After a lengthy buildup of speculation during the Flames' recent slide, the team has finally made a move, dealing defenceman Ian White, acquired in the January the deal that sent Dion Phaneuf to the Maple Leafs, to the Carolina Hurricanes. The package also includes 23-year-old Brett Sutter, and brings back defenceman Anton Babchuk and forward Tom Kostopoulos in return. After two separate stints in Russia, Babchuk, a native of the Ukraine, returned to the 'Canes this summer and has three goals and eight points in 17-games so far this season.
While Babchuk is similar to White in his skill set as an offensive defenceman and has been used as a comparable to White in terms of ability vs. cap hit, the advantage he does have is his size--Babchuk towers over White at 6 ft. 5, 212 lbs. I won't hesitate to say that the Flames' defence has been struggling and was perhaps in need of a shake-up, and White seemed like he would likely bring back the best return while not being overly expensive or difficult to replace, but only time will tell if this move was the right one. White was clearly struggling in the circumstances he was being used in, playing alongside Regehr in a shut-down, tough-minutes role, and could probably benefit from playing against easier competition, depending on what Carolina's depth chart looks like.
Tom Kostopoulos is a player of little value to this team, perhaps equal or lesser to what Brett Sutter meant to the organization. A relatively marginal NHLer and a career minus player, Kostopoulos has managed to stick around in the league for eight seasons largely on the basis of his reputation as somewhat of an enforcer, playing for four other teams before coming to the Flames. He has one goal and four points this season to go along with 30 PIMS. With Ales Kotalik potentially close to returning in early December, the deal saves the Flames approximately $1M in cap space, as the 26-year-old Babchuk comes at a reasonable $1.4M (via CapGeek), and is a UFA after this season. Kostopoulos rakes in a cool $916,667 for the next two seasons.
I would imagine it's highly doubtful that either player will join the team for tonight's game against the Coyotes (7:30 MT at the 'Dome), but the Flames do have some extra bodies hanging around in Staios/Mikkelson and Meyer/Conroy, so they won't exactly be shorthanded.