Lee Stempniak went to the dentist Monday and got a real jolt – news he’d just been traded to the Calgary Flames.
The former Phoenix Coyotes winger was shipped north Monday in exchange for veteran centre Daymond Langkow, who played just four games with Calgary last season because of a neck injury.
According to Stempniak, the news came courtesy of a phone call from his agent – just before the shot of Novocain – and wasn’t a huge surprise.
“You look at the lineup in Phoenix and there weren’t any centres,” Stempniak told Sportsnet Radio Fan 960 in Calgary. “I didn’t think I’d be the one moving on. But I’m excited to be going to Calgary. I love the city and that buzz when you’re playing the Flames.”
The Coyotes initiated the deal by inquiring about Langkow and his status. The 34-year-old Edmonton native had played for Phoenix before being traded to Calgary in 2004. He missed 78 games last season after being struck in the back of the neck by a teammate’s slap shot in March of 2010. His one assist in four games took his NHL career total to 642 points.
The Flames were counting on Langkow to improve after another full off-season of conditioning. He had recently undergone a successful physical examination and will undergo another in Phoenix, where he will work with Coyotes associate coach Jim Playfair. Langkow played for Playfair when the two were in Calgary.
“It is never easy moving a player who battles and competes such as Daymond. However, because of our depth and options at centre ice, this trade presents us with an opportunity to positively impact the organization in a number of ways,” Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement. “It makes us younger and provides an opportunity to evaluate a player who may factor into our plans for the future, it provides Brent [Sutter, head coach]with options as Stempniak can play either wing and can be used on both the power play and the penalty kill.”
The trade not only gives the Flames a younger player (28) with more options, it lightens their payroll. Langkow will earn $4.5-million (all currency U.S.) this season, Stempniak $1.9-million. He is slated to become an unrestrictive free agent next summer.
Langkow’s departure assures that Mikael Backlund will head into training camp as Calgary’s top centre man, playing alongside Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.
Stempniak, who had 19 goals and 19 assists last season in 82 games with Phoenix, will be reunited with former Toronto Maple Leafs Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan.