The playoff stretch drive has begun which means trade talk and rumours are heating up as we head towards the league’s March 3 trade deadline. The Flames could be aggressive buyers at the deadline depending how the next couple weeks go. In the past, they’ve typically shied away from making any major moves until the offseason.
That said, under Darryl Sutter the Flames have had some busy trade deadlines during his first stint with the team. As general manager with the Flames from 2003 to 2010, Sutter made nine deals on deadline day as well as some other major deals leading up to the deadline. Brad Treliving represents a very different era for the Flames management, but I think we can all admit that Sutter still a massive say in the moves the teams make and the players they bring in.
Let’s take a look at the Flames’ history at the trade deadline under Darryl Sutter to see his impact on the Flames.
Sutter’s first season as general manager was also his most successful season ever in Calgary. It was also one of the only years he didn’t make a single deal at the deadline. The Flames were in sixth place in the Western Conference going into the deadline and firmly on the playoff bubble, so Sutter didn’t do a ton of spending. He could’ve taken some lessons from this season in his later years with the team. The moves he did make were cheap and had an impact down the stretch.
Traded F Jason Morgan and a conditional draft pick for F Ville Nieminen
Sutter’s first deal leading up to the deadline was a move to acquire 26 year old forward Ville Vieminen for a conditional draft pick as well depth forward Jason Morgan. Morgan had only played 13 games for the Flames that season, so in getting Nieminen the Flames were able to upgrade their depth at forward.
Nieminen would go on to play 19 regular season games for the Flames posting eight points, as well as 24 of 26 playoff games that season, posting eight points as well. Following the lockout he would leave in free agency. The conditional draft pick ended up being a sixth rounder and Chicago would select goaltender Joe Fallon. He never played in the NHL.
Overall the acquisition cost was minimal and Nieminen logged 24 playoff games and helped the Flames make it to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, so this was a nice little move by Sutter.
Traded F Blair Betts, G Jamie McLennan, and F Greg Moore for F Chris Simon and a seventh round pick (Matt Schneider)
In a move a couple days before the trade deadline, Sutter went out and acquired some added toughness in veteran forward Chris Simon. Going the other way to the New York Rangers was backup goalie Jamie McLennan, depth forward Blair Betts, as well as prospect Greg Moore. The Flames also picked up a seventh round pick.
Betts had only played 20 games with the Flames that season, while McLennan was the clear backup and nothing more behind Miikka Kiprusoff. They also Moore meanwhile never made it to the NHL. With the seventh round pick the Flames took forward Matt Schneider who never played in the NHL or AHL.
Like Nieminen, Simon played a role in the Flames run to game seven of the final. He would play 16 of 26 playoff games that season, putting up seven points and a ridiculous 74 penalty minutes. Overall he’d spend parts of two seasons in Calgary and register 27 points in 85 regular season games and eight points in 22 playoff games.
Traded a second round pick (David Booth) for F Marcus Nilson
One deal of note the day before the deadline that year, picking up winger Marcus Nilson from the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick. Nilson would play a role in the Flames cup run as he would suit up for all 26 playoff games, putting up 11 points. Florida would select David Booth with the pick which could’ve been a disaster for the Flames had he not suffered some unfortunate concussions. Booth would post 60 points in just his third year in the NHL but never reached those heights again after his injuries.
The Flames only made one deal around the deadline and Nilson would help them get within one win of the Stanley Cup, so this was a successful trade deadline by Sutter.
Going into the 2006 trade deadline after the lockout, the Flames were in a great spot. They sat fourth in the Western conference and first in their division and were a lock to make the playoffs. As such, Sutter once again stood pat at the deadline and didn’t make any major moves.
Traded a fourth-round pick (Doug Rogers) for F Jamie Lundmark
The first move he made was to send a fourth-round pick to the Coyotes for forward Jamie Lundmark. Lundmark was a 25-year-old bottom-six centre who added some depth down the middle for the Flames who were prepping for a long playoff run. Unfortunately he wouldn’t amount to much in Calgary as he would only play 51 regular season games with the team before being dealt to the Kings in the Craig Conroy deal in 2006.
He’d manage 14 points in those 51 games and one point in four playoff games that same season. At the very least the Coyotes used the fourth round pick on Doug Rogers who never played in the NHL.
Traded F Jason Wiemer for a fourth-round pick (Hugo Carpentier)
Sutter’s second move was to recoup the fourth-round pick moved for Lundmark. He shipped veteran forward Jason Wiemer to New Jersey for said pick. With the fourth round-pick the team acquired for Wiemer, Sutter would select Hugo Carpentier who never played in the NHL. In the end the Flames would get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs despite winning their division, and Lundmark would only play in four of seven playoff games. Both deals amounted to nothing for the Flames and the teams who they made them with.
Traded a third-round pick (Nick Palmieri) for D David Hale and a fifth round pick (J.S. Allard)
After a successful 2005–06 regular season for the Flames, they were right back on the bubble entering the 2007 trade deadline. Going into deadline day the Flames ranked eighth in the Western conference and third in the division. The team was far from a lock to make the playoffs so Sutter once again kept the deals to a minimum.
The only move the Flames would make on deadline day was acquiring 26-year-old defenceman David Hale along with a fifth-round pick from New Jersey for a third-round pick. He would only get into two playoff games in 2007 after being acquired at the deadline. Hale would end up playing 69 regular season games and eight playoff games for the Flames across two seasons, registering a grand total of two points. He would leave in free agency in 2008.
With the fifth-round pick they received, the Flames would select Jean-Simon Allard who never played in the NHL nor AHL. The Devils used the Flames’ third-round pick on Nick Palmieri, who only played 87 games in the NHL. The Flames would go on to lose in six games in the first round that year. Overall the one deal Sutter made amounted to nothing for either team.
Traded a third-round pick for D Jim Vandermeer
Going into the 2008 deadline the Flames were in a decent spot, but as usual they were not a lock for the playoffs. They ranked sixth in the Western conference and second in their division. They were only three points up on ninth in the West, so they were still fighting for a playoff spot. In the end this likely deterred Sutter from doing anything rash on deadline day, as the Flames didn’t make a single move that year.
The only trade the Flames made around deadline day came eight days prior, with Sutter once again shipping out a mid-round pick. He’d send a third to Philadelphia for defenceman Jim Vandermeer. Vandermeer would play all seven games for the Flames in the playoffs that season. Overall he would play 66 regular season games and 13 playoff games over his two years in Calgary before being dealt in the summer of 2009. The third-round pick the Flames sent to Philadelphia would be used to draft Adam Morrison who never played in the NHL.
Another year, another insignificant deadline day and first round exit for Sutter and the Flames.
Feeling the pressure of mediocre season after mediocre season, Sutter went all-in and made a ton of deals on deadline day in 2009. After years of patience at the deadline and no results, desperation set in and Sutter tried anything to get some success in the playoffs. To be fair, the Flames were sitting third in the Western Conference and tops in their division going into deadline day, so it made sense to go all-in at the time.
Traded D Ryan Wilson, D Lawrence Nycholat, and a second-round pick (Stefan Elliot) for D Jordan Leopold
The first deal the Flames made was to re-acquire defenceman Jordan Leopold from Colorado for defencemen Ryan Wilson and Lawrence Nycholat, as well as a second-round pick. Leopold was actually dealt by Sutter to Colorado just three years prior in a deal for Alex Tanguay. He’d play 19 regular season games and all six playoff games that season before being traded once again, this time to Florida for Jay Bouwmeester. Colorado would use the Flames’ second-round pick on Stefan Elliot who would only manage 87 NHL games.
Traded G Kevin Lalande for a fourth-round pick
The Flames would also make a minor deal that day, trading goalie prospect Kevin Lalande for a fourth-round pick. They’d use the pick on forward Garrett Wilson who never played for them and only managed 84 games in the NHL. LaLande meanwhile never played in the NHL and went over to Europe following the 2009–10 season.
Traded F Brandon Prust, F Matthew Lombardi, and a first-round pick (Brandon Gormely), for F Olli Jokinen and a third-round pick (Josh Birkholz)
With his next move Sutter would make his largest ever deadline day deal. He’d trade forwards Brandon Prust, Matthew Lombardi, and a first-round pick to Phoenix for forward Olli Jokinen and a third-round pick. Over the three seasons prior, Jokinen had posted 251 points in 246 games, so this was Sutter’s attempt at finding Jarome Iginla a centre. Jokinen would post just 50 points in 72 regular season games as well as five points in six playoff games for the Flames before being dealt less than a year later in February 2010.
Prust was subsequently reacquired by Sutter in the summer of 2009, for Vandameer who Sutter acquired for a third-round pick during the 2008 trade deadline. He was then traded a few months later along with Jokinen in the February 2010 deal mentioned above. Lombardi meanwhile would spend two years in Phoenix, and post 69 points in 91 games.
Despite making three deals on deadline day including one major one, the Flames would once again get bounced in the first round. They had the option to send either their 2009 first-round pick which was 20th overall, or their unprotected 2010 pick to Phoenix. They opted to keep their pick in 2009 and traded down to draft Tim Erixon and Ryan Howse. Neither played for the Flames.
They then missed the playoffs in 2010 which gave Phoenix the 13th overall pick. Luckily the Coyotes picked Brandon Gormley who only managed 58 NHL games. The two picks before Gormley were Jack Campbell and Cam Fowler, and the three picks after were Jaden Schwartz, Derek Forbort, and Vladimir Tarasenko. Needless to say this could’ve been an all-time stinker of a trade.
2010 was the beginning of the end for Sutter in Calgary, as the Flames came into the trade deadline ninth in the Western conference and barely hanging onto their playoff hopes. In response to this, Sutter was very busy making moves that presented the Flames as both as a buyer and a seller. It was a confusing time in Calgary. It’s worth noting that Sutter’s two biggest moves that season, the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster trade to Toronto and the Jokinen for Higgins and Kotalik deal both occurred about a month before the trade deadline.
Traded F Dustin Boyd for a fourth-round pick (Bill Arnold)
In a move that signified Sutter was ready to sell, he shipped out depth forward Dustin Boyd to Nashville for a fourth-round pick. Boyd would only play 28 more games in the NHL after being dealt. With the fourth-round pick they acquired, the Flames would select Bill Arnold. Arnold showed some promise in college, but that was mainly due to being Johnny Gaudreau’s linemate. He’d play one single game with the Flames in 2013-14 and never saw NHL action again.
Traded F Riley Armstrong for defenceman Andy Delmore
There isn’t much to say about this deal. Both players involved were in the AHL at the time of the deal and neither made any sort of impact in the NHL after the deal.
Traded defenceman Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick (Travis Ewanyk) for defenceman Steve Staios
Like I said, it was hard to tell if Sutter was trying to be a buyer or a seller at the deadline in 2010. Despite moving Boyd for a draft pick, he then went out and traded a higher draft pick for veteran depth defenceman Steve Staios. Staios was 36 at the time of the deal with his best days far behind him.
Staios would play 57 games over the next two season with the Flames before leaving as a free agent in the 2011 offseason. Johnson would only play 19 games with the Oilers before leaving as a free agent in the 2010 offseason. Meanwhile the Oilers would use the Flames’ third-round pick on forward Travis Ewanyk. Even though Ewanyk never played in the NHL, it still made little to no sense to move a draft pick for an aging defenceman in Staios given the Flames were clearly headed towards a rebuild.
Traded G Curtis McElhinney for G Vesa Toskala
Like the Armstrong for Delmore deal, this trade had little significance to either team. Both players were backup goalies for their teams. McElhinney had one year left on his deal while Toskala was an upcoming free agent. Toskala would leave for Europe in the summer of 2010 after playing six games with the Flames. In the end this deal was just about shedding the final year of McElhinney’s contract.
A history of trade deadline disappointments
Sutter’s history at the trade deadline has been far from ideal outside of 2003–04. He’s either stayed patient and kept his team as is only to get bounced in the first round, or he’s been extremely busy making deals and sending out draft picks left and right only to get bounced in the first round. It’s hard to find one single deal that truly worked out for the Flames outside of 2004. It’s fair to say that the Flames would be best off keeping Sutter away from management duties.