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Flames GM Conroy caps off first 'nerve-wracking' NHL Trade Deadline with two minor moves

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Craig Conroy wrapped up his first NHL Trade Deadline as the general manager of the Calgary Flames with a couple of minor moves.

The rookie general manager said the deadline was a “nerve-wracking” experience, capping off a busy season of deals.

Over the course of the year, the rookie general manager shipped out several players set to hit free agency this summer, including Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.

“We wanted to do what we thought was fair by the players and what worked for us moving forward,” Conroy said.

“It’s tough. All great players, all good people, and I wish them all the best, but again, I knew we had to do this for the organization and the franchise moving forward.”

The Flames didn’t make any major moves on Friday, but one blockbuster trade involving the Vegas Golden Knights will affect their return on a different deal.

With the Golden Knights trading their 2025 first-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for forward Tomas Hertl, the Flames will receive Vegas’ 2026 first-round pick as part of the return for Noah Hanifin.

The Flames sent Hanifin to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a conditional first-round pick, a conditional third-round pick and defenceman Daniil Miromanov. They also retained 50 per cent of his salary.

General manager Craig Conroy confirmed the team would receive the Golden Knights' 2026 first-round pick, with no further conditions on it.

The conditional third-round pick becomes a second-round pick if Vegas makes it to the second round of the playoffs.

All eyes were also on goalie Jacob Markstrom as the clock ticked down toward the 1 p.m. MT deadline on Friday – but he remains a Flame.

“Jacob’s a competitor, and he cares about these guys,” Conroy said. “I know there’s been noise, but all he does is play well.”

Flames acquire Okhotiuk, extend Rooney

Calgary acquired Nikita Okhotiuk from the San Jose Sharks for a 2024 fifth-round pick, the team announced Friday.

The Russian defenceman has appeared in 43 games with the Sharks this year, scoring one goal and seven assists, for eight points.

Okhotiuk was originally a second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2019 NHL Draft.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The first thing that came to Conroy’s mind when asked about Okhotiuk’s play was two words: big hits.

“He plays hard, simple puck mover,” Conroy said.

“He’s a high-character individual, from talking to people that know him, where he’s played, right from junior all the way up. It’s important for us to bring in different-type players.”

The Flames also announced a one-year contract extension for forward Kevin Rooney. The contract, through 2024-25, will pay Rooney an AAV of $1.3 million.

Rooney has suited up in 13 games this season for the Flames, registering one goal.

Still fighting

The Flames currently sit six points out of a playoff spot, having won six of their last seven games. Conroy commended the leaders in the dressing room for continuing to fight, despite all of the distractions.

“I wish I could have calmed the noise, and I wish I could have done more, but you can’t,” Conroy said.

“But the way these guys handled it and the way they’ve risen to the challenge every day, it's very impressive and it says a lot about that team down there and the belief they have in each other.”

One of the remaining unrestricted free agents the Flames didn’t trade or extend was Oliver Kylington.

Conroy said the team is hopeful they can get the Swedish defenceman extended, but the priority right now is taking care of Kylington as a person, following his extended leave to tend to his mental health.

The Flames also acquired centre Riley Damiani from the Dallas Stars in exchange for centre Emilio Pettersen, on Thursday.

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