Toronto Maple Leafs fans went to bed last night with a bitter taste in their mouths after watching their beloved Leafs blow a 3-0 lead against the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Day in Canada. This morning many started their Sunday as they normally would but what most fans did not expect was to get hit all of a sudden by a Burkie Blast. Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke had seen enough and today many players got the "pink slip", when it was all said and done Burke has sent off six players on the current Leafs roster and taken back four in two separate trades completed today.
The Leafs dancing partners on this Sunday morning, were the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks. The first trade to happen was with Calgary as Burke and Flames general manager Darryl Sutter bounced names off the wall quite a few times before coming to the final trade which sees the Leafs ship off Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers in exchange for Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie. The big piece of the trade is of course Phaneuf the Leafs get a workhorse on the back end who is 24 years old and along with Phil Kessel a center piece to the teams future.
The teams top 4 defensemen at this point are now Tomas Kaberle, Dion Phaneuf, Franois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek as fine a back end as any in the NHL. The Leafs general manager was not done yet knowing that the Ducks would need to move salary after signing their starting keeper yesterday to a big contract, Burke decided to pounce on Ducks general manager Bob Murray, Burke brought in a familiar face and someone to mentor "the Monster" in Jean-Sebastien Giguere the former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy winner. Burke sent the Ducks Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake, how he got Murray to agree to take on Blake's contract I am still trying to figure out but in Giguere the Leafs get a hard working goaltender who is still only 32 years old and signed for another season.
A detailed look at todays trades:
Dion Phaneuf (24 years old)
Cap Hit $6,500,000 (Signed up to 2013-14)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 55 G- 10 A- 12 PTS- 22
Phaneuf is a former 20 goal scorer, he brings to Toronto a booming slapshot and a mean streak the 6'3 defensemen wont be letting too many players stand in front of the net.
Fredrik Sjostrom (26 years old)
Cap Hit $750,000 (Signed up to 2010-11)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 46 G- 1 A- 5 PTS- 6
Sjostrom is a strong penalty killer and might be fastest skater on the team now, Leaf fans should not expect him to fill the back of the net but a Bill Berg, Garry Valk role would be a bonus.
Keith Aulie (20 years old)
Cap Hit $758,333 (Signed up to 2010-11)
NHL Season Stats: None
Aulie is a 6'5 intimidating blueliner who is currently playing in the AHL, he was a member of the 2009 World Junior Gold Medal team but dont expect him to be on the roster this season.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (32 years old)
Cap Hit $6,000,000 (Signed up to 2010-11)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 20 W- 4 L- 8 OTL- 5 GAA- 3.14 SVP- .900
Giguere is a former Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup trophy winner, he has been to two Cup Finals and has won over 30 games in a season four times, will be a good mentor for Gustavsson.
Niklas Hagman (29 years old)
Cap Hit $3,000,000 (Signed up to 2011-12)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 55 G- 20 A- 13 PTS- 33
Hagman scores in streaks and at times shows flashes of brilliance with the puck, he leaves the team as the teams top goal scorer with 20, biggest loss of the day
Ian White (25 years old)
Cap Hit $850,000 (Signed until end of season)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 56 G- 9 A- 17 PTS- 26
White is having a great season in a contract year, the smooth skating defensemen has grown to be a reliable blueliner under Wilson, would be looking for between $3 to $4 million next season.
Matt Stajan (25 years old)
Cap Hit $1,750,000 (Signed until the end of season)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 55 G- 16 A- 25 PTS- 41
Stajan is having a career year this season, also in contract year has also grown under Wilson and is a reliable 3rd or even 2nd line center. His Leaf future was bleak as contract demand would have been high with inflated number due to lack of talent in Toronto.
Jamal Mayers (34 years old)
Cap Hit $1,333,333 (Signed until the end of season)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 44 G- 2 A- 6 PTS- 8
Mayers is a veteran tough winger/center and exceptional face off taker, he is an upcoming UFA and the team no longer had him in their plans.
Jason Blake (35 years old)
Cap Hit S4,000,000 (Signed up to 2011-12)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 56 G- 10 A- 16 PTS- 26
Blake is a quick skater but had a target on his back once signed to big contract, never lived up to the hype, one of the teams hardest workers just did not show on the scoreboard.
Vesa Toskala (32 years old)
Cap Hit $4,000,000 (Signed until the end of season)
NHL Season Stats: GP- 26 W- 7 L- 12 OTL- 3 GAA- 3.66 SVP- .870
Toskala is a positional goalie and had a decent first season in Toronto, then it was all downhill, has some of the worst numbers in the NHL for the second season in a row. Least missed player gone
Brian Burke has shaken Leafs Nation with todays trades and many Leafs fans (myself included) will be looking forward to watching the teams next game Tuesday. The Leafs have managed to move $14.93 million in cap space while taking on 13.25 million not including Aulie's contract who is not expected on the roster this season, with four forward spots opening up on the current roster after the trades might we see Hanson-Bozak-Stalberg together in the NHL for the first time? Why not?
This is an exciting day to be a Leaf fan and Leafs Nation should rejoice as the team has taken a big step in improving the club, for all the fans out there that do not like todays trades please give your head a shake, we are the 29th best team in the NHL, yes we do give up some scoring but have strengthen ourselves on the backend and between the pipes. I would much rather win 2-1 then lose 5-4 anytime and twice on Sundays.