Flames & Oilers Trade History Revisited

The Calgary Flames joined the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972. While the team was in Georgia, they had no interstate rivals like the two Pennsylvania teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Unlike the two teams previously mentioned, the Flames didn’t have a built-in rivalry until they relocated to southern Alberta in 1980. 

There have only been three provincial rivalries in Canada, with two still active. In Quebec, the Quebec Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens never executed a trade during the Nordiques’ 15-year NHL tenure in the province. However, when the Nordiques left for Denver in 1995 to become the Colorado Avalanche, they orchestrated one of the most shocking trades in hockey history involving Hall of Famer Patrick Roy

Related: Calgary Flames – Seven Worst Trades in Franchise History

In the other eastern province with two teams, Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have a long history of dealings. The Maple Leafs are an Original Six franchise with a century of experience, while the Senators came back into existence in 1992. Since they renewed their rivalry 30 years ago, the two teams have made seven trades, their most recent (summer 2022) involving goalie Matt Murray. 

Milan Lucic Oilers
Milan Lucic with Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 1980, the Flames moved three hours down the Queen Elizabeth Highway (Highway 2) from the Alberta capital city, Edmonton, which had an up-and-coming team in the Oilers. In western Canada, the Flames and Oilers have one of the league’s most intense rivalries. Between 1984 and 1990, the path to the Stanley Cup ran through Alberta, where the Oilers claimed the Silver Chalice in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990. While the Flames lost in the 1986 Final, they rebounded to win it all in 1989.

The two teams strongly dislike one another, and their feelings go way beyond the ice. The animosity between the franchises runs down to the fanbases dividing the province in half. These emotions make conducting business with each other near impossible, yet here are the few moments when the Flames and Oilers have made a deal.

The First Flames and Oilers Trade (2010)

On March 3, 2010, the two teams agreed to the first trade in their rivalry. Thirty-six-year-old defenceman Steve Staois became the first player to swap sides, becoming the centerpiece in a transaction with Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft going to Edmonton. Staois suited up for 573 games over eight seasons with the Oilers, which included a trip to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. The veteran rearguard also spent part of his career with the Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Atlanta Thrashers, and the New York Islanders. He registered 146 points in northern Alberta before collecting just 13 points in 57 games over two seasons as a member of the Flames. 

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Johnson was also well-traveled but lacked the playing time Staois had accumulated. After making his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he played with the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks. However, Johnson became a member of the Flames organization in 2009 thanks to a trade with the Blackhawks for Kyle Greentree. Sadly, he registered three points in 22 games before switching postal codes again in Alberta. 

The final trade piece involved St. Albert, AB, native Travis Ewanyk, who has never played in the NHL. A young prospect at the time of the trade, Ewanyk played with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and then the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League (AHL) before departing the Oilers organization in 2015. 

Flames and Oilers Make Another Deal (2013)

The two teams came together to execute the rivalry’s second trade on Nov. 8, 2013. Instead of a 2-for-1 deal, the teams agreed to swap four players, with Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy going to Calgary while Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak headed to Edmonton. 

Laurent Brossoit Winnipeg Jets
Laurent Brossoit, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Smid came to the Oilers in 2006 in the Chris Pronger trade. He collected 65 points in 474 games before finishing his NHL career with the Flames. In three seasons in Calgary, Smid scored just seven points over 109 games before returning to Europe to complete his professional career. Meanwhile, Roy was a young goalie prospect at the time and never played higher than the AHL in North America. He is still active at the professional level, playing in France after stints in Germany. 

The Oilers obtained Horak, who played 82 games with the Flames over three seasons, collecting 18 points. He struggled to crack the lineup in Edmonton, suiting up for just two games and scoring a goal. Horak finished his NHL career in 2014, departing for the Swedish Elite League (SHL) before returning home to play in Czechia. He is still an active league member at the start of the 2022-23 season. The other trade piece was goalie Brossoit, who didn’t get a chance to find his game with the Oilers, suiting up in 28 games over four years. As a free agent in 2018, he left the organization for a role with the Winnipeg Jets, compiling a 25-19-3 record as a backup. In 2021, Brossoit joined the Vegas Golden Knights, where he now shares the crease with Logan Thompson. 

The Latest Deal Between Flames and Oilers (2019)

The Alberta rivals only made their first deal 12 years ago, so it would be no surprise that some players are still actively playing professional hockey. The latest blockbuster between the Flames and the Oilers occurred on July 19, 2019, when a pair of former 30-goal scorers swapped addresses. 

The Oilers made a big splash in free agency by signing Milan Lucic in 2016. Some may argue that the deal didn’t work out for the team, as Lucic scored 104 points in 243 games, hitting the 20-goal plateau only once in three seasons. However, they found a way out of the remaining years of his contract by trading him south to the Flames for James Neal, a former 40-goal scorer with the Penguins. 

James Neal Edmonton Oilers Jonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings
James Neal of the Edmonton Oilers screens goaltender Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Neal joined the Flames in 2018, inking a five-year deal as a free agent. In his first season, which lasted only 67 games, he scored just seven goals and 19 points. A change of scenery was necessary for both players, and the teams could accommodate it. As a member of the Oilers, Neal didn’t fare any better, scoring 41 points in 84 games before leaving the organization as a free agent in 2021. After a release from the Blue Jackets in 2022, he is currently looking for a job in the league. Meanwhile, Lucic is still an active member of the Flames, playing in the bottom six of their lineup. So far, he has collected 66 points in 212 games. 

A conditional draft pick (third round in 2021) was associated with the Lucic and Neal trade, which the Flames traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a third-round and sixth-round pick in 2021. The Kings selected Kirill Kirsanov, who has yet to play in the NHL, while the Flames used their choices to boost their prospect pool by selecting Cameron Whynot and Jack Beck.

Analyzing Battle of Alberta Transactions

Between 1942 and 1967, the NHL only had six franchises, meaning transactions between rivals occurred regularly. Iconic names like Hall of Famer goalies Terry Sawchuk and Jacques Plante each found themselves on the trade block, changing address before the expansion. 

Related: Calgary Flames – Five Historic Trades That Ignited the Franchise

When you browse through the history books, you will read about hundreds of blockbuster trades; however, there will only be a handful of deals between teams who live three hours apart. As the league grew through expansion, new rivalries sprung up, and few teams liked to conduct business close to home, whether geographical or divisional.

The Flames and Oilers may have been late to the party, but as both franchises chase another Stanley Cup ring, the future has endless possibilities. Anyone can be involved in a trade, and even though general managers may want to deal with another team besides their provincial rivals, maybe what they are looking for is right down the highway. 

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