CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke was busy at the NHL Trade Deadline. But not as busy as he may have liked.
While the acting general manager of the Flames managed to facilitate deals for goaltender Reto Berra and forward Lee Stempniak, Burke wasn’t able to make a move on what many expected would be his biggest chip in pending unrestricted free agent Mike Cammalleri.
“We spent a lot of time on other possible transactions and weren’t able to bring anything to fruition,” Burke said in a press conference following the conclusion of the trade window.
“I think it was primarily due to two reasons. Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson moving late created a logjam and kept a lot of teams out of the bidding process. The prices on all these packages dropped from yesterday. We reacted to that and changed our asking price as well. I think if you don’t react to the market moving you’re going to miss out.
“I think that Vancouver entertained offers on Ryan Kesler also contributed to the logjam.”
Returns too, Burke admitted, weren’t to his liking.
After meeting with the same collection in the Ed Whalen Media Lounge on Tuesday, Burke seemed optimistic that fellow GM’s would be willing to spend on the likes of Vanek, Moulson and Cammalleri.
Twenty-four hours later, the seller wasn’t convinced the values were worth it.
Vanek and a conditional fifth round pick in 2014 fetched prospect Sebastian Collberg and a conditional 2014 second rounder from the Montreal Canadiens. Moulson, alongside Cody McCormick, returned Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 second round pick and a 2016 second rounder.
Cammalleri, Burke decided, was more valuable remaining with the Flames.
“The prices yesterday for Vanek and Moulson were a lot different than they were today - a lot lower,” Burke said. “Again this is all anecdotal info from other GMs telling me what they’re asking. I thought ‘great this is what we can get for Cammalleri’. Then the prices fell and you react and we weren’t able to make a deal.
“Nothing materialized that made sense to us.”
And, as Burke reiterated, the Flames weren’t willing to give away Cammalleri -- a two-time 30-goal scorer -- for a song.
“It didn't happen not for a lack of effort, not for a lack of moving the price,” said Burke, who couldn't find a match on pending free agent Chris Butler either. “I'm comfortable we did everything we could do to move him short of giving him away. To me, the value of having him here for the rest of the season and the enhanced ability to maybe sign him to an extension was way preferable to giving him away for nothing.
“I also think an organization has to have a reputation at the trade deadline that you're not to give people away. The fact we didn't give him away today is something next year's deadline people will remember.”
By all accounts, Cammalleri was prepared to be moved in advance of the deadline.
In advance of Calgary’s game against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, the 31-year-old will instead prepare for his 45th game of the season with the Flames.
Burke isn’t worried about any letdown from the veteran, though.
“No I don’t,” Burke said. “First off because he’s a professional. I think Cammalleri has been the ultimate professional in the time I’ve been here. And this gives us a chance to continue our contract talks. I’ve already spoken to his agent once since the deadline and said the good thing about this is we can sit down and talk about a contract extension.”
“I’m not sitting here saying, ‘damn I wish I could have moved Cammalleri because he’s a quality person and player. I’d rather take a chance on keeping him here and signing him than give him away on a terrible deal.”
“I think everyone needs a couple days for the dust to settle. I’m sure Mike’s disappointed – not to be a Calgary Flame because he loves it here, but to go somewhere and get in some playoff hockey.
“I think everyone needs a few days to sit down and have a cold drink and settle down a little bit.”
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