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Burke: Flames halted trade talks on Ristolainen based on analytics

Brian Burke is about the last guy I would’ve expected to be a believer in advanced analytics that have taken the NHL by storm over the last number of years.

That’s no shot at Burke, but he always has come across as a big eye-test, old-school kind of hockey evaluator.

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But despite all that, according to transcription from TheScore’s John Matisz, while the president of hockey operations with the Flames, the team halted trade talks with Buffalo on a Rasmus Ristolainen trade.

“We were thinking about making a trade for him in Calgary,” Brian Burke, the former president of hockey operations for the Flames, said last week during a panel discussion in Toronto. “And we actually got several phone calls into this trade, and our analytics guy said, ‘You guys are out of your minds.'”

Burke added, “Chris Snow is our analytics guy – he’s a genius. He says don’t do a deal, we don’t do a deal. That’s how much weight we give him. But that’s where the eye test failed. The player looked better than he was.”

Buffalo, as is well known, has been trying to move on from Ristolainen for some time in their hunt for a forward. And, as is well known too, Ristolainen is… not very good.

What’s interesting to note is just how much faith the Flames have had in Snow. Eight years ago the team brought him on as a director of analytics, bumping that title up to assistant GM in September.

The aforementioned note didn’t suggest just when the supposed trade talks happen, but I’d sure be curious to know what those conversations had looked like.

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On Twitter: @zjlaing