Calling out brutal articles in the Toronto Star is not the most challenging thing in the world, but this is just too bad to pass up.
"While time is usually needed to fairly assess any deal, it’s not too early to declare this one a decisive victory for the Leafs. The Flames got skunked in this lopsided transaction."
Really? Let's run some numbers:
Phaneuf = $25.5M contract over four seasons
Sjostrom = RFA
Aulie = ELC
Hagman = $6M contract over two seasons
White = 1 RFA season
Stajan = UFA
Mayers = UFA
The deal was essentially even in 2009-10 (the salary going in each direction matched up to within a couple hundred thousand) but it's totally lopsided after that. Calgary took on $6M of Hagman's contract but got a discount on White's last RFA season (say $1M). Toronto got the rest of Sjostrom's non-UFA years (say $1M discount) Aulie, a big D without much evidence of offensive ability (The Star says "his potential is almost as vast as his wing span" - I disagree). And then Toronto took on the big huge Dion Phaneuf contract. I believe Phaneuf has the 5th-highest cap hit among defensemen this season, and he's owed a ton of money in the future.
Let's say Dion Phaneuf is worth $5M per season, on average, over the next five seasons. I'm skeptical that he's worth that much, but let's just say he is. Hagman might be worth $4M over the life of his contract. Calgary eats $2M of Hagman's contract - but Toronto eats $5.5M of Phaneuf's. The odds of Aulie being underpaid by $3.5M over the next six years is quite low, but I suppose it's possible.
What does this all mean? Unless Aulie turns out to be a solid top 4 D, the Leafs *lost* the deal. Merely having a player under your control is meaningless. With a salary cap, you need to consider contracts and opportunity costs. Toronto could have signed, say, Zbynek Michalek or any of last season's other top free agent D for less money than they're paying for Phaneuf.
Let's face it: Calgary signed Phaneuf to a bad contract and miraculously found a taker for it. That probably counts as getting skunked. But the Leafs skunked themselves too.