A Year Ago Today Dion Was Dealt

It was a year ago today that the Calgary Flames dealt Dion Phaneuf to the center of the universe.
A year? Really? Has it been that long?

The trade was this: Dion Phaneuf, Freddie Sjostrom, and Keith Aulie to Toronto for Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, and Ian White.

So who won this deal? Is it still too early to tell? Did nobody win this deal?

What do the stats tell us?

Well from a team standpoint, Toronto is languishing away in 12th spot in the East, six games under .500 and 14 points out of a playoff spot and destined to miss the playoffs for the 6th straight year. The Flames are also in 12th spot in their respective conference but are three games above .500 and only sit two points out of a playoff spot.

Dion Phaneuf, the “best player in the deal”, was named the Captain of the Leafs in the off-season. He has scored three goals and added 21 assists in 59 games with the Leafs while posting a -11 rating. He has yet to score on home ice while playing with the Leafs and from all accounts has failed to live up to his over-billed hype. He can still make the big hit, as was evident last week when he levelled Tuomo Ruutu at center ice, but Dion never really had a chance to begin with as the hype and the pressure to play well in Toronto is simply too much (Even for a guy with his ego), or so it would seem. Maybe a Leafs fan would have a better perspective, but from what I can see he is no better, and possibly worse, than he was in Calgary. He is still, for the most part, a liability in his own zone and, as the stats have shown, still has trouble hitting the net. The Husky sign behind the Flames opposing net is thankful he is gone.

The other players going to Toronto were Sjostrom and Aulie. Sjostrom has nine points in 61 games with the Leafs. He is a third line plug to put it nicely. He was never thought of to be a huge scorer and is a minus six this season with the Leafs, which, by Leafs standards, is pretty good as there are only two players living above the equator in terms of +/- rank.

Keith Aulie, who I thought was the biggest steal of the trade, has tallied zero points in 12 games with the Leafs. It’s still too early to tell with this guy, but I was angry then that the Flames put this guy in the deal, and I’m angry now. How do the Flames give up the best player in the deal and the best prospect? The guy who did this better be fired! Oh wait...

Coming to the Flames were four different very average players – two of which are now on other teams. White went to Carolina for Babchuk and Kostopoulos, while Mayers signed with San Jose in the off-season. Mayers is a dime a dozen player, so that was no real big loss. I figure Jackman replaced him and has outperformed Jay Mall in a big way. White had something to give but his contract situation paved the way for him to be dealt. Babchuk replaces Dion on the PP. He, like Dion, is a liability in his own zone but, and the stats don’t lie, seems to be able to find the net more often.

Kostopoulos is a 31-year-old third line grinder – a Flames speciality. Sure, he has played reasonably well, but he can be replaced and it wouldn’t make a difference (See 6 games where he sat out due to suspension).

The two players that still wear the Flames logo are Hagman and Stajan. Stajan has scored six goals, while adding 33 assists in 72 games with the Flames. He was awarded a ridiculous 4-year $14 million salary seven games into his Flames career. For what? Well, this is a true conundrum. The only person who knows why, might be Darryl Sutter. Stajan is at best a number two center and has proved to be in-effective during elongated spurts this season. Attention Flames fans, this guy is going nowhere so get used to him and his underachieving ways.

Niklas Hagman has scored 14 goals and added 20 assists in 77 games with the Flames. He is on pace for his lowest goal output since 2006 and lacks consistency – a common trait amongst these traded players. He not a superstar, but he is not a grinder. He is one player who could be dealt at the deadline if teams are willing to take a gamble that he will re-discover his scoring touch and are willing to take on his $3-million contract for this year and the next. Not out of the realm of possibility IMO.

So who won this trade?

As of right now, neither team did. Neither team is substantially better or horribly worse. Both are on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Since the trade, Darryl Sutter has been canned, while Brian Burke has done his best to convince the Toronto fans and the surrounding media that they are headed in the right direction.

The deciding factor in this trade will be Keith Aulie. He is only 21 and given the right grooming techniques could turn into a premier shut-down defenceman. If this is the case, Flames fans might want to drive to Viking, AB, and beat down the door of the Sutter farm to thank Darryl for all the great work he did in the last few years as the Flames GM.


George Prax's picture

I wanted to say that neither team won, since both suck, but I think I'm going to have to agree with Mike. In the end, the Leafs basically got two top four defensemen for two top nine-ish forwards. If you factor in that Sutter likely got fired as a result of this fault it kind of evens out, lol, but in the end at least the left with actual assets from the deal, so I have to give it to them regardless of the standings and how much Double Dion sucks.

Patrick Storto's picture

You're valuation of the players is unreasonable.

You're measuring shutdown defender Keith Aulie and checking forward (who is good on the penalty kill) Sjostrom on their offensive output.

I can't argue that Phaneuf has lived up to his hype because he hasn't. But he did make an impact when he first came here. He had a pretty serious injury to start the season this year and it's pretty obvious that he came back too early considering that he was wearing a leg brace and came back quite a few weeks earlier that most expected.

You match that with what the Leafs gave up in Mayers, White, Stajan and Hagman, I mean the deal isn't even close.

The fact that both teams are in 12th this season hardly matters, the guys the Leafs got are young, far younger than the guys the Flames got.

Derrick Newman's picture

Yes, but isnt a guy like Sjostrom replaceable? Yeah he is a good penalty killer but so is Glencross, Backlund, moss, etc. I wasnt evaluating him on his offensive numbers, I was just giving some stas. I said Aulie will be the determining factor in this trade, because he has yet had time to show himself in the NHL. I agree the trade leans towards the LEafs. I in no way think the Flames came out ahead, but as of right nowhow can you argue that Leafs are way better off? The Flames didnt get enough for Phaneuf but at the same time they added by subtracting an "attitude" from the dressing room.

It's only amatter of time before people in Toronto get sick of Dion's schtick. He's way too cocky and can't back it up.

Yes, the Leafs got younger better players, but win the deal? Time will tell. Like I said Aulie will be the deciding factor. Guys like Sjostrom, Mayers, etc are a dime a dozen and wouldnt hurt your team substantially if you lost him. I'm sure there is a guy in the minors or on waivers that cuold do the same thing. There's a reason why he has been dealt as many times as he has.

Patrick Storto's picture

Phaneuf hasn't had a 'schtick' in Toronto. He's actually been pretty positive and team oriented.

You just said that the Flames didn't get enough for Phaneuf....so which is it?

Derrick Newman's picture

Has he been really that good though?

He's a great talent and the Flames cuold have gotten more for him. a draft pick, a prospect. soemthing that could have helped the Flames future but they didnt because Sutter acted on impulse and took the first trade he was offered. Dion could have fetched a lot better, that's all im saying, regardless of how much trouble he may have caused.

His has attitude issues, and that's been documented. He didnt get along with Iggy, Regehr, etc. And if the Leafs continue to suck, then the heat will be turned up further on him and chances are he will crack like most do. Just sayin.

A question for you Storts: does he remind you at all of a young Bryan McCabe minus the hitting skill? Maybe Dion isnt meant for the bright lights. I dont know nearly as much as you do abuot the Leafs, but are there any similarities? I think there are a couple...

Patrick Storto's picture

See the problem here is that I was a supporter of Bryan McCabe. Trading McCabe for what we did was lunacy. He was the fans whipping boy, but the fact was that post-lockout, with McCabe in the lineup, the Leafs had a winning record and without him in the lineup they have a losing record (theory evident from the season where McCabe's hand was broken.) Don't believe what uneducated Leaf fans tell you about McCabe.

Is there similarities? Yes and no. Their slapshots and the fact that they're defenders sure. Their size and style are different. Like I said, Phaneuf played well for the Leafs last season. He's played injured for a good part of this season. And the fact that the blame for this season has been put solely on Phaneuf is laughable.

The ONE similarity between the Leafs and Flames that I see that has probably had an effect on Phaneuf's game.

The coaches. Sutter and Wilson are horrible coaches, similar styles too.

Derrick Newman's picture

Ok, see that's good to know. From an outsiders perspective on the Leafs, it would seem that McCabe and Phaneuf are more similar cases, but im glad im talking to an educated leaf fan.

Sutter and wilson are both very demanding coaches and obviously very unliked (as per the players poll this weekend). Both teams are in bad situations, but at least the current Calgary GM sees a problem as is slowly and hopefully climbing his way out (ala Conroy and Kotalik moves). Small moves but something that should have been done a while ago

Adam Runquist's picture

I think it's pretty much a wash at this point, though Phaneuf has the most long-term potential to shift the tide. One plus is that the Flames actually hit the net on the PP now:)