Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/17/10 at 09:10 PM ET
On Wednesday, the Hurricanes pulled off a major trade with the Calgary Flames. When they acquired rugged forward Troy Bodie on Tuesday, it looked like a trade might be on the horizon, but I didn’t expect this. The Canes sent mercurial defenseman Anton Babchuk and reliable fourth liner Tom Kostopoulos to the Flames in exchange for defenseman Ian White and forward Brett (cousin of Brandon) Sutter. The new players are not available and defenseman Brett Carson has been recalled from Charlotte.
Brett Sutter, who is the nephew of Flames coach Brent Sutter and the son of Flames GM Darryl Sutter has been in the papers recently, but not for the right reasons. In his best imitation of Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane, he was arrested for punching a cab driver in Arizona. Neither his assignment to the AHL nor this trade has anything to do with the incident. Apparently, this has been in the works since late October.
I like this trade. I like it a lot. Carolina gives up something to get something, and they end up taking on some salary cap, but I really like it.
Anton Babchuk has been the walking definition of frustration. Not only has he been inconsistent, but his very will to even be in the NHL has often been in question. When he’s good, he’s very good, but when he’s bad, it’s a complete disaster. A couple of years ago when he was in the middle of a bad spell, he was assigned to Albany of the AHL. He refused to report there, and it was the beginning of a rocky relationship with the Canes. He eventually swallowed his pride and went to the AHL, and he worked his way back to the big team, but it wasn’t pretty. The following year, he pitched a fit and fled for the KHL. In the process, he lost a year of arbitration and UFA rights, so he didn’t do himself any favors. He returned to the Canes for the 2008-09 season, and was a big contributor especially in the playoffs. The following season, he once again left for the KHL, leaving Canes fans to scratch their heads. He came back this year, claiming that he was ready to play, but he hasn’t been very good. Apart from Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen, none of the Canes blueline has been any good.
Still, this is a player whose work ethic is and has often been in question. Carolina will not miss the big Ukranian or his theatrics.
Tom Kostopoulos is a perfect team player. He works hard every shift, he goes to bat for and drops the gloves for his teammates, and he shows a lot of leadership. As one of the oldest guys in the room, the kids looked up to him, but not just because of his age. He isn’t the most glamorous or the most famous player, but he does everything that’s expected of a fourth line player. And then some. He will be missed.
Carolina gets a big upgrade on defense with Ian White. He has a better defensive skill set and brings the offense to the table as well. He’s not as big as Babs, but Carolina just wasn’t getting anything out of Babchuk. It was beginning to get old with this guy, and getting rid of him was a long overdue solution. The Canes didn’t want to take on any extra salary, and this move makes them take on about a million dollars, but it’s probably going to be worth it.
Brett Sutter was assigned to a conditioning stint with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL on Monday, and he will report to Charlotte. He was an alternate captain for the Abbotsford Heat last season and made the big team this fall. Oddly, he was waived one day before the season started, but he was in the lineup for the first four games. In that span, he put up one assist, but he did not play another game after that.
Sutter was arrested last Thursday in Scottsdale Arizona after he allegedly assaulted a taxi driver outside a nightclub. A few days later, he was assigned to the Heat on a “conditioning stint”. And then his own father traded him away.
It’s not likely that Brett will see much if any time on the big team this season, but he’s a strong prospect. Above all else, he’s a Sutter. The incident outside the nightclub is out of character, and he should, like Patrick Kane, be able to put it behind him.
Time will tell, but I think this favors Carolina. Babchuk has a history of not only being mercurial, but of being pouty. This might set him off on a pouting fit. It might wake him up.
Calgary will love Tom Kostopoulos, I think he’s been loved everywhere he’s played. This trade is clearly, clearly something that is strictly business.
White will be available to the Canes on Friday night. Troy Bodie should also be a new insertion into the lineup that night.
Sutter will be available to the Checkers on Friday night. I’ll be there, and hopefully I’ll get a look at him.
The only meeting between the Flames and Canes this season will be on January 11 in Raleigh.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.