Maple Leafs acquire Phaneuf in 7-player swap

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Sunday that they have made a seven-player deal with Calgary, with Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf the centrepiece.

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Sunday that they have made a seven-player deal with Calgary, with Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf the centrepiece.

Forwards Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White head to the Flames, with forward Fredrik Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aulie also acquired by Toronto.

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke announced the deal Sunday morning at the Air Canada Centre, just hours after Toronto lost its fifth consecutive game, squandering a three-goal lead in a 5-3 defeat to the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

"I think it makes a big statement about where we're going in terms of what's needed to play here," said Burke. "It should be clear to our players that hard work's going to be a big part of that."

Talkin' contracts

Mayers and Stajan are unrestricted free agents in the summer, with White a restricted free agent.

Stajan and White are expected to be angling for significant raises. Stajan earns $1.75 million US this season, with White making $950,000.

Hagman's salary cap hit for each of the next two seasons is $3 million.

Phaneuf and Sjostrom are also under contract beyond this season. Phaneuf represents a cap hit of $6.5 million US over the next four seasons, with Sjostrom to make $750,000 next season.

Burke completed a separate deal later in the day, acquiring veteran Anaheim goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère for netminder Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake.

It was a dramatic makeover, with the Leafs getting key parts in Phaneuf and Giguere, but resigning themselves in the coming weeks to a threadbare group up front.

Burke hopes the likes of Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson and others can make a case for themselves for the future and that the moves would rid the team of its "sense of entitlement."

"We've got to create tension where there's enough talent on the roster and a high enough battle level that the coach has decisions to make," Burke told reporters. "Right now [coach Ron Wilson] doesn't have decisions to make. It's these guys who got to go on the ice. We're trying to change that. Today is an important part of changing that."

Phaneuf appeared in shock when speaking to reporters in Calgary on Sunday morning.

"I know that's a cliche … If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded," he said. "I was very surprised but on the other hand, I'm very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world. I talked to them this morning and I'm very excited to be a Toronto Maple Leaf and getting there."

Phaneuf has 75 goals and 153 assists in 378 career games, all with Calgary. The Flames selected him ninth overall in the 2003 NHL draft.

The rugged defenceman has 10 goals and 12 assists in 55 games this season, which puts him on pace for a career low in points.

"I want players that play the game hard and are hard to play against," said Burke. "This guy makes our power play better, he's got one of the hardest shots in the league, he's one of the biggest open ice hitters, he's a quality person … I think it's an important day for us."

GM denied Phaneuf up for trading

Flames general manager Darryl Sutter denied Phaneuf was on the trading block in recent weeks. Much was also made earlier in the season of a heated argument the defenceman had with coach Brent Sutter after a game against Colorado.

Aulie, 20, is playing with the Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League. Calgary selected the big defenceman in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. Burke said he will stay in the AHL, switching to the Toronto Marlies.

"Excellent skater for a big man," said Burke of the six-foot-six, 217-pound Aulie. "This is a guy we coveted and had to work very hard to get him in the deal. We think he's going to be a real good NHL player down the road for a long time."

The 26-year-old Swede, Sjostrom,  joins his fourth NHL team. He has one goal and five assists in 46 games in his first season with Calgary. He has previously played with Phoenix and the New York Rangers.

Burke said he will be a needed addition for Toronto's penalty killing, which has been woeful.

Burke said the two teams had been talking for quite a while on the deal, with the pieces surrounding Phaneuf changing. The Toronto GM said Phaneuf was not available earlier in the season when he inquired.

Burke reiterated his stance that defenceman Tomas Kaberle would not be asked to waive his no-trade clause, adding he would remain active on the trade front right up until the March 3 deadline.

"We're still open for business, we're not done," said Burke.

The Leafs return to action at the ACC on Tuesday, with the first of two games against the Devils. The clubs play again in New Jersey on Friday.

Memories of Gilmour trade

The last time the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs hooked up for a deal of this size, Doug Gilmour headed east.

It was Jan. 2, 1992, and Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher fleeced his Calgary counterpart Doug Risebrough in a blockbuster trade that turned the previously moribund Leafs into a contender.

Heading west were former 50-goal scorer Gary Leeman (who would score less than a dozen times in a red and white uniform), defenders Alexander Godynyuk and Michel Petit, goalie Jeff Reese and pugnacious forward Craig Berube.

To Toronto came Gilmour, defenders Jamie Macoun and Ric Nattress, goalie Rick Wamsley and forward Kent Manderville.

Gilmour became one of the most famous of the Leafs' captains, scoring 131 goals and 452 points in 392 games and taking Toronto to back-to-back Western Conference final appearances.

The Flames collapsed and would not pull themselves together until 2004.

Malcolm Kelly


Chris Iorfida

Senior Writer

Chris Iorfida, based in Toronto, has been with CBC since 2002 and written on subjects as diverse as politics, business, health, sports, arts and entertainment, science and technology.