Carolina trades Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopolous to Calgary for Ian White and Brett Sutter

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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.

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?