Sutter swaps steal show

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Darryl Sutter will tell you the plan all along was to make a big splash yesterday, if at all possible.

But injuries to forwards Daymond Langkow, Todd Bertuzzi and Rene Bourque made his first trade-deadline spectacle in seven years necessary.

"You think, we have Bourque and Bertuzzi and Daymond all out of the lineup. That's pretty significant right now. To be able to accomplish this today was important for us," Sutter admitted.

Adding depth down the middle and another strong presence on the blueline was definitely on his to-do list, but the Calgary Flames GM probably would have given his roster a less significant facelift than the one that brought in one of the most sought-after names on the market and a familiar top-four defenceman.

Centre Olli Jokinen will sport the No. 21 for the Flames tonight in Philadelphia, and rearguard Jordan Leopold will wear No. 40. The additions will give the Flames an elite squad -- at least on paper -- when everybody is healthy.

For now, the newcomers have to help the plug-ins keep things rolling in the absence of the entire second line.

Bertuzzi underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday and is out for about a month.

Bourque's rehabilitation is estimated at six to 10 weeks, and it would be wise to play it safe for the post-season. Langkow's hand is either bruised or broken. The team still says he's day-to-day, but he hasn't yet joined the Flames on the road.

And defenceman Mark Giordano had shoulder surgery that will keep him out the rest of the regular-season and well into the playoffs.

"The way we get Gio back is play in May," Sutter said.

Defensive depth isn't a problem with the addition of Leopold, who could replace Adrian Aucoin alongside Robyn Regehr, or join Dion Phaneuf in the top four, and still leave a strong third pairing of Cory Sarich and either Jim Vandermeer or rookie Adam Pardy.

Up front, holes are being plugged by Warren Peters and Jamie Lundmark, but the Flames have to be considered as dangerous as the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks when you look at their potential roster after the wounds all heal.

Jokinen, Langkow, Craig Conroy and Dustin Boyd are a strong group of centres, flanked by a fantastic set of wingers led by Jarome Iginla, Michael Cammalleri, Bertuzzi, Bourque, Curtis Glencross and David Moss.

"You get Daymond back in the lineup, you have three pretty diverse centremen -- veteran centremen -- in Connie and Daymond and Olli," said Sutter. "And then you've got Dustie, the kid on the way."

Boyd's development will only be sped up by the departure of Matthew Lombardi and the injuries to other top-line forwards. Boyd will see more action on special teams in addition to his fourth-line role. Rarely is a ripple effect from significant injuries seen in a positive light, but it's hard to ignore the motivation it provided Sutter.

Of course, he will try to tell you it had nothing to with the holes left by the hurting.

"It didn't change at all. We had identified what we wanted and it wouldn't have changed anything if we were able to manage it in terms of the money and what was going out player-wise," said Sutter.

The plan heading into the final day of movement was to add a centre and defender.

Mission accomplished -- in spectacular fashion, either way.


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