17, 2006 in Anaheim, California.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

It was weird seeing a number three Calgary Flames jersey that didn't have the name Phaneuf on the back, but that is now the norm after the deal that sent Dion, Sjostrom and promising young defence-man Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Stajan, Hagman, White and Mayers.

The deal was in negotiation, and I am sure the Flames going on a nine game losing streak (snapped after a dominating win over the lowly Oilers ) was a catalyst in pulling the trigger on this one.

All talks point to the Leafs winning this one, but we can't overlook Calgary's need for offense. Yes, the forwards aren't superstars, but it does give the Flames depth.

Even if Phaneuf wins the Norris I don't think I'll be bitter. Sometimes players just need a change of scenery to play to their full potential. After his rookie season he declined. A slight improvement this year wasn't enough to keep him around in a D-Core that also sports Robyn Regher, Jay Bouwmeester and the underrated Mark Giordano , who is having a wonder season.

Obviously if the Flames were top of the conference and scoring in bunches this trade wouldn't have happened. But that sadly was something only semi-seen in September.

Now, could this have been avoided? If Sutter doesn't sign Bouwmeester and re-signs Cammalleri would the Flames be in this situation? A question we will never know the answer to, but it does hurt being a Flames fan seeing a class player like Cammalleri almost single handily keeping the Habs in play-off contention.

Darryl wasn't done there. A stalled deal saw the Prust and Jokinen connection again (Prust was used to acquire Jokinen from Phoenix , and then later re-acquired by the Flames) as both went to the Rangers in a deal for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins.

This deal was similar, and so are my feelings. I was neutral on Jokinen, but the Flames win I had talked about earlier against the Oilers was my last straw.

A five on three power play for the Flames. Jokinen was manning down low by the net on the right side. Three or four great passes tape to tape, damn near cross crease and Jokinen fanned on all of them—his Flames career in a nutshell.

On the other hand, Kotalik and Higgins are in the same boat. Both underachieving for the Rangers. Jokinen can walk at the end of the year, so can Higgins.

Prust leaving is the worst part of this deal though to be honest. A talented fourth line guy who can score some goals and drop the mitts.

There were rumblings of ownership being behind these deals, and I wouldn't be surprised. The Flames were looking like legitimate cup contenders, even with their lacklustre offense. It was a problem seen by many, but at the beginning of the year the boys in red were putting the puck in the net. Something that happened rarely during the losing skid, and when the puck was in the opponents net a sub-par defensive effort lost the two points.

All in all, it should be an interesting rest of the year in Calgary.

Summer? I think Sutter is up to something. Flames fans, expect some changes in the off-season.