Baranowski deconstructs NHL trades

The Toronto Maple Leafs made two major blockbuster trades Sunday morning, one with Calgary, the other with Anaheim, and I’m struggling to decide who reached the lowest rung of stupidity.

The Calgary Flames traded Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie to the Maple Leafs for Ian White, Matt Stajan, Nick Hagman and Jamal Mayers.

And to think I wrote a column Saturday night about how boring this week was.

Dion Phaneuf, considered the Flames’ golden boy, the heir apparent to Jarome Iginla’s throne, was traded to the freaking Leafs?! What?! I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that. Yes, I realize that Calgary is a very defense-oriented team, and he might not be terribly missed right now, but he’s 24 years old! He’s got so much life ahead of him! He reminds me of a young Chris Pronger, who did OK with the Hartford Whalers, only to dominate with the Blues, win a cup with the Ducks and watch his career die in Philadelphia. But those pre-Flyers years were so great! The Flames are going to miss out big time on that.

AND THE LEAFS GOT MORE THAN JUST DION PHANEUF?!?!?! What in God’s holy name is going on here?! Yes, I realize that it’s a prospect and a waste, but c’mon!

How dumb was Calgary here? On a scale of one to 10, 10 being ready to trade Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart again, this is about an eight.

So the Flames had to get something in return, right? Of course. They got Matt Stajan, the second leading scorer on the Leafs, Nicklas Hagman, tied for 5th leading scorer on the Leafs, Jamie Mayers, 2nd in penalty minutes behind only Colton Orr, and all-around ‘meh’ Ian White.

So while that makes the Flames look a little bit better, one must remember where the statistics come from: THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS. Did I mention that the Leafs are in last place in the East? Stajan’s 2nd place in scoring on the Leafs puts him at 56TH OVERALL IN THE NHL! So the Flames gave up a lot for a bunch of crappy rejects, hoping they’ll bloom like Markus Naslund did after leaving Pittsburgh, but probably ending up like Jocelyn Thibault after leaving the Blackhawks for Pittsburgh.

But one must remember that these guys were top tier on the Leafs. Yeah, they don’t have much to lose, but they gave up a two good-enough forwards for a defenseman. Considering that 11 teams have scored less than the Leafs, that’s probably their one bright spot. That gets fixed by their other trade, but we’ll get to that later. So they gave up a whole bunch of their best scorers for a defenseman. Not to mention, most players in Toronto need to be extraordinarily media-friendly to handle the pressures of playing on Canada’s Team. Phaneuf is not that. So they traded some of their best forwards for someone who might crack under the media spotlight.

How dumb are the Leafs for this trade? On a scale of one to trading Jaromir Jagr for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk and Michal Sivek, this one is about a six.

The other trade the Leafs made, was sending Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake to Anaheim for Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

You might remember J-S Giguere winning the cup for the Ducks just four years after his epic Conn Smythe-winning playoff performance that included the longest modern playoff shutout streak. You might also remember him for losing his job to Ilya Bryzgalov, and now Jonas Hiller.

Sure, I thought he’d be going to the Canadiens eventually, but he still isn’t a top-tier goaltender anymore and still costs $7 million annually. This also reunites him with his former goaltending coach Francois Allaire and his former GM Brian Burke, but remember that he also lost his job to Bryzgalov under Allaire and Burke. Can he be worse than Toskala? That’s tough to do, but we’ll have to see. Considering that a lot of scoring was just lost in the Phaneuf trade, he might have some real difficulties. The biggest question is can he handle losing his job again. The Leafs have Jonas Gustavsson waiting to take over, but he’s just not quite ready yet. If Giguere wasn’t happy with his backup role in Anaheim, he won’t be here.

How stupid is Toronto? If on a scale of 10, and 10 is trading Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and a first round draft pick that turned out to be Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin, this one is only a 4. The bottom line is that it can’t get much worse than Toskala, even if Giggy goes nuts after sitting the bench again.

So Anaheim gets Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake, two overpaid wastes of space who haven’t been able to do anything as of late. Reading the Ducks’ coverage of the trade, they don’t even talk favorably about either guy they just acquired. It’s sad. I think they just wanted to get rid of Giggy, about as much as Toronto wanted rid of Toskala and Blake. It’s like trading garbage with an apartment across campus, it doesn’t make much sense and shouldn’t make anybody happy.

On a scale of one to trading Roberto Luongo and some prospects for Alex Auld and Todd Bertuzzi, the Ducks are about as dumb as a lamppost. They’re dumber than that sentence. At least Toronto has a chance of improvement; this is just stupid. Toskala was a relative failure in San Jose, and will continue to be a failure wherever he goes.

So who came out best? One would imagine that the Flames have a slight advantage at present, but might get screwed in the long term, while the Leafs have two nifty new players who could always crap out right thereafter. The true losers here are the Anaheim Ducks, but nobody should be considered a winner here, nobody.