Calgary Flames

Talbot and Smith join short list of swapped players between Flames & Oilers

Cam Talbot has officially inked a contract with the Calgary Flames. His one year deal carries an average annual value of $2.75M, a steep pay cut from the contract he signed just three years ago with the Edmonton Oilers ($4.16M AAV).

The fierce rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton has been well documented, both in sports and in other areas, and it is very rare for players to play for both teams.

In fact, only 44 players in the entire history of the NHL have played for both the Flames and Oilers in their careers. Out of these 44 players, only 12 have played for one club in one season, and the other club in the following season. Out of those 12 players, only four were traded between the two teams, occurring in two separate deals, and not a single one was a goalie…

Until this week! Or, more accurately, October 2019. Cam Talbot will be the first goaltender to have played for the Oilers Flames in one season, and then for the Flames in the next season.

And the party doesn’t end with Talbot either. Another name scratched off the UFA list for the 2019 offseason is goaltender Mike Smith, who was a member of the Flames for the past two seasons. Smith just signed a new contract with the Oilers, completing a bizarre roundabout goaltender switch-a-roo between the two Alberta franchises. Never in history have two players traded spots like Talbot and Smith.

Suiting up for both the Flames and Oilers

With the help of Hockey-Reference, Wikipedia, and, we were able to catalog the complete list of all 12 players (now 14 including the two goaltenders) who skated for the Flames or Oilers in one season, and then the other team in the next season. It’s an interesting and somewhat nostalgic list; how many do you think you can guess off hand?

The Pitstoppers

Of these 14 players, five didn’t move directly from one Alberta team to the other. These players were members of a third team in between, and that happened through a variety of ways.

Kris Russell

  1. July 5, 2013: Traded to Calgary by St. Louis for Calgary’s 5th round pick (Jaedon Descheneau) in 2014 NHL Draft.
  2. February 29, 2016: Traded to Dallas by Calgary for Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and Dallas’ 2nd round pick (Dillon Dube) in 2016 NHL Draft.
  3. October 7, 2016: Signed as a free agent by Edmonton.

Kris Russell is the most recent player to play for both Alberta teams in consecutive seasons. He follow a similar path to Talbot, moving on from the Flames at the trade deadline in 2016 and then signing with the Oilers the following offseason.

Season to season, Russell scored one goal and 13 points in his first season with the Oilers, a downtick from four goals and 15 points with the Flames the year prior. He did block 213 shots for the Oilers though.

Corey Potter

  1. July 1, 2011: Signed as a free agent by Edmonton.
  2. March 5, 2014: Claimed on waivers by Boston from Edmonton.
  3. September 5, 2014: Signed as a free agent by Calgary.

Corey Potter was signed as a free agent by both the Oilers and Flames. He played for the Oilers from 2011-2014, before suiting up for the Boston Bruins after he was claimed on waivers from Edmonton in March of 2014. After the expiry of his contract, he signed with the Flames the following offseason.

Potter played just six games with the Flames, scoring zero points and averaging under 10 minutes of ice time. He scored 30 of his 32 career points over his three year stint with the Oilers.

Ales Kotalik

  1. March 4, 2009: Traded to Edmonton by Buffalo for Carolina’s 2nd round choice (previously acquired, later traded to Toronto – Toronto selected Jesse Blacker) in 2009 Entry Draft.
  2. July 9, 2009: Signed as a free agent by NY Rangers.
  3. February 2, 2010: Traded to Calgary by NY Rangers with Chris Higgins for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

Ales Kotalik took one of the more complicated routes of those on this list. He was traded to the Oilers, saw his contract expire and became a UFA, signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers, and then was traded to the Flames. Kotalik played for four teams over two seasons, but found himself on both sides of the Alberta rivalry over a 2 year span.

Kotalik scored seven goals and eleven points in 19 games with the Oilers, and three goals and five points in 26 games with the Flames the following year.

Jim Dowd

  1. August, 1997: Signed as a free agent by Calgary, August 1997.
  2. June 26, 1998: Traded to Nashville by Calgary for future considerations.
  3. October 1, 1998: Traded to Edmonton by Nashville with Mikhail Shtalenkov for Eric Fichaud, Drake Berehowsky and Greg de Vries.

Jim Dowd‘s inclusion on this list is due to two trades, one from Calgary to Nashville, and then from Nashville to Edmonton. Both trades happened in the offseason, so Dowd never actually suited up for the Predators despite spending three months on their roster.

In his last season with the Flames, Dowd scored six goals and 14 points, and didn’t score any points over just one game played for the Oilers the following season.

Garry Unger

  1. October 10, 1979: Traded to Atlanta by St. Louis for Ed Kea, Don Laurence and Atlanta’s 2nd round choice (Hakan Nordin) in 1981 Entry Draft.
  2. June 6, 1980: Traded to Los Angeles by Calgary for Bert Wilson and Randy Holt.
  3. June 24, 1980: Atlanta franchise relocated to Calgary.
  4. March 10, 1981: Traded to Edmonton by Los Angeles for Edmonton’s 7th round choice (Craig Hurley) in 1981 Entry Draft.

We’re going way back with this one. Garry Unger is the only member of this list to be part of the Atlanta Flames franchise. Unger was traded to Atlanta, then to Los Angeles, and then to Edmonton.

In 79 games with the Atlanta Flames, Unger scored 17 goals and 33 points. In his first season with the Oilers, he did not score any points in 13 games played.

The Traded

It doesn’t happen very often, the next four players were traded directly from one Alberta team to the other. Last season, the idea of trading Talbot for Smith one-for-one was talked about, but it never materialized. That’s basically what ended up happening this offseason though, and maybe it could have happened earlier if the rivalry wasn’t so strong in Alberta.

Ladislav Smid

  1. July 3, 2006: Traded to Edmonton by Anaheim with Joffrey Lupul, Anaheim’s 1st round pick (later traded to Phoenix – Phoenix selected Nick Ross) in 2007 NHL Draft and Anaheim’s 1st (Jordan Eberle) and 2nd (later traded to NY Islanders – NY Islanders selected Travis Hamonic) round picks in 2008 NHL Draft for Chris Pronger.
  2. September 21, 2012: Signed as a free agent by Liberec (CzRep).
  3. November 8, 2013: Traded to Calgary by Edmonton with Olivier Roy for Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak.

Smid is one of only four players to be traded between the two Alberta teams and play games for both. Part of the famous Chris Pronger trade, Smid was a serviceable defender for the Oilers.

His last full season in Edmonton saw him put up four points, and in his first season with the Flames, he scored just a single assist. Unfortunately, Smid’s career was riddled with injuries and he was never able to hit his ceiling with either team.

Roman Horak

  1. June 1, 2011: Traded to Calgary by NY Rangers with NY Rangers’ 2nd round choice (Markus Granlund) in 2011 Entry Draft and Pittsburgh’s 2nd round choice (previously acquired, Calgary selected Tyler Wotherspoon) in 2011 Entry Draft for Tim Erixon and Calgary’s 5th round choice (Shane McColgan) in 2011 Entry Draft.
  2. November 8, 2013: Traded to Calgary by Edmonton with Laurent Brossoit for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy.

Roman Horak was part of the Smid trade, and was the key offensive piece heading to the Oilers in return. In his split season between the Flames and Oilers, Horak played just three combined games, one for the Flames and two for the Oilers. He scored just a single goal while in Edmonton, and did not play another NHL game after that season.

Steve Staios

  1. July 12, 2001: Signed as a free agent by Edmonton.
  2. January 28, 2005: Signed as a free agent by Lulea (Sweden).
  3. March 3, 2010: Traded to Calgary by Edmonton for Aaron Johnson and Calgary’s 3rd round choice (Travis Ewayyk) in 2011 Entry Draft.

This is the second trade between the two teams that involved players who actually played NHL games. Staios was a solid defender for Edmonton who had passed his prime, and was moved to Calgary after eight seasons in Edmonton. He put up seven assists in 40 games with the Oilers, and three goals and 10 points in the remaining 18 games with the Flames. He played just two more seasons after that.

Aaron Johnson

  1. October 7, 2009: Traded to Calgary by Chicago for Kyle Greentree.
  2. March 3, 2010: Traded to Edmonton by Calgary with Calgary’s 3rd round pick (Travis Ewanyk) in 2011 NHL Draft for Steve Staios.

Aaron Johnson was never a big player for either Alberta team. In his split season, he scored one goal and three points for the Flames, and three goals and seven points for the Oilers. He played two more seasons after that, topping out at 291 NHL games played in his career.

The Signed

The next two players moved directly from one Alberta team to the other, but were not traded. These players’ contracts simply expired with one team, and then they signed with the other.

Curtis Glencross

  1. February 1, 2008: Traded to Edmonton by Columbus for Dick Tarnstrom.
  2. July 2, 2008: Signed as a free agent by Calgary.

Curtis Glencross is probably one of the only alumni for both the Flames and Oilers who is loved equally by both fan bases. A true Alberta boy, Glencross played just one year in Edmonton, putting up nine goals and 13 points over 26 games, but was beloved. He played seven seasons with the Flames, scoring 13 goals and 40 points in his first year after moving from the Oilers.

Kari Jalonen

  1. January 21, 1982: Signed as a free agent by Calgary.
  2. December, 1983: Signed as a free agent by Edmonton, December 1983.

Kari Jalonen followed the opposite path of Glencross, signing with the Oilers after his contract expired with the Flames…. in December. I’m not entirely sure what happened with Jalonen; he wasn’t traded between the two teams but did move from one to the other midseason. In that season, he scored just three assists in nine games for the Flames, and no points in three games with the Oilers.

The Outlier

As titled, this last player took the most roundabout route, and doesn’t really fit into any of the other categories.

Len Esau

  1. September 6, 1993: Signed as a free agent by Calgary.
  2. January 18, 1995: Claimed by Edmonton from Calgary in NHL Waiver Draft.
  3. March 7, 1995: Claimed on waivers by Calgary from Edmonton.

Len Esau definitely wins the award for most convoluted way to play for both Alberta teams in successive seasons. After signing with the Flames in the offseason of 1993, he was claimed on waivers the following season after playing just one game for Calgary by Edmonton in the NHL Waiver Draft (which doesn’t exist anymore). Then, Esau was placed on waivers by Edmonton and re-claimed by the Flames.

Over his career, he scored three assists in seven games with the Flames, and six assists in 14 games with the Oilers.

A Storied History

It truly has been a storied history between the two NHL teams in Alberta. They don’t really get along, don’t like trading with each other, and it’s rare to see players suit up for both teams in their careers, let alone in successive seasons.

This year’s Talbot/Smith swap is historic, and we might never see something like this happen again.

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