Toronto shakes up their roster

What an interesting Sunday it was for a pair of NHL teams who were both heading in the wrong direction. Well, the Maple Leafs have been heading in the wrong direction for five years now.

A deal which sent Calgary Flames defensemen Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs was agreed upon late Saturday night and was completed on Sunday morning and it sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world.

There had been rumblings of Phaneuf being on the trade block for a few weeks now, and Sunday morning the hammer fell. Phaneuf was traded from the Flames to the Maple Leafs along with winger Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie. Heading to Calgary are forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defensemen Ian White.

For Toronto, I believe this trade will absolutely help them in the long run. Not only did unload guys that weren’t going to be part of the future going forward, but they also got a legitimate #1 defensemen,  rather than draft picks and prospect who may never pan out. Phaneuf brings the physical edge that Brian Burke loves so much, and he also brings plenty of offense to table (10 goals this season). Along with the likes of Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin, and Luke Schenn the Leafs have relatively solid top 4 on defense capable of playing against an opposing teams top line on a nightly basis. I left out Tomas Kaberle because it appears he’s going to be odd man out going forward.

The Flames were a team that, before pounding the Oilers on Saturday night, were winless in nine straight games and were clearly in need of a roster shakeup, and boy, did they deliver. After trading for Jay Bouwmeester in the summer, it was believed by many that the Flames were set up for a Stanley Cup push this season. Well after a nice streak in November, the Flames had become a mess in January and saw themselves slipping out of a tight playoff race. They obviously needed to wake up the players in the room and I assume they did by trading away arguably their best defensemen.

Despite dealing Phaneuf, the Flames are still pretty solid on the blueline, with the likes of Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr and now Ian White. They also get some nice, but not glamorous additions at forward in Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman. The deal should put them in good shape to break out of this current slump and make a decent run at the playoffs.

The Leafs weren’t done wheeling and dealing either. Not long after they acquired Phaneuf, they filled a rather big hole in goal. Burke went to his former team and acquired former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champ J-S Giguere from the Ducks in exchange for goalie Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake.

Toronto hasn’t had a good goalie since Curtis Joseph (his first tour of with the Leafs, not the last one) and Giguere, despite losing his starting job to Jonas Hiller, is still capable of being a starting goalie, something the lowly Leafs have desperately needed. Giguere has another year left on his deal, so it also enables the Leafs to evaluate youngster Jonas Gustavsson to see where his game is and make a decision on Giguere after that.

For the Ducks, they unload Giguere’s big contract (they extended Hiller a few days ago) and add a decent, but overpaid, forward in Blake, who could help with a push for the playoffs. I doubt Toskala will be a key to the Ducks future and will likely hit the open market in July.

The deals don’t make the Leafs better today, but they’ve added and few pieces to the puzzle for the future and they’re probably not done dealing this season.

Posted on February 1, 2010, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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