5 most impactful trade deadline deals in Flames history

Feb 22 2019, 7:57 pm

For armchair general managers, this time of year is like NHL Christmas.

Much like racing downstairs to open an unknown gift under the tree, NHL fans are logging onto Twitter just to see who is on the move and for what price.

Trade deadline day has morphed into trade deadline week over the last decade, as more and more teams are looking to get ahead of the curve to make a splash ahead of the playoffs.

The Calgary Flames have been one of the more quiet teams over the past few years under Brad Treliving, usually opting to pick up depth players rather than a big name.

However, the Flames have been involved in some massive trade deadline deals over the last few decades, even involving Hall of Fame players dating all the way back to 1988.

Here’s a look at five of the most impactful trade deadline deals involving the Flames, for better or for worse.

1. Hull, Bozek for Ramage, Wamsley (1988)

brett hull flames

Image: NHL

Calgary’s return: One year out from winning the 1989 Stanley Cup, the Flames were looking to add veteran pieces to compliment players like Lanny McDonald, Mike Vernon, Al MacInnis, and Joe Nieuwendyk.

Their big splash in 1988 came with the acquisition of Rob Ramage, who was in his ninth NHL season and sixth with the St. Louis Blues with 42 points and 127 penalty minutes already to his name that season.

The Flames also wanted to shore up their roster between the pipes, adding Rick Wamsley to give the team some stability behind Vernon.

St. Louis’ return: In giving up one of their top blueliners in Ramage, the Blues were determined to pluck away one of Calgary’s most promising young forwards.

They had their sights set on 23-year-old Brett Hull, who had exploded for 26 goals and 50 points through 52 games in his rookie season with the Flames.

To sweeten the pot, St. Louis was also able to snag bottom-six forward Steve Bozek who had only played in 26 games with Calgary that season.

Legacy: Calgary’s deal paid off the following season with both Ramage and Wamsley being key contributors in the Flames’ Stanley Cup victory, but it came at an incredible cost.

Hull of course went on to become one of the most feared snipers in NHL history, reaching the 50-goal mark five times with the Blues and sits fourth on the all-time list with 741 career goals.

2. Stillman for Conroy, 7th round pick (2001)

St. Louis’ return: Cory Stillman was a bright spot on some truly terrible Flames teams in the mid-to-late 1990s, but his time with Calgary finally ran out in March of 2001.

The Blues were wanting to shake things up and brought in the former sixth overall draft pick, hoping a change in scenery would ignite his offensive ability. Just prior to being acquired by St. Louis, Stillman had cracked the 20-goal mark for third time in his career.

Calgary’s return: Much like the Blues, the Flames were looking to take a chance on a player with high-end offensive potential who for one reason or another, was never able to put all the piece together. Craig Conroy had seen his point totals regress from 43 points in 1997-98 to just 27 points in 1999-00, but was just two points away from passing his previous season’s stats when he was moved to Calgary.

Legacy: Conroy exploded for 75 points the following year and played alongside Iginla for much of his career, dressing for over 500 games as a member of the Flames and was a key part of Calgary’s 2004 Stanley Cup Final run.

Stillman played two and a half seasons in St. Louis with moderate success, but in a turn of fate had his best season playing with Tampa Bay in 2003-04, helping the Lightning beat Calgary to win the Stanley Cup.

Calgary selected David Moss with the seventh round pick in 2001, who carved out six seasons with the Flames as a depth player.

3. Iginla for Agostino, Hanowski, 1st round pick (2013)

Pittsburgh’s return: After years of speculation, the Flames finally began their long-awaited rebuild in 2013 by trading away arguably the greatest player in franchise history. At the time of the trade, the Flames franchise leader in goals and points was in the middle of his worst offensive season of his career with nine goals and 22 points in 31 games.

Pittsburgh meanwhile was gearing up for a potential Stanley Cup run with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the prime of their careers.

Calgary’s return: General manager Jay Feaster was looking to add some size to his prospect pool by acquiring a pair of NCAA forwards. Kenny Agostino was registering over a point per game at Yale, while Hanowski was in his senior year captaining the St. Cloud State Huskies.

The Flames also acquired Pittsburgh’s first round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, one of three they would draft with that year following a trade involving sending Jay Bouwmeester to St. Louis just days later.

Legacy: Iginla’s time in Pittsburgh was short-lived, losing to Boston in the Eastern Conference Final that year before signing with the Bruins that off-season.

Neither Agostino nor Hanowski were able to make an impact at the NHL level in Calgary, with the pair combining to play just 26 career games with the Flames before moving on from the team.

The last remaining piece of the Iginla deal, a first rounder used to select Morgan Klimchuk, was traded to Toronto this past November for defenceman Andrew Nielsen.

4. Lombardi, Prust, 1st round pick for Jokinen, 3rd round pick (2009)

Calgary’s return: March 4, 2009 was a busy day for then-Flames GM Darryl Sutter, who acquired both Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold in the hopes of making a deep playoff push.

Jokinen, who was less than two years removed from a 91-point season with the Florida Panthers, was having a productive season with the Phoenix Coyotes with 42 points in 57 games. The Flames were looking for an elite centreman to play alongside Iginla and were able to convince the Coyotes to throw in a third round pick in the process.

Phoenix’s return: Nowhere near the playoff picture, the Coyotes elected to dump Jokinen’s $5.25 million cap hit after just half a season of work from the Finnish centre.

The Coyotes received speedster Matthew Lombardi and his 30 points in 50 games, alongside bruiser Brandon Prust who had missed significant time during the 2008-09 season with a concussion.

Calgary also had the choice of sending Phoenix their 2009 or 2010 first round pick, with the Flames eventually settling on the latter selection.

Legacy: Jokinen was a serviceable forward over two stints in Calgary with 165 points in 236 games, but was never able to get back to the elite numbers he posted in Florida.

Lombardi’s best season came with the Coyotes in 2009-10 when he posted 53 points, before becoming a journeyman forward to end his career. The Flames reacquired Prust that off-season, before ironically sending both he and Jokinen to the New York Rangers the following February.

The Flames later traded that third round pick to the Florida Panthers to acquire Bouwmeester. Florida selected winger Josh Birkholz, who never played a game at the NHL level.

5. Russell for Jokipakka, Pollock, 2nd round pick (2016)

Dallas’ return: Knowing they would miss the playoffs, the Flames chose to be sellers at the 2016 deadline and shipped off defenceman Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars. 

On an expiring contract worth $2.6 million, Russell was in the midst of his third season in Calgary and was one of the top shot-blocking defencemen in the NHL. His scoring had taken a bit of a nosedive however, as he only had 15 points in 51 games when he was dealt to Dallas

Calgary’s return: Trading away Jiri Hudler and David Jones that same week, the Flames were focused on loading up on draft picks and prospects 

They were able to pry away second-year defender Jyrki Jokipakka who had six points in 40 games for Dallas, and junior prospect Brett Pollock who was playing for the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings at the time. 

Dallas also threw in a conditional second round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, which could have been upgraded to a first rounder if Dallas made the conference finals.

Legacy: Russell only played in 23 combined regular season and playoff games for Dallas, posting eight assists over that time before walking as a free agent.

Jokipakka was traded to Ottawa the following trade deadline in the Curtis Lazar deal, while Pollock is still a member of the Flames organization playing for the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

Dallas failed to make the Conference Final in 2016 so the draft pick remained a second round selection. However, that pick was used to select one of Calgary’s most promising young prospects in Dillon Dube, who has had a handful of stints with the Flames this season.