Burke's Team Continues To Take Shape
I know in my last blog I said that Burke wasn't showing his cards, but I didn't think he was hiding this surprise. My phone vibrated on the nightstand after hitting the snooze button about three times. I reached over and my phone read "From: TSN." So I opened it half expecting it to be some useless NFL news. I don't think I've jumped out of bed like that since I woke up the morning of my first trip to Disney World. I had to check again since after all, I had just woken up.
The text didn't change and opening my computer and having the TSN homepage reiterate what they had just sent to my phone was very gratifying...at first. Then it started to sink in...what did we give up? I was already justifying the fact that we traded Luke Schenn for Dion Phaneuf. Then I turned on the radio and they said that early reports indicated that the main players in the deal were Stajan and White. Obviously later on the details were all confirmed and I'm sure by now you all know that the Leafs traded Stajan, White, Hagman and Mayers for Phaneuf, Sjostrom and Aulie.
Sjostrom is obviously just a throw in, but Aulie is a decent defensive prospect standing at about six and a half feet tall. He also played alongside Tyler Myers at the 2009 World Junior Championship. But obviously the centerpiece of this deal is Dion Phaneuf. What do I think about this deal? I love it, I think it was a great move for the Leafs.
Don't get me wrong, this can easily turn into a better deal for the Flames. You all know what I think about Ian White. White was no throw-in. White does in fact have the ability to be a top 2 defenseman. It's kind of a ironic that a lot of people feel that Phaneuf is one of if not the most overrated defenders in the league. Well my thought has always been that Ian White has been one of the most underrated defenders in the league and it is definitely sad to see him go.
With that said, it's time to move on. Dion Phaneuf is only 24 years old. The host of a Calgary radio station said it is best when he asked callers to name 10 defenseman in the NHL that are 24 years old or younger that are better than Dion Phaneuf, in fact name 5. And as good as those players that you list are and will be, I can almost guarantee you that at some point in their careers, they will experience an off-year.
There's no question that Phaneuf has talent, there's no question that he has potential. There's also no question that he has a lot of work to do. He's a great physical presence and he can put points on the board. When we drafted Luke Schenn in 2008 5th overall, we hoped that he could one day be like Phaneuf. I like what Phaneuf brings to the table.
With regards to what we gave up, to me Ian White was the most difficult part. Yes we gave up talent in Stajan and Hagman, but these guys were probably not returning next season anyways. I'm not too concerned with the goals and points we have lost this season, I'll give Burke the rest of the season and offseason to work on that. We can't worry about not falling in the standings, because frankly it would be stupid if we weren't making necessary changes to improve the team in the long-term just to make sure Boston doesn't get the best pick possible.
Obviously the Leafs also made another big trade today, acquiring JS Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake. There's no question, I absolutely love this deal. Giguere is the perfect goaltender to bring in to guide Gustavsson. Not only has Giguere worked with Francois Allaire, but Giguere doesn't usually start as many games per season as most of the other number one goaltenders in the league, which is a perfect scenario for Gustavsson to get a decent amount of starts.
Yes Giguere also comes with a big ticket, but the Leafs are able to shed Jason Blake's contract which will run a year longer than Giguere's contract.
I have to give kudos to Brian Burke. I'm happy with what he has done today and I look forward to what else he's hiding in those cards.