Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's a shame that Brian Costello hasn't won a nobel prize for literature and pure genius.

Costello is a blog-writer for who seems to draw from an old knit hat when he wants to write about something. This week, he formulated a trade scenario (which will become a rumor-turned-speculation-turned-nonsense soon enough) for the Flames and Senators to sink their teeth into as we've entered this season's "ROSTER FREEZE!~!~!~!" (Editor's Note: I started writing this article before Christmas. While the roster freeze is over, I would likely dance in my own vomit if this deal were to actually happen...~!~!~!)

Jason Spezza for Dion Phaneuf. That' s a deal I'd make if I were either the Ottawa Senators or Calgary Flames.

I'm sure that Bryan Murraythhhh and Darryl Sutter have been calling each other so frequently about the sensationl quality of this proposed scenario that they've spent the remainder of their salary cap space on contracts with Rogers and Bell mobile. Sadly, both are too arrogant to make such a deal happen right now, so we'll obviously have to plan these parades after the new year.

First a disclaimer. I don't like to make a habit of spreading or fabricating trade rumors. This is not a trade rumor picked up from a source. It's simply something that came from the recesses of my inner duo processor when examining the weaknesses on the two Canadian NHL teams.

C'mon now, man! It's time to update to an i7 processor and work with some real numbers. What are these weaknesses? The Sens really would appreciate an Elite D-man, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're crumbling without one. This season, the Sens D-men have scored 21 goals, whereas the Flames are two behind with 19 (on a roster including Phaneuf, Bouwmeester, AND Adam Pardy!?! Ridiculous...). Their weakness isn't offensive ability from the point, it's their ability to defend from beyond the point! The Flames carry a +14 goal differential thus far, whereas the Sens are -9. From a lengthy injury to A-train Volchenkov earlier this season, to the increased playing time of prospective offensive D-men Brian Lee, Erik Karlsson and Alex Picard, to Campoli spending time as a forward and a healthy scratch, and FINALLY to Grandpa Phillips switching back to his heavier, less-mobile wooden wheelchair, the Sens could use a strong DEFENSIVE DEFENSEMAN on their backend. I guess that's why the Sens passed up my boner-prospect Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (do you see all those accented 'a's?!) for shut-down obelisk Jared Cowen, so hopefully his addition within the next couple of years can force Filip Kuba out of the Sens' defensive picture.

Spezza, out at least another six weeks with a knee injury, has had a horrible year in Ottawa (five goals, 19 points in 30 games) without his primary triggerman Dany Heatley. Phaneuf had a terrible 2008-09 on the Calgary blueline and is hardly burning it up this season – although his defensive game has improved somewhat now that the team has cut back his ice time.

Horrible would be 1.9 goals and five points in 30 games. He has simply underperformed along with most of the roster. It's kind of sad when Chris Kelly is one of your leading scorers, but I digress. With Fisher seeing nearly equal time alongside the likes of Michalek, Alfredsson and/or Kovalev this season, Spezza's opportunities to produce are indeed lower than last season. Replacing Heatley with Michalek on the first line is a downgrade (for now) for offensive production. Add an injury into that equation and the sum of points is much closer to his 2003-2004 season totals (22G, 33A) and even that seems to be a longshot.

In Calgary, Phaneuf may not be "burning it up" (LOL) this season, but he doesn't really need to since Bouwtie has suited up for the Red C. They will both likely finish within the 40-50 point range this season (Phaneuf likely higher) and continue to give Calgary a well-balanced attack on the Powerplay and overall. If they're worried about Cap space ($12 mil+ allocated to those two), consider moving Jokinen for a playmaking center. Maybe Mike Cammalleri? [Insert JKs and ROFLz here]

The Flames need Spezza in order to get the most out of Jarome Iginla, who at 32 is in the final few productive years of his career. Iginla and Olli Jokinen haven't worked because both are goal-scorers first and playmakers second. Iginla has been spectacular for most of his 12 seasons in Calgary, even though he has never really had a premiere No. 1 playmaking center to play with. Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow have spent the most number of games as Iginla's center, but Spezza would take Iginla's game to another level.

Well, trading Spezza would actually take Ottawa's game to another level as well. Unfortunately, that level would likely be lower than that of the Scotiabank Place mausoleum where they keep the bodies of former Senators such as Radek Bonk, Andreas Dackell and Dennis Vial. What would their top line be--Alfredsson, Michalek and FISHER?! WHY HAVEN'T THEY MADE THIS DEAL YET?! Beyond me, really. In order for this deal to make any sense, Calgary would have to move Jokinen for a replacement defenseman or some prospects. Perhaps they could trade Cory Sarich in order to find a suitable wig for Jokinen's chrome-dome, but I guess that isn't a good idea since Mr. Costello hasn't put his duo-processor-brain to work for that one. Oh well.

The Calgary defense would be just fine without Phaneuf. Jay Bouwmeester is the main man on the blueline now and the Flames have ramped up the usage of underrated Mark Giordano, especially on the first power play pairing. Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich provide the defensive and physical element and in addition to Adam Pardy, Aaron Johnson is an under-utilized stalwart who doesn't get enough minutes as the No. 7 man. Also, the Flames have a deep list of blueline prospects on the farm with defensive Matt Pelech and offense-minded John Negrin ready for a step up.

Trading a young stud such as Phaneuf, 24, is something the Flames never would have thought about a year ago. But his stunning regression in the defensive end – not to mention his flagging offensive numbers – opens the door for that possibility now, especially with Bouwmeester on board.

17 points in 44 games makes Bouwmeester the MAIN MAN? Does that mean that Beauchemin is going to carry the Leafs through a late-season surge? 19 points in 45 games for him tells me so. If the Flames see this deal as suitable, they might carry a bar tab twice as high as the Oilers on any given dinner outing. The guy is 24. EVERY defenseman is bound to make mistakes and Phaneuf isn't pegged to be their most reliable on their back-end, anyway. That's what Robyn Regher suits up for. I can't help but think this man has some scrambled brain-eggs for conjuring up this shitty breakfast.

The Ottawa defense has been lacking an offensive quarterback since Zdeno Chara walked as a free agent in 2006 and Wade Redden's game went south shortly thereafter. Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov are defensive leaders, but the Senators truly yearn for a top-shelf mobile puckmover. Top 2008 draft pick Erik Karlsson might eventually fill that role, but he's still just 19.

I'll give him that one. I don't think Muckler could have made a worse move than letting Chara go, unless he decided to let Redden walk as well. The free-agent market for offensive-defenders in 2006 was rather slim with the best options being Rob Blake, Jovocop and... Filip Kuba.

The fly in the ointment is the Senators cannot afford to lose another top line forward. With Heatley and Spezza gone and Daniel Alfredsson in the final couple innings of his career, the team would move to rebuild mode. The only thing that would solve that is solid drafting and a top free agent signing. To soothe that hurdle, perhaps the Flames could throw in burgeoning No. 2 center Dustin Boyd into the trade mix, with underperforming defenseman Chris Campoli going the other way.

The salary offsets aren't bad either. Both teams are close to the salary cap, so Spezza ($7 million) and Campoli ($633,333) won't break Calgary's bank because Phaneuf makes $6.5 million and Boyd $650,000.

I change my mind; give me some of that breakfast, Mr. Costello!

...Wait... nevermind. Boyd would just be another average-size center on a team that has plenty of those already. In my opinion, he's very similar to Senator Peter Regin: both were drafted by their current clubs in the third round of the 2004 draft with Regin being selected 87th overall and Boyd 98th. Boyd has played parts of four seasons with the Flames (71 games in 2009) whereas Regin took a while longer to develop, getting his first dose of NHL play last season with eleven games. Regin has fit in quite nicely with the club this season though, as he has put up 13 points and a +11 in 38 games, comparible to Boyd's 14 points and +5 in 43 games. While he would be a great addition to the team, the Senators would terribly need a number one center, and although Fisher definitely puts in the amount of effort expected from a number one center, the hands simply are not there for him to contribute regularly on the scoreboard as he has never scored more than 23 in a season. Plus, think about it; the Senators' centers would consist of Fisher, 2nd-liner Boyd, Regin, Kelly and rotating center-wingers Shannon and Winchester. This is anything but scary, at least not scary in the good way. I'm actually quite mortified.

Another thing that confuses me about this updated proposal is that with the addition of Campravioli, Calgary would continue to keep their "DEEP" line of defensive prospects from getting their chance at cracking the roster. Not necessary if you ask me, but what do I know; I don't write a blog for THN, just lowly Tyutin in Staals. =(

The beauty of this deal is it would give both Spezza and Phaneuf a much-needed fresh start. It would give the Flames more offensive balance going into the playoffs and provide the Senators with a building block for the future. The Flames are running out of time as Cup contenders and the Senators need the time to rebuild. I think it would be a trade that helps both teams.

I think that THN should trade Brian Costello to The Food Network in exchange for Giada De Laurentiis. At least her duo-processor could come up with a better breakfast for me to digest rather than this scrambled brain-eggs bullshit (Thanks to Sven for that great phrase; it's quite useful). I'm sure some people would enjoy his recipies, but sadly I don't think Flames and Sens fans would watch his show. This deal has no beauty. Get over it, champ.

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