I would like to start this article off by saying once again that I, nor anyone else at www.theoilersrig.com, is what one would consider a hockey insider. I don’t make up rumors, I have no sources, I write my opinions and thoughts for you to read and comment on. Please feel free to let me know what you think of this particular article after you’ve finished reading.
I, probably like you, have a lot of friends that are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs and have noticed that most, if not all of them, are very frustrated with team captain Dion Phaneuf. I’ve heard and seen people asking for him to be traded out of the center of the hockey universe as soon as possible. That his performance is sub-par and his contract demands are far too high. Well isn’t that nice, you know who the Oilers can use? Dion Phaneuf. Alex Thomas is so excited about the idea of having Dion on this Oilers team that I’m sure he would streak down the Boston Common if a deal for Dion could be reached.
So let’s have a look see and decide if Phaneuf would be a good fit for the Oilers;
Is he a Number 1 D-man?
Well on this Oilers team Dion would immediately step in and be the leading minute muncher on the D corps. This season Phaneuf is leading the Leafs in ice time with 24:13 minutes per game which is right around his career average of 24:59. Currently the only Oiler able to muster those kinds of minutes is Jeff Petry and he is not a number 1 or 2 d-man.
As far as how effective he is in those minutes, well he hits, can make a good first pass out of the zone and is mostly reliable in his own end. I say mostly because if he was that good Toronto fans wouldn’t be calling for his head on a daily basis.
Offensively, during an 82 game season Phaneuf should bring in around 40 to 50 points, his career high is 60 back in 2007-08 when he was playing with the Calgary Flames. This year he sits at 11 points thru 29 games, which is low for him but a new team and new contract might help turn that around, especially an offensively gifted team like the Oilers. But let’s face it, bringing Dion in wouldn’t be for his offensive side of the game, it would be for his physical presence and ability to lead the team defensively.
Dion is not small in stature, he weighs in at 215lbs and stands 6’3, and isn’t afraid to be physical either, as we know he’s probably facing a suspension for a hit from behind in a game last night against the Bruins. While I the hit was dirty, it is exactly that ability, that edgy play and unpredictability that is exactly what the Oilers need.
Does it Make Sense Financially
Here the rumors have Dion asking somewhere around the 7 million dollar per season range, another bone of contention for Leafs fans. 7 MILLION DOLLARS A SEASON!!!! You must be kidding right. That would make Dion one of the highest paid defenseman in the NHL.
Shea Weber 7.8 million, Ryan Suter, 7.5 million, Brian Campbell 7.1 million, Doughty 7 Million, and Chara in at 6.9 million. Would you put Phaneuf in with those guys? Maybe with Brian Campbell who is grossly overpaid. I’m not sure that Phaneuf should be expecting to be in that range, however it will only be a 500,000 dollar raise on what he is making now.
Here’s the thing though, if the Oilers want to get that top pairing defenseman they are going to have to over pay to get him. So 7 million for Dion Phaneuf may not be out of the question, rumors earlier that the Oilers had interest in the above mentioned Brian Campbell prove that they are willing to pay to fill the need.
The Way This Can Work
If contract negotiations aren’t going well between Toronto and their captain he is surely to be available around the trade deadline. There is no way Dave Nonis is going to let Phaneuf go without getting a return, and they need a center.
If I’m Craig MacTavish and there is a trade to be had I do one of two things. I ask Nonis what Phaneuf is asking for and then broach the subject of a sign and trade. If negotiations are as far apart now then I ask for permission to speak with Phaneuf and his agent to see if a deal can be made between the Oilers and the player.
A trade may be the most realistic way that the Oilers can acquire the defenseman they so sorely need. We know that the free agent market hasn’t been kind to the team and convincing “Star” players to sign in Edmonton has proven difficult in the past. If Dion Phaneuf makes it to free agency there will be no shortage of suitors knocking at his door.
Thanks for Reading
*This week’s edition of the Oilers Rig Radio Live show will air Wednesday instead of Monday. Alex, Jeremy and I will be back with analysis of the past week, a look ahead, and will discuss some of these rumors that are floating around the interwebs. We are also working on landing a huge guest for the show that has very good insight around the league and will be fully qualified to address some of these rumors*