WHARNSBY: Pushing the salary cap
Time will tell if the gamble made by Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter in dealing Dion Phaneuf for some secondary help will improve the Flames short term and push them into a playoff position in the Western Conference.
We see the rationale why Sutter made the move. Mark Giordano, 26, has improved enough that Phaneuf and his big salary could be moved. Plus, Ian White continues to get better.
White has nine goals compared to Phaneuf's 10. Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman should be able to provide some occasional secondary offence. Stajan also possibly could be a profitable partner for Jarome Iginla.
But are any of the players that Sutter acquired difference makers?
On the other side, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke deserves applause for his transactions in two separate trades with the Flames and Anaheim Ducks. To recap, Phaneuf and Fredrik Sjostrom arrived in Toronto for Hagman, Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Ian White.
The deal with the Ducks sent Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake in exchange for goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Leafs, in last place in the Eastern Conference, will struggle to score goals without Stajan and Hagman and we're sure the Boston Bruins don't mind because they have the Leafs first-round pick from the Phil Kessel trade.
Not only did Toronto obtain the best player in the trade, Burke shed some unproductive salary cap-eating players like Blake and was able to package pending unrestricted free agents like Toskala and Mayers for something in return.
Phaneuf immediately upgrades the Leafs blue line and Giguere will provide more stable goaltending than Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson.
Although, these moves continued to put the Leafs right up against the salary cap ("It's manageable, but it's like a new pair of underwear, uncomfortably tight," was Burke's response) this season, subtracting Blake's $4-million US salary from the books is a big relief.
He had two more seasons at the same price tag after this year. He was signed on the basis of a productive 40-goal season with the New York Islanders in 2006-07, but Blake had scored only 50 times in 216 games in a Toronto sweater.
The 35-year-old Hagman also had two more years at $3-million per season and White was due for a hefty raise because he's set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
The Leafs added $13.25-million in Phaneuf, Giguere and Sjostrom and sent away $14.93-million in combined salary in Toskala, Blake, Hagman, Stajan, Mayers and White.
Below, you will find how the new payrolls for the Flames and Maple Leafs break down after Sunday's seven-player swap and Toronto's additional move with the Anaheim Ducks.
You will notice the Leafs exceed the NHL's $56.8-million US salary cap by a wide margin, but that's because not all bonus money in the contracts for Luke Schenn or Tyler Bozak will count against the cap.
Also, Toronto won't take as much of a cap hit for defenceman Mike Komisarek, who has missed significant playing time because of a shoulder injury, in addition to players on the long-term injury list such as forward Mikhail Grabovski and defenceman Mike Van Ryn.
|Calgary Flames||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Jarome Iginla||$7,000,000||Dion Phaneuf||$6,500,000|
|Jay Bouwmeester||$6,680,000||J.S. Giguere||$6,000,000|
|Miikka Kiprusoff||$5,833,333||Phil Kessel||$5,400,000|
|Olli Jokinen||$5,250,000||Mike Komisarek||$4,500,000|
|Daymond Langkow||$4,500,000||Tomas Kaberle||$4,250,000|
|Robyn Regehr||$4,020,000||Francois Beauchemin||$3,800,000|
|Cory Sarich||$3,600,000||Tyler Bozak||$3,700,000|
|Niklas Hagman||$3,000,000||Jeff Finger||$3,500,000|
|Matt Stajan||$1,750,000||Luke Schenn||$2,975,000|
|Rene Bourque||$1,350,000||Mike Van Ryn||$2,900,000|
|Jamal Mayers||$1,333,333||Mikhail Grabovski||$2,900,000|
|Mikael Backlund||$1,300,000||Lee Stempniak||$2,500,000|
|David Moss||$1,300,000||Jonas Gustavsson||$2,300,000|
|Curtis Glencross||$1,200,000||Alexei Ponikarovsky||$2,105,000|
|Craig Conroy||$1,050,000||Nikolai Kulemin||$1,487,500|
|Mark Giordano||$891,667||Wayne Primeau||$1,400,000|
|Nigel Dawes||$850,000||Garnet Exelby||$1,391,700|
|Ian White||$850,000||Colton Orr||$1,000,000|
|Adam Pardy||$700,000||Carl Gunnarson||$800,000|
|Eric Nystrom||$687,500||Rickard Wallin||$800,000|
|Dustin Boyd||$650,000||Fredrik Sjostrom||$750,000|
|Jamie Lundmark||$600,000||Viktor Stalberg||$750,000|
|Brian McGrattan||$547,000||Jay Rosehill||$512,500|
|Aaron Johnson||$540,000||John Mitchell||$487,500|
|Curtis McElhinney||$535,000||Darcy Tucker (buyout)||$1,000,000|
|Andrew Raycroft (buyout)||$733,333|
|TOTAL PAYROLL: $56,017,833||TOTAL PAYROLL: $64,442,533|