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Flames Watch: Sutter could beef up depth chart with a call to Florida

If I’m Flames GM Darryl Sutter, the next phone call I make is to Florida GM Jacques Martin.

Knowing the Panthers are in a bad situation for having not made the playoffs or dealing outgoing free agent Jay Bouwmeester, Martin will be eager to listen.

Here’s the deal I’d pitch: Dion Phaneuf to the Panthers for a sign-and-trade involving Bouwmeester and a first round pick. It makes sense for all parties in a multitude of ways.

It’s a certainty Bouwmeester wants to move on from Florida to test the free agent market. The Panthers could have gotten good return for him in March, but gambled keeping him would be enough to get the team in the playoffs. They’ll be scuppered again losing him in July as a UFA.

So getting a heralded defenseman like Phaneuf to materialize out of a lose-lose scenario will make Martin look brilliant. He’d have to give up Florida’s first-rounder (14th overall), but that’s a small tradeoff to get a proven pro like Phaneuf.

So why would the Flames make such a deal to aid the Panthers? Because it would also benefit Calgary.

Anyone who has watched the Flames knows Phaneuf’s game has deteriorated badly. Sure, he’s a nice skater, takes lots of shots and is known for the big hit, but he has also developed poor habits that are offsetting his gains.

Phaneuf doesn’t work hard enough defensively, coasting into corners, beatable in 1-on-1s and standing around too much with one hand on his stick.

His long outlet passes are so telegraphed, they never work anymore and he doesn’t have a counterattack for teams monitoring his big shot.

Phaneuf will make $6.5 million in each of the next five seasons. Unless he makes serious improvements, that’ll be a contract no one wants. If the rest of the league doesn’t know about Phaneuf’s struggles already, they’re learning.

Now’s the time to trade him before his market value does a Bryan McCabe.

It would have to be a sign-and-trade for Bouwmeester, a 25-year-old Edmonton native. A multi-year contract for $7 million is what he’ll get on the open market so chances are he’d welcome a similar deal to play for a contender in Calgary.

The first-rounder coming Calgary’s way offsets the first-rounder the Flames sent to Phoenix in the Olli Jokinen deal and helps boost Calgary’s mediocre prospect list.

This column also appears in the Calgary Metro newspaper.

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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