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Covering anything hockey but mostly stories involving my favourite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. I try to update the blog every day or two and encourage comments and suggestions. Some of my influences are TSN's Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie. Enjoy

Monday, February 1, 2010

6 players shipped out of Toronto in two huge trades Sunday.. Full analysis

  •  Toronto gets: D Dion Phaneuf, F Fredrik Sjostrom, D Keith Aulie and G Jean-Sebastien Giguere
  •  Calgary gets: F Niklas Hagman, F Matt Stajan, F Jamal Mayers and D Ian White 
  •  Anaheim gets: F Jason Blake and G Vesa Toskala
Lets take a look at the impact these trades will have on the Leafs:

Hagman and Stajan

Basically I think both trades are excellent moves for the Leafs for numerous reasons.

In the trade with Calgary, the leafs lose 2 top 6, but not necessarily hard to replace forwards in Hagman and Stajan, swap one checking line player (Mayers) for another in Sjostrom, and exchange the solid, fan favourite defenceman Ian White for a potential franchise defenceman, Dion Phaneuf.

Stajan and Mayers are pending UFA's so it's nice to be able to get some sort of a return for them and both were expected to be moved before March 3rd anyway. With Hagman we lose a small, yet strong-on-the-puck forward capable of 30 goals but he was never really a core piece to the rebuild and I knew even from his signing with back in 2008 that he could be trade bait in the future.

It's a little saddening to see White go after spending almost 5 seasons in Toronto but with a return like Phaneuf its good to see those 5 years add up to something.

I was pretty shocked when I heard that Jason Blake was headed out of Toronto after a few disappointing seasons.. After that first 15 goal season with the buds I thought we were stuck with his waste of cap space till 2012 but even after a more successful year last season I'm certainly happy to see him go.

As for Toskala, not much needs to be said.. He will be unrestricted at season's end either way and wouldn't have seen many more starts anyway. Just another one of Ferguson's old mistakes finally being cleaned up.

Now let's take a look at what the Leafs get back:

Position: Defence
Age: 24
6'3", 214 Lbs.
Drafted 9th overall in 2003
Contract status: In 2nd of 6 year deal averaging $6.5M/year

After a strong rookie year in which he put up 20 goals and was nominated for the Calder trophy, many thought Phaneuf was a future Norris candidate and a core piece to the future of the Flames. A decline in his play over the past couple seasons coupled with the addition of Jay Bouwmeester to the Calgary blueline opened the door for a trade and this is the end result.
Phaneuf adds even more physicality to an already hard-hitting Leafs defence corps  as well as a booming shot and has already begun practicing alongside Beauchemin. His 125 hits this season are good for 12th place in the league amongst defencemen.

This trade opens the door for a possible Kaberle move as the leafs now have a league leading 43% of their cap space (almost 27 million) tied up on defencemen, over 10% more than the league average.

Despite what some are saying, Phaneuf is not going to be Toronto's next captain, along with Kessel he is a key building block to the Leafs future but we still lack that elite star forward. Whenever a blockbuster deal like this goes down it's never the random bits and pieces that the trade is remembered for, its the biggest player in the deal. Phaneuf is the real focal point of the trade and I am certain he will be a fan favourite in Toronto and a key contributor to their next cup run whenever that may be.

Position: Goalie
Age: 32
6'1", 201Lbs.
Drafted 13th overall in 1995
Contract status: In 3rd of a 4 year deal averaging $6M/year

After a great playoff run by Anaheim's backup, Jonas Hiller, followed by Giguere's less than stellar season thus far, he lost the starting role with the Ducks and subsequently became expendable. His career numbers are pretty good but the question at hand is whether or not he can regain his form in a new City and take the lowly leafs to the next level.

Giguere brings in a ton of NHL experience both regular season and playoff, and is poised to be the number one Toronto goalie for the near future. I had the opportunity to watch Giguere for a few years at the beginning of his career playing for the AHL's Saint John Flames (now the Abbotsford Heat) and he certainly has top-notch talent. He is a former Conn-Smythe trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion all with Anaheim and will be the definite #1 goalie in Leafland for the remainder of the season.

Despite his profusion of experience, "Jiggy" is only in his early thirties and should still have a lot to offer. He will serve as an excellent mentor to Gustavsson, whom Burke still believes is Toronto's goalie of the future.

- On a side note, Phil Kessel is no longer the highest paid Leaf and in fact, isn't even the number two. Phaneuf's cap hit of $6.5 million and Giguere's hit of $6M annually both surpass Kessel's $5.4M


After being drafted 11th overall by the Coyotes in 2001, Sjostrom hasn't quite put up the offensive numbers he was expected to but has since developed into a solid checking line forward thus fitting Burke's prerequisites. Aulie is a big 20 year old 6'6", 208 pound defender drafted by Calgary in the 4th round of 2007's NHL entry draft. He was part of Canada's 2009 World Junior gold medal winning team and could develop into a very intimidating shut-down defender for the Leafs in the next couple of years.

In conclusion, I think the Leafs come out as the winner's in both trades and have made a couple key moves towards becoming a legitimate playoff team once again.

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