December 28 2013 12:15PM
Dion Phaneuf is 28 and in his physical peak. He's an excellent defenceman with tremendous talent and the best the Maple Leafs have had in years. He faces the toughest competition in the NHL according to Behind the Net's metric Corsi Rel QoC metric, and the toughest competition of any NHL defenceman (fifth overall) according to Extra Skater's Time on Ice QoC metric.
I've written in the past that Phaneuf takes a lot of undue heat for his play, but it got to a point this season where I'm not sure I can continue to work under the assertion that Dion Phaneuf is a worthy No. 1 defenceman. A $7-million contract would definitely have him paid as a No. 1, and accounting for salary cap inflation, it wouldn't be until 2018 or 2019 that the salary cap is high enough that $7-million isn't an above average cap hit for a No. 1.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
December 28 2013 09:32AM
TSN is reporting this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dion Phaneuf are extremely close to putting pen to paper on a deal that would pay Dion Phaneuf $49 million dollars, give or take a few bucks, over the next seven years, giving a cap hit of $7,000,000 a season. Phaneuf is a polarizing figure amongst Leafs fans, with many seeing strong ability in him, and others thinking he's the bane of the team's existance.
I wrote this article in November to show his qualities, and that a contract in this range (then rumoured to be 7x7.15) would be more than reasonable compared to his peers in the cap era. This year, Phaneuf is again leading the league in Quality of Competition faced despite poor Quality of Teammates, and has been fantastic at moving the puck into the other team's zone (40.3% offensive zone starts, 47.3% OZ finishes). His production is a bit down, due to a falling even strength shooting percentage, but this was to be expected for himself and much of the rest of the team, many of whom set career highs. It's also worth noting that the defensive core as a whole has had production issues this year, meaning it could be a bit systems based as well.
Other stats also line up with last year's, which were used in this article for the sake of reasonable sample sizes. As such, i'm confident in this still being applicable as a fair evaluation of his contract situation. Enjoy!
December 27 2013 09:16PM
It wasn't pretty. I'm not even sure what it was, but the Maple Leafs got two points Friday night and New Jersey, Ottawa and the New York Rangers combined for just one. Despite a good second period by the Leafs, I'd be quite content if we destroyed every copy of the game film from Toronto's 4-3 shootout win against the Sabres and never discussed it again. It will be one of those games, six or seven years from now, we will look back on and say "Toronto won 4-3" and that will be the end of it.
This game deserves no detail, no respect. NHL hockey games play 82 times a year to account for the occasional stinker. On Friday, both Toronto and Buffalo brought it, and not in a good way. On one hand, the Leafs had a furious second period rally, scoring three goals in 8:05 against one of the best goaltenders in the world. On the other hand, the Sabres gave the worst player in the league 12:39 of ice-time and let him play over five minutes against Toronto's most dangerous line.
Still, a win. Those come by far too rarely for us to bicker about just how they come about.
December 27 2013 10:17AM
Three days without hockey, and when they give it back to you, they also give you the potential for a Jerred Smithson line with Frazer McLaren and Colt Knorr. Hardly makes it worth it. Smithson, McLaren and Knorr would be touched up by most of the top lines at the World Junior Championships this week, and those games are already on TV. We didn't need the NHL to come back to watch non-NHL hockey. I also doubt any of those players would even crack the Spengler Cup roster.
I suppose the saving grace is that Randy Carlyle usually makes one or two roster changes right before the game starts, so let's hope that it winds up with one (or two) (or all) of those three players getting a late scratch. The fact that it's plausible to think Carlyle will go back to that 38-22-28 line now that every player is available to him points to the problem—Carlyle can easily diagnose the problems ("we're giving the puck away too much" "we're giving up too many shots") but his solutions exist to exasperate the problems.
The Christmas break did not make me any less grouchy when it comes to Leafs lineup decisions, apparently.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
December 26 2013 01:47PM
The Air Canada Centre may be home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they don't exactly have exclusivity. The building was originally designed for the Raptors, the Rock remind us all that Lacrosse is a thing that exists, and tons of music acts make a temporary home out of the building throughout the year. Heck, I was here three days ago and there was a mountain near the hash marks! Today, the Toronto Marlies took their turn running the rink, taking on the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of a five digit crowd for the third straight year. Despite being heavily outshot, the Marlies dragged this one into overtime, but ultimately fell 2-1.