On this day in 2010, the Calgary Flames traded Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould7 months ago
It’s now been exactly 13 years since the Calgary Flames traded Dion Phaneuf.
On Jan. 31, 2010, the Flames shipped Phaneuf, Freddy Sjostrom, and Keith Aulie off to the centre of the hockey universe in exchange for defenceman Ian White and forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, and Jamal Mayers.
That day remains a clear memory for many in this city. The trade occurred less than 12 months before Darryl Sutter’s resignation as Flames general manager. The club proceeded to miss the playoffs that year for the first time since 2004 and would not return again until 2015.
Phaneuf, 24 at the time, was in the midst of his fifth season with the Flames. He recorded at least 10 goals in each of his campaigns in Calgary and peaked with 60 points (and a Norris Trophy nomination) in 2007–08.
The Flames originally selected Phaneuf in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft. The only top-10 pick of Sutter’s management tenure in Calgary, Phaneuf made the jump to the NHL with the Flames in 2005–06 and scored 20 goals as a rookie en route to being named a Calder Trophy finalist.
There are varying accounts for why Phaneuf was traded in the first place, but the most obvious one on the surface is that he was struggling to live up to his previous form in the second season of a massive $6.5 million AAV contract extension. The aging Flames needed to rebuild, and Phaneuf was arguably their most valuable trade chip.
Did they trade Phaneuf in a manner to kickstart a rebuild? Not remotely. Instead, they went in the other direction.
While neither Sjostrom nor Aulie amounted to much after the trade, neither did three of the four players the Flames received in the deal. All four of them were older than Phaneuf.
Hagman came to Calgary at the end of a run of three consecutive 20-goal seasons. He had also just turned 30. Over his three partial seasons with the Flames, Hagman scored 17 goals in 106 games before being claimed by the Anaheim Ducks off re-entry waivers in 2011.
Mayers had even less of an impact in Calgary. It’s unclear why Sutter sought to acquire a 35-year-old fourth-line forward as part of the return for his young star defenceman, but Mayers recorded just one goal in 27 games with the Flames before leaving as an unrestricted free agent.
White was the Kris Russell of his time. He was an undersized rearguard (one year older than Phaneuf) who could score and defend at borderline second-pairing levels, but his most memorable contribution in Calgary was signing a contract inexplicably worth $2,999,995 for one season. Yes, he signed for five dollars less than $3 million.
That leaves Stajan, at the time a 26-year-old centre who was typically good for 35–45 points in a season with the Maple Leafs. He arrived in Calgary as a pending UFA but subsequently signed two separate four-year contract extensions with the Flames.
Stajan progressed from being a whipping boy to a fan favourite over his nine-season tenure in Calgary. He only provided double-digit goals in a season once as a Flame but was generally a reliable bottom-six forward on both good and bad teams.
Of course, he also just so happened to score the Flames’ first series-winning goal in 11 years.
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The Flames didn’t win the Phaneuf trade. They moved a 24-year-old defenceman coming off four excellent NHL seasons in exchange for a collection of middle-rotation players, only one of whom remained with the organization by Jan. 31, 2012.
But they undeniably did win more playoff series with Stajan than the Maple Leafs did with Phaneuf. So, there’s that.
Where were you when you first heard about the Phaneuf trade? Tell us in the comments.
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