In a bid to shake up his slumping club, Toronto GM Brian Burke shipped out six players Sunday in exchange for former all-star defenceman Dion Phaneuf
from the Calgary Flames and goalie J.S. Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks.
Burke says the moves were all about ridding 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 he 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.''
``We're still open for business, we're not done,'' he added.
The moves come after Toronto lost a 5-3 decision Saturday night to the Vancouver Canucks to extend its winless streak to six games. The Leafs (17-28-11, 45 points) are tied with Carolina for last overall in the Eastern Conference standings.
In the Calgary deal, the Leafs also acquired six-foot-six defenceman Keith Aulie and winger Fredrik Sjostrom. In exchange, Toronto gave up defenceman Ian White and forwards Matt Stajan, Nick Hagman and Jamal Mayers.
The Leafs sent goalie Vesa Toskala and winger Jason Blake to Anaheim in exchange for Giguere, who became expendable after the Ducks signed No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller to a four-year extension Saturday.
``Not taking any shots at Vesa, we felt we had to make this move,'' Burke said.
The acquisition of Giguere will allow the Leafs to give Swedish rookie Jonas Gustavsson
more time to learn.
Toskala has posted a 3.66 GAA over 26 games while Gustavsson _ who twice has been treated for a heart problem this year _ has a 3.03 GAA in his 31 appearances.
The move also reunites Giguere with Burke and goaltending coach Francois Allaire.
``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.
The six-foot-three, 214-pound Phaneuf has appeared in 55 games this season with Calgary, registering 10 goals and 12 assists with 49 penalty minutes. The Edmonton native is in his fifth NHL season _ all with Calgary _ after being selected ninth overall in 2003.
Burke called Phaneuf an elite player whom he tried to acquire earlier in the season.
``This guy's a warrior. He's got a cannon for a shot. He plays the game hard .. I want players who play the game hard because they're hard to play against,'' he said.
Phaneuf, 24, made the NHL all-rookie team in 2005-'06 and has twice played in the league's all-star game (2006-'07 and 2007-'08).
The 20-year-old Aulie is currently with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL and the Leafs plan to keep him in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. He won gold with the Canadian junior team.
``Excellent skater for a big man,'' said Burke. ``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.''
Sjostrom, taken 11th overall in the 12001 draft by Phoenix, was billed by Burke as a good skater and a fine penalty-killer. He has one goal and five assists in 56 games this season.
Stajan had 16 goals and 25 assists in 55 games while Hagman had 20 goals and 13 assists in 55 games. White had nine goals and 17 assists in 56 games.
Only Miikka Kiprusoff and Jay Bouwmeester (both at US$7 million) make more on the Flames this season than Phaneuf, who is at $6.5 million this year. Sjostrom is at $750,000.
Hagman makes $3 million, Stajan $1.75 million, Mayers $1.4 million and White $950,000.
Asked about the salary cap situation, Burke said it would ``manageable'' after the planned second deal.
``Right now it's like a new pair of underwear,'' he said. ``It's uncomfortably tight.''
He said later: ``At the end of the day, with this trade I think we end up pretty close to where we were.''
The Ducks locked up Hiller with a four-year, $18-million contract extension. That made Giguere an expensive backup as he was scheduled to make $7 million next season. Had Anaheim kept the two, they could've entered 2010-11 with $11.5 million tied up between their goaltenders.
Giguere, 32, certainly fills a need in Toronto, where neither Toskala nor Gustavsson have grabbed the job.
Giguere has a 4-8-5 record with a 3.14 GAA and a .900 save percentage this season. By comparison, Hiller is 21-15-2 with a 2.75 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Giguere was drafted 13th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1995 NHL draft. He played in the Calgary Flames organization for four seasons before joining the Ducks in 2000.
He captured the 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy before winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
The Leafs blew a 3-0 lead Saturday night, a loss Burke said had soured him but had not prompted the shakeup.
``These pieces were in place prior to yesterday,'' he said.
Asked about the status of Tomas Kaberle, Burke insisted he will not ask the defenceman to waive his no-trade clause.