177Milan Lucic Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

A brief history of Battle of Alberta trades

For the past 39 years, the Calgary Flames have been engaged in the Battle of Alberta with their bitter rivals, the Edmonton Oilers. The two teams have played hundreds of times. They’ve engaged in dozens of fights. But until Friday’s trade, there had been more popes since 1980 than trades between the two rivals – now that tally is even.

Since 1980, five Oilers general managers and five Flames GMs didn’t conduct any trades with their rivals. Oilers GMs not trading include Glen Sather, Kevin Lowe, Peter Chiarelli and interim GM Keith Gretzky. Flames GMs not trading include Cliff Fletcher, Doug Risebrough, Al Coates, Craig Button and interim GM Brian Burke.

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Three Oilers GMs and three Flames GMs broke the seal, though. Here are the three trades they’ve made to date.

March 3, 2010: Calgary trades Aaron Johnson and a 2011 third round pick to Edmonton for Steve Staios

Looking to add some experience and grit for a playoff push, Flames GM Darryl Sutter did the unthinkable – he made a trade with Edmonton. (Edmonton’s GM at the time was Steve Tambellini.) Staios was alright for the team, but didn’t give them much of a boost. (Johnson and the pick didn’t fare much better for the Oilers.)

Staios missed most of the following season with injuries (and was fairly flat otherwise), eventually giving rise to the FlamesNation meme “Staios! Is! Available!” He left the team as a free agent in 2011 and we all vowed to put this silliness behind us.

November 8, 2013: Calgary trades Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit to Edmonton for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy

This trade made a bit more sense than the Staios swap. Looking for a veteran to help guide a rebuilding Flames squad, Jay Feaster sent tweener forward Horak and junior goalie Brossoit to Edmonton for Smid and Roy, a minor league goalie. (Edmonton’s GM at the time was Craig MacTavish.)

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Like Staios, Smid struggled with injuries and consistency and ended up riding out the final year of his contract on the long-term injured reserve list after a couple serious neck injuries. He landed in the Czech Republic as a free agent. Brossoit was easily the player who made it out of this swap looking the best, and he didn’t really get a foothold on a steady NHL gig until he became the backup in Winnipeg years later.

July 19, 2019: Calgary trades James Neal to Edmonton for Milan Lucic and a conditional 2020 third round pick

As with the prior two swaps, Brad Treliving’s trade with Edmonton was seeking to find a particular attribute or two. Staios was veteran grit. Smid was experience and leadership. Lucic is physicality, particularly with the departure of Garnet Hathaway. (The trade is functionally an acknowledgement that Ryan Lomberg might not be the heir apparent to that fourth line spot.)

The Staios trade was a declining team struggling to stay in the playoff hunt (and failing). The Smid trade was a rebuilding team trying to find a mentor for their youngsters. The Lucic trade is, at best, a team making a lateral trade with a rough contract and hoping to find a player who’s a better fit for the role that they have available. With the top six the Flames have, Neal wasn’t going to find his way back into that mix… and if he’s not scoring, you probably would rather have Milan Lucic manning the third or fourth line in limited minutes than Neal.

Time will tell if the third Battle of Alberta trade is as fruitful (or fruitless) for both sides as the previous two.

  • Abagofpucks

    So Neal is good buddies with Conner and their training hard together, sounds good to me and gives me hope Neal can redeem himself with the oilers.
    And Neal also gets to reunite with Smith and they are also good friends, this has the makings of a comeback story of the year .

    All of or most of ON are singing the praises of Ken Hollend for throwing lucics boat anchor contract overboard right onto the good ship Value Village.
    I have to admit i’m skeptical of Neal making a comeback but ive been laughing my A$$ off all weekend over this deal and im happy about it.

    I’ll put up with Neal and i’m darn glad you have looch instead of us. This opens up a lot of possibilities For holland going forward AHHAHAHAHA .

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      If you believe rumors, Neal called out Smith (denied it later) for letting in crap goals. Try stopping the FN puck was what he was supposedly said. I don’t think there was much respect between the two. Good luck with Neal on a defensively suspect Oilers team. It’s not his game. He will be out there for more goals against than Draisaitl and Russell.

      Didn;t like the trade, but I don’t think this was a win for the Oilers. Lucic wears the goat horns for a team incapable of getting to the playoffs. He didn;t help, but neither did 19/23 of the roster. Holland is a god the same way Chia was a god after the Maroon trade. When Neal is the biggest change to a team finishing 6th last, then don’t expect Neal to erase the 50 goal differential the Oilers had.

    • Off the wall

      That’s nice. This is Flames Nation. If you want to talk hockey, we’re glad to oblige you.

      Gloating is silly, especially since we’re months away from actually playing a game.

      Can’t you be happy (bragging) somewhere else?

        • The Iggy complex

          Haha while we have been sitting here laughing at three Oilers for 14 years. Oh yea poor flames fans trading away there biggest plug after a year they got 107 pts. You Oilers fans really have a hard time with the concept of hockey. Understandable though cheering for one of the worst franchises in hockey

          • Backcheck?

            Why only pick 14 seasons? Why not more? I always enjoy watching the arguments where sections of history are cherry picked to suit the argument. Are we talking worst franchises in the past 14 years or ever, I can’t tell. I agree they have been terribly run for many years, just not sure what timeline is wrapped around that part of the comment.

      • Kevin R

        Hey OTW! Have a true story for you.
        I have family members that volunteer at the Flames Charity golf tourney last Sept. When one of them saw Neal they asked him “You going to hit 30 goals with Johnny?” All he said was “40” with a big smile.

        His expectations were top line & I would imagine Tre got him to sign by giving him that carrot opportunity. We really didnt know what we had in Lindholm. When Lindy pushed him down off that line after Neal did diddly squat, they tried Neal with Backlund & Chucky. Frolik got demoted to the 4th line & that was the beginning of the Frolik agent sh!ght show. He couldnt even get his game with the 2nd line & was delegated to the 3rd line. If it wasnt for his injury, it could have been even worse. The guy was completely lost out there. Train all you want but holy cow, you better get it together on the ice. I think the frustration built up to the playoffs between him & Peters.

        So here is what I tell these gloating Oiler fans. Trades are supposed to benefit both teams or they would never happen. I am quite sure if Chiasson can get over 25 goals with McDavid so can Neal. Good for them, they actually have a more credible top 6 forward because they are desperately in need of one. If Neal hits that total, we get a 3rd from a lottery team, that is great! Neal would not have made our top 6 next year. Neal wasnt the reason we won the Pacific & were the first seed out of the West, we did that in spite of what Neal did.

        Neal was not making us better team next year. Lucic will. Lucic will be our answer to when the refs go brain dead & put away their whistles & players take liberties. We dont need Lucic to score a bunch a goals. Teams were literally mugging Tkachuk if he even went near the net & no one helped him. That changes & I dare say, I expect Tkachuk to be even a bigger pest & antagonist. If guys go after him or one of our other skilled guys, Peters will have them up against Lucic on the next faceoff. I am thrilled about this trade the more I think of it.

        So the question I ask all these Oiler clowns that are coming to gloat, why cant we have a trade where both teams accomplish moving players that needed to be moved & fill important needs each other were badly lacking? Why can people see this as a win win trade? I realize we are fierce rivals & want to think we just hammered each other in a trade. We didnt have the cap space to sign a Ferland or Trade picks & prospect for Reaves. But we managed to move a toxic contract & player in our dressing room & fill it with a need & actually gain $500K cap space immediately which will probably cover half of Magpie’s new deal.

        Thats my story :-> Enjoy this sunny Sunday!!!

        • The Iggy complex

          Kevin no point in telling Oilers fans that. They need this as an opportunity to try and feel better about their terrible team. They have lost every trade in the last five years. So finally a good hockey trade that Benifits both and of course they think it is a fleecing. Just wait. I’m due time they will be out of three playoffs again and complaining about how slow Neal is. It will be all good fault they didn’t make the playoffs like it was all reiders fault last year

    • Budgie

      Edmonton gave Lucic his 6 million which was ridiculous, set the bar high for all bottom 6 veteran’s salaries. Neal was signed for 5.75 million because of his 20 goals a year background, 2 million too much but that is RFA’s. Ken Holland and Trevling both had players no one else would touch at 6 million so a lateral move made sense. Calgary doesn’t need Neal and Edmonton doesn’t need Lucic. We have to wait and see if there is a winner and loser, see where Calgary ends up and where Edmonton ends up after the season. Calgary could have used Lucic during the playoffs last year, maybe the post season is where Lucic’s true value is.

    • The Red Knight

      Your basically paying Neal 6.5 mill for the next 4 years , in that swap , We will see but I’d be surprised if Neal outscored Lucic next season. We will see how buddy buddy Neal and Connor are , causeConnorsreally gonna get mauled now , lol how’s the knee ?lol

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      You are going to love Neal. He is going to show you how to handle Connor’s silky passes…like a grenade while blaming Connor for his ineptitude. What is the over/under for healthy scratch.

      • Shameless Plugger

        You’re gonna love Lucic. Hits lots, usually about two seconds after the puck is gone and doesn’t affect any part of the play at all. You’re gonna love his inability to process the speed of the game now that the emphasis is on skill and speed, and not grinding and pounding in the corners. I thought we were getting the Boston Bruin version of Looch, yet we got a guy whose being passed by in the game. He doesn’t fight much anymore (2 last year I think) and hasn’t been effective for the better part of two seasons. Expectations of “protection” might be misguided and leave you disappointed.

    • Trevy

      Neal couldn’t crack our top six and barely made it to top nine, but is probably good enough for the Oil’s top line. Um, good luck with that. Lucic was even quoted as saying that it was hard to stay engaged knowing every game with the Oilers was basically meaningless cause they were already out of the playoffs so early, but excited to be joining a team that plays meaningful games. Based on that, Neal will surely be invisible with you guys

  • Albertabeef

    March 3, 2010: Calgary trades Aaron Johnson and a 2011 third round pick to Edmonton for Steve Staios-On December 28, 2010, Sutter resigned as the general manager of the Flames.
    November 8, 2013: Calgary trades Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit to Edmonton for Ladislav Smid and Marc-Olivier Roy- On December 12, 2013, Feaster was relieved as general manager
    July 19, 2019: Calgary trades James Neal to Edmonton for Milan Lucic and a conditional 2020 third round pick-Treliving days are numbered.