Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was a busy man this weekend.
Burke shook up his slumping club by shipping out six players Sunday in exchange for former all-star defenceman Dion Phaneuf from the Calgary Flames and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks.
"It was definitely a shock, but I'm very excited about going to Toronto and being a Maple Leaf," said Phaneuf.
"It's a cliche. If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded. I was very surprised, but on the other hand I'm very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world."
The shakeup comes following a loss to the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night that extended the team's winless streak to six games, but Burke said that "these pieces were in place prior to yesterday."
The Leafs (17-28-11, 45 points) are tied with Carolina for last overall in the Eastern Conference standings.
"We've got to create tension where there's enough talent on the roster and a high enough battle level that the coach has decisions to make," Burke said. "Right now he doesn't have decisions to make. It's these guys who got to go on the ice. We're trying to change that. Today is an important part of changing that."
The 24-year-old Phaneuf has missed just five games during his career, despite a bruising style of play. He had a career-best 20 goals as a rookie during the 2005-06 campaign and posted 17 in each of the two subsequent seasons before falling off to 11 last year.
The Edmonton native has two goals over his last three games and has 10 goals and 12 assists to go with a minus-3 rating over his 55 games. In 378 games, he has 75 goals and 153 assists for 228 points.
"[Phaneuf] is a warrior. He's got a cannon for a shot," explained Burke. "He plays the game hard and I want players who play the game hard because they're hard to play against."
The big defenceman, as well as Sjostrom, are under contracts beyond this season. Phaneuf represents a cap hit of $6.5 million over the next four seasons and Sjostrom will make $750,000 next season.
''I have a lot of respect for Dion, but this is part of the business,'' Flames general manager Darryl Sutter said. ''It happens at times, and it's happened here.'
''Dion is certainly a good defenceman, but we're getting some pretty good players in return.''
Phaneuf and Sjostrom will arrive in Toronto Sunday evening and will skate with the club Monday, while Aulie will join the AHL Toronto Marlies on Monday.
Giguere became expendable after the Ducks signed No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller to a four-year extension Saturday. With Hiller's emergence, Giguere had appeared in just 20 games for Anaheim this season, posting a record of 4-8-5 with a 3.14 goals-against average.
"It doesn't really matter what my role is," explained Giguere. "I'm going to come here and I'm going to try to make the best I can with what I'm given. I'm going to work hard every day and try to be a good example, and try to be a good leader."
The deal reunites Giguere with his long-time goaltending coach Francois Allaire, as well as former GM Burke.
"What I loved about him is I've never had a goalie that works this hard,'' Burke said. ''I've had lots of goalies and I've had good goalies but I've never had a goalie that worked as hard as J.S. Giguere."
Giguere has played 477 regular-season games in the NHL and has posted a mark of 214-177-25-36 with a 2.52 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
The 32-year-old Montreal native was selected by the Hartford Whalers with the 13th overall pick of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft and broke in with the club the following season. He was then traded to Calgary and spent one year at the AHL level before appearing in 22 games over two seasons with the Flames.
"In one fell swoop, we've made ourselves the youngest team in the league," head coach Ron Wilson said. "Instead of looking back, we're looking forward."
Burke also said the roster shakeup for the worst team in the Eastern Conference probably isn't over.
"We're still open for business," Burke remarked. "We're not done."