SUN Hockey Pool

Flames land left-winger to help fill the net

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Looks like the Calgary Flames now have a lock at left wing. The franchise has struggled in recent years to find a fit for the top line opposite Jarome Iginla. Yesterday, the Flames landed one of the most promising young wingers in the NHL in Alex Tanguay.

Calgary sent defenceman Jordan Leopold, its second-round selection and a future conditional pick to division rival Colorado for Tanguay.

The trade was announced by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shortly after the first-overall pick was made, drawing a roar from a GM Place crowd anxious for more movement in Vancouver a day after the Canucks scooped goalie Roberto Luongo from Florida to kickstart the off-season trading.

The response will no doubt be similar in Calgary, where fans have been eagerly awaiting scoring help to take some of the pressure off Iginla.

Tanguay, a restricted free agent who will have to be qualified by the Flames at $3.23-million US or signed to a new contract, says he's up to the challenge if given the opportunity.

"I think Jarome, in my book he's one of the top three players in the league -- especially in the playoffs," said Tanguay over the phone from his off-season home near Quebec City. "He's an amazing player. If I can help him and play with him -- who knows what coach Sutter will decide but I'm definitely excited."

Flames GM/head coach quickly declared Tanguay a perfect fit.

"He's a top left-winger, it's that simple," said Sutter, who had been working on the deal for a couple of weeks. "He's a No. 1 left wing and a guy who produces number-wise."

Tanguay scored 29 goals and 49 assists in 71 games with the Avs last season and has both the speed and playmaking ability to make the Flames' top unit one of the most lethal in the league.

After spending six seasons in Colorado, Tanguay admitted to being stunned when the Avs called to tell him the news yesterday but quickly discovered a silver lining -- make that a red trim.

"If I was to choose, Calgary would have been right at the top of my list for sure," said Tanguay, who has remained friends with Flames centre Stephane Yelle since their time as teammates.

"This is a team that I think is one step away from the Stanley Cup. You play to win the Stanley Cup and hopefully I can help the Flames get there.

"I've had a great time in Colorado. I was in a little bit of shock when they announced to me I was traded but when they told me where I was traded, I was excited."

A sprained knee suffered a month before the playoffs began kept Tanguay from adding to his career high goal total. He also fell one point shy of his personal best of 78 in the pre-lockout 2003-04 season.

Despite re-injuring the knee during the playoffs but continuing to play, Tanguay says he's recovering well.

"It was kind of hard to skate over the course of the last few times I played," he said.

"It's getting better now. I've started to run, I'm starting to feel better.

"I'm more than anxious to get going. This is going to be exciting.

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ALEX TANGUAY'S REGULAR-SEASON STATS

Year GP G A Pts. +/-

1999/00 76 17 34 51 6

00/01 82 27 50 77 35

01/02 70 13 35 48 8

02/03 82 26 41 67 34

03/04 69 25 54 79 30

05/06 71 29 49 78 8


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