Rome wasn’t built in a day. Much like a great city, neither is a National Hockey League team. The 2013-14 Calgary Flames roster is the product of transactions conducted by three different men – former GM (and current LA Kings coach) Darryl Sutter, former GM Jay Feaster and current interim GM Brian Burke.
The Flames roster presently holds 25 men (23 active, 2 on the injured reserve), mostly acquired through trades.
F Mikael Backlund (24th overall, 2007 Draft)
When Darryl Sutter was Calgary’s general manager, they chose seven different players in the first round (Dion Phaneuf, Kris Chucko, Matt Pelech, Leland Irving, Mikael Backlund, Greg Nemisz and Tim Erixon). Of those seven, just one remains with the franchise – 2007’s Mikael Backlund. A reliable two-way pivot with some offensive upside, Backlund is presently centering the club’s top line. Originally slated to pick 18th overall, the Flames traded down with St. Louis and chose Backlund (also gaining a third rounder they used to choose John Negrin).
- D T.J. Brodie (114th overall, 2008 Draft)
Calgary’s failures with first round picks is well-established. But while the 2008 Draft wasn’t great in the first couple rounds, the club did find some strong players in the later rounds. Chosen while Darryl Sutter was GM, T.J. Brodie has quietly become arguably the club’s top blueliner. This pick was acquired from Boston as part of a trade that also sent Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to Calgary in exchange for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.
- F Lance Bouma (78th overall, 2008 Draft)
Another mid-round Sutter choice, Lance Bouma has found a home on the Flames’ bottom-six, as well as chipping in as a regular on the penalty-kill, an occasional power-play goalie screener, and the team’s most reliable shot-blocker.
- F Sean Monahan (6th overall, 2013 Draft)
The gem of Jay Feaster’s last draft in Calgary, Monahan made the Flames right out of camp and currently leads the team in goal-scoring. His face-off totals aren’t amazing, but they’re bound to get better as he becomes a more seasoned NHL pivot.
FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
- D Mark Giordano (July 6, 2004)
One of Sutter’s true success stories from his GM tenure, Mark Giordano joined the Flames organization in the summer of 2004 – just before the 2004-05 lockout. He was a filler body for their new AHL affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. He progressed from AHL filler, to AHL cornerstone, to NHL call-up, to NHL regular, to Flames captain.
- F Curtis Glencross (July 2, 2008)
Another prototypical Sutter player, the hard-nosed Glencross was let go as a free agent by the rival Edmonton Oilers and promptly signed in Calgary. As Glencross has emerged as a consistent goal-scorer, there’s no doubt that the Oilers are left shaking their collective heads over the decision to let him walk.
- D Chris Breen (May 30, 2010)
A towering junior player with a bit of a physical edge, Breen was signed by Sutter with the hope he could develop into a physical presence. His skating and mobility still aren’t any great shakes, but he’s turned himself into a reliable AHL-level defender – albeit a bit out of his depth thus far in NHL outings.
- F Ben Street (July 2, 2012)
A productive player on an AHL deal with Pittsburgh’s farm club in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Street left the super-deep Penguins organization to sign an NHL deal with the Flames. He’s been a bubble guy – strong in the AHL, still finding his legs in the NHL – but also quietly one of the Flames’ better face-off guys.
- F Jiri Hudler (July 2, 2012)
One of Jay Feaster’s most astute moves was bringing in former Detroit Red Wings supporting player Jiri Hudler. After a first season in Calgary derailed by a lockout and the death of his father due to illness during training camp, Hudler has been quietly very productive and a rock-solid line-mate and mentor for the club’s younger players.
- January 10, 2010: Flames acquire F Matt Stajan, F Niklas Hagman, D Ian White & F Jamal Mayers from Toronto for D Dion Phaneuf, D Keith Aulie & F Fredrik Sjostrom
The only trade Darryl Sutter made to directly build this year’s team was arguably the one that ultimately cost him his job. Stajan is the only survivor of this trade still in the Flames organization, and he recently signed a four-year contract extension. A reliable two-way veteran presence, Stajan hasn’t contributed much offense this year but has eaten up the tough minutes for much of the season.
- June 25, 2011: Flames acquire D Chris Butler and F Paul Byron from Buffalo for D Robyn Regehr, F Ales Kotalik and a 2012 2nd round pick (D Jake McCabe)
One of the more peculiar moves by Jay Feaster, he sent Regehr – second in team history in games-played behind future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla – to Buffalo. Butler is a solid bottom-pairing defender with limited upside, while Byron has just this season began to play like a top-9 NHL forward. The price the club paid for these two is just a tad steep.
- August 29, 2011: Flames acquire F Lee Stempniak from Phoenix for F Daymond Langkow
A solid hockey trade saw the Flames acquire Stempniak, an underrated and reliable winger, for an aging center who retired a few years later.
- January 6, 2012: Flames acquire F Blair Jones from Tampa Bay for D Brendan Mikkelson
Another hockey trade saw the Flames ship out Mikkelson, a victim of waiver rules and the team’s blueline depth, for Blair Jones, who himself struggled to find a place before emerging as a bottom-six option this year due to his renewed emphasis on physicality.
- January 12, 2012: Flames acquire G Karri Ramo, F Mike Cammalleri and a 2012 5th round pick (D Ryan Culkin) from Montreal for F Rene Bourque, F Patrick Holland and a 2013 2nd round pick (G Zachary Fucale)
The rumours continue to swirl regarding Cammalleri’s future in the Stampede City, but this trade seemed to really help the club. Ramo is a definite NHLer, although his ceiling is debatable, while Cammalleri is either a solid top-six winger or a useful trade asset. If Culkin turns pro, this is a definite win for the Flames.
June 27, 2012: Flames acquire D Dennis Wideman from Washington for D Dustin Henry & 2013 5th round pick (later traded to Winnipeg)
The Flames may have paid a high price to sign Wideman (his cap hit is $5.25 million), but they paid a low, low price to acquire his rights – a pending UFA and a late-round pick.
- February 28, 2013: Flames acquire F Brian McGrattan from Nashville for D Joe Piskula
Piskula was an AHL depth player and McGrattan plays fourth line minutes. Even the biggest pessimist would call this a lateral move.
- April 1, 2013: Flames acquire G Reto Berra, D Mark Cundari and a 2013 1st round pick (F Morgan Klimchuk) from St. Louis for D Jay Bouwmeester
A tad unorthodox in his playing style, Berra is still a work-in-progress but may become a steady NHL goalie. At the least, he’s a decent back-up. Cundari’s an AHL depth player, while it’s too early to tell for Klimchuk. But giving up your best minute-devouring defender in Bouwmeester to get that return is a bit steep.
- June 27, 2013: Flames acquire D Shane O’Brien and F David Jones from Colorado for F Alex Tanguay and D Cory Sarich
This move appears to have been primarily a means to get Tanguay and Sarich out of town. Jones has been a decent depth option in the team’s forward ranks, but O’Brien disappointed enough to recently be dispatched to the AHL.
- July 5, 2013: Flames acquire D Kris Russell from St. Louis for a 2014 5th round pick
Russell was lost in the shuffle in St. Louis, but has emerged as one of Calgary’s best defenders. This sign-and-trade deal was one of Feaster’s best moves with Calgary.
- September 29, 2013: Flames acquire F Joe Colborne from Toronto for a conditional 2014 4th round pick
Colborne is still finding his niche in the Flames line-up, having been tried out both as a center and winger in the team’s bottom-six. The price to acquire him – a pick that turns into a 3rd rounder if he scores 10 goals and the Flames makes the playoffs – is low enough to gamble that he can develop into a dependable player.
- November 8, 2013: Flames acquire D Ladislav Smid and G Olivier Roy from Edmonton for F Roman Horak and G Laurent Brossoit
The final transaction of Feaster’s GM tenure saw him deal with the hated Edmonton Oilers, moving prospects Horak and Brossoit for a solid two-way defender in Smid and a depth minor-league goalie in Roy.
- December 30, 2013: Flames acquire F Kevin Westgarth from Carolina for F Greg Nemisz
The only deal that interim GM Brian Burke has made thus far is to swap 2008 first rounder Nemisz to Carolina for some size and grit on the team’s fourth line. Westgarth is a pending UFA with limited offensive upside, but the cost was really low, as Nemisz was well-buried on the Flames forward depth charts.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.