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The (asset) chain is broken: Andrew Nielsen signs in Austria

Way, way back in 1976, the Atlanta Flames drafted Kent Nilsson. For over four decades, the Flames managed to keep turning over that asset – like the proverbial pizza Lunchables – for futures. This week, it appears the asset chain has finally been broken as defenseman Andrew Nielsen signed with EHC Linz in Austria’s ICE Hockey League.

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A third round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015, Nielsen seemingly fell out of favour with the AHL’s Marlies over the years and was traded to Calgary a season ago in exchange for Morgan Klimchuk. In 74 games with Stockton, Nielsen had nine assists. His offensive output over 226 AHL games was 20 goals and 79 points, primarily with the Marlies.

The Flames still have the option to qualify Nielsen to retain his North American rights, but that seems like a long-shot given his quiet offensive production in Stockton and the glut of new faces signed by the Flames and the Heat for the minors over the spring and summer.

The never-ending asset chain finally ends

Here’s how the Nilsson-to-Nielsen chain unfolded:

June 1, 1976: The (Atlanta) Flames selected Kent Nilsson in the fourth round, 76th overall, in the NHL Amateur Draft.

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June 15, 1985: The Flames traded Nilsson and a 1986 third round pick to the Minnesota North Stars for a 1985 second round pick and a 1987 second round pick.

June 15, 1985: The Flames selected Joe Nieuwendyk in the second round, 27th overall, with the pick they acquired from the North Stars.

June 13, 1987: The Flames selected Stephane Matteau in the second round, 25th overall, with the other pick they acquired from the North Stars.

December 16, 1991: The Flames traded Matteau to the Chicago Blackhawks for Trent Yawney.

December 19, 1995: The Flames traded Nieuwendyk to the Dallas Stars for Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen.

July 31, 1996: Yawney left the Flames as a free agent, signing with Chicago.

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June 30, 1997: Millen left the Flames as a free agent. (He retired later that summer.)

March 28, 2013: The Flames traded Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a 2013 first round pick.

June 30, 2013: The Flames selected Morgan Klimchuk in the first round, 28th overall, with the pick they acquired from the Penguins.

July 1, 2015: Hanowski left the Flames as a free agent after they declined to qualify him.

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June 27, 2016: Agostino left the Flames as a free agent after they declined to qualify him.

November 27, 2018: The Flames traded Klimchuk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Andrew Nielsen.

August 27, 2020: Nielsen left the Flames as a free agent, signing with EHC Linz.

By the numbers

Player GP G A Pts
Kent Nilsson 425 229 333 562
Joe Nieuwendyk 577 314 302 616
Stephane Matteau 82 16 19 35
Trent Yawney 274 11 45 56
Jarome Iginla 1,219 525 570 1,095
Corey Millen 92 15 25 40
Kenny Agostino 10 1 1 2
Ben Hanowski 16 1 2 3
Morgan Klimchuk 1 0 0 0
Total 2,696 1,112 1,297 2,409

Not bad for an asset swap that began with a strong fourth round pick.