The best and worst of the Flames at the trade deadline

We’re only two days away from the trade deadline, Canada’s best non-statutory holiday (though it definitely competes with some of the statutory ones).

The Flames will probably play it safe this year. Their recent form, compared with their competitors, makes the playoffs a very attainable goal without any additions. With no real cap or roster space available for a new player and almost no assets that can realistically be shipped out, we might be in for a boring deadline in Calgary.

Which may be a blessing in disguise. Trade deadline is a high pressure day, when numerous GMs have tried to save their teams and their jobs. Some have succeeded, and others have failed spectacularly. Under the current management, most deadline deals have fallen into the former. It’s been a mixed bag for other GMs.

Let’s take a look at what the Flames have done on or around (say a week before) deadlines previous, who was great, who was bad, and for what reasons.

Best buys

Blair Betts, Jamie McLennan, and Greg Moore to the New York Rangers for Chris Simon and a seventh round pick (March 6, 2004)

Let’s start off with a bold one.

Chris Simon (probably still suspended for something despite being out of the league for nine years) and players of his ilk being traded to the Flames would make us bloggers roll our eyes if it happened in the current times.

This was 2003-04 however, and Simon was a man possessed. He became a playoff legend that year, scoring five goals and adding two assists (and 74 penalty minutes, some things don’t change). At a low, low cost, Simon gelled nicely with the Flames, being the Micheal Ferland of that cup run.

His usefulness dried up the next season, but acquiring Simon was a shrewd move that made a lot of sense and paid off in the moment.

(if you are underwhelmed by this selection, consider the fact that the Flames have mostly been sellers and/or managed by idiots throughout their existence.)

Paul Ranheim, Gary Suter, and Ted Drury to the Hartford Whalers for Michael Nylander, James Patrick, and Zarley Zalapski (March 10, 1994)

The Flames kicked off trade deadline 1994 by getting the party started a week early, sending some of the final pieces from the 1989 cup team to the desperate Whalers for three younger (and better) players.

The old guard was slowly being dismantled every year since ’89, as holding onto the past proved to be a failing formula. Holding high seeds in 1990, ’91, and ’93 and then blowing it in the first round, the team decided to shake things up to try and prevent a similar result in ’94.

This trade didn’t push the Flames out of that pattern, but they were able to acquire two important defencemen for the remainder of the decade (one being the greatest-named Flames of all time). For the Whalers, Ranheim was not the same player, Suter was traded the next day, and Ted Drury was Ted Drury.

Best sells

David Jones to the Minnesota Wild for a sixth round pick and Niklas Backstrom (Feb. 28, 2016)

In the waning hours of trade deadline last year, the Flames made one last move, sending away Calgary’s beloved capybara for Minnesota’s beloved goalie. At the NHL level, this was a wash of a trade. David Jones existed on ice for 16 games and Backstrom played two games.

But that sixth round pick? It turned into WHL phenom Matthew Phillips, who has scored 43 goals and is currently two goals out of first for the entire league. It may be too early to say that he’ll be an NHL superstar, but right now it’s looking like more than anyone expected out of this trade.

Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals for a second and third round pick/Sven Baertschi to the Vancouver Canucks for a second round pick (March 1 and March 2, 2015)

I’m considering this as a two-in-one, and most of you will probably know why.

First off, it was surprising that the Flames could move the struggling two-time 20 goal scorer Curtis Glencross (32 at the time) for near-premium rental price even after he had been bumped down the rotation. It was also surprising that, even with their hand forced, they could get a second for Sven Baertschi who appeared to have stalled at the NHL level.

All together, these two trades provided the draft capital necessary to acquire Dougie Hamilton, Oliver Kylington, and Rasmus Andersson. That’s half of a high-potential defensive corps (all under 25) for someone who retired the next year and the third best player on the Canucks.

Reto Berra to the Colorado Avalanche for a second round pick (March 5, 2014)

This was an incredibly random trade that made no sense but made Flames fans happy. The .897 SV% Berra, whose major expertise was shootouts, was not only traded, but traded for a high value pick. Since this trade, Berra has only played 35 NHL games in three-ish years. If the Flames didn’t use this pick on Hunter Smith, it would probably be one of the more memorable steals.

Worst buys

A seventh round pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for Frederik Modin (Feb. 28, 2011)

With 73 points and 16 games remaining in the 2010-11 season, the Flames were in a playoff push and had a chance to take the lead with the trade deadline. Their only move was to get Freddie Modin, then 36 years old and several years removed from his prime. He played four games for the Flames and then retired, as the team finished out of the playoffs.

The problem isn’t with the trade itself (low value asset for low value asset), as much as the fact that they could’ve done anything else and didn’t. This is a team that didn’t have Daymond Langkow all year until April. Steve Staois (more on that in a moment), Niklas Hagman, and Tim Jackman were roster regulars. Also available that deadline? Sergei Samsonov, good Chris Higgins, and Brad Boyes.

Aaron Johnson and a third round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for Steve Staios (March 3, 2010)

If there’s one good thing about this trade, it’s that I have an excuse to use this photo:


I also like this one (y’all did good at this photoshop contest)


Now that that’s out of the way:

The first ever trade between Oilers and Flames saw Calgary overpay for an expensive and old defenceman that wasn’t going turn around the team’s fortunes after a dismal January and February. He was brought in for leadership on a team full of leaders, and with Cory Sarich, he anchored what was probably the most expensive third pairing ever.

There’s not much more that I can say that Kent didn’t seven years ago: horrendous.

Sandy McCarthy, a third, and a fifth to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jason Wiemer (March 24, 1998)

We can’t really consider this a trade deadline buy in the traditional sense of the phrase. Neither team was in much of a playoff race; the Flames were putting together their worst season ever and the Lightning had a 16-game winless streak, including 14 losses in a row. However, considering the price paid and the youth of the 21-year-old Wiemer, we can consider this a buy.

The feeling around the extremely promising Wiemer, eighth overall selection in 1994, was that Tampa was stymieing his growth with their incompetence. The Flames felt they could benefit by bringing him in to complement the other Young Guns. The best part is that it came at the low-low price of two mid-round picks and the disgruntled Sandy McCarthy, someone who punched faces and scored fewer than 20 points a year.

The first problem was that Wiemer wasn’t much of a boost, also becoming a facepuncher with only about a five to 10 point upgrade on McCarthy. The bigger problem is that the Flames sowed the seeds of their own undoing. The third round pick? It turned into Brad Richards, someone who became, very, very, very good.

Steve Bozek and Brett Hull to the St. Louis Blues for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley (March 7, 1988)

Some will debate whether it’s fair to categorize the above trade under the “worst” for something completely out of the Flames’ hands. They didn’t trade away Brad Richards, they traded away a third round pick which became Brad Richards due to some good luck and a lot of scouting departments not properly doing their job.

This trade is more clear-cut the Flames’ fault, having traded away a future HHOFer (who was just under a PPG in his rookie season!) for an alright backup goalie and a defender who scored 23 total points in the one and one-third seasons with the Flames, despite scoring 42 points in the rump season with the Blues before getting traded. Hull scored 84 points the next year and went on to be one of the NHL’s best in the 90s.

Worst sells

Mike Cammalleri to absolutely nobody for absolutely nothing (2014 trade deadline)

Remember this debacle?

After a deadline that saw Lee Stempniak moved for a third, Reto Berra for a second, Ilya Bryzgalov for an asset, and other nuttiness, the Flames simply couldn’t move Mike Cammalleri.

Now there’s a lot to consider here. The team had a concussion prone player who had been struggling in the lead-up to the deadline (23 of his 45 points that season came after March 5). But it was Brian Burke’s stubborn approach that meant the deadline came and went without Cammalleri switching jerseys. The interim GM was first rounder or bust for Cammalleri, and as a result, the Flames were down another potential top 100 pick.

Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues for Reto Berra, Mark Cundari, and a first round pick (April 1, 2013)

The critical 2013 trade deadline kicked off the rebuilding era of the Flames, but not in the way that anyone wanted.

Ironman Jay Bouwmeester, arguably Calgary’s best player at the time, was moved for an AHL defenceman, an AHL goalie (who was traded for a pick to be used on an AHL forward) and a first round pick (also used on an AHL forward). Just thinking about this trade makes me want to throw up all over again, I can’t imagine what could be wors-

Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski, and a first round pick (March 27, 2013)

Oh, right.

The Iggy trade is a day that will live on in infamy, the official end of an era. We collectively both accepted and rejected the inevitability that the man who routinely put 30 pucks in the net and filled our hearts with love would eventually leave after 16 faithful years serving a franchise that had squandered his immense talents (for proof of this, scroll up).

For a well respected and highly regarded NHLer, the Flames stood to at least symbolically continue his legacy through the return. That return was two college players, a fetish of the GM at the time, and a first round pick. The alternate trade involved a defenceman that the team years later signed out of the AHL for expansion draft purposes.

(Fingers crossed for this trade deadline.)

    • I went back-and-forth on it about 40 times. They paid a high price for him, but none of the assets became pieces of consequence (besides one good Matthew Lombardi season). He filled his role, and succeeded to some extent, despite the hate coming back his way. I couldn’t really make a strong case either way, so I didn’t put it on the list. You’re always free to think otherwise.

      • Parallex

        It’s more the downstream consequences… the cap he ate up that likely stopped moves that off-season, that he was later turned into Kotalik (who extended the Cap trouble). His mediocre performance on the team…

        That team will always be the “what could have been” Calgary Flames team to me. Sarich – Injured Out, Regher – Injured Out, Aucoin – Nagging injuries, Phaneaf – Nagging injuries, Bourque – High Ankle Sprain, Langkow – playing with two broken hands.

        Just out and out cursed at the end of that season. Then Darryl Sutter went insane and an era of the Calgary Flames effectively ended.

  • The Doctor

    I was able to watch Matt Phillips on TV in a game about a week ago, and I was impressed. Skilled, fast and what I really liked was his hockey IQ and anticipation — he seems to have that sixth sense about where the puck is going to go. One of those players that you notice every time he steps on the ice. Definitely small, though — he assisted on a power play goal when I was watching, and his linemate was like a full head taller than him.

  • The GREAT WW

    If the Wild are serious about winning now and giving away their future to do so; what would it take to get Jordan Greenway? Starting with Engelland etc.


  • The Doctor

    I notice you didn’t mention THE stupidest trade in Flames history, hands down (although it may not have been a deadline move): the Doug Gilmour Trade. I still have steam shoot out of my ears every time I think about that one. Also, on the Brett Hull disaster, as much as Badger Bob Johnson was a good coach, I recall the word at the time was that Johnson didn’t like Brett Hull, thought he wasn’t a committed two-way player, etc. So if true, sorry, but that’s partly on the late great Badger Bob.

    • Robhouli

      Sorry to correct you on this but Badger Bob was not coaching the Flames when they traded Hull. Terry Crisp was in his first year coaching the Flames. Badger Bob’s last year here was 86-87, Brett Hull was traded in March of 1988.

      • The Doctor

        Sorry, my bad memory/brain on that, I stand corrected. I do recall, though, that Hull was not a favourite of Bob Johnson’s when BJ was coaching him. Again, for that “defence” thingy, plus Hull always was a bit of a free spirit. I can see how me might have clashed with BJ.

        • Robhouli

          Brett Hull was a free spirit, he showed up at camp out of shape, huffing and puffing through drills. But was such a natural talent . I guess you take the liability for a 50-80 goal guy.

  • Kevin R

    Few other trades I think you missed & they were eye rolling trades at that:

    Reghr Kotalik & a 2nd to Buffalo for basically not much (I know there are lots of Byron fans on here but he wasn’t even a top 10 prospect of the Sabres at the time)

    Phaneuf Trade?????? My stomach still churns when Leafs are involved in any trade rumours with the Flames after this one & the Gilmour deal.

      • Kevin R

        It’s the underwhelming value we got for at the time a stud defence man that hits. Regehr was another. I thought we would get a 1st rounder & not only did we not get a 1st, we had to give up a 2nd rounder for at the time a meh return in order for Kotalik to go away. Just saying, this trade should have been mentioned in the crap category.

  • The Doctor

    BTW, not to harp on its epic idiocy — actually, I will — the Doug Gilmour trade would also be a top candidate for Stupidest NHL Trade of All Time generally, not just in Flames’ history.

  • Bring Back Brathwaite

    “If the Flames didn’t use this pick on Hunter Smith, it would probably be one of the more memorable steals”

    Smith is undervalued by FN.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I maintain the Hull trade was the first half of the deal that saw Gilmour become a Flame later in 1988. Look at what the Flames gave up to get Gilmour.

    As for Ramage, no coincidence that he played on 2 cup winners after he left the Blues.