Good news for the Los Angeles Kings’ thin forward corps and the Boston Bruins’ shaky salary cap situation: the once-dead Marco Sturm trade is now officially done. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports that Sturm passed his physical and can now play for the second California NHL team of his career.
(He originally played for the San Jose Sharks when Dean Lombardi was part of that organization. You might remember Sturm as arguably the biggest piece that went to Boston in the lopsided Joe Thornton trade.)
Sturm is in the final year of a four-year deal that pays him $3.5 million per year (in both salary and salary cap hit), so while there is some cost to bringing him in, it’s not a huge gamble.
Considering his speed and injury-prone nature, it’s not that different from my summer time suggestions that the Kings trade for Simon Gagne. He doesn’t have the same high-scoring ceiling, but Sturm crossed the 20-goal mark seven times during his injury-ravaged 12 years in the league.
Of course, it’s hard not to look at some of the Kings’ recent history with injury prone players and wonder if they’re playing with fire. From Adam Deadmarsh to Jason Allison to Ziggy Palffy and Pavol Demitra, the Kings could have changed their team logo to Wile E. Coyote in the ’90s and early ’00s if it weren’t for Phoenix.
Still, they aren’t giving up much for a player who can provide scoring depth to a team that is a little too dependent on Anze Kopitar for goals. It seems like both the Bruins and Kings “won” from this deal, even if the gains are pretty modest.
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.