Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The deadline and the damage done

Darryl Sutter is officially grasping at straws.

Vesa Toskala, Kipper's bestest friend, is a Calgary Flame.
Vesa Toskala and his $4 million salary.
Vesa Toskala and his thirty-two -year-old wonky groin, his 3.66 GAA, and .874 SV% is a Flame.

And it doesn't stop there.

Shortly thereafter, Dustin Boyd, a victim of the great forward surplus in Calgary, was shipped to Nashville for a fourth-round pick, which Sutter will probably end up trading it in some other bone-headed deal, if he's still employed at the draft. But hey, that's probably better than him using it to draft some bum who will probably never play a game in the NHL, right?

And finally, Sutter put the cherry on top of his annual Deadline Day sundae by acquiring thirty-six-year-old Steve Staios from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Aaron Johnson and a third round pick. Staios' cap hit is $2.7 million, and he is signed through next season. On top of that, he is -19 and has all of seven assists in fourty games.

Some people might see this as trading spare parts for spare parts, only older and more expensive ones, which seems like the exact opposite of what a modern-day NHL general manager should be doing.

My ideal deadline day scenario for the Flames would have been this: minimal activity, maybe trading a few forwards for picks and maybe a prospect or two. Asking for Cory Sarich to get shipped out was probably a little excessive. But adding an oft-injured defenceman near the end of his career, a goalie whose departure from Toronto made Leafs fans happier than they've been since the early nineties, and almost seven million dollars in salary was not my idea of a solution.

Curtis McElhinney wasn't cutting it as an NHL back-up, that's no secret, but unless Toskala can regain the form which allowed him to battle for the starting job in San Jose and strike a rich deal with the Leafs, I fail to see his addition as an upgrade, especially with his salary, health issues, and the fact that he's an impending unrestricted free agent.

The Staios deal baffles me entirely. Johnson was a serviceable seventh defenceman who wasn't the most mobile guy in the world, but was both considerably cheaper and younger than Staios. While known for his toughness and presence in the locker room, Staios's age, injury history, price tag, and -19 certainly raise some red flags. Plus all those years he spent with the Oilers. This move was purely a salary dump for Edmonton, and getting Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick in return makes Steve Tambellini look like a genius; no small feat.

While Boyd was likely expendable due to the emergence of Mikael Backlund, I'm very sad to see him go, especially for what essentially feels like a sack of pucks. Maybe Boyd will never emerge into the 20+ goal scoring, second line centre that we all envisioned, but he was one of the few players drafted by Sutter who seemed to have made the jump to the big league with potential for success, and at only twenty-three years old. He presented us with flashes of skill, speed, and toughness, and will certainly be missed.

At the end of the day, the Flames are still left with fifteen forwards, a questionable back-up goaltending situation, no true first-line centre, no picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft, and a world of troubles salary-cap wise with the extensions given to Stajan and Bourque, newcomers Hagman, Staios, and Kotalik all signed through next season, and some key UFAs to re-sign in the off season. All Sutter's really done here is pile onto the heap of problems already plaguing this poorly-run franchise rather than solving them. Huh. I pretty much declare this deadline day a massive failure.

Every move made since the Phaneuf trade has reeked of desperation. Today's are no different.

It's going to be an interesting month and one hell of an eventful summer, especially if the Flames fail to earn that coveted post-season berth.

Up Next: The Flames currently sit in ninth place in the West, and the hunt for the playoffs begins tonight with an eight o'clock tilt against the Wild (Sportsnet West). Neither of the new Flames will be in the lineup, thankfully.


  1. Mac for 4 million dollars in pro-rated cap space is a great trade, in my opinion. He was traded for because he is UFA at the end of the year.

  2. Well yes, but now they have to go out and find another back-up in the off season, unless they re-sign Toskala for less money.


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