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Calgary, AB • Canada • 22 Years Old • Male
In the wake of a wave of unsubstantiated Jarome Iginla speculation, Darryl Sutter decided to distract Flames fans by making another trade to complain about. Ian White and his facial hair as well as Brett Sutter are gone, replaced by Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos. My immediate knee-jerk biased reaction: it looks to me like an about equal trade in value, but a trade that does not really do anything to serve the Flames’ pressing needs. There’s a cliché here I would use but won’t, since I am sure other cynical Flames fans will have a similar analysis. Most Darryl Sutter trades are horrible in their own way and this one is no exception.

Ian White was one of the Flames’ best, and only, non “core” trade chips. He certified himself as a UFA goner the second Mark Giordano signed his $20M extension, and I had long felt he would be traded at the deadline. Therefore, this trade was surprising to me first of all because of the timing. But what I definitely did not expect – even with the full knowledge that the second-worst GM in the league was still managing the Flames – was for White to be essentially replaced straight-up with a similar defenseman. My knowledge of Anton Babchuk is admittedly small, but I have not heard bad things about the guy. His best season two years ago (16 goals and 35 points in 72 games with a +13 rating) is roughly equivalent to White’s breakout year last year. His stats this year are roughly the same as White’s, with a slightly less awful +/-. So, he should prove an adequate replacement. But was simply replacing White with another defenseman the right choice? Clearly, a decent pick or two, half-decent offensive prospect, or even a top six forward would have been more useful to the Flames. White’s value may well have been exemplified by his abysmal -10 rating, but given that this is a Darryl Sutter trade, I somewhat doubt it. It has now been reported that the trade had been in the works for weeks, and that the Flames began the process of shopping White immediately after Giordano’s extension. We may never know the extent to which Darryl shopped White, but all you have to do to be sceptical on that front is to look at the trade which brought White to Calgary in the first place.

I am almost ignoring the other part of the deal – the Brett Sutter for Tom Kostopoulos swap. I find it funny that the day after George Johnson wrote a reactionary column saying Brett “had to go” (as if removing the lowest level Sutter would fix the team’s nepotism) it actually happened. Bob McKenzie reported that Brett’s Patrick Kane impersonation in Phoenix had nothing to do with him being moved, and that Carolina had requested him prior to the arrest. Just like White-for-Babchuk, this is at best a lateral move. Like Babchuk, I have not heard scathing reviews of Kostopoulos. On the other hand, I have not seen anyone argue the Flames’ bottom six should be a priority, so it’s hard to get excited. I can only wish more Sutters leave for Carolina to join Brett and Brandon, to make an obvious joke.

With White gone, so goes the Flames’ best non-“core” trade chip. If the Flames are in the same bottom-10 state at the deadline, perhaps Alex Tanguay could be rented out (he does have an NTC on his 1-year deal though), or maybe someone will take a chance on Niklas Hagman. Or maybe Robyn Regehr will actually be dealt. Only time will tell if the Flames use these other players to fulfill their actual needs – better top-six forwards, and if not that, high picks and/or decent offensive prospects - that this trade clearly did not.

~SKR

(Addendum: if anyone is wondering why it took this for me to write again, I have no excuse for my laziness. However, I was planning on addressing the Iginla speculation again, but I do wonder if this trade signifies that that speculation is a lost cause.)
Filed Under:   flames   hurricanes   ian white   anton babchuk   skr   sutter  
November 17, 2010 7:58 PM ET | Delete
Hate to comment on my own blog like this but if anyone reads this blog, I'd like to add another aspect that makes this trade even more of a lateral move: Babchuk, like White, is a pending UFA. He's already gone to Russia twice over contract disputes, so...
November 17, 2010 9:22 PM ET | Delete
I always liked how Ian White played with Toronto, I assume he played similarly in Calgary.
November 17, 2010 11:07 PM ET | Delete
Good analysis! Definitely a lateral move at best, and certainly reeks of change for change's sake... Like you say, I doubt many Flames fans will be taken with this deal, but it's certainly another pathetic example of what Sutter tries to pass for a 'shakeup'.And who's the worst GM in the league in your opinion, Sather?
November 17, 2010 11:18 PM ET | Delete
Indeed it is Sather. And only because he's been at it for longer and has wasted far more money than Darryl
November 18, 2010 1:08 AM ET | Delete
November 18, 2010 2:06 AM ET | Delete
Isn't it about cap-space?
November 18, 2010 2:13 AM ET | Delete
Not really. They save a bit of cap space so Kotalik can come off IR in a few weeks (hooray!!) but even if that's the main reason for the trade it's not a valid excuse.
November 18, 2010 9:42 AM ET | Delete
November 18, 2010 11:31 AM ET | Delete
This was written on the wall a long time ago I think. Sutter said re-signing gio was a priority and that they had way too much tied up in d. I like the fact he is ufa and less expensive and much much bigger than white who was being tossed around by penner et al.
November 18, 2010 12:30 PM ET | Delete
Sane, did we need Babchuk? Couldnt we have gotten Kost
November 18, 2010 12:31 PM ET | Delete
November 18, 2010 4:02 PM ET | Delete
Yeah sane, my point was not that trading White was a mistake - it was inevitable - but that I don't understand how trading him straight up for a similar defenseman - who may well just as easily leave as White on July 1 - makes any sense. Also don't assume that just because Babchuk is big that he'll be that much better defensively.
November 18, 2010 4:22 PM ET | Delete
It was done for cap space and because he wasn't going to re-sign in Calgary anyway. White has been absolutely brutal this season so far so I don't really think they could have gotten anything better for him. The trade will not make a big difference for the Flames going forward but it wasn't intended to.
November 18, 2010 4:33 PM ET | Delete
I think SKR's point is that you don't trade White for a roster player of the same age and contractual situation (term remaining), but rather for an injection of youth through picks and prospects. Secondly, that this deal would have been better served closer to the trade deadline. And I do understand that this deal frees up enough cap space to bring Kotalik off the IR. Woo hoo.
November 18, 2010 4:36 PM ET | Delete
The "it was done to clear up cap space" point is silly for two reasons: 1. Trading White was far from the best option on that front and 2. It cleared cap space...for Kotalik. In two weeks to boot.
November 18, 2010 6:46 PM ET | Delete
"1. Trading White was far from the best option on that front "Maybe you're seeing a different Ian White. Cap space is the hottest commodity in town. This is a good deal. Now go ahead and pull the trigger SKas.
November 18, 2010 9:03 PM ET | Delete
"Cap space is the hottest commodity in town"? But what are they going to spend it on? Remember, this is only cap space they're saving for THIS season, like I say all it does is open the door for Kotalik's return.
November 18, 2010 11:46 PM ET | Delete
It wasn't as bad as you make it sound, considering it being 'lateral' and White being weak 4 Dman this yr making 3m. Kotalik was coming on the books soon anyway, so...no worries. We still have the ballerina to show for Phaneuf, who WAS a valuable trade chip
November 19, 2010 10:52 AM ET | Delete
Have fun with Babchuk guys... A big whined who won't play the body and is disliked by his teammates.
November 27, 2010 7:47 PM ET | Delete
would flames fans, since I doubt the Sutter Nostra would comment here, do this trade with montreal: Bouwmeester, Jokinen, Bourque for Gomez, Pacioretty, Spacek and our 2011 1st rounder?
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