The Maple Leafs made some huge moves yesterday by swinging two deals. First, the team sent forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defenseman defenseman Ian White to the Flames for defensemen Dion Phaneuf (above, front), Keith Aulie and forward Fredrik Sjostrom.
EN Says: We like the deal in the short-term for the Flames and in the long-term for the Maple Leafs. Immediately, the Flames improve up front by adding some depth at forward. They were a little light up there and bringing in Hagman and Stajan give them some solid players who can play on the first three lines. Hagman had been the Maple Leafs' best point producer as of late. He has 33 points (20 goals, 13 assists) this season. Stajan has been consisten with 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists).
Mayers is a rough and tumble third- or fourth-line type.
White (right) is a very underrated player who is producing offensively at a pace similar to the high-profile Phaneuf. He's a little small at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, but White plays a consistent two-way game. White has 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists). That said, they gave up on a player in Phaneuf who can be very special some day.
The Leafs are clearly playing for the future and that's what this deal signifies. Phaneuf's obviously an all-star caliber player with fantastic skill, but he still has tons of maturing to do. He's very fundamentally flawed. If he ever fully learns the position, Maple Leafs overlord Brian Burke will have the second coming of Chris Pronger. But he had some trouble living in the fish bowl of Calgary. How's he going to handle the "ocean" of a hockey market that is Toronto? And why does Toronto need to add more defense? Burke spent big money bringing in Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin during the offseason and he already had the very promsiing Luke Schenn on the roster? Considering they were already light at the forward position, this move is probably the exact opposite of what they need.
Phaneuf has 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists).
Sjostrom is a solid second- or third-line type who can bring you some offense and can help in the shootout. But he's not going to make or break the roster.
Aulie (6-foot-6, 208 pounds) is a big body provides some organizational depth.
The move adds $317,000 to Toronto's payroll from a salary cap perspective.
Second, Burke picked up an old friend when he acquired goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere (right) from the Ducks in exchange for goaltender Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake. Burke was the general manager of the Ducks when they won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with Giguere in net.
EN Says: We like the deal better for the Ducks than we do for the Maple Leafs. Giguere's well past his prime and he's got a huge cap number at $6 million on a contract that has another year left on it. They do get rid of two players in Toskala and Blake who have their own big cap numbers and who both failed to live up to expectations, but they picked up the same type of player in Giguere. It just doesn't do much for them in terms of the future. The move does drop their payroll, from a salary cap perspective, by $2 million.
Giguere is 4-8-5 with at 3.14 goals against average and .900 save percentage this season.
The Ducks got rid of a guy who was very vocal in his displeasure in becoming a back up to Jonas Hiller and add some players who can help from a depth standpoint.
Blake (right) can play on the first two lines offering solid two-way play and can even still punch in 20 goals. Considering some of the health problems the Ducks have had with forwards Saku Koivu, Joffrey Lupul and Teemu Selanne, Blake will help out quite a bit in that area. He has 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists).
Toskala was one of the best back up goaltenders in the NHL when he was with the Sharks. Perhaps he can become that once again on the West Coast. He is 7-12-3 with a 3.66 goals against average and .874 save percentage.
And thankfully for the Penguins, Blake, a noted Penguins killer, is now far, far away.
(Photo: Phaneuf-Mike Ridewood/Getty Images; White-Abelimages/Getty Images; Giguere-Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images; Blake-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)