So it’s official. Dion Phaneuf is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames. The rumours that have been circulating for the last week came true today as Dion was shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs with Freddie Sjostrom and Keith Aulie in exchange for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White.
In exchange for the notorious defenceman, the Flames get a couple players that can put the puck in the net. Hagman has 20 goals this season, while Stajan becomes the 2nd highest scoring Flames player with 41 points (1 more than Rene Bourque). More importantly, Stajan can score on the powerplay. He has 7 PP goals so far this season.
The Flames also get rid of 2 important things: salary and poison. It is no secret that Dion was a negative influence on the dressing room, and clearing him out could make a big difference to the team’s attitude. Most Flames fans were expecting to get someone like Kovalchuk for Phaneuf. Instead, the Flames get a short-term boost in their scoring output and the opportunity to clear some cap room to make a bigger move at the trade deadline or over the summer. What I like, personally, is that the Flames just gave themselves the ability to keep Backlund in the lineup for the rest of the season.
Overall, the salary cap difference isn’t that big, but it will be. The Flames moved $7,725,000 in salaries for Phaneuf and Sjostrom. They picked up $6,933,000 in return (a difference of $792,000). The big change comes at the end of this season, when Stajan becomes a UFA. Hagman has 2 more years left on his contract, but Mayers’ and White’s contracts are also up at the end of this season. That essentially frees up about $3M in cap space (once you factor in Phaneuf’s $6.5M out the door) for the end of the year. Mayers and White could also be included in the deal when Sutter makes his next blocbuster trade (you know, the one that brings Kovalchuk to Calgary…)
I’d say that Toronto was the overall winner after today’s trades (they also traded Toskala for J.S. Giguerre!), but I don’t think that this Phaneuf deal was a bad one for the Flames. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.