It appears that Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter has taken care of his teams' lack of scoring by picking up forwards Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins in two separate deals on Sunday afternoon.
Well, at least on the surface. Could Sunday's transactions just be the tip of the iceberg? With the Kotalik for Olli Jokinen swap not yet solidified, could the Flames be holding up the deal as they try to work out yet another trade with another team?
Follow along here for a second. Sutter traded away defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forward Fredrik Sjostrom and AHL defensive prospect Keith Aulie to Toronto for three forwards and a defenseman: Hagman, Stajan, Mayers and Ian White.
Then, later in the evening, he traded away struggling veteran forward Jokinen, a deadline day acquisition last March who simply didn't put the puck in the net as a member of the Flames. Typically a 30-goal scorer, Jokinen had just 11 through 55 games this season. Sutter also shipped off Brandon Prust, a chippy grinder who is known as an agitator more than for his scoring talents. In return, the Flames picked up forwards Kotalik and Higgins, although as mentioned, that trade is not yet finalized.
So on the whole this Sunday the Flames made a net gain of two NHL players, bumping them to 25 total contracts, over the limit of 23. Simply put, Sutter and the Flames must make some other transaction just to get under the roster limit. They only have one player currently on the NHL roster with a two-way contract, Mikael Backlund, meaning they'd have to put at least one NHL player on waivers to get under the limit. The more likely scenario: they just make another trade. Ah, the intrigue.
Over at SBN's Matchsticks and Gasoline, Flames fans are downright confused about the player movement, especially on the Kotalik front. It's not like Kotalik is a major step up from Jokinen -- in fact, if you ask Rangers fans they'll probably tell you he's a severe step down and that including Higgins in the deal isn't much of an improvement either. Kotalik is also still under contract for two more seasons while Jokinen is a free agent in just a few months.
There's no doubt that you can understand the confusion, which means there's no doubt you can understand how that confusion leads to comments like this, from M&G's editor Kent Wilson.
[Sutter's] real target can’t be Kotalik. Just can’t be.
Who knows, the deal could not go through, Kotalik could stay a Ranger and things go on as normal. Or, this could just be the start of something even more drastic. Time will tell.