Kevin Cheveldayoff made a minor move Monday, sending winger Akim Aliu to the Flames for defenseman John Negrin. Definitely not the blockbuster deal fans always hope for, but more like the classic “change of scenery” deal. Both were drafted in 2007, Aliu 56th by Chicago and Negrin 70th by Calgary and were highly touted as juniors.
The Jets organization acquired Aliu from the Blackhawks as part of the Dustin Byfuglien trade back in 2010 when the franchise was still in Atlanta. Aliu was projected to be a rough-and-tumble scoring power forward. He had baggage when he was drafted and was known as a hot head. Since making his pro debut with the Rockford Ice Hogs in 2009, Aliu has been up and down between the AHL and ECHL. Most recently, he had been playing on loan with Calgary’s AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. Perhaps the Flames liked what they saw from the 22-year-old from Nigeria being able to keep tabs on him in-house.
The newest member of the St. John’s IceCaps (unless more Jets injuries force him up to the show), Negrin has had his young career riddled with injuries. He broke his wrist and had two knee surgeries in less than three years. Negrin hasn’t played more than 45 games in a season since he appeared in 71 games in 2007-08 with Kootenay of the WHL. He is a smooth-skating puck-moving defenseman that is scouted as a good decision-maker.
He could be a solid NHLer for the Jets, or he could end up being a career AHL defenseman. As the cliché goes, only time will tell.