SUN Hockey Pool

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

The asking prices were obviously higher than expected as the NHL's trade deadline came and went yesterday.

That doesn't mean they shouldn't have been paid.

Calgary Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter desperately needed a proven scorer to help ignite his struggling offence.

Thanks to the sticker shock, he came up empty-handed.

Sutter instead pulled off a relatively minor deal -- sending a 2006 fourth-round draft pick to Phoenix for former first-rounder Jamie Lundmark. Then, he shipped Jason Wiemer to New Jersey to recover that fourth-round choice.

The GM's lack of activity could very well mean the Red Mile won't ignite as it did two years ago.

The big purchase fans were hoping for -- if not expecting -- was Olli Jokinen. He was taken off the market early in the morning after signing a long-term deal with Florida.

But surely there were other options for the Flames.

After all, their rivals found a way to make crucial upgrades.

Just look three hours north.

Sergei Samsonov is now an Edmonton Oiler after the club shipped Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round pick to Boston to snare the slick Russian forward.

He may not have been the big, playmaking centre Calgary needed to play alongside Jarome Iginla but he could have provided a scoring touch the Flames don't have.

Would the price have been too high? Calgary likely couldn't have provided a better offer than Edmonton without quashing its playoff hopes.

That Sutter wasn't willing to dispatch one part of his young guns -- Jordan Leopold, Chuck Kobasew or Matthew Lombardi -- is understandable.

But perhaps he could have parted with a depth forward, a draft pick and a minor leaguer for someone who could provide secondary scoring.

Then there was Jeff Friesen, a player who has a history with Sutter.

Friesen was languishing in Washington, obviously not happy to be on an also-ran squad but Anaheim snared him for a second- round pick.

Surely the Flames could have parted with a couple of picks -- say a second and a fourth rounder -- for the gritty former 30-goal scorer.

Instead, the Flames settled for Lundmark, who has yet to realize the potential of being a first-round draft pick.

Sutter rationalized the lack of action by noting he wasn't interested in a defenceman or goalie and the sellers were looking for too much.

"To understand how far back you were as an organization three years ago ... and to understand you have to stockpile the organization," Sutter said. "It's no different than what we said at the start and that's what we continue to do.

"It takes a long time to gain an identity and we got what we needed a lot quicker than maybe a lot of teams do when they haven't had success in a long time. But we still look at the long-term success of the organization."

True, but tell that to the ticket holders looking at those invoices for their playoff ducats.

They're expecting to see a Stanley Cup hoisted.

Instead, on this day, they watched the Vancouver Canucks address their needs of a goalie (Mika Noronen) and defencemen (Eric Weinrich, Sean Brown and Keith Carney). They also watched the Oilers add what they believe to be a No.-1 netminder (Dwayne Roloson) and Samsonov.

The day comes in everyone's life when you shell out too much for something because you absolutely have to have it.

For the Flames, it was yesterday. It should have been yesterday.


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