At our core, we’re all fans of the great sport of ice hockey. And our love of ice hockey almost unconditionally applies to a few things related to the game: sweet dekes, awesome end-to-end action, and big trades. While the advent of the salary cap has really hindered general managers’ ability to make big deals, they are still possible. In theory, at least.
Here, in the dog days of summer, we salute the 14 mega-deals – trades involving six pieces or more – in the history of the Flames franchise. As you will see, the majority at them came at critical times and had some big impacts on the direction of the franchise.
May 15, 1973: Atlanta trades a 1973 first round pick (fifth overall), a 1977 first round pick (10th overall) and a 1978 second round pick (30th overall) to Montreal for a 1973 first round pick (second overall), a 1973 first round pick (16th overall) and a 1973 second round pick (21st overall)
GMs: Cliff Fletcher (Atlanta), Serge Savard (Montreal)
Context: The expansion Flames finished seventh in their division, missing the playoffs by a fair bit. Rookie GM Fletcher wheeled and dealed to allow the team to grab a bunch of young talent in the ’73 draft rather than wait patiently. With the picks they acquired, Atlanta took Tom Lysiak, Vic Mercredi and future Calder winner Eric Vail.
Dec. 12, 1977: Atlanta trades Curt Bennett, Phil Myre and Barry Gibbs to St. Louis for Yves Belanger, Dick Redmond, Bob MacMillan and a 1979 second round pick (23rd overall)
GMs: Fletcher (Atlanta), Emile Francis (St. Louis)
Context: The Flames were a couple days removed from snapping a seven-game winless skid (four of those games were ties) and Fletcher was seemingly hoping to shake up the 9-10-9 Flames. It worked and they made the playoffs, though they still failed to win a playoff series.
March 13, 1979: Atlanta trades Tom Lysiak, Harold Phillipoff, Pat Ribble, Greg Fox and Miles Zaharko to Chicago for Ivan Boldirev, Phil Russell and Darcy Rota
GMs: Fletcher (Atlanta), Bob Pulford (Chicago)
Context: The 36-24-7 Flames were comfortably in a playoff spot and Fletcher made some tweaks to get them over the “winning a round” hump. It didn’t work, though Russell became the first team captain a year later when the franchise relocated to Calgary.
June 8, 1982: Calgary trades a 1982 first round pick (ninth overall), a 1982 second round pick (30th overall), a 1983 first round pick at Buffalo’s option (10th overall) and a 1983 second round pick (31st overall) to Buffalo for Don Edwards, Richie Dunn, a 1982 second round pick (37th overall) and a 1983 first round pick at Buffalo’s option (13th overall)
GMs: Fletcher (Calgary), Scotty Bowman (Buffalo)
Context: After the Flames went to the third round of the playoffs in 1981, they were swept in the first round by Vancouver in 1982. Acquiring Don Edwards was part of an effort to improve the team (and allowing Buffalo the option to swap picks in the following draft netted them Dan Quinn at 13th overall, which turned out to be a really savvy pick long-term).
June 9, 1982: Calgary trades Pat Riggin and Ken Houston to Washington for Howard Walker, George White, a 1982 sixth round pick (118th overall), a 1983 third round pick (55th overall) and a 1984 second round pick (38th overall)
GMs: Fletcher (Calgary), Roger Crozier (Washington) [interim]
Context: The day after trading for a new, better goalie, the Flames traded their old goalie (Riggin) for a bunch of draft picks in future drafts. The 1983 pick was Perry Berezan and the 1984 pick was Paul Ranheim, so the benefits were felt well into the future.
Feb. 1, 1986: Calgary trades Charlie Bourgeois, Eddy Beers and Gino Cavallini to St. Louis for Joe Mullen, Terry Johnson and Rik Wilson
GMs: Fletcher (Calgary), Ron Caron (St. Louis)
Context: The Flames were continuing their progression from “good young team” to “terrifying team to meet in the playoffs.” Fletcher continued his yearly tweaks by acquiring Mullen, who immediately became one of the team’s most potent offensive weapons. The deal came as the Flames hovered around .500 (at 23-22-6) and had finally put some distance between them and a club-record 11-game losing skid. The Flames ended up finishing strong and went to the Stanley Cup Final that season.
Sept. 6, 1988: Calgary trades Mike Bullard, Craig Coxe and Tim Corkery to St. Louis for Doug Gilmour, Mark Hunter, Steve Bozek and Mike Dark
GMs: Fletcher (Calgary), Caron (St. Louis)
Context: The Flames were coming off winning the Presidents’ Trophy the previous season (but losing in the second round of the playoffs). So Fletcher made his habitual tweaks prior to the beginning of training camp, bringing in a few key veterans to bolster his club. It seemed to work, as they won the Stanley Cup.
Jan. 2, 1992: Calgary trades Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Mandervillle to Toronto for Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Alex Godynyuk, Jeff Reese and Craig Berube
GMs: Doug Risebrough (Calgary), Fletcher (Toronto)
Context: Sigh… The Flames were bad this year and missed the playoffs for the first time since the team moved to Calgary (and for the first time in franchise history dating back to 1974-75). New GM Risebrough likely wanted to spark his team, ala his mentor Fletcher. Instead, he was fleeced and sent four key members of the 1989 Cup team out the door for spare parts. They were 17-17-5 when the deal was made, and they only further fizzled afterwards.
Both in terms of sheer size (10 players) and low quality of return, this is the trade all others are measured against.
March 10, 1994: Calgary trades Gary Suter, Paul Ranheim and Ted Drury to Hartford for Michael Nylander, Zarley Zalapski and James Patrick
GMs: Risebrough (Calgary), Paul Holmgren (Hartford)
Context: The Flames (32-26-11) were battling for a division lead but were in tough. So Risebrough shuffled the deck. The gamble worked out, as the Flames won the division that season after going 10-3-2 following the deal.
March 5, 1997: Calgary trades Steve Chiasson and a 1997 third round pick (80th overall) to Hartford for Hnat Domenichelli, Glen Featherstone, a 1997 second round pick (51st overall) and a 1998 third round pick (62nd overall)
GMs: Al Coates (Calgary), Jim Rutherford (Hartford)
Context: The club was hovering just below .500 (at 27-33-7) and a playoff spot wasn’t guaranteed, but what was likely guaranteed was a cash-strapped Flames club being unable to retain Chiasson long-term. Thus, Coates flipped him to the Whalers for a bunch of assets. Neither of the picks acquired turned into anything of note, but that’s hardly his fault. The Flames missed the playoffs.
Feb. 28, 1999: Calgary trades Theoren Fleury and Chris Dingman to Colorado for Rene Corbet, Wade Belak, a 2000 second round pick (46th overall) and Robyn Regehr
GMs: Coates (Calgary), Pierre Lacroix (Colorado)
Context: The club (21-29-10) was hovering well below .500 and a playoff spot was likely out of reach. Also out of reach was retaining Fleury long-term due to financial constraints. So Coates flipped him to Colorado for a bunch of assets. Regehr turned out to be a really useful long-term building block. The rest of the pieces are forgettable.
June 23, 2001: Calgary trades Fred Brathwaite, Daniel Tkaczuk, Sergei Varlamov and a 2001 ninth round pick (270th overall) to St. Louis for Roman Turek and a 2001 fourth round pick (124th overall)
GMs: Craig Button (Calgary), Larry Pleau (St. Louis)
Context: The Flames were okay and had stable goaltending, which was an upgrade after the recent tire-fire that position had been. But they felt they needed to upgrade to compete in the West, so they shipped out a bunch of under-performing prospects (and Brathwaite) for a good goalie.
Jan. 31, 2010: Calgary trades Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie and Frederik Sjostrom to Toronto for Niklas Hagman, Ian White, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers
GMs: Darryl Sutter (Calgary), Brian Burke (Toronto)
Context: The Flames (27-20-2-6) were an okay team that was expected to be better than okay. Sutter seemed to be panicking, and traded his top young defenseman (and a decent minor-pro defender and a good NHL penalty-killer) to Toronto for Matt Stajan and some guys. The Flames missed the playoffs by many, many points. Sutter resigned just before the end of 2010.
Jan. 12, 2012: Calgary trades Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2013 second round pick (36th overall) to Montreal for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a 2012 fifth round pick (124th overall)
GMs: Jay Feaster (Calgary), Pierre Gauthier (Montreal)
Context: In the final season before the middling club (then 21-19-3-2) threw in the towel and decided to rebuild, Feaster attempted to solve two problems at once: adding Cammalleri for Bourque upgraded the team’s wings and gave them another scoring threat, while adding Ramo gave the team another potential successor to Miikka Kiprusoff’s net. Considering what was given up by the Flames, this one turned out okay. Sidenote: Gauthier was ousted in Montreal a few months after this deal.