Leafs get Giguere for Blake, Toskala
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Sunday the acquisition of veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from Anaheim for netminder Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke announced the move about an hour after revealing Toronto and Calgary had completed a seven-player swap that sees Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf head east.
Giguere had stated his desire to remain a No. 1 goaltender in recent weeks but Jonas Hiller supplanted him as starter in Anaheim. Hiller signed a long-term contract extension with the Ducks on Saturday.
"When I re-signed [in Anaheim] three years ago, I envisioned this going a little differently, but saying that I could see them re-signing Jonas," Giguere said in a conference call Sunday.
"I'm 32 years old, I feel like I still have some hockey left, so I wanted to try to get a chance to be a No. 1 goalie somewhere."
Toronto coach Ron Wilson said Giguere has the attitude to be able to coexist with rookie Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
"I think the most impressive thing is not only his goaltending but how he's mentored both [Ilya] Bryzgalov and Jonas Hiller," said Wilson.
"It takes a lot of character to work closely with guys who might be trying to take your job and not fearing that and having confidence and ability," Wilson added.
Burke noted Giguere's presence would buy the Leafs time to work with Gustavsson and give him time to learn the NHL game.
"What I loved about him is I've never had a goalie that works this hard … I've had lots of goalies and I've had good goalies but I've never had a goalie that worked as hard as J.S. Giguere," said Burke.
Giguere has made 477 appearances in a career that included brief turns with Hartford and Calgary at the beginning. He has compiled 32 shutouts, a 2.52 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
"I don't really remember what's it like to play in the East anymore," Giguere joked. His Hartford experience was over 12 years ago.
"It's going to be an adjustment, but if anything it should be an easy adjustment [with less travel]," he added.
After playing between 53 and 65 games in each of the previous six seasons, Giguere started only 44 games last season and was passed over for playoff duty in favour of Hiller. This season, he is 4-8-5 in 20 appearances with one shutout, a 3.14 goals-against average, and a .900 save percentage.
Won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003
The Montreal native won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and four years earlier was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable playoffs player when the Ducks lost in seven games in the final to New Jersey.
"J.S. is as classy and professional as they come," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said in a statement. "On behalf of the organization, we thank him for his tremendous contributions to the franchise both on and off the ice, not the least of which were two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and one championship. We wish him well in Toronto."
Giguere will be reunited with Burke, goaltending coach Francois Allaire and defenceman Francois Beauchemin, all of whom were in Anaheim.
"I have a great deal of respect for Burkie, what he's done in the past and what he's trying to do in Toronto but mostly I'm very excited to be working with Frankie [Allaire] again.
"We had a great relationship in Anaheim and I believe that relationship's going to keep going … I think between me and Jonas and Frankie, I think we can, as a goalie group, have a really good working relationship and I think we can find a way to do something good there."
To get Giguere, the Leafs gave up two players acquired by previous general manager John Ferguson Jr. in an eventful summer of 2007, neither of whom quite performed up to expectations.
Blake signed a lucrative free agent deal with Toronto in 2007 after notching the only 40-goal season of his career. His previous high had been 28 goals, and he has averaged only 20 goals per season in his time with the Maple Leafs.
Blake played all 82 games in his first season in Toronto despite a diagnosis in training camp of chronic myelogenous leukemia.
He posted a solid season in 2008-09 with 25 goals and 38 assists but has struggled this year. Now 36, he has 10 goals and 16 assists through 56 games this season.
Toskala (along with Mark Bell) came to Toronto from San Jose just days before the Blake signing, in exchange for first-, second-, and fourth-round draft picks.
Toskala overtook Andrew Raycroft for the starter's job early in his first season in Toronto and posted solid numbers, but hasn't been the same since.
Toskala had three shutouts and a 2.74 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in 66 games in that first season.
His goals-against average ballooned to 3.26 in 2008-09, with his save percentage dropping to .891 and he was shut down before the end of the season to undergo hip surgery.
The Finn has struggled even more this season, with a 3.66 average and .874 percentage.
Wilson said the trades Toronto made on Sunday represent a dramatic overhaul of the club.
"We've in one fell swoop made ourselves the youngest team in the league and instead of looking back, we're looking forward," said Wilson.
Toskala is an unrestricted free agent in July, while Blake's salary cap hit over the next two seasons is $4 million US.
Giguere is under contract in 2009-2010, at a cap hit of $6 million.