It’s A Big Day In Leaf Land… A Review

It’s a huge day in Toronto. Mark it on your calendars. January 31, 2010, the day Brian Burke put his big blue and white mid-season stamp on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Now I make no bones about the fact that I’m a Montreal Canadiens fan. I have been my whole life. But more than that I am a sports fan. And the news out of Toronto this morning has that part of me buzzing.

Between Twitter, http://espn.com and http://tsn.ca I have been all over this story since the moment I booted up the computer at work. I’ve tweeted about it and I’ve retweeted sports reporters on the subject. I know the names involved in the 2 trades and I’m trying to figure out what both the short term and long term implications of the deals are.

In case you haven’t already heard and are turning to me for your hockey news the 2 trades in question involve 1) the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames and 2) The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Anaheim Ducks.

The Toronto/ Calgary deal breaks down like this:

To Toronto:
D- Dion Phaneuf
D- Keith Aulie
F- Fredrik Sjostrom
To Calgary: 
D- Ian White
F- Matt Stajan
F- Jamal Mayers
F- Niklas Hagman

This move makes the defense corps in Toronto even deeper than before. Add Phaneuf and prospect Aulie to Schenn and Komisarek and the boys in blue could have a pretty good top 4 for quite some time. Phaneuf is locked up until the end of the 2013-2014 season, Luke Schenn is under contract until the end of next season and can then be resigned as a Restricted Free Agent, Komisarek is signed through 2013-2014 just like Phaneuf and Aulie is a minor leaguer… these 4 dudes could cause some damage.

What this trade doesn’t do is address the fact that the Maple Leafs can’t score. But climbing out of the 30th spot in both penalty killing and goals against per game is a good start for the Leafs.

That brings us to the 2nd trade. Here’s how it goes:

To Toronto:
G- Jean-Sebastian Giguere
To Anaheim:
G- Vesa Toskala
F- Jason Blake

To me this looks like a money trade for the Ducks. They just extended their #1 goalie, Jonas Hiller, to a 4 year contract and didn’t want to pay Giguere $7 million to sit on the bench next year. So they get to move him and get Toskala who becomes a free agent at the end of this season and Blake who will make $3 million each of the next 2 seasons but should be able to provide some secondary scoring for the Ducks since he won’t be counted on to carry the load like he was in TO.

I do like this move from a Leafs goaltending perspective. Giguere gets to come to Toronto and work with his old goalie coach Francois Allaire. This is a dude with talent. He won the Conn Smythe trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Play-offs in 2002-2003 and can be a #1 guy. The Maple Leafs brass still isn’t sold on rookie netminder Jonas Gustavsson and this will give them a chance to try and turn the 32 year old Giguere into the first reliable goalie in Toronto since Curtis Joseph.

I don’t think that this will be the end of the deals for the Maple Leafs. I wrote last year that I thought Tomas Kaberle may hold the future of the franchise in his hands. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and is making $4.25 million this year and next before he becomes a free agent. His talent level and that paycheck make him very desirable for a lot of teams. In fact, Brian Burke almost moved him to Boston in the deal that brought Phil Kessel over in the summer. If Burke can get Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause there is a strong chance that he would be able to get a top end forward to help put the puck in the net.

The downside to moving Kaberle is the short term damage to the power play. He is the quarter back and there isn’t another player on the roster that can do the job with the quality that he does. Burke would have to be confident that he can get someone that can do that job in a trade, or that there is someone available via free agency this summer that will be able to step in. He’s a pretty smart dude, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he already has a plan.

I know that optimism often comes with a strong dose of skepticism in Leaf land, but if these deals play out the way that management has planned it might not be that long before MLSE gets to collect on a play off gate.

So stay tuned sports fans. These next few weeks could show what the plans are in Toronto. And this summer could be a big turning point in the franchise.

And before I go, remember this, Go Habs Go!

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It’s A Big Day In Leaf Land… A Review

It’s a huge day in Toronto. Mark it on your calendars. January 31, 2010, the day Brian Burke put his big blue and white mid-season stamp on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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