It seems as if a few recent issues surrounding the hometown hockey heroes have been rolled up into one ugly, messy, filth-ball. So, I’ve tried to separate things. There’s my previous post on the woes plaguing the team, and now another recent Calgary Flames issue: deadline deals.
The Flames made three separate trades, sending three players to new locales while acquiring two new players in the process. In are defenceman Steve Staios (Edmonton) and goaltender Vesa Toskala (Anaheim); out are forward Dustin Boyd (Nashville), defenceman Aaron Johnson (Edmonton) and goaltender Curtis McElhinney (Anaheim). Many of these deals (at least two) have been met with more negative feeling than positive, at least in my estimation. But to me, I have no problem with two of them, and am willing to give it a little time with the most shocking.
The easy one to evaluate in my book is the Ducks deal. Straight up, McElhinney didn’t get the job done in this city. Nice guy, apparently a great dressing room dude. But he was inconsistent at best as the Flames backup goaltender, showing an inability in three seperate seasons to take the ball and run with it. You’d find it hard to believe if the Flames coaching brass or management had the confidence to start him in another game. So, they addressed a need.
Vesa Toskala may not be a legit number-one goalie at this point. He struggled upon being acquired by Toronto, as he was being counted on to be the guy. But as a backup, he’ll do just fine. Is his salary steep? Yes. But his $4 million does not go on the cap in full. In fact, just over $800,000 will count against in Calgary. To me, that’s a no-brainer — deal is a thumbs up.
I know the move to send Dustin Boyd to Nashville in exchange for a fourth rounder wasn’t met with resounding cheers of "awesome". There are still a lot of fans of Boyd in this city who felt he could have been utilized better and felt he should have garnered more than a fourth round pick in return.
Here’s how I see it. First, Boyd didn’t do enough in Calgary and didn’t deserve more time. His numbers were never great, but the argument always was that they would have been better in an increased role. I call BS. Boyd never earned an increased role, not under Keenan, not under Sutter. He wasn’t consistent enough and didn’t do the good things enough while on the third or fourth line.
How do you earn a better spot? Show you deserve it in a lesser role. Didn’t see that at all from Boyd. As for his return, it’s not like the rest of the NHL didn’t know the Flames were eager to move out a forward or two. Nashville said we’ll take Boyd, offered a fouth, probably wouldn’t budge and bam, there’s your deal. Be realistic here. It’s not like another team was offering a third rounder and the Flames were dead set on sending him to Nashville.
Finally, there’s the historic trade. For the first time EVER, the Flames and Oilers made a trade. Calgary sent a third round pick and Johnson north in exchange for Staios. The negatives? You bring in a #6 defenceman at a $2.7 million cap hit, signed for another season. You also give up a third round pick. But I’m willing to wait and see how this one plays out.
And I’m willing to wait on two things.
First, I want to see how Staios affects the team on the ice, but more so in the locker room. Now, I’m not going to be able to tell how the room dynamic is going to change; I’m not routinely invited in during team sessions. But let’s see if he makes a difference there. And let’s see if going to a team with a CHANCE for a playoff spot (unlike his prior home) does anything for his on-ice presence. Is he going to help the Flames scoring woes? No. But maybe that veteran guy on the ice and on the bench calms things down in key situations.
Second, let’s see what happens in the off-season. If Staios and Cory Sarich are both members of this team next season, then this deal looks really bad. Because, if that’s the case, you’ve got more than $6 million tied up in two blueliners playing 5-6 roles. That also means you didn’t have $2.7 or $3.6 million to work with in the off-season.
But what if the Flames swing a deal that ships out Sarich? Then this deal doesn’t look AS bad. I’m not saying I love it. I certainly have my doubts and am still skeptical. But I’m also not going to write it off, right away. The whole "wait and see" approach certainly has its benefits.