Sutter shuffles deck

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Alex Tanguay got his wish.

Of course, he played a major role it making it come true.

The frustrated former Calgary Flames left-winger was traded to the Montreal Canadiens last night along with a fifth-round pick for the Habs' 25th overall pick and a second-rounder next year.

Covering his bases, Flames general manager Darryl Sutter first made sure he got a star to fill the space that would be left by Tanguay by picking up the crafty Mike Cammalleri, plus the 48th overall pick in this year's draft, from the Los Angeles Kings.

Sutter also gave up a second-rounder next season in the swap with the Kings. In the end, they dropped their fifth-rounder in today's portion of the draft and a couple million off their salary-cap number -- Cammalleri's cap hit is $3.35 million next season, while Tanguay's $5.25M comes off the books.

While he never came right out and said it last year, as he struggled to deal with a different role than the one he enjoyed with the Colorado Avalanche before being dealt to the Flames on draft day two years ago, Tanguay wanted out.

He and Sutter agreed to wait until the end of the season to seek a deal, and Tanguay waived his no-trade clause to make it happen.

"It was a mutual agreement between me and Darryl. I didn't want to be a distraction to the team. I did my best trying to help the Flames all the way to the very end this year," said Tanguay.

"I wasn't fitting as well as I would have liked with the team. Being a player that makes the kind of salary that I make ... I think it's better for the team to maybe go a different direction.

"It's certainly better for me."

With a baby girl, Mya, now a member of the Tanguay family, Alex and his wife are excited to return to his native province.

Cammalleri is just as excited to play for a Canadian franchise for the first time.

The Richmond Hill, Ont., product knows how incredible the fan support will be in Calgary.

"I'm excited. I'm pumped up, man. I like the team a lot. It's always been appealing to me to come home and play in Canada -- it's something I kind of always wanted to do," the 26-year-old Cammalleri said over the phone from New York, where he's training for the coming season.

Sutter said the talks for Cammalleri started late Thursday night, but that deal was critical to make the other trade possible and allow Tanguay a fresh start.

"You had to replace the offence," said Sutter. "With Alex's numbers going out, you had to be able to cover that coming back in. You're not going to do it through free agency, so we had to find a way in the first round to do it.

"Alex is a great guy. Him and I had a great relationship. Sometimes, some guys don't fit in some situations. He handled himself really well."

Cammalleri was drafted as a centre, but can play the wing. Sutter said it will be up to the coaching staff to decide where he plays.

The former Kings star, who scored a career-best 80 points two seasons ago, was surprised to hear so many people ask him about playing the wing last night because of the Tanguay connection.

"I played mostly wing the last couple of years," he said. "I really do feel comfortable at both positions."

Injuries limited him to 63 games last year, and he struggled to produce 19 goals and 47 points, but Cammalleri says he feels great now.

"I'm pretty focused on getting ready for next year. I'm doing a lot of things to improve right now. I did have a tough year last year for quite a few different reasons, but I learned a lot from it."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA

"I WASN'T FITTING IN AS WELL AS I WOULD HAVE LIKED WITH THE TEAM."


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