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Babchuk, Kostopoulos coming to Calgary

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB -- Just hours after being dealt from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Calgary Flames, defenceman Anton Babchuk and right winger Tom Kostopoulos admitted they were shocked but looking forward to the new chapter in their careers.

"For me, it was a shock at first," said Kostopoulos. "I didn't see it coming. Once you digest it and really think about it, I'm really excited to come to Calgary. I'm excited to play there, in front of the fans there. I think it's a good team which has a good shot at going all the way.

"Anton's a good defenceman, he'll add to the team. I hope that I can add to the team and we go on a long run."

Babchuk, Chicago's first round (21st overall) selection in the 2002 Entry Draft, said he was happy to playing in a Canadian hockey market for the the first time in his career.

"I'm really excited to get an opportunity to play in Canada, in Calgary ... I look forward to doing my best to help the team winning as many game as we can."

The Flames sent defenceman Ian White and forward Brett Sutter to the Hurricanes in exchange for the pair.

Assistant General Manager Jay Feaster said the trade was essentially due to the Flames ability to sign Mark Giordano to a long-term deal.

"In terms of the trade, it's something that we as an organization have been working on for some time now," he said on a conference call. "During the summer, when we began contract negotiations with Ian White, we had discussions about the possibility of trying to do a long-term contract with Ian. It was clear we weren't going to be able to come to a meeting of the minds.

"We went about our business of recognizing players that we knew had to get signed for next season. One of those players that was high on our priority list was Mark Giordano."

After Giordano was signed to an extension, the Flames began to talk with other clubs about trading White.

"This is one where the conversations with Carolina we focused on these two players very, very quickly in that process. It took some time, as these things ... finally, last evening and then first thing this morning, things came to fruition and we were able to get this trade done."

The Flames offensive woes may be given a boost thanks to Babchuk's ability to leap into the play and produce points. In 17 games this campaign, he has three goals and eight points.

He understands he'll be expected to fit within the Flames current defensive structure but feels he'll still be able to produce offensively for the club.

"When I play I try to use my shot at the point," he said. "I like to jump into the offence, join the rush every chance I get. Maybe I'm not a physical guy for my size but I've never been. The biggest part of my game is reading the plays, joining the rush, play on the power play and the penalty kill as well."

The blueliner has not had the smoothest career path since being drafted. Due to contract negotiations going astray, the 26 year-old has had two stints with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.

"I've been back in Europe a couple times because I had some contracts issues but I'd like to say thank you to the Carolina Hurricanes organization for bringing me back both times and giving me a good opportunity to play in the NHL. Now I look forward to playing for the Calgary Flames and am excited about it."

Given the plethora of Flames forwards who share Kostopoulous' gritty style of play, he was asked if he was concerned about not having a defined spot in the lineup.

"I'll wait to see what the coaches want from me and where they think I fit in. I'll just try to work hard and do what's asked of me. Wherever they fit me, I'll try my best there."

In 17 contests this season, Kostopoulos has one goal and four points.

While happy about the trade, Kostopoulos said the hardest part was explaining to his young family about having to move.

"I have a three year-old daughter and a one year-old son," he stated. "I'm more concerned about my family and getting them over and explaining it to my daughter. Other than that, I'm looking forward to it and it should be an easy transition."

Both players will travel on Thursday and Feaster expects them in the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

"Our expectation is that they will skate with us on Friday and we would see them in the lineup."
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