Trade all about igniting Flame attack

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

Ian White is highly under-rated.

Niklas Hagman gives the Flames another proven sniper.

Matt Stajan has setup skills, and Jamal Mayers packs a punch.

But none of these guys make the Flames more fearsome.

In fact, some of their Western Conference foes might be breathing a little easier knowing Dion Phaneuf will be delivering the majority of his big hits in the East from now on.

Dont get me wrong, the Flames win this seven-player deal hands-down at least based on the expected short-term results but theres more to it than points and the prevention of goals.

The very reason Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke wanted to add Phaneuf to his roster is that YouTube aggression that made the former Flames defenceman such a big hit in his rookie season and garnered him a Norris Trophy runner-up position in his second year in the NHL.

Its why Darryl Sutter drafted him with his first ever selection as Flames GM, ninth overall in 2003.

Phaneuf is an intimidating player. A potential game-changer. Someone who gives opponents cause for concern as they skate through the neutral zone on the attack.

He has his drawbacks, for sure.

Making the splashy check wasnt always the smartest decision, and sometimes led to a goal against.

Overbearingly intense in a dressing room, Phaneuf can come across as self-absorbed, and still makes too many mistakes on the ice.

Thats why fans turned on him so quickly in the span of less than two seasons, and why Sutter decided to part with the 24-year-old potential superstar to shore up an offence that has sputtered the Flames out of the race for the Northwest Division with a terrible start to 2010.

But ask some of the skilled forwards whove been caught with their heads down what they remember about playing against the Flames over the past few years and Phaneufs name might just pop up.

Sort of like their heads the next time theyre trying to dangle their way into the zone.

With plenty of nasty players still at the heart of their lineup, the Flames shouldnt be any less intimidating on the ice.

The likes of Robyn Regehr, Adam Pardy, Mark Giordano, Eric Nystrom, Brandon Prust, and Cory Sarich are all capable of delivering big hits on the forecheck or in the defensive zone.

Its up to them to make up for what might be missing from Phaneuf and were not talking about his 10 goals and 22 points in 55 games for the Flames this year.

The upside with the addition of Mayers, Hagman and White is they play tough. They should have no trouble fitting in with the Flames and the image they want to project to opponents.

White is small in stature, but he plays big think Andrew Ference with more offensive upside.

Hagman has shown a gritty side to his game, and is more feisty than the casual hockey watcher might think.

Mayers isnt afraid to drop the gloves, and scrapped potential new linemate Brandon Prust earlier this season.

And hey, at the very least, Matt Stajan is capable of dishing off a perfect pass to set up a goal before hes knocked down.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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