SUN Hockey Pool

Low-impact day for trades

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Ultimately, this is what Wednesday's trade deadline added up to for the Calgary Flames.

- A backup goalie for a backup goalie.

- A seventh defenceman for a sixth/seventh defenceman.

- A top prospect who has suddenly become a fifth-liner for a mid-round draft choice.

That's it. That's all.

Granted, with all the changes and turnover which came just over a month ago thanks to the two major deals consummated by GM Darryl Sutter, nobody should have expected anything big to happen.

Still, didn't you expect more? Or at least more which made sense?

Dealing goalie Curtis McElhinney to the Anaheim Ducks for Vesa Toskala is the one move which doesn't make you raise an eyebrow.

As hard as McElhinney worked in practice and as much as he gave when given the chance, he couldn't make the most of the few-and-far-between opportunities he received between the pipes.

You can't sugarcoat a 3-4-0 record to go with a 3.22 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

Regardless of how often his teammates claimed to believe they could win with him in goal, they didn't often enough provide the support necessary at both ends.

And in McElhinney's last start as a Flame, a 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Jan. 17, he didn't come through, which sounded the death knell.

Frankly, the Flames are no worse with Toskala in that role.

Toskala is due to be an unrestricted free agent, so if he doesn't pan out over the next month or more, you're not on the hook beyond this season.

Should Toskala find the form he had with the San Jose Sharks a few seasons ago, the Flames will have a netminder to spell off good friend Miikka Kiprusoff four or five times down the stretch.

From there, though, Sutter's moves become as confusing as the former Tampa Bay Lightning ownership group.

Sutter said he acquired 36-year-old blueliner Steve Staios from the Edmonton Oilers for veteran leadership.

OK, but after dealing away Dion Phaneuf in big part because too much money was tied up in the defence corps, it doesn't make sense to bring in a sixth/seventh defenceman who has one more year on his contract with a US$2.7-million salary cap hit. Plus, the Flames gave away a third-round draft choice along with depth blueliner Aaron Johnson.

Considering the predicament Sutter put himself in with contracts heading into this season, he puts himself in another unless he has a move in place this summer which rids the team of Staois or another defenceman who makes more that US$3 million.

If he can't rid the Flames of some salary, they'll be in a bind re-signing pending restricted free-agent Ian White while having the money to build a strong forward group.

Then comes the case of Dustin Boyd. Not long ago, Boyd was one of the club's prized prospects. He's managed to skate in the NHL all four years he's been a professional.

Yet, this team never seemed to have any faith in him.

Boyd bounced all over the lineup, from fourth-line centre to first-line winger and all points in between, never sure what the team wanted of him, and never able to deliver.

So, a third-round draft pick with 200 games under his belt before turning 24 can only bring back a fourth-rounder?

If that's the case, why not keep him in the fold, if not to push other players on the roster, at least to be insurance in case of injury and deal him away around the draft?

Ultimately, Wednesday's trades don't have a major impact on the Flames in their quest for a playoff spot.

But the mish-mash of a roster now handed head coach Brent Sutter sure makes you wonder whether those moves were worth it.


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