SUN Hockey Pool

Flames should dump Darryl

RANDY SPORTAK Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 PM ET

There may be some good news for Flames fans as the team continues a freefall to the bottom of the NHL standings.

The club’s first-round selection in the 2011 draft has the potential to be a lottery pick. Therefore, they may drum up a legitimate top-six forward when the draft takes place in Minnesota.

Maybe they’ll find the scoring and playmaking centre who’s been on the wish list seemingly for an eternity.

Sadly, that’s where the good news ends.

And far too much bad news begins.

As it stands, the Flames have exactly one pick through the first three rounds of the coming draft.

Their second-round selection now belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks, dealt to the Windy City from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter felt the need to give that pick away to the Leafs for taking Wayne Primeau and his salary in exchange for Anton Stralman (dealt to Columbus for the third-round pick used to take Max Reinhart), Colin Stuart and a seventh rounder in 2012.

Calgary’s third-round pick now belongs to the Edmonton Oilers, who received it and Aaron Johnson for Steve Staios.

So much for Calgary’s chance to quickly rebuild.

Which means finding more draft picks over the next six months should be job priority No. 1.

Therefore, if the time has come to blow up the existing squad and go for a scorched-Earth approach, the first step is to take the GM reins from Sutter.

Just take a gander at the last year’s worth of trades completed by him. It’s not a pretty body of work.

n Jan. 31, 2010. Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie are dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers.

n Feb. 1, 2010. Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust are sent to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.

n March 3, 2010. Curtis McElhinney is traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Vesa Toskala.

n March 3, 2010. Dustin Boyd is dealt to Nashville for a fourth-round draft choice, used to select Bill Arnold.

n March 3, 2010. Johnson and a third-round draft choice for Staios.

n June 26, 2010. A sixth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for backup goalie Henrik Karlsson.

n Nov. 17, 2010. Ian White and Brett Sutter go to the Carolina Hurricanes for Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos.

Feel free to argue among yourselves whether the most recent deals resulted in enough of a return for the Flames.

What can’t be disputed is not all those trades were the right return for this team.

The Flames are among the oldest clubs in the league and have a debateable stable of prospects ready to make an impact at this level. Sutter has done a horrible job of replenishing the cupboards when given the chance.

In the Phaneuf deal, the only pick or prospect went the other way. Staios is now in and out of the lineup, while playing with a US$2.7-million salary cap hit.

If Carolina wanted White that badly, it should have guaranteed a draft pick or a quality prospect.

That level of asset management is inexcusable for a team which says it’s looking to the future as much as the present.

Unless the Flames turn their fortunes in a hurry, the call for full-scale changes will grow louder.

Frankly, if you’re going to trade any of Calgary’s big-game players — Jarome Iginla, Robyn Regehr or Miikka Kiprusoff — you may as well trade them all and rebuild with draft choices and/or high-end prospects.

The salary-cap situation would also allow them to be a player in the free-agent market or trade talks.

But if the Flames feel it’s time to turn the page in a big way, they had best find a new architect.

The existing foreman has not done a good enough job making sure the building blocks will be there, for himself or whoever comes next.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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