Monday, February 01, 2010

weighing on the Phaneuf/Giguere trades

I have been asked enough times for my opinion on the latest blockbuster Leafs and so I thought I should take some time to enlighten my readers on what I think of Burke's Bombshell...

Firstly, anyone who thinks that Burke is a straight-up moron for making these trades doesn't know their arse from their face. At first I felt very neutral about these trades, not thinking they were brilliant, but not thinking they were poor either. However, the more I read about them and think about them as a long-time fan who both loves the team and understands their traditionally myopic decision-making, the more this deal looks extremely advantageous to the Leafs. True, Phaneuf is a gamble, but what did the Leafs really give up to get him? Not much. Stajan is too soft and totally inconsistent (though admittedly has decent hands around the net); Mayers is a journeyman and was nothing more than a gap-filling body; Hagman is gifted, but like Stajan, is inconsistent (and is a UFA at the end of this season); and White is a solid player, but not really improving enough and is never going to be winning a Norris. Phaneuf, on the other hand, has the potential to be an elite defenseman if he can...well, learn to play defence. He makes some horrific defensive mistakes, but with the right coaching, I think he could really come around. The question is: will he be able to adjust to playing in the fishbowl that is Toronto? And if the rumours of a bad attitude are true, can he put that behind him and learn to be a good teammate? Time will tell. But he does have the potential to be a building block for the future of the franchise. Fredrik Sjostrom is a decent player and a good penalty killer and Keith Aulie is a good defensive prospect who excelled at the World Juniors in 2009, bring a strong physical presence on the blueline--it doesn't hurt that the kid is 6'6" and over 200 lbs!!!

The Giguere trade is essentially genius as far as I'm concerned. Rumours are that Toskala was uncoachable and didn't listen to anyone, plus he is too small. His GAA and save percentage stats were pitiful--ANYTHING is going to be an improvement on him. Good riddance. Neither the franchise nor us fans have any real faith or confidence in him. Giguere is reunited with his old goaltending coach (whom he supposedly credits for his success in the NHL) as well as Burke, who was his GM in Anaheim. Our goaltending duo of Giguere and Gustavsson is far stronger than it was, thankfully. As for Blake, nicely done by Brian Burke to rid the Leafs of that large (totally useless) contract--Blake is not a Leafs player and can't handle the pressure of Toronto. He may have wheels and be gifted, but he's not gritty enough and, as one pundit pointed out, most of his best skating happens around the boards, not in the key places like IN FRONT OF THE NET!

Burke got the better of Sutter on this trade (much like Cliff Fletcher over Doug Risebrough all those years ago, which brought Dougie Gilmour to the Leafs and made us respectable for awhile!) and though he gave away some of our primary scoring, what this does is free up more room for Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, and other prospects (Nazem Kadri!!!!) to make the big club. If these guys pan out and management doesn't fall into the trap of making typically stupid 'Leafs deals', the future may actually look bright for Toronto. I think we can kiss the playoffs goodbye for this year, but let's keep looking forward and building toward the future. However, I don't think Burke is done yet...


Eric said...

Going to have to say that I agree with your analysis from a Leafs POV, they won both trades handily.

Even in Phaneuf doesn't develop into a Norris winner, Wilson nailed it when he said, "Look at his stats, he's better than any D we have on the team right now". Norris or not he's still a valuable piece to have. And it's not like you gave anything of value in trade.

The ANH deal was straight up genius. Anyone taking Blake AND Toskala should feel foolish.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I'm not sure if there are losers in these trades ... I think all the parties involved will benefit.

Nice new hoodie, bro.


CW said...

A good read, Bing. I agree with you in that I see no way the Leafs can possibly lose either trade. Let's keep our eyes on the deadline and focus on moving out a few more bodies for valuable returns, like Ponikarovsky.

Again, a worthwhile read and I certainly enjoyed it. Keep up the great work!!