It’s one name that has circulated the rumor mill earlier this summer and now Dion Phaneuf is once again being mentioned on the trading block with the Edmonton Oilers being tied to the defenseman.
The story comes from Bill Watters who was the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager. Watters was on air with Bob Stauffer and the former Leafs employee took the opportunity to lash out at Phaneuf, repeatedly slandering his character and inability to be a leader for the Leafs. It was also there that Watters relayed the news that the Oilers were interested in acquiring Phaneuf if in fact Toronto should make him available, courtesy of the Edmonton Journal.
Dion Phaneuf should be dispatched as soon as they possibly can and the story I hear is that Edmonton’s interested and if they are tell [general manager Craig MacTavish] to take him and have fun with him. I find him to be the most overrated, undernourished hockey player in the history of the NHL and whoever made him the captain of the Maple Leafs should have been fired six years ago.
We’ll get to the part about being a poor captain in a moment but first let’s recap what Stauffer had to say about the rumor. Given Stauffer’s links to the hockey club, he is typically on top of any trade rumors, breaking news etc. and to this point he has not heard any talk that Phaneuf is on Edmonton’s radar.
Stauffer mentioned he doubts the Oilers would want to acquire Phaneuf’s salary that brings a cap hit of $6.5 million for next season. Giving up a talented, young blue liner is likely what Toronto would want according to the radio host and with Phaneuf set to become an unrestricted free-agent, barring an extension from Edmonton if they acquired him, it could be another calculated risk for Craig MacTavish to make.
Phaneuf is a legitimate top-four defenseman in this league and he plays with an edge. Just the thought of having Phaneuf on the ice and the next shift having to deal with rugged Andrew Ference is enough to make many teams cringe at the thought of having to come to Edmonton for a sixty minute bruising. That is what has been missing in Edmonton for the past seven seasons.
Back to Watters and his publicly disparaging remarks regarding the Leafs captain. Do Oilers’ fans care about what a former assistant GM had to say about a player that helped guide the Leafs to the playoffs after several seasons of misery in Toronto? Or does the thought of having a player of Phaneuf’s caliber over ride the concerns that this is now the second club that is said to be tired of Dion’s dressing room antics? The Oilers need a player like Phaneuf, plain and simple.
Leafs GM’ Dave Nonis won’t give Phaneuf away for cheap. In fact he’s likely going to hold a king’s ransom for the veteran blue liner if Edmonton should come calling for his services. It’d be a bold move for Mac-T to make but that’s become the expectation this summer.
The other expectation is that this club will compete for a playoff spot next season and by acquiring Phaneuf, that would go a long way in helping settle the shades of doubt that Oilers’ fans have about the mediocre blue line; a blue line that many feel isn’t strong enough to shore up the defensive lapses that Edmonton has been prone to making over the last couple of years. With an average defense corps, this Oilers team may not compete for a playoff spot, making a deal for Phaneuf a potential top priority for MacTavish and company.