October 1st, 2002


Young Gun Dealt

Derek Morris traded for Chris Drury in 5 player swap

AP Photo

Drury Lands in Calgary Drury's four straight 20 plus goal seasons should help balance the Flames offence.

by D'Arcy McGrath

When a general manager takes over a hockey team it's only a matter of time until he puts his stamp on the team.

On Tuesday, Craig Button tore through his team when he dispatched Derek Morris, Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond to the Colorado Avalanche for Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle.

From as early as five years ago it was clear how the Calgary Flames were to be built; a top forward in Jarome Iginla, a top defenceman in Derek Morris, and a top goaltender in well ... they'd handle that when the time came.

Two years ago Craig Button took over the squad, and despite tinkering around edges, the plan remained somewhat the same. Iginla remained in place. Morris remained in place, and Roman Turek was acquired as the final piece of the triad.

Now the triad has been altered.

It's no secret to on lookers that the Calgary Flames needed help up front. With Morris, Denis Gauthier, Toni Lydman, Robyn Regehr and Bob Boughner the Flames have essentially locked down five of the iced six spots.

Up front the Flames had a clear top six forward in Jarome Iginla, an impressive reclamation project going in Craig Conroy and Dean McAmmond, but then a whole bunch of question marks.

That balance has been better aligned today.

With Chris Drury into the fold the Flames can now boast two clear top six forwards, and a third in Craig Conroy if you believe last season was more than a fluke. A resurgent Marc Savard and a lot of hope in a rookie of Chuck Kobasew has the Flames as top heavy as they've been in almost ten years.

Breaking It Down

Essentially the deal breaks down two key components and three peripheral parts.

Jeff Shantz is a player coming off a knee injury that may or may not have had a job come Wednesday. There was a lot of talk about the Flames exposing the player through the waiver draft and taking their chances with someone latching on to his big ticket.

Dean McAmmond is a player that Button likely wanted out of the deal. His dependable, career best season last year was a feel good story for a player acquired for a fourth round pick the summer before. In terms of asset management, however, there couldn't be a better time to deal the winger.

Stephane Yelle's situation in Colorado is somewhat similar to Shantz in Calgary, with rumblings of his time in the Mile High City coming to a close.

McAmmond, as it turned out, is the premium the Flames played in acquiring the more consistent and durable player in Drury.

Meet Your Calgary Flames

Now that the dust has settled ... where does everyone fit?

In Drury, the Flames have acquired a natural center that has been buried behind two of the league's elite pivots in Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.

Will he remain on the wing as he did in Colorado, forming a big league line in Calgary with Iginla and Conroy?

Or will the Flames move either Gelinas or Savard up to the left wing on the Conroy - Iginla line and have Drury center the second line with the one of the aformentioned and Chuck Kobasew?

A third plan would see Drury center Iginla and Conroy drop back to center a second line.

The options are dizzying.

Things on the blueline, as one would suspect, are not quite as rosy.

In moving the team's quintessential top defenceman, a lot is expected from the top down with everyone moving up a notch.

As is stands, both Jordan Leopold and Micki Dupont will make the team, altering between the sixth and seventh defenceman. Petr Buzek would move up to the fifth role, and the top four (previously the top five) would all slide up one slot.

This can't be the plan, however. That's relying far too much on players to take big steps, steps that would likely end up in failure and another year on the sidelines.

Look for the Flames to make another deal, possibly moving Savard for a fifth defenceman that can handle some ice time.

Another possibility is the waiver draft slated for Friday.

With two games left on the preseason schedule, at least the Flames have some time to experiment.



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