Calgary Flames' General Manager Darryl Sutter takes his seat before speaking to the media after announcing the team has traded defenceman Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Calgary Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CALGARY - Looking to add depth and scoring punch to the Calgary Flames, general manager Darryl Sutter swung a seven-player deal Sunday morning with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
To acquire forwards Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Matt Stajan along with defenceman Ian White, Sutter had to pay a high price by shipping blue-liner Dion Phaneuf to Toronto along with forward Freddie Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aulie.
"There is a gap in our team in terms of productive forwards," said Sutter, whose squad broke out of a nine-game losing streak on Saturday night with a 6-1 win at home over the Edmonton Oilers. "The guys coming in are all having good years, so that's what you want for them to continue it."
Phaneuf scored his 10th goal of the season in the victory over the Oilers to give him 22 points in 55 games. The 24-year-old former Norris Trophy candidate was surprised to find out the news on Sunday morning.
"It was definitely a shock, but I'm very excited about going to Toronto and being a Maple Leaf," said Phaneuf, who's slated to make an average of US$6.5 million US over the next four seasons. "It's a cliche. If Wayne Gretzky can get traded anyone can get traded. I was very surprised, but on the other hand I'm very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world."
To get four players who can step right into Calgary's lineup for Monday night's game at the Pengrowth Saddledome against the Philadelphia Flyers, Sutter knew he'd have to give up some valuable assets.
"It's not a one-trick pony," Sutter said. "It's about the whole group and you need guys who compliment the group. This move wasn't made because of Dion. He is a great kid and a he's a really good hockey player and he'll continue to be a really good hockey player."
While he was surprised to find out that Phaneuf was part of the deal, Flames captain Jarome Iginla said the trade should provide a boost to Calgary's scoring attack. "I think it adds skill and creativity to our team, which we need," Iginla said.
Stajan, who led all Toronto forwards in scoring with 16 goals and 25 assists in 55 games, said he's excited to go to a hockey city and play for a team that's in the running for a playoff spot.
"To go with three other teammates, I know we're all pretty close, and to go into this together, with a great group from what I hear in Calgary, it's exciting for all of us," said Stajan, who's slated to become an unrestricted free agent along with Mayers in the summer, while White is a restricted free agent.
Coach Brent Sutter said he likes what Stajan will bring to the table for the Flames.
"He's putting up some really good numbers and he's a guy that also has got good playmaking skills," said Brent Sutter, who also likes the fact that all four players acquired in the deal have considerable NHL experience. "We're talking about players that are starting to establish themselves in the NHL and have some experience doing so."
In his ninth NHL season, Hagman led the Leafs with 20 goals to go with 13 assists in 55 games at the time of the deal.
"I've gotten the chance to play quite a bit on power-play, and I've logged some pretty good minutes and managed to score some goals, too," said Hagman, who will represent Finland at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver along with new Calgary teammates Olli Jokinen and Miikka Kiprusoff. "Hopefully I'm getting better every year. I'm trying to work on it and improve myself, and hopefully I can continue that with Calgary."
Mayers, who has 710 games of NHL experience, is excited about the opportunity of improving upon the two goals and six assists he put up in 44 games with the Leafs.
"For me personally, I don't feel like I've played as well as I could have, but as of late I've started to feel a little bit better," said the six-foot-one, 217-pound right winger. "I'm definitely excited about the new chapter and becoming a Flame, and playing in Calgary, another great hockey city."
Brent Sutter said that Mayers should fit in well with the Flames as a power forward and veteran leader.
"Jamal brings us a guy that's going to bring us great experience, great leadership and plays hard and competes hard every night and brings us that energy with experience that he can play in any situation," said the Calgary coach.
In 56 games with the Leafs, White notched nine goals and 17 assists to tie his career high of 26 points that he recorded in both the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons with Toronto.
"I'm pretty sure they didn't bring me in there just to replace (Phaneuf), but I have some attributes that can help a team, and we'll see where I fit in with their plans," White said. "I don't feel any extra pressure or any of that scrutiny. We've been under the microscope here in Toronto for quite a few years, and I've dealt with the pressure of playing in a market like this."