Daymond Langkow says he's 100 percent healthy and excited to be heading back to the Arizona desert. Lee Stempniak's health was never in question, but he appears just as thrilled to be moving north to Alberta.
The Coyotes and Flames pulled off a trade Monday that sends Langkow back to Phoenix, where he played from 2001-04, and Stempniak to Calgary. The trade is contingent on Langkow passing a physical examination that will be conducted Tuesday in Phoenix.
Phoenix is looking for its own proof that Langkow is healthy heading into the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.5 million this season. He was out for more than a full calendar year, 88 games in all, with a neck injury he suffered on March 21, 2010 in Minnesota.
Langkow missed the final 10 games of the 2009-10 season and the first 78 of the 2010-11 season before returning on April 1 in St. Louis.
"What's first and foremost is your health, especially if you have a family because you have to think about them first," said Langkow, who has 642 points over 1,017 career NHL games. "That's why it took so long to get back, I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent and I am. If I had any doubts at all I wouldn't be back playing."
That said, Phoenix GM Don Maloney will remain optimistically nervous until he sees the results of Langkow's physical exam.
"By indication from the player to the trainers to their medical staff to the people Daymond talks to like the Shane Doans of the world, he's never felt better," Maloney said. "I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that there won't be any surprises that pop up."
Stempniak's excitement is more about the market than anything else.
"You want to play in a place where hockey matters," he said according to the Flames' official Twitter feed. "You love being in a market like that. I'm so excited to come to Calgary."
This is Stempniak's encore in a Canadian market, as he spent parts of two seasons in Toronto before being dealt to the Coyotes at the trade deadline in 2010.
He sizzled when he arrived in Phoenix with 18 points, including 14 goals, in 18 games to help the Coyotes reach the playoffs. However, Stempniak barely doubled that production (38 points) over 82 games this past season.
Regardless, Calgary GM Jay Feaster believes that Stempniak can fill several roles for coach Brent Sutter's Flames. Maloney also believes Stempniak is the kind of player that "can score 20 goals in a bad year."
He's entering the final year of a contract that carries a $1.9 million cap hit.
"Because of our depth and options at center ice, this trade presents us with an opportunity to positively impact the organization in a number of ways," Feaster said. "It makes us younger and provides an opportunity to evaluate a player who may factor into our plans for the future. It provides Brent with options as Stempniak can play either wing and can be used on both the power play and the penalty kill. And it creates healthy competition among the forward group for ice time."
Maloney said he and Feaster began discussions on a potential trade a few weeks ago. He's been searching for help at the center position "for months" and figured with Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata already on the right side, giving up another right wing like Stempniak was something the team could handle provided the return was a formidable pivot.
Langkow, though, had to waive his no-trade clause in order to make the deal happen. He said he did soon after Feaster informed him of the potential deal, and added that playing with Coyotes captain Shane Doan again was "a big reason why I decided to come back."
"The more we looked and analyzed and did our due diligence on Daymond, the more we came away thinking this guy is going to be tremendous for us if healthy," Maloney said. "With Daymond, what you see is what you get. There isn't a lot of flash and dash to him, just a good, solid player, and that's the way we need to play in order to be successful.
"I believe if you look at our roster today, we're a much better looking team on paper than we were yesterday. So, we're happy."
Feaster is confident he can say the same thing about the Flames, who not only saved on the cap with this deal but also got younger by acquiring the 28-year-old Stempniak and dealing the 34-year-old Langkow.
"(Stempniak) is a guy who has shown he can score goals at a pretty decent rate," Feaster told the Flames website. "He's a player that plays off of confidence. When he's going, he's the guy who scores in bunches. When he loses confidence in himself, you really need to get him picked back up because that's a big part of it for him. He's in the final year of a contract so he's a guy playing for that next deal."