A huge day for the Toronto Maple Leafs today: they traded Matt Stajan, Nik Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers to Calgary for Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie. Stajan, White and Mayers are all on expiring contracts, so they are essentially rentals. Hagman has two years to go on an economical 3 million dollar deal for a streaky but reliable goal scorer.
That was a huge deal. My preliminary evaluation is that the trade reeks of desperation on the part of Darryl Sutter. He has overpaid for a couple of scoring forwards in a desperate attempt to turn the Flames’ ship around and make a run for the Cup while they have the core (Iginla, Kiprussof and Bouwmeester) signed up. Calgary is tied for third worst in the Western Conference at 143 goals for; turning to two players from the 29th place team in the league for help, and giving up a 24 year old potential franchise player-calibre asset for three rentals and a streaky scorer in the process, is a recipe for disaster. Darryl Sutter has just gone all in; this move combined with the Olli Jokinen trade last year may well cost him his job. Heck, he might have to move out of Calgary if Phaneuf re-acquires half of the potential he showed in his first couple of years in the league.
Even more remarkably, however, Brian Burke managed to unload Vesa Toskala the Incompetent and Jason Blake – the world’s most expensive and energetic hamster – for J.S. Giguere. I am at a loss to understand how Bob Murray steels himself to approach the microphone and announce to the press gathered for Ducks news that he has traded for Vesa fucking Toskala. The only explanation that makes any sense at all is that his team plays in Anaheim and nobody – himself possibly included – really cares about hockey.
As for how these trades affect the Maple Leafs, my analysis is posted over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Click on over there for the full details, but my general sense is that these moves make sense and represent positive steps towards the ultimate goal of icing a competitive team. It isn’t going to happen this year or possibly even next, but everything that happened today is consistent with the over-riding objectives I identified in my article about the rebuild for the Maple Leafs Annual last summer.
Update: I just realized something else…Brian Burke didn’t just make a bunch of trades, IT’S FREEDOM 55 DAY!!!