Editor's Note: There is some amazing discussion in this fanshot. Comments are closed there but it is worth a read.
Brian Burke has finally put some muster behind his bluster with a deal that can only be termed a blockbuster as well as a hell of way to wake up on a Sunday morning. The Toronto Maple Leafs will get Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Keith Aulie and will be sending disgruntled forward Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman, pending unrestricted free agent Matt Stajan, and pending restricted free agent Ian White.
I actually don't know how to react to this deal. I've spent the past four years reading about Dion Phaneuf on Edmonton Oilers blogs (that coverage really hasn't changed) so I'm cautiously optimistic that his game, which Brian Burke described as "playing our type of hockey, he likes it crude, he likes it black and blue", can bed in with the Leafs' defence. This is a massive investment in a player that was once seen as a lock for Team Canada but has fallen so far that he is no longer a big part of the Calgary Flames' future. He's locked in for another four years at $6.5M. James Mirtle has a look at the cap implications for the Globe.
|2009 - Dion Phaneuf||55||10||12||22||3||49||5||0||2||0||138||7.2|
Matt from the Battle of Alberta wrote this in November:
By definition, you can only have one #1 defenseman. You can only have one featured shooting threat on the PP. Most importantly, you can't pay elite wages for depth.
To a lesser extent, this is the situation in Calgary on D. When Darryl Sutter signed Jay Bouwmeester on June 30 to a five-year, $33.4M deal with a NTC, he made the decision that JB would be heading up the blueline for the next 5 years. He can't afford to pay Dion Phaneuf to play the "Jay Bouwmeester" role, because he now has Jay Bouwmeester filling that role.
Heading over to Behind the Net gives us a better picture of what Phaneuf was doing this year. He was facing the toughest competition among the defencemen, doing pretty well in terms of Corsi, all while playing with the weakest teammates.
After a season of debating whether Matt Stajan is a top two centre going forward and how much it will take to re-sign Ian White Brian Burke has rendered all of that speculation moot. In his press conference Burke mentioned that he never opened negotiations with Ian White's representation which to me indicates that he never thought he was part of the future going forward. He also manages to get rid of one malcontent in the dressing room. And it's perfect timing that just a few days after Niklas Hagman returned to the land of the living and many of us speculated that he could be a nice trade asset that he is on his way out of town. The Calgary Flames pick up just over $4M in cap space for next year which gives Darrly Sutter some wiggle room after his terrible cap mismanagement cost the team the division crown last year.
Who are the other two guys coming to Toronto?
|2009 - Fredrik Sjostrom||46||1||5||6||2||8||0||0||0||0||33||3.0|
The scouting report on him is as follows:
Has a terrific combination of speed and defensive instincts. Is willing to take a hit in order to make a play. Kills penalties very well and can line up on either side of center.
Doesn't use his 6-1, 218-pound frame to his advantage nearly enough. Misses a ton of scoring chances due to questionable hands.
Keith Aulie is a defensive prospect that will head to the Toronto Marlies. He was on the 2009 Canadian team that won gold at the World Juniors. Here's his Hockey's Future profile which has him as the third ranked prospect in the Flames' system which itself is ranked 25th. He's supposed to be another monster defensive defenceman and he'll get plenty of time to develop with the Marlies.
But this deal begins and ends with Dion Phaneuf. Both Wilson and Burke have a long history with Phaneuf so they are well aware of what he brings to the table. If he can find a partner in Toronto (Tomas Kaberle) that can help shield his defensive deficiencies then he can work on eliminating them from his game. Ron Wilson said he'd be killing penalties as well as being on the top power play unit so he'll be asked to make a huge difference on two atrocious special team units.
The Leafs have a tonne of money now locked up long-term on the blueline. So far this year that has not been a good investment as Beauchemin and Komisarek have struggled. However, the second trade to bring in Giguere should help settle the goaltending down. Sjostrom is supposed to be a good penalty killer so that will help address another team weakness.
Reading the reaction from my fellow SBNers on e-mail I definitely have a lot of reservations on this deal. This deal, like the Kessel deal, hinges on Brian Burke's ability to have properly assessed his team. He has decided that White and Stajan are no longer part of the future and brought in an asset that he thinks will improve this team both right now and in the future. All we can do is hope that Burke's evaluation over the past 55 games is better than his evaluation of this team over his first eight months.