The Calgary Flames — in the heat of a tight battle for a Western Conference wild card spot — have added a pair of d-men, acquiring Derek Forbort from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick and Erik Gustaffson from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick.
These additions should help to mitigate their depleted d-corp, with Mark Giordano coming back from injury and Travis Hamonic week-to-week with a facial fracture.
Forbort a Big Body for Flames’ Stretch Run
In Forbort, the Flames are getting a swift-skating, big-bodied blueliner who can log big minutes.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound product has spent his entire five year, 268-game career with the Kings, recording six goals and 53 points in the process while skating an average of 19:55 and dishing out 463 hits.
Forbort has been limited to 13 games this season due to a back injury and didn’t play until January. That may explain why the return to the Kings, who are in full-on sell mode and are stockpiling picks for June’s draft in Montreal, is so modest.
Overall, it’s a low-risk trade for the Flames. Forbort, originally selected 15th overall in 2011, is on the last year of a two-year deal that pays him $2,525,000 annually and will be a UFA on July 1 if the Flames don’t re-sign him.
Gustafsson Has Offensive Upside
While not possessing Forbort’s frame, Erik Gustafsson is a deft puck-mover who can produce points from the back end in a third-pairing role. In 59 games this season, the left-handed Swede has six goals and 20 assists for 26 points.
Originally selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, the 27-year-old has 28 goals and 88 assists for 116 points in 214 games and has skated an average of 20:02. The Blackhawks held him out of the lineup over their past two games, which indicated a trade was imminent.
He is in the last season of a two-year deal that pays him $1.2 million annually and like Forbort, will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Also like Forbort, it’s a low-risk deal as the Flames are sending only a third-round pick the other way.
The Flames currently occupy the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot with a 32-35-6 record — they are tied with the Arizona Coyotes with 70 points but have two games in hand. The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators are knocking at the door with 69 points and 68 points, respectively, and that should make for an exciting finish in Calgary and elsewhere.
The Blackhawks, at 27-27-8, have 62 points and are a long shot to make the playoffs.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.