Flames & Maple Leafs Trade History Revisited

The Calgary Flames joined the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972 before moving to Alberta for the start of the 1980 season, becoming the seventh team located north of the border. Over in Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the only team in the province. They had a built-in rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens from Quebec since both franchises were part of the Original Six era and professional hockey never expanded to the west until the 1960s.

Related: Flames & Canadiens Trade History Revisited

Calgary and Toronto have never faced each other in the playoffs or had memorable regular-season meetings; however, their franchise lineages will be linked forever because of Hall of Fame players who suited up for both clubs. This year, former Maple Leafs’ star Nazem Kadri will return to his former home as a member of the Flames. He didn’t switch from blue to red overnight, having spent some time with the Colorado Avalanche and winning the Stanley Cup in 2022. Yet, Kadri will find himself on a short list of players who played for both teams at some point during their careers.

Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames
Nazem Kadri, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It would take extensive research to determine which players suited up for both franchises; however, the list of players traded from one city to another is easier to dissect and analyze. As of this writing, there have been 18 trades between the Leafs and Flames. This list will take a deeper dive into the bigger deals. 

Flames Trade 1996 3rd-Round Pick (Mike Lankshear) to the Maple Leafs for Dave Gagner (June 22, 1996)

Dave Gagner made his NHL debut in 1984-85 with the New York Rangers before moving on to the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89. He was a key player during the North Stars’ improbable run to the 1991 Stanley Cup Final before relocating with the franchise when they moved to Dallas in 1993. A few seasons later, in January 1996, the Stars traded him to the Maple Leafs with a sixth-round pick for Benoit Hogue and Randy Wood.

Six months after arriving, Gagner was on the move again, thanks to a trade to the Flames in June 1996. In 28 games with the Leafs, he scored 22 points before collecting 60 points in 82 games with the Flames. In exchange for Gagner, the Flames dealt their 1996 third-round pick Mike Lankshear, who never played in the NHL. 

Flames Trade 2011 2nd-Round Pick (Brandon Saad) & Wayne Primeau to the Maple Leafs for 2012 7th-Round Pick (Matt DeBlouw) & Colin Stuart (July 27, 2009)

Wayne Primeau was at the tail end of his 15-year NHL career when the Boston Bruins traded him to the Flames in February 2007. That deal involved a draft pick that turned out to be T.J. Brodie in 2008, along with defenseman Brad Stuart. Players going the other way included Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. Ference went on to hoist the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, while Brodie anchored the Flames’ defensive corps for a decade.

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Over three seasons in Calgary, Primeau suited up for 94 games and tallied 21 points before being part of a trade to the Maple Leafs that included a second-round pick. The Leafs parted with Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart, and a 2012 seventh-round pick, who turned out to be Matt DeBlouw. Neither Stralman nor Stuart played for the Flames’ organization, while DeBlouw never cracked an NHL lineup. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Primeau tallied just eight points in 59 games while the club traded away that second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks drafted eventual two-time Stanley Cup winner Brandon Saad with the selection.

Flames Trade 2014 4th-Round Pick to the Maple Leafs for Joe Colborne (Sept. 29, 2013) 

The Bruins drafted Joe Colborne, a native of Calgary, in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He never played for the Bruins but became a member of the Maple Leafs thanks to a trade in 2011 for Tomas Kaberle. A few months later, Kaberle won the Stanley Cup with Boston, while Colborne played one NHL game that season. 

After struggling to crack the lineup (16 games in three seasons) in Toronto, Colborne made his way to Calgary in September 2013 for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. All he needed was a fresh start, becoming an NHL regular in his first season with the Flames scoring 28 points in 80 games. However, after three seasons and 100 points, Colborne left the Flames for one season in Denver with the Avalanche. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs traded away the draft pick they acquired in the trade to the St. Louis Blues, who then drafted Ville Husso.

Flames Trade Keith Aulie, Dion Phaneuf & Fredrick Sjostrom to the Maple Leafs for Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan & Ian White (Jan. 31, 2010)

On a cold January night in 2010, the Flames and Maple Leafs orchestrated the second-biggest trade between the two franchises, swapping seven players, with two becoming critical members of their new clubs. First, the Flames acquired Niklas Hagman, who played 106 games with the team, collecting 42 points after a 120-game stint (75 points) with the Maple Leafs. He was joined by Jamal Mayers, a player that lasted only 27 games in Calgary, registering just six points after collecting 24 points in 115 games with Toronto. 

Dion Phaneuf
Dion Phaneuf, seen here with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo By Andy Martin Jr)

Ian White was another piece in the transaction and suited up for 43 games earning 18 points, a far cry from the 105 he gathered in 296 games with the Maple Leafs. Yet, Matt Stajan, a star center who collected 223 career points in 445 games to this point, was the centerpiece in the Flames deal. While in Calgary, he played in 558 games collecting 223 points before leaving the NHL in 2018. 

Related: Revisiting the Dion Phaneuf Trade

The Maple Leafs acquired three new players in the deal, and one of those players was Keith Aulie, who never played for the Flames but saw action in 57 games with Toronto after the trade. He finished his stint with the team by earning four points. Fredrick Sjostrom was the second player in the deal, departing the Flames after six points in 46 games. He played more games (85) with his new team but didn’t produce better numbers (ten points). The focal point of the trade for the Maple Leafs was Dion Phaneuf, who became the team captain a few months after his acquisition. In Calgary, Phaneuf was a young star who compiled 228 points in 378 games; however, he needed a change of scenery to become a superstar. After being named captain in Toronto, he played 423 games over seven seasons earning 196 points.

Flames Trade Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville, Ric Nattress & Rick Wamsley to the Maple Leafs for Craig Berube, Alex Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michael Petit & Jeff Reese (Jan. 2, 1992) 

The Flames were Stanley Cup champions in 1989, beating the Montreal Canadiens in six games, allowing former Maple Leafs great Lanny McDonald to ride into the sunset as a champion. Several of his teammates that season included Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, and Rick Wamsley. Eventually, the team decided to go in a different direction with their personnel and pulled the trigger on a ten-player deal with the Maple Leafs in January 1992. 

The Maple Leafs were on the cusp of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in decades, eventually losing in the 1993 Western Conference Final to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. One of the most significant non-calls in hockey history occurred late in Game 6 when Gilmour took a high stick to the face from Gretzky, who was not called for a penalty and eventually scored the winner to force a decisive Game 7. Despite the loss, the events of that series never fazed Gilmour, who became a legend in Toronto, scoring 452 points in 393 games and seeing his number retired by the club. He became the most prominent name associated with this trade since he eventually entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. 

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Macoun, who won his first Stanley Cup in 1989, scored 246 points in 586 games with the Flames before tallying just 101 in 466 games with the Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, Nattress, who played in 226 games (62 points) with Calgary, watched his opportunities fade in Toronto, appearing in 36 games and tallying 16 points. Former backup goalie Wamsley, a veteran with 111 games and 53 wins with the Flames, barely played with the Maple Leafs (11 games and four wins) before leaving the NHL altogether in 1993. 

The Flames may have acquired decent players in this trade, but their offensive production never matched the players they sent away. Craig Berube became the best player in the deal, playing in 234 games and earning 27 points over four years with Calgary, an improvement over his 12 points in 40 games with Toronto. Meanwhile, Michael Petit suited up for 134 games (48 points) with his new team, which nearly doubled his time spent with the Maple Leafs (88 games and 42 points). Alex Godynyuk saw a decrease in playing time after the trade, suiting up for 33 games (eight points) with the Flames, down from the 44 games (12 points) he participated with Toronto.

Jeff Reese, who earned 20 wins over 76 starts with the Maple Leafs, didn’t play in as many games with the Flames (39) but still managed to rack up 17 wins over three seasons. However, the best veteran player in the deal was Gary Leeman, who came to Alberta with 407 career points in 545 games. Sadly, he didn’t stay long (59 games and 23 points) before going to Montreal and winning the Stanley Cup in 1993. 

Honorable Mentions

The latest trade between these two franchises occurred on Apr. 11, 2021, when the Flames acquired a third-round pick for goalie David Rittich. Before that deal, we have to go back to 2018 when the team swapped Andrew Nielsen (Calgary) for Morgan Klimchuk (Toronto), with only Klimchuk cracking the lineup for one NHL game. 

Curtis Joseph Toronto Maple Leafs
Curtis Joseph, Toronto Maple Leafs (Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

As mentioned, the teams have a deep trade history, including the Jun. 30, 2002 trade that included 454 game-winner, Curtis Joseph. Most fans will remember that he only played in nine games (5-3-2 record) after a lengthy career in St. Louis and Toronto. He’s still waiting for his phone call to the Hall of Fame, but in 2002 the Flames acquired his free agency rights for a third-round and eighth-round draft pick. 

The first trade between the Flames and Maple Leafs occurred on June 10, 1980, when the Flames acquired a 1980 second-round pick (Kevin LaVallee) in exchange for Dave Shand and a 1980 third-round pick – eventually traded to the Washington Capitals. LaVallee played three seasons with the Flames, while Shand played 48 games with the Maple Leafs after 288 games as a member of the Atlanta Flames.

One of the main reasons there have been 18 trades between these franchises is that they play in different conferences and parts of the country. The Flames do not have a lengthy history of interprovincial trades with the Edmonton Oilers. Still, they are willing to deal franchise cornerstones to a rival they won’t play significant games against unless they both qualify for the Stanley Cup Final. 

Related: Flames & Oilers Trade History Revisited

Right now, fans will focus on Kadri’s return to Toronto with the Flames, and that moment will make people reminisce about the days McDonald wore the red and yellow. No matter how we look back at things, some significant trades have altered the course of these competitive franchises.

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