ST. PAUL, Minn. – Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster was a busy man on Day 2 of the NHL draft.
He made a big trade and locked up a key pending free agent Saturday as the club looks to retool after a disappointing 2010-’11 season.
Calgary dealt veteran defenceman Robyn Regehr, right-winger Ales Kotalik and a second-round draft pick in 2012 to the Buffalo Sabres for defenceman Chris Butler and centre Paul Byron.
Feaster then locked up veteran forward Alex Tanguay to a five-year contract extension worth US$17.5 million.
Calgary, which selected Swiss-born winger Sven Baertschi with the 13th pick in the draft on Friday, missed the playoffs last season, finishing 10th in the Western Conference with a 41-29-12 record.
The Flames took Finnish centre Markus Granlund with the 45th pick in the draft on Saturday before adding defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon of the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks at No. 57.
Regehr, a 12-year veteran who has spent his entire NHL career with the Flames, waived his no-trade clause in order for the deal with Buffalo to be completed.
“(Asking a player to waive a no-trade) is the toughest thing that you do,” Feaster said. “I went through it in Tampa with Brad Richards and there was a guy that won a Stanley Cup for us.
“When you have a warrior like Robyn is, a guy who has been there as long as he’s been there and has done as much for the franchise as he has, that’s a very, very difficult phone call to make.”
Regehr was an alternate captain for the Flames, scoring two goals and adding 15 assists in each of the last two seasons.
“I just respect him so much because he came in at the exit meeting at the end of the year and he said, ‘If you feel that I’m part of your solution here or that moving me out helps the organization then I’m willing to work with you,'” Feaster added.
“Again, that just speaks to his character and his professionalism and what he’s meant to the franchise.”
Feaster added that the deal gives the Flames flexibility moving forward.
“We’ve been in salary cap jail for some time,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to have some breathing room and have a fresh start and at the same time to get younger.”
Regehr, who will make $6.25 million in each of the next three seasons, will bring some grit to the Buffalo blue-line as the Sabres aggressively try to upgrade their roster under new ownership.
Kotalik will make $3 million in 2011-12.
Tanguay, meanwhile, had 69 points (22 goals, 47 assists) in 79 games in his return to Calgary last season while playing on a line with captain Jarome Iginla.
“He’s going to be with us for a long time,” Feaster said of Tanguay. “I think that the guy with the biggest smile today in Calgary … isn’t Alex, it’s Jarome Iginla. Because that’s one guy that Jarome has made very clear he very much wants back and he wants to be able to play with.”
Tanguay, 31, had 139 points (40-99) in 159 games for Calgary between 2006-’08. Selected with the 12th overall pick by the Colorado Avalanche in the 1998 draft, Tanguay will make $3.5 million a year on his new deal.
“As we looked at the potential (unrestricted free agent) market, we didn’t see a player that was going to replace him and be as productive as we believe he can and will be,” Feaster said. “We’re happy to have him back. The earlier transaction put us in a situation where we actually able to get that done today and get it filed.”
Tanguay, who has 225 goals and 461 assists in 818 NHL games, has also spent time with the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tanguay’s signing also signalled the Flames were out of the running for veteran Los Angeles Kings forward Ryan Smyth. The Flames and Edmonton Oilers were reportedly vying for Smyth’s services earlier in the week.
Smyth’s agent said the former Oiler had waived his no-trade clause to rejoin Edmonton on Friday night, but the deal still hadn’t been finalized as of Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with (Kings GM) Dean (Lombardi). There are always a lot of different moving pieces to it,” Feaster said. “That was, depending on how things were going to go with Alex and depending upon how things went on the trade front, we were exploring and that was certainly one of the options we were looking at.”
Granlund, meanwhile, is the younger brother of Minnesota Wild prospect Mikael Granlund.
The five-foot-10 163-pound forward is known as a playmaker, but it’s unknown if he can score the lacrosse-style goal that made his brother famous at the IIHF world championship last month.
“It’s a big honour to be drafted,” said Granlund, who expects to play for the senior team with the HIFK club in Finland next season. “I know Calgary’s a very good team.
“It’s very nice that last year Mikael was drafted. I think I’m the same kind of player.”
Wotherspoon, a six-foot-two defenceman from Surrey, B.C., had two goals and 10 assists in 64 WHL games last season.
”They’ve got a great history (in Calgary), a lot of older guys, a great veteran group, so it’s exciting for me,” he said. “I have time. I’m excited to be part of the process.”
The Flames also added left-winger John Gaudreau of Dubuque of the USHL in the fourth round at No. 104 and Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Laurent Brossoit in the sixth round at No. 164.