Brian Burke has officially begun the process of retooling the Toronto Maple Leafs. Within a few hours, the Leafs GM made some big moves and transformed the entire landscape of his hockey club.
A seven player deal kicked things off with a bang, as the Leafs acquired Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie in exchange for Ian White, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers. The deal was announced just hours after the Leafs dropped its fifth consecutive loss after coughing up a 3-0 lead to Vancouver.
For his part, Phaneuf was in shock. “I know that’s a cliche … If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded,” he said. “I was very surprised but on the other hand, I’m very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world. I talked to them this morning and I’m very excited to be a Toronto Maple Leaf and getting there.”
Phaneuf is certainly the key component to the deal and his arrival in Toronto will certainly reconfigure the defensive core of the team. He adds toughness and will anchor the club defensively, showing an edge of grit that should set a nice tone for the rest of the Leafs’ defenders.
But Burke wasn’t finished…
Hours later, Burke closed another trade that saw goalie Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake head to Anaheim in exchange for Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The deal brings Giguere that starting job he wanted in Anaheim and gives him some motivation to play hard. It also provides Toronto’s Jonas Gustavsson with a solid mentor figure.
“J.S. is as classy and professional as they come,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray said in a statement. “On behalf of the organization, we thank him for his tremendous contributions to the franchise both on and off the ice, not the least of which were two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and one championship. We wish him well in Toronto.”
So will the changes help the Leafs? Will the changes help the Flames?
There’s no question that Toronto has some pretty significant build blocks to work with. They also dumped off some dead weight and cleared some salary cap room by moving disappointing players like Blake.
Burke comes out the winner with the best players in the deals, too, and Phaneuf is a huge acquisition for his hockey team. The Leafs are still right up against the cap, sure, but Burke probably dodged a few bullets by ditching the White contract’s expected raise. Hagman, too, had two more years to go on a $3 million price tag and was starting to look every bit his 35 years of age.
Brian Burke has finally gotten the ball rolling in T-Dot. Is he finished? Only time will tell, but these moves are significant enough to show that the GM has finally gotten serious about making big changes to his hockey club. Nobody is safe.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.