Who would have thought that a Sunday morning in January would have brought such drama to the hockey world!? In a deal that came out of nowhere, Toronto acquired Dion Phaneuf from Calgary, along with Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie. Going to Cowtown is Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Ian White, and Jamal Mayers. This is obviously a major trade, the biggest in-season blockbuster since Marian Hossa was dealt to Pittsburgh. Also, Twitter can now recover after seemingly blowing up this morning!!
Phaneuf was reportedly wearing out his welcome with the Flames. The last couple years weren’t exactly his best on the ice, and he was a growing distraction in the locker room. He still has a bright future, but he simply needed a change of scenery; I’ve been saying it since the start of the season.
Sjostrom is nothing more than a depth pickup; never really fit in with the Flames. Aulie is an interesting addition to this deal, as he was paired with Tyler Myers at the World Juniors on Team Canada’s shutdown line. He’s 6’6”, but likely won’t get to the NHL for another couple of seasons.
Toronto’s back end now features Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn, Francois Beauchemin, and Phaneuf. You think Burke has enough money invested in the blue-line?? And you can’t forget about Jeff Finger!
For the Flames, this could be the shake-up they need to get back on track. Phaneuf is a solid defenseman, but like I said, needed to get out of Calgary before it got worse. The package GM Darryl Sutter received in return is an interesting one. The more I think about it, the more I like the pieces they picked up – even if it’s not the return Flames fans expected.
Stajan and Hagman should help the Flames up front. Aside from last night, they’ve really struggled to score goals this month, leading to their recent 9-game slide. Adding a couple offensive-minded forwards will help cure that, but won’t put them over the top.
I think acquiring White is going to go under the radar. Calgary could use another right-handed D-man, and White has a heavy shot from the blue-line. He actually has four more points than Phaneuf, and is one of the more under-rated defensemen in the league. He’ll be joining another one in Mark Giordano.
As for them acquiring Jamal Mayers?? Eh, who cares!
Time will tell as to whether this blockbuster will help Calgary’s playoff hopes. With the depth they’ve acquired, and getting rid of a ‘locker room cancer’ in Phaneuf, I think it will give them a boost before the Olympic break. In the long run, though, this has the potential to turn out to be a similar deal to the Joe Thornton-to-Sharks blockbuster from 2005.
Does this take them out of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes (at the deadline)?? Eklund says no… I say YES.
Oh… and you say there was another trade today?!? Indeed. Burke also obtained goaltender J.S. Giguere from Anaheim in exchange for Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake. It was inevitable ‘Jiggy’ was gone when Jonas Hiller received his four-year extension yesterday. A lot of people are trying to make sense of this, and here’s my two cents:
1. Giguere will be re-united with goalie coach Francois Allaire.
2. Giguere could act as a mentor to Jonas Gustavsson.
It’s a hefty price to pay a 1B net-minder/backup ($7 mil next year), but it may pay off down the road if he can even show signs of his old self. They were able to get rid of Toskala and Blake, two players that never panned out in Toronto.
Anaheim GM Bob Murray was wise in acquiring Toskala (though pricey), as he’ll be off the books this summer, as opposed to 2011 when Giguere was due to become a free agent. I’m not going to make any comment on how Blake could do with the Ducks… he could thrive, or disappear!
All in all, Burke definitely shook up his struggling team. He gave up a lot to get Phaneuf and Giguere. Comparing cap space numbers, they gained almost $2 million this season, but lost a lot of cap room for next season.
Even though I highly doubt this will get them back in the playoff mix, Leafs fans are dancing in the streets today as Blake, Toskala, and Mayers are no longer wearing the Maple Leaf on their chest. Burke is one of the more aggressive general managers out there, and he continues to put his stamp on this playoff-thirsty franchise.