No Russian to make move

GM says Flames won’t trade for pending free agent


Despite his club’s offensive struggles, Darryl Sutter sees no scenario in which he’d be part of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes he’s been linked to.

“He’s a star player who is unrestricted next year, so you’d have to give up players under contract for a guy who isn’t — I don’t think that’s a move that’s in the best interest of the organization,” said Sutter, who told the Sun Saturday he has no plans to do anything radical such as trading Dion Phaneuf or Robyn Regehr before the deadline.

“When you have a $7-million player (Jarome Iginla), you aren’t going to be able to have a $10-million player, too.”

Kovalchuk is currently a $6.4-million cap hit but is asking for $11 million annually from Atlanta, prompting a likely move as a rental player.

Sutter insists that while a lack of cap space will restrict many teams from being active at the March 3 swap deadline, it’s not an issue tying his hands.

“Today, we are 17th or 18th in payroll and 22 teams are over $55 million (the cap is $56.8 million) — not a whole lot of teams can move. For us, salaries are not the issue.”

Sutter simply believes his current crew can work its way out of a funk that has the rest of the city up in arms.

Another concern many Flames have these days is the possibility of losing forward Rene Bourque to unrestricted free agency this summer.

“We’ve talked to Bourque and Olli (Jokinen) off and on all year, but it’s not to the point we’re going to talk about finalizing any sort of deal,” said the Flames GM.

“I think it can be a distraction. It’s not a priority.”

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports scribe who can’t help but believe former Red Deer Rebels sparkplug Colby Armstrong will be a Flame by season’s end.