Another deal on the Flames' horizon?

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 AM ET

CALGARY Flames GM Darryl Sutter has made a couple of trades which make it appear another deal is soon coming.

Hed better be.

Six new faces via trade, and a seventh if you count Mikael Backlund being summoned from the minors just over a week ago, has added up to big changes on the roster, but its not enough to seriously call this club a Stanley Cup contender.

Actually, an argument can be made its not even a playoff team.

Not when the Flames sit ninth in the Western Conference.

Not when the Flames can lay claim to just one victory in its last 11 games which came at the expense of the lowly Edmonton Oilers and just two wins in 14 outings.

Not when you start to poke holes in the team.

As they ready for Wednesday nights clash against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flames are potentially deeper on the wings, but a few of those especially newcomers Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik have struggled mightily this season.

The Flames are readying to hit the ice with Matt Stajan, Daymond Langkow, Mikael Backlund and Eric Nystrom as the chief faceoff takers.

Nobody will mistake that for a murderers row of centres.

For years, Sutter maintained you build a team from the goal, through the defence and then up the middle. Nobody will argue Olli Jokinen panned out as the top-notch centre the Flames needed, but the club is weaker at that position now that hes been dealt to the New York Rangers.

Its a weakness Sutter must address before the March 3 trade deadline, or hell have to explain how the club he called an elite team for so many months failed to reach the playoff party.

The trades pared the equivalent of more than $800,000 from the salary cap over the course of the season. Sutter, whose budget did leave a cushion for a trade-deadline acquisition, will have cash to add a player, a good player, when time comes.

Especially if he is able to jettison a fair-sized salary in the process.

Sutter scoffed Tuesday at the suggestion he has Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk in the cross hairs (read into that what you want, but remember he denied Dion Phaneuf was on the block within the last two weeks), but there has to be a centre out there to acquire.

Pie-in-the-sky dreams would mean Vincent Lecavalier, Eric Staal or Brad Richards would be packing his bags for the Stampede City. Dont bank on that happening.

More realistic is the likes of Mike Ribeiro or Tomas Plekanec among the pending unrestricted free agents.

Sutter maintained he plans to assess the squad between now and the Olympic break to have a firm grasp of what move should be next.

Thats probably a wise course of action since more than one-quarter of the roster is new.

I havent been very happy with our season, thats why we are doing it, he said. I think it puts a little bit of onus on our leadership group, our veteran group, and well go from there.

We have six (games) to the break, and I dont think I would have been too crazy to do it after the break, because theres just a couple of days in there.

I think this is a better situation, if there is a better one.

A better situation would have been for the clubs under-achievers and theres no shortage to have had their game together from the start of the season and carry through to now.

But thats not been the case, so Sutter has been forced to shake up things.

More has to be coming.


Videos

Photos