January 31, 2012
Phaneuf trade still awful for Flames
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
On Sunday, Dion Phaneuf skated in the NHL all-star game.
If that wasn’t enough of a reminder to the Calgary Flames and their fans how bad that now-infamous trade has turned out, so many others will be in their eyes in the next while. Tuesday marks the two-year anniversary of the blockbuster deal.
• On Tuesday at the Saddledome, Matt Stajan — the lone player who remains with the Flames from that ill-fated trade Jan. 31, 2010 and now is a high-priced fourth-line centre — faced Ian White, who also arrived in a four-man package from the Toronto Maple Leafs but is now a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
• On Friday, Jamal Mayers, who left after the 2009-10 season via free agency, is due to return to Calgary with the Chicago Blackhawks.
• On Monday, the Flames will visit the Anaheim Ducks and Niklas Hagman, whose career nose-dived almost immediately after coming to Calgary but has found new life after going to Disneyland via re-entry waivers, with the Flames paying half his salary.
Oh yeah, Phaneuf and quite possibly Keith Aulie, the tall defenceman the Flames drafted in 2007 and inexplicably dealt away as part of that swap, is slated to be in Calgary when the Maple Leafs and Flames clash at the Saddledome on Valentine’s Day.
That’s all kinds of ways to rub salt in the wound, isn’t it?
But wait, it gets worse, mainly because there is pretty much no way that transaction, which put Darryl Sutter’s downfall in this city into high gear, will improve for the Flames.
Not unless this team somehow hits a home run with a draft choice or prospect received in return in a trade involving Stajan, Tom Kostopoulos — a fourth-line winger and pending unrestricted free-agent — or Anton Babchuk, the US$2.5-million defenceman who is currently seventh on the depth chart and would be eighth if Derek Smith was healthy.
Anybody have hope for such an unlikely scenario? Don’t hold your breath.
Among the many sad aspects of that trade — at least from a Flames perspective, the Leafs and their faithful are celebrating it daily — is how a better return could have been the kickstart to the rebuild this team is starting and in dire need of completing properly.
Just imagine what the future of the Flames would look like had Phaneuf been flipped for a Phil Kessel-level of return, draft picks which the Boston Bruins turned into Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton. The latter two are better than point-per-game players in the OHL.
Or if Phaneuf was traded for a return similar to what Jeff Carter (Jakub Voracek and draft picks which became Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins) or Mike Richards (Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a 2012 second-round pick) meant to the Philadephia Flyers.
The Flames would certainly be looking at a better prospect pool than they have today.
Sure, that wasn’t the motive behind the deal to trade away Phaneuf — the hope was to add scoring depth — but the approach taken sure has blown up in the club’s face in the worst way.
A better approach would have been to chase for prospects.
It’s a history lesson the Flames had best heed going forward.
Otherwise, the rebuild needed in the Stampede City will be all the more difficult.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak