December 29 2013 11:50AM
When Tyler Bozak got hurt and Nazem Kadri got suspended, the Maple Leafs signed Jerred Smithson to replace him, but demoted Trevor Smith before Smithson played his first game. Toronto wasn't attempting to add a centreman as insurance, they were looking at add an aspect of Bozak's game that they thought they would miss.
The maddening thing is how players get shuffled around the depth chart without any sense of regularity. Peter Holland played on the second line a game ago, and will be pushed down the depth chart onto the fourth line. Trevor Smith has been the second line centre for the Maple Leafs on multiple occasions this year, but he also would never get a minute of Jay McClement's minutes. McClement is just locked into that checking line centre role regardless of his performance, or the production of consistently better players in the lineup like Smith and Holland.
It's anti-meritocratic, and against every virtue that Carlyle attempts to espouse. Smith's hurt now, but while a return for Bozak means a necessary shake in the lineup, the Leafs best points-per-60 player this season and one of the prime offensive catalysts over the last month will go all the way to the fourth line. No matter what he does, Carlyle will find minutes for Bozak and McClement, no matter how poor the results are.
December 29 2013 11:16AM
December 28 2013 12:46PM
But hey, they won!
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!