Flames & Canadiens Trade History Revisited

The Calgary Flames had a busy offseason. Whether losing star players or acquiring new ones, general manager Brad Treliving kept the hockey world on its toes. He probably didn’t sleep much this summer because it seemed he was preparing to give Flames fans an abundance of early Christmas gifts.

On Aug. 18, 2022, people woke to the breaking news that Treliving had secured the services of the best free agent left on the market, reigning Stanley Cup champion Nazem Kadri. He was instrumental in assisting the Colorado Avalanche to their third championship in franchise history, making him a hot commodity on the open market. Most people assumed the Flames had no more moves and the roster adjusting was complete. However, the new deal had a value of $49 million over seven seasons, meaning Treliving needed to execute another roster move to balance the books.

Sean Monahan Calgary Flames
Sean Monahan, during his days with the Flames. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sean Monahan, the second-longest tenured player in the Flames organization, was the one whose contract ($6.3 million) became expendable, thus resulting in a trade to the Montreal Canadiens. His deal, which allows the talented young forward a chance for a fresh start, marks the 16th time the two franchises have made a deal. Most of these trades involved draft picks, players who never played for either organization and a handful of big names who have swapped conferences.

Flames Trade 1983 2nd-Round pick and 1984 2nd-Round pick to Canadiens for Doug Risebrough and 1983 2nd-Round pick (June 9, 1982)

Doug Risebrough was a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Canadiens, suiting up for 493 games before a June trade brought him to Alberta. The Flames won the trade because he played in 247 games, collecting 169 points. Also included was a 1983 second-round pick, which turned into Frantisek Musil, who played 335 games and collected 63 points.

The Canadiens received a 1983 second-round pick (35th overall) and a 1984 second-round pick (54th overall) for Risenbrough’s services. With those picks, the team selected Todd Francis and Graeme Bonar. Neither player ever suited up for a game in the NHL.

Flames Trade Gary Leeman to Canadiens for Brian Skrudland (Jan. 28, 1993)

In early 1993, the Canadiens were on the cusp of winning a record 24th Stanley Cup championship. Brian Skrudland, a member of their 1986 championship team, was a veteran on this upstart Canadiens team on the verge of greatness. He spent the first 475 games of his career in Montreal before finding himself Calgary-bound in exchange for Gary Leeman. 

Related: 7 Worst Flames Trades Ever

Leeman played 59 games with the Flames after coming to the team in a 1992 trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was a franchise-altering deal, with future Hall-of-Famer Doug Gilmour going east and leading the Leafs to Game 7 of the Campbell Conference Final, eventually losing to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. 

There is no clear-cut winner of this trade since Skrudland played just 16 games in Calgary before departing to Florida in the summer of 1993. He eventually finished his career in Dallas with another championship in 1999. Meanwhile, Leeman skated with the Canadiens in just 55 contests, retiring from professional hockey in 1999 after failing to keep a roster spot in Europe.

Flames Trade Jonas Hoglund & Zarley Zalapski to Canadiens for Valeri Bure & 1998 4th-Round pick (Feb. 1, 1998)

Pavel Bure broke into the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks and was a prolific goalscorer who tended to break the Flames’ hearts anytime they played against him. Although the gifted scorer never played in Alberta, his brother played in two Canadian cities, finding himself as the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade in early 1998.

Valeri Bure began his career as a 20-year-old in Montreal, suiting up for 215 games and collecting 100 points. He was part of a package that included a 1998 fourth-round pick (#102 overall) that the Flames accepted in exchange for Jonas Hoglund and Zarley Zalapski.

The Flames may have won this trade because Bure played 256 games in Calgary, earning 192 points, while Hoglund (102) and Zalapski (28) played just 130 games combined in Montreal. Zalapski departed for Philadelphia after one year, playing 12 more games before retiring in 2000. At the same time, Hoglund moved to Toronto after two seasons, where he played the final 325 games of his career. The Flames, meanwhile, used their fourth-round pick on Shaun Sutter, who never skated at the NHL level.

Flames Trade Alex Tanguay & 2008 5th-Round pick to Canadiens for 2008 1st-Round pick & 2009 2nd-Round pick (June 20, 2008)

The Flames and Canadiens only pulled off two trades between 2000 and 2010. One deal involved swapping draft picks in 2002, with none of those draft selections making it to the NHL. In the summer of 2008, the other involved a former Stanley Cup champion, Alex Tanguay.

Alex Tanguay Calgary Flames
Alex Tanguay called Calgary home for five seasons. (Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE)

Tanguay was a first-round pick (12th overall) with a championship ring as a member of the 2001 Colorado Avalanche. The seven-time 20-goal scorer had decent numbers in Calgary during his two seasons, 284 points in 342 games, before he departed to Montreal. The Flames included a 2008 fifth-round pick (#138 overall), while the Canadiens offered a 2008 first-round pick (#25 overall) and a 2009 second-round pick (#49 overall) for his services. 

The Canadiens used their selection on Maxim Trunev, who never played for the team, while the Flames drafted Greg Nemisz and Stefan Elliott with their picks. Only Nemisz made it to the NHL, suiting up for just 15 games. The Canadiens were the clear-cut winners of this trade since Tanguay played 50 games, collecting 41 points. However, their relationship was short-lived as he departed for Tampa Bay the following season.

Flames Trade Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, & a 2013 2nd-Round pick to Canadiens for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo, & a 2015 5th-Round pick (Jan. 12, 2012)

It took another four seasons before these two teams made another deal, and what a blockbuster it was. Both teams had young stars capable of scoring 20 goals a season at the time, so they orchestrated an agreement, one rising star for another.

The Flames sent Rene Bourque (164 points in 249 games), along with Patrik Holland, and a 2013 second-round pick (#36 overall) to the Canadiens in exchange for Michael Cammalleri (119 points in 170 games), Karri Ramo, and a 2012 fifth-round pick (#124 overall). Calgary selected Ryan Culkin, and Montreal took Zachary Fucale, neither of which ever made it to the NHL.

Cammalleri enjoyed his time with the Flames, scoring 178 points in 216 games, while Ramo collected 49 wins in 111 games. It is safe to say that the Flames won another trade since Bourque only scored 39 points in 141 games, with Holland suiting up for five games.

Honorable Mentions

The first trade between the two Canadian teams occurred on Sept. 1, 1980, when the Flames sent Dave Gorman to the Canadiens for Tim Burke. Out of the two players involved in the deal, only Gorman played in the NHL, suiting up for three games and failing to register a point.

On Nov. 25, 1995, the two teams executed their sixth trade. The Flames acquired Craig Ferguson and Yves Sarault in exchange for a 1997 eighth-round pick (#197 overall), who turned out to be Petr Kubos. Kubos never played a game in the NHL, while Ferguson and Sarault combined for 19 games in Calgary after 35 games in Montreal.

After six years of no deals between the two clubs, they engaged in talks again late in 2018. The two teams swapped players in August, Kerby Rychel to Calgary and Hunter Shinkaruk to Montreal, before pulling the trigger on a deal that included Alberta-born Brett Kulak. He skated in 101 games for the Flames before making his way to Montreal in a deal for Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina, with neither having cracked an NHL lineup. Kulak is now back home in Edmonton after playing in 215 games with the Canadiens.

The final honorable mention is one of the most recent trades. Before the 2022 Trade Deadline, the Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli in exchange for Tyler Pitlick, Emil Heineman, a 2022 first-round pick (#26 overall – Filip Mesar), and a 2025 fifth-round pick. Toffoli has played 37 games for the Flames so far after suiting up for 89 with the Canadiens, while Pitlick has played in just 14 games for Montreal after 25 in Calgary. 

Tyler Toffoli Calgary Flames
The Flames are Tyler Toffoli’s fourth NHL team in ten seasons. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

They often say that certain players are untouchable; however, some of the game’s biggest names have been traded, including The Great One (Gretzky). When we examine the trade history between these two teams, there have been no franchise-altering deals. Out of the 16 on record, there weren’t any blockbuster trades like the recent Matthew Tkachuk for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar one between the Flames and Panthers.

Related: The Crazy Conditions of Canadiens’ 1st Round Pick From Flames

The history of trades between these two franchises seems pretty tame compared to their records with other teams. Modern generations will remember the Flames acquiring Huberdeau in 2022, while fans of a generation ago will talk about how upsetting it was to watch the Canadiens deal away Patrick Roy in 1995. Watching a star like Monahan get a second chance in a new hockey market will be fun while the Flames move on with their quest for the Cup. For now, though, we can only patiently wait for these Canadian rivals to strike up another trade so we can reignite the debate on who got the better end of the deal.

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