Jay Feaster

Jay Feaster’s timing is impeccable


The Calgary Flames were pummeled 9-0 in Boston last night, their fifth consecutive loss and one of the worst in franchise history, dropping them to 18-19-5 on the year.

It was the kind of defeat that shakes a team to its core, infuriates the coach, embarrasses the players and forces management into major action.

Or minor action, it seems.

Today, Flames GM Jay Feaster announced minor-league forward Brenden Mikkelson has been traded to Tampa for forward Blair Jones.

Things, you just got shook up!

To be fair, the issue here isn’t the actual deal — Jones played for Brent Sutter in Red Deer and was drafted by Feaster in Tampa, so he’s a familiar face — the issue is the timing. Pundits were standing in line to make the requisite “Jones will fix everything” and “Mikkelson was the problem” jokes, mostly because the Flames are 1) playing awful and 2) already at the center of so much major trade speculation.

Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff have all been bandied about for months…yet the first guy to get traded was Mikkelson, a waiver-wire pickup.

Let’s put this in perspective. While watching Brad Pitt furiously trade players in Moneyball looked cool (and fun), most real-life deals don’t work that way. Steve Yzerman’s bird dogs have been looking for defensive help for a while and the Mikkelson-Jones deal seemed easy enough to make, as Jones had been in and out of the Lightning lineup. Unfortunately, the deal was consummated the day after the Flames got wiped 9-0 .

So yeah, bad optics.

That said, you do have to wonder if a serious shakeup is looming. After the Boston blowout, every Flames player was sitting in his stall, waiting for the media onslaught. Making every player available is a pretty strong message — Darryl Sutter used to do it when he was the Flames coach — suggesting that management is near its breaking point with the current group of players.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.