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
Finland is coming in the 4th ranked country by the IIHF.
A silver medal last Olympics & a silver & 2 bronze in the last 4 World Championships has the Finnish team seriously thinking medals here too & they certainly are capable of the feat.
In goal, they might have the strongest duo in the tourney with Kirpusoff & Backstrom. Whoever they pick for the 3rd goalie is also very likely going to be a decent pick for the 3 spot, whether its Nittymaki, Rask or new up & comer Antti Niemi.
On defense, they have a capable unit. Although it might be their weakness overall, its still not too shabby with the likes of Timonen, Salo & Pitkanen patrolling the line. But it is a more offensively skilled than neccesarily defensively skilled unit.
Up front this team has some offensive skill, but if Teemu Selanne cant go, it will be offensively challenged in comparison to the other top tier countries. The Koivu brothers & Olli Jokinen will be expected to fill in as secondary scoring to the Finnish Flash.
Miika Kiprusoff- CALGARY FLAMES (NHL) Kipper has come out & said he wont go if he isnt the starter. Since then he has done pretty much everything he can to justify him being the starter. Finland will quite likely give him the spot. But if he falters even slightly, they will not hesitate to jump to Niklas.
Niklas Backstrom- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) Could be the starter if Kiprusoff falters even slightly. Most deserving of a number 1 spot, but will probably play back up so that the Finns can keep Kipper happy.
Tuuka Rask- BOSDTON BRUINS (NHL) Has been a top prospect for awhile & has played very well this year, Tuuka will probably be the 3rd goalie, although he has some competition lurking around in the form of Nittymaki & Niemi. But I think hes just been more consistent & consistently good out of the 3, so he'll get the nod.
Kimmo Timonen- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) Leads in every offensive category for Finnish defenders. Will be on the top unit & top PP unit. Will also be expected to play considerable SH time.
Sami Salo- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) Although hes having a quiet year offensively so far, the potential for what he can do on the PP gives Sami a lock on this team. Maybe anchoring the 2nd unit & the other option on the 1st PP unit.
Joni Pitkanen- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) Has been a decent set up man this year, but defensively is struggling greatly. Expect to see in even strength & PP situations.
Sami Lepisto- PHOENIX COYOTES (NHL) Will very likely round out the 3rd unit & get some PP ice time.
Toni Lydman- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) He'll get some game action, whether its just as a 3rd unit piece, or if he gets any SH & PP time is still up in the air.
Lasse Kukkonen- OMSK AVANGARD (KHL) The best of the bunch overseas has probably been Kukkonen, so he will probably beat out part time NHLer Salmela & SEL PP star Puistola for the final spot.
Ossi Vaananen- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) A former NHL defenseman who has had a resurgence in Russia this season. Not going to be relied on offensively, he will be able to work solely on being a shutdown dman.
Teemu Selanne- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) Assuming he is back in time to play, Teemu is a lock. He will be their top offensive weapon & will be relied on heavily in PP situations. If he cant go, the Finns are going to notable struggle offensively, even with the other NHL level players they have.
Saku Koivu- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) He might not be an offensive dynamo anymore, but he still has a touch. he'll get top 2 line minutes for sure & some PP time on the top unit perhaps.
Mikko Koivu- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) An offensive weapon who is also a strong checker, Mikko will be out there probably the most of all the forwards as he can play in all situations.
Olli Jokinen- CALGARY FLAMES (NHL) An underperforming year offensively right now, Olli is still looked at as one of the countries top offensive weapons. Expect lots of PP time & top 2 lines time.
Niklas Hagman- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) A strong offensive year from Niklas will get him a look as a top 2 line forward. He has done the role of checker before, so if needed he can fill in there too.
Antti Mietinen- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) A recent offensive struggle has perhaps triggered some concerns for a guy the Finns probably had penciled into their top 2 lines. Regardless, he will still be here, even if its as a 3rd liner.
Tuomo Ruutu- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) Having a relatively good year offensively, they will look at Tumo as a probable top 2 line player.
Jarkko Ruutu- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) A tough checker who has some offensive skills. Jarkko will be a 2 way player on the 3rd line that they will rely on to aggitate the other teams top players.
Jussi Jokinen- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) A reasonable offensive year & a penchant for shootout goals, Jussi will come in as a 3rd line type player who will be relied on heavily if a game is headed to the dreaded shootout.
Jere Lehtinen- DALLAS STARS (NHL) Getting a bit older, but still has a decent grasp on the defensive side of the game. A checking role is his for sure.
Valtteri Filppula- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) If he is unable to go, this spot will go to his teammate Leino. If he is able to go, expect him to be out there potentially in all situations.
Niko Kapanen- KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL) In Russia he has developed into a decent checking forward. Will probably get a role like that here.
Petteri Nokelainen- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) Will be there solely for his defensive game & not much more.
maybe- Antti Niemi, Antero Nittymaki, Anssi Salmela, Ville Koistinen, Pasi Puistola, Ville Leino, Jarkko Immonen, Jukka Voutilainen, Tuomas Pihlman, Ville Peltonen, Hannes Hyvonen.
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.