My favorite team made a big splash at the deadline yesterday, picking up Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold to bolster their talent for a (hopefully deep) playoff run.
Leopold is a reasonably solid defenseman that I was sad to see leave after his first tenure in Calgary. Thankfully Darryl Sutter (flames GM) hadn’t forgotten about him and managed to get him relatively cheap from the Avalanche as they circle the drain. He brings some extra playoff experience back to the defense core and should help to fill the gap left by Giordano’s injury. As for the Avalanche, one has to wonder what exactly their plan for the future is… they didn’t trade Smyth, they’re somewhat short on prospects and I’m not convinced that Paul Stastny is someone you want to be betting the future of your franchise on, barring Sakic playing into his 50’s they’re in trouble. In exchange for Leopold they got Nycholat (who the Flames had just gotten off waivers), less than stellar D prospect Ryan Wilson and a 2nd round pick.
The Jokinen trade was a bit more painful. Olli is a player I have liked for a long time despite his lack of exposure playing in arguably the worst hockey market in the league in Florida. He hasn’t been too great since moving to one of the other horrid hockey markets in Phoenix, but he’ll be back with Keenan, the coach that originally got him going as a premiere player. Here’s hoping the magic returns.
Calgary has needed a true first line center for a long time. The closest we’ve come in recent years was during the last cup run when Craig Conroy had decent magic with Iginla but even in those days the other wing was the question mark. If Jokinen can wake up and be the player he was for the Panthers I’d gladly put a top 3 of Iginla – Jokinen – Cammalieri as one of the best in the league.
I really hope it pays off, because we paid a high price. Losing Matt Lombardi hurts. He’s a player I love for his speed, though he lack of consistent goal scoring hands have kept him from being the center I’d always hoped for. I will miss him and hope Calgary resigns him at some point. Brandon Prust is a hard nosed Sutter kind of guy that plays with a 50-gallon heart and will be missed, but is ultimately replaceable.
Unfortunately we also gave up a 1st round pick, either this year or next (Calgary’s choice.) I honestly think that’s too much… given how Olli has played this year I honestly think he was worth a 1st straight up (though Phoenix probably had a lot of interest) or more realistically a 1st plus Lombardi or Prust, not both. Sutter appears to be betting on this year (who can blame him either, we’re playing great down the stretch and Kipper is having an “on” year after a slow start, just like 04). Losing the 1st either in this incredibly deep year (with our second gone too) or next year will hurt. I’m not exactly sure when we have to decide. Hopefully not until the draft itself when we have a better idea of what we’ll be giving up this year. Personally I think I’d lean towards giving up this year’s… who knows where we’ll finish in the standings next year and what a quite possibly lower salary cap might force us to give up heading into the 2010/2011 season.
I hope it’s the year for another cup run… my bank account does too. I’m not missing catching at least one playoff game for them if we make it past round 1 and my current internship means I have the means to do so without having to rely on Mister Visa Card. A quite possible Detroit-Calgary second round matchup (or Conference Finals) would be ideal since I wouldn’t even have to fly.