Recent “Big” Trades Amount to Little
February 2, 2010 by Big Tony
OK let’s get right into the “big trades” of the moment between Calgary/Anaheim and Toronto. Despite the headline grabbing the names involved result in and the size of the contracts of said names the ultimate net effect is ZERO. Look first at the move to send Jean-Sabastien Giguere to Toronto for Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake; the winner of this trade? Anaheim, but barely. Although Giguere has an incredible track record with a Stanley Cup title and a Conn Smythe trophy on record he has been subpar at best for the better part of three seasons now and was supplanted as starting netminder in Anaheim by Jonas Hiller. Sure there have been some serious off-ice issues that would affect anybody’s job performance no matter what their career the point remains the same that Giguere is now average at best and adds just about nothing to the table anymore. As for the Ducks they get Vesa Toskala who has done nothing but spiral downhill after a stellar playoff run in San Jose in what now seems like centuries ago. Toskala has been a grave disappointment for Toronto who had extremely high hopes for him. In recent years Toskala has shown that flash of greatness everyone expected of him from time to time but overall he hasn’t been able to pick of the slack and his mental toughness surely comes into question. So with respect to the goaltending neither team “wins” in this trade. Give the slight edge overall however to Anaheim because of the acquisition of Jason Blake. Blake is a pretty good player who has simply seen his fortune (as well as the rest of the team’s) turn for the worst in Toronto; perhaps a change of scenery is all he needs to return to form. It’s not so much that his numbers were bad in Toronto for they stayed rather consistent; his plus/minus however took a nose dive which speaks volumes of the poor talent around him. If Blake can keep his numbers up it’s likely that a slightly better squad around him can make all the difference. The one caveat for Anaheim concerning Blake is that he’s 36 years old so conventional wisdom tells you that his numbers are bound to start declining very soon.
As for Toronto’s other trade with Calgary it’s basically a wash when it comes right down to it. Dion Phaneuf is the biggest name involved in the deal and while he’s been a solid player for many years the expectations for him have been extremely high; expectations he has yet to live up to. Perhaps it is unrealistic to foretell that someone will win a Norris Trophy and then expect him to do just that or be a failure but in many respects that’s exactly what has happened with Phaneuf. The size of Phaneuf’s contract proves that Calgary was expecting him to no t only be the anchor on their blueline, but to also lead the team come playoff time with the intangibles the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom has done in Detroit for so many years. That simply has not happened for Phaneuf and quite frankly is unlikely to happen in Toronto. Phaneuf’s style is much better suited for the Western Conference style of play in my opinion and as a result he is actually worse off playing for Toronto now. As for the rest of the players thrown into this deal it’s unlikely anyone will be able to say either team made a bad move in acquiring them; but by the same token it’s unlikely that any player will really make that much of an impact.
Lastly on the trade front is the movement of Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust from Calgary to the Rangers for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. The big winner here is Calgary because Jokinen has been nothing but a disappointment since going to Calgary from Phoenix just two seasons ago. Jokinen was expected to help lead Calgary to the promised land with his incredible goal scoring prowess. Unfortunately it simply was not meant to be for Jokinen who for instance this year is making $5 million and has 11 goals to show for it. Scoring 11 goals is a great accomplishment for a 3rd or 4th line winger for a defensive minded defensemen, but too bad Jokinen is neither of those. While it’s uncertain how he’ll react to the move to New York one thing we know for sure, and that is Kotalik and Prust can do just about anything once they get to Calgary and they will still not be as much of a disappointment as Jokinen has been. The clear victor in this trade is the Calgary Flames. Of course like all things, only time will tell what happens with these teams but for now it seems like not much will change as a result of these moves.