The Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens got together for the second time in the last few months to make another swap. This time the Calgary Flames are sending defenceman Brett Kulak to Montreal in exchange for D Rinat Valiev and D Matt Taormina.
The writing was on the wall for Kulak after a poor preseason for him along with young guys like Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson, and even Oliver Kylington showing well. You could also point out that the two sides bitterly negotiated through arbitration for what ended up being a small contract.
Kulak most recently came in tenth in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings, but it was fair to say that after his pre-season showing, he would have fallen had we done the rankings again.
Now what are the Flames getting?
D Rinat Valiev
Valiev (23 years old) was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens this past season from Toronto in the Tomas Plekanec trade. Formerly a third round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2014, Valiev has struggled to stay in the lineup consistently in the AHL playing in less than 48 games in the last two seasons.
He has 12 NHL games under his belt. His AHL career high in points game in his first pro season with the Marlies where he had 23 points in 60 games. This past year he had 18 points in 45 games.
His development has stagnated but perhaps he can find a way to make some strides with the Stockton Heat this year. Valiev most recently came in at #24 in the EOTP Top 25 Under 25 for Montreal.
D Matt Taormina
Taormina (31 years old) for the most part is an AHL defenceman, although he has skated in 59 NHL games, coming mainly with New Jersey in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Taormina will be a great depth addition to the Heat as he brings a fantastic offensive acumen to the team. In 63 games last year with the Lavel Rocket, he put up 52 points (4 goals 48 assists). The year before with the Syracuse Crunch he had 60 points in 70 games.
Ultimately you would think this trade has to point to Juuso Valimaki having earned a spot as an NHL regular with the Flames trading away the guy who had his lineup spot last year. Valiev and Taormina are also both left handed defencemen, and with them heading to Stockton, there may not be a spot on the left side anymore for Valimaki.