A trade from out of the blue always spices the day up nicely. Today, the Carolina Hurricanes traded defenseman Anton Babchuk and forward Tom Kostopolous to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Ian White and young forward Brett Sutter.
Sutter we’ve heard plenty about of late after his legal wranglings after allegedly assaulting a taxi cab driver in Scottsdale, Arizona. Making this deal all the more awkward for him is that it was his father, Darryl Sutter, that traded him to Carolina all while his uncle Brent is the coach in Calgary. In Carolina, he’ll be on the same team as his cousin Brandon Sutter. It’s always a family affair when it comes to Calgary. If you’re thinking that Brett’s arrest played into the deal, TSN’s Darren Dreger says that’s not the case.
As for the other players in this deal, the ones to focus on are Babchuk and White. Babchuk came back to Carolina this season after spending a year away in the KHL. He’s an offensively-minded blue liner with a huge shot from the point to help him out. Having him trade spots with White seems like an even-up kind of deal. White, after being traded to Calgary last season from Toronto, was an offensive blue line specialist for the Flames providing a boost to their scoring with Jay Bouwmeester being ineffective from the point.
With White moving on to Carolina, they add a guy that logs tons of minutes (he’s averaged 21:43 per game this year) and gives them a similar kind of production on the power play when needed. Whereas Babchuk was more of a one-way threat, White gives the Hurricanes better balance on the back line. While White has been struggling badly of late, reuniting him with Paul Maurice whom he played for in Toronto could spark his game. Babchuk, meanwhile, will try to help jump-start the Flames offense from the back end.
Not to be lost here are the financial implications of the deal. White’s contract is up after this season and he’s making nearly $3 million, whereas Babchuk is pulling in about $1.4 million on his deal that ends this year. Meanwhile Kostopolous’ cap hit is for $916,000 for the next two seasons. It’s not much of a cutback for the Flames, but the extra salary freedom could help them out should they either be looking to make another move down the road or just get some players from LTIR (like Ales Kotalik for example) back into the lineup. Of course, if that’s what their motivation is, you can just chalk this up as more strangeness coming out of the front office in Calgary.
On the whole, this deal looks like one that swaps out offensive-defensemen and gives Calgary a character grinder in Kostopolous and gives Carolina another young forward to put in their system, one who could benefit playing with his cousin in the future.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines: