I cant believe how in love the Flames fans seem to be with Dion Phaneuf.
They are acting like Bobby Orr got traded for Martin Kariya.
Sure Phaneuf is a tough as nails hard hitter that CAN change the momentum of a game. But that skillset isnt enough to pass up the chance to make your team better now. Especialyl when your team was in dire need of an offensive boost.
The Flames pick up offensive depth with Matt Stajan & Niklas Hagman that they desperately needed. They get some offensive depth. Instead of being a 1 line team with 1 or 2 other mid level scoring options, they now have 2, maybe even 3 capable lines with 1 trade.
They get rid of a terribly underachieving Fredrik Sjostrom in the deal (although they were forced to take Jamal Mayers to offset that..so essentially that part of the trade is a wash).
The Flames pick up Ian White. In White, the Flames get a very capable power play quarterback who will fill the absense of Phaneuf relatively fine in that regard. He managed to be a +1 in Toronto this year, so he obviously is doing something well defensively. as well. Where the Flames lose on this swap White for Phaneuf straight up, is size. Phaneuf is 5 inches taller and 30 lbs heavier. But grit & toughness is the one thing this defense had an abundance of with Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich & Adam Pardy. They needed a puck moving skater. White brings that to them. Sure, Toronto gets the flashier name out of the defenseman swap, and probably even the more talented one. But Ian White is no slouch & if Phaneuf doesnt progress much more, this part of the trade isnt too lopsided at all.
This brings us to the rest of the package, Keith Aulie is a young defensman prospect that I am sure the Flames were not keen on moving, but to get as many bodies as they got, they had to dangle something else with Phaneuf. Maybe in 2-3 years, this will be a mistake. But in a "now" driven league, the Flames needed help NOW. Keith Aulie was sacrificed for the greater good of improving now.
The rest of this trade breaks down Aulie for Stajan & Hagman (I dont count Sjostrom or Mayers in this. They were both throw aways). The future of Aulie is still uncertain. He COULD pan out to be a top 4 dman, or could be a career AHL journeyman. Its unknown. For the Flames, they needed scoring help NOW & Hagman with 20 goals and Stajan with 16, gives them that. They just landed a pair of guys who currently have 74 combined points, for a prospect that wouldnt be utilized by Calgary till Kipper & Iggy are past their primes.
Calgary now can roll 3 competent lines (in theory)
This takes pressure off of Daymond Langkow to be a #2 centre which he doesnt really appear to be anymore. Mikael Backlund, assuming he stays up (he may get sent back to Abbotsford with all the new bodies) can slide into a #2 or 3 line spot where there is less pressure on him to perform miracles right away. Olli Jokinen & Hagman could turn into a deadly duo, if the shoot first Hagman and pass first Jokinen get on the same wavelength, while Stajan brings a mix of puck moving & shooting to the 1st line that was missing at centre with Jokinen and Langkow who are both pre-dominantly passers.
This is a sound trade for them if they are thinking of making a run NOW.
Getting 2 top 6 forwards & a bottom 6 forward for a bottom 6 forward & a prospect you might not use for 2+ yrs is a good decision in the short term. They dont have a lot of years left where Kiprusoff and Iginla will be elite top level talents capable of building a winner on. That time is already starting to slip as it is. They need to make use of these assets while they can, and this year could be their final chance to do that. This trade now gives them a better chance to do that.
For Toronto, this is merely a matter of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Phaneuf isnt going to thrust them into the playoffs, and with the additional loss of Jason Blake to Anaheim today, they threw out 100 points in forwards. For a team that is already offensively challenged, they are quite literally pulling the plug on this season. I hope Phil Kessel is on a suicide watch, because after seeing todays moves he might consider it. He now has even less talent to play with than before. The leafs also did a goalie swap. JS Giguere is an upgrade on Vesa Toskala for sure, but he still cant carry a bad team anywhere on his own. Instead of the Leafs losing 5-3 on any given night, now they'll lose 4-2 instead.
I saw a writer today suggested the T.O. trades is to distract the media from the fact the Leafs are in a tailspin. Its true. The media for 2-4 weeks will have Phaneuf Phever. They will disregard them going 1-5-1 or some abysmal mark like that in that stretch, and by the time they start to notice the team isnt any better, the trade deadline will have passed & there will only be a month and a bit left in the season & Burke can do damage control then, for only 4-6 weeks, instead of 8-10 weeks.
The Anaheim Ducks get a small boost of offense that they may need depending on the status of often injured Teemu Selanne in Jason Blake. But they lose in the goalie swap. Will Blakes 1/6 of a goal (he did once score 40 goals however) a game make up for the 1/2 to 1 full goal a game Toskala will give up? perhaps. Afterall, Toskala is the back up & thus wont be damaging them as often as Blakes offense should help....in theory. Anaheim IMO didnt help themselves much in this deal here, and for a team only 5 pts out of the playoffs, they probably needed to do better in this deal. Blake will certainly get a chance to produce there however. As a natural left winger, something Anaheim doesnt really have right now, he instantly jumps into the 2nd line by default, perhaps maybe even 1st line depending how they see things fitting. If he recaptures some of the scoring touch he saw in Long Island where he scored 40 goals once, perhaps he can finish this year with 20 goals & then the Ducks will be able to validate this trade a bit more. For now however, I think they simply did not get enough for an asset like Giguere.
My final grades on this deal
At 5th in the IIHF rankings the U.S. team the 2010 Olympics will see, is coming in with hopes of a medal. The hopes for any medal contention will fall solely on the shoulders of Ryan Miller. Tim Thomas might be the Vezina trophy winner, but Miller is far & away the better goalie. The battle for number 3 is one that I wont be surprised if I get wrong. Its in my opinion a 4 horse race. Early in the season Craig Anderson looked like a lock. Lately Jonathan Quick seems like the odds on favorite, but few have considered Ty Conklin & Jim Howard, both who have had exceptional seasons as well. Theres even the small (although highly unlikely) potential of Robert Esche, one of the top goalies in the KHL this season being on their radar, but I think he will be snubbed for a North American playing goalie.
The team on defense is young, but not as young as it would have been had Tyler Myers been eligible to play for it. The 18 yr old stud defenseman, American born, opted to play for Canada in the junior championships & thus is not eligible for the U.S. team.
Forwards are a good mix of young, old, speedy & skilled. With young studs like Parise, Stastny, Kane & Ryan, they wont have to worry about scoring. Guys like Kesler, Rolston & Langebrunner will be able to play solid defensive games and contribute a bit offensively.
Overall, the U.S. squad is one of the more rounded ones they have had in awhile. Chances for a medal are decent.
Ryan Miller- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) The undisputed best goalie in the U.S. right now. Leads in GGA, SPCT, SO & 1 win out of 1st in wins. He is the starter without hesitation.
Tim Thomas- BOSTON BRUINS (NHL) Solely based on his performance last season Tim will be here as the back up. Realistically, hes had an average season & there is likely more deserving players, but a Norris trophy winner last year gets him a partial pass on an average season so far.
Jim Howard- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) I am picking him solely because in the last few weeks hes had amazing stats, hes been a starter now & hes managed to climb from the bottom of my prospective goalies list to almost the top in a matter of weeks. Best of the bunch over the past while & has been the backbone of a resurgence of the Wings lately. This is by far a lock though, especially if Burkie had his choices made prior to the start of December for his goalies.
Erik Johnson- ST LOUIS BLUES (NHL) The probable 1st unit PP QB for USA, Erik will be a probable top pair starter.
Alex Goligoski- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) Although hes cooled off a touch this last couple weeks, he is still having a sound defensive game as well & clearly has an offensive flair as well which makes his capable in all situations.
Matt Carle- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) Maybe its Chris Pronger who has had something to do with it, but Matt Carle is set to possibly have the best season of his short career already.
Ryan Suter- NASHVILLE PREDATORS (NHL) The Preds are climbing the standings right now & you can put a large chunk of that on their defense core, including Suter. With 7 pts & a +8 in their last 8 games, he has cemented what was already a probable spot before then.
Ryan Whitney- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) His strong offensive game will be his ticket onto the team. If they dont feel the need for his offense, he might not be here though. Defensively there are better options.
Andy Greene- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Who had Andy Greene even on their short list at the start of the year? Probably no one, including me. But injuries in NJ (including Paul Martin who might replace him depending on his return status) has seen Greenes stock rise dramatically & right now, I would have to question leaving a dman with 3 GWG & 4 PP goals off your roster. That +8 rating likely doesnt hurt his chances either.
Brian Rafalski- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) One of the most experienced dmen the U.S. has. Brian will be here not just on his past championship & major international tourney experience, but on the fact hes had a decent year again at both ends of the ice.
Zach Parise- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) The top goals, assists & points scorer for the U.S. last year, Zach has returned to that same form this year, leading the American offensive charge again. He will be expected to carry the load offensively.
Paul Stastny- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) The Avs are fighting for a division title early in this season, and much of that is because of Paul Stastny & his offensive contributions. USA will hope for the same contributions in Vancouver.
Patrick Kane- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) His off season issues have not seemed to have damaged his game much. Patrick is again having a solid year offensively. A pt per game pace & a likely top line spot & lots of PP time will make him dangerous.
Ryan Kesler- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) A Selke trophy finalist last season, Ryan has perhaps even improved on that performance this season. Offensively he has picked his game up a notch, maybe even two.
Jamie Langenbrunner- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Has lots of offensive talent, but is also an exceptional defensive minded forward who will probably get lots of time in all situations.
Ryan Malone- TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (NHL) A literal resurgence for Ryan Malone this year has placed him on this team. He is struggling a bit lately, but his early season efforts have him safely on the team. The American staff is just hoping he gets that touch back by February.
Bobby Ryan- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) If this tourney was a year later I think he would be on the top line. Since its now however, he'll do quite fine as their 2nd unit winger.
Phil Kessel- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) The Leafs have come on strong since Kessel returned from an injury. His pt per game avg has him on the team, even if the National teams GM didnt have a club team connection to him in Toronto.
Tim Connolly- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) Will fill a 3rd line scoring role. Could be moved to a 2nd line spot if others falter.
RJ Umberger- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) Long as he can get along with sure thing Ryan Kesler, RJ Umberger should do well in a checking role & still bring offensive skills to the position.
Dustin Brown- LOS ANGELES KINGS (NHL) A good offensive player, it will be a defensive role the American staff will probably put on him here though. Expect him as a 3rd liner.
Jason Blake- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) Playing for the National teams GM will get him on the team. Brian Burke will put Jason here for no other reason but to hopefully give his player a boost of confidence for the rest of the NHL season. He has the stats to justify it as well.
Brian Rolston- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) my first roster at the end of Oct, he wasnt even on my "outside chance" list. Mid Nov list still not on it. Finally at the end of Nov I placed him at the bottom of my "outside chance" list. If I am wrong about him being here I wont be shocked. His surge has been only recently & maybe its too late to get recognized. But his stats & experience make me consider him an option & if he keeps it up thru till decision day, maybe Burkie scratches out whoever he has here & puts him in instead.
maybe- Craig Anderson, Jonathan Quick, Brooks Orpik, Zach Bogosian, Jack Johnson, Keith Tkachuk, Dustin Byfuglien, David Booth, Jason Pominville, Kyle Okposo.
The next couple reports will be terribly incomplete for a multitude of reasons. Mainly health problems. I have recently battled a knee problem that I havent had to deal with in well over a decade. Now I have a shoulder problem that I thought I was done with 2 yrs ago returning. so I have actually passed recently on hounding some.
Because of this, my hockey numbers are WAYYYYYY down for the potential there was there. Toronto was the first tema where I was really hit by it.
They were here for 2 days & it was only the pre-game arrivals that I did because I wasnt up to it before that, and they didnt have a pre-game skate because Gary Bettman is a mentally challenged troll of doom who decides to have games at 4 PM, completelt disregarding the home teams time zone in favour of his own folically challenged fucked up fantasyland brain where the continent actually ends at the Ontario border....anyways, onto the report.
the goalies- No report on any of them.
IAN WHITE- 1 autograph. Generally Mr. White is a less than happy signer. However this time, he was one of the few who did it quite willingly.
TOMAS KABERLE- 1 autograph. Tomas came in with a couple other players & made a fairly hasty retreat for the door, only stopping to sign for a small handful of the 30-50 people waiting before jetting inside.
GARNET EXELBY- 2 autographs. In Atlanta, Garnet was a less than happy signer who was a strict 1 per when he did sign. In T.O., he signed multiples & without annoyance. It was the only pleasant surprise of the bunch.
MIKE KOMISAREK- 1 autogrpah. Signed a modest amount, but still left lots of people hanging. Was not an overly good signer.
LUKE SCHENN, FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN & JEFF FINGER- No reports
ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY- 2 autographs. Signed a considerable amount & usually would do 2 items if 2 were presented.
LEE STEMPNIAK- 0 autographs. He signed a fair bit when he came out of the cab, I only missed him because others came first & he managed to get by while I was getting them.
JASON BLAKE- 0 autographs. He signed a small handful as soon as he arrived, but quickly beelined for the door when there was even the slightest break in the requests. MOST people missed him.
WAYNE PRIMEAU- 2 autographs. Didnt get asked a lot, but signed for those that asked.
JAMAL MAYERS- 0 autographs. Formerly a good signer in St. Louis, Jamal apparently thinks hes a Hart Trophy winner now. Signed about 3 autographs when arrived, then jetted past the rest of the waiting fans. Classless.
NIKLAS HAGMAN, MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI, JOHN MITCHELL, RICKARD WALLIN, JAY ROSEHILL, VIKTOR STALBERG, TYLER BOZAK, COLTON ORR & NIKOLAI KULEMIN- no reports.
Total for Toronto- 11 autographs
Canadagraphs Hockey Blogs
From time to time I have something to say on hockey. Whether its the Vancouver Canucks, NHL in general, Womens Hockey or International Hockey...if I have something to post, it will be in here.