Top 5 Trade Destinations for Dion Phaneuf

A couple weeks back we looked at the the Top 5 Trade Destinations for Toronto’s top player, Phil Kessel. Today, we do the same for team captain Dion Phaneuf, who will almost certainly be shopped around the league as the Leafs look to strip down their roster, clear cap space, and rebuild through the draft.

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In recent years, Dion seems to have lost a step, and our own Ryan Fancey discussed how quickly and dramatically Phaneuf could regress by the time his current contract is up. With a cap hit of $7M over the next six seasons, the Leafs would be better off moving on quickly. Phaneuf doesn’t exactly help the rebuild, and you may as well try to get as much value out of him now as possible.

Click past the jump for the Top 5 Trade Destinations for Dion Phaneuf…

The Colorado Avalanche

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It’s been pretty widely reported that the Colorado Avalanche are in a market to add a defenceman, preferably to play alongside Erik Johnson on their top pairing. In fact, we wrote recently about how the Avs were apparently interested in Toronto’s Jake Gardiner. That being said, one can’t help but feel that Phaneuf would be a better fit.

The Avalanche certainly have the room to add Phaneuf’s contract, with just about $11M in cap space and a number of veterans coming off the books in the next couple seasons. To alleviate cap pressure, Toronto could take back a contract or retain some salary – the former option being much the more attractive option.

Another reason why Colorado makes sense as a potential landing destination for Phaneuf is that they have a good number of assets to send the opposite way. The Avalanche own all of their 2015 draft picks, save their fifth rounder, as well as their 2016 first round pick. As for prospects, Colorado does not own a very deep pool, but it’s not all bad when you consider just how young their star NHL players are. Most importantly, they have enough assets to make a fair offer for Phaneuf. 

One potential trade chip that really intrigues me is goaltender Calvin Pickard. At 23 years old, Pickard looks ready to make the jump to the NHL, but could be stuck behind Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra. Assuming one of Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer is moved, Pickard would make an attractive backup option with decent future potential.

Potential Trade Pieces: G Calvin Pickard, C Conner Bleackley, D Chris Bigras, D Duncan Siemens, D Stefan Elliott, G Spencer Martin, 2015 1st and 2nd round picks, 2016 first round pick

Potential Salary Dumps: Brad Stuart (2 years, $3.6M), John Mitchell (2 years, $1.8M)

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The Detroit Red Wings

Not exactly a surprise here, as the Detroit Red Wings were in on Phaneuf at the trade deadline but weren’t willing to give up what Toronto was asking for. Reportedly, that was top prospect Anthony Mantha (along with Stephen Weiss to balance out the cash). Detroit isn’t gearing up for a playoff run, nor is Phaneuf “fan” Mike Babcock still manning the Red Wings bench, so it’s not certain that they’re as interested in Phaneuf as they once were. That being said, they’re still one of the teams that appear to be a fit.

Detroit can certainly afford to take on Phaneuf’s salary, but they’ll need to send money the other way in order to facilitate the deal. With about $13M in cap space, the Red Wings also need to hand out new deals to RFAs Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro and Brendan Smith. And, of course, sign 36-year old Dan Cleary to a new five-year deal.

That means that almost certainly it will be Weiss and his $4.9M per season for three seasons contract coming back. The question then becomes, does Toronto need to retain salary, and what’s the ‘sweetener’? Besides Weiss, there will need to be a pick, a prospect, or both coming back.

Weiss’s contract is ugly, but things would get really ugly for Toronto if they had to retain a couple million dollars on Phaneuf’s contract as well. Can they avoid retaining salary and still get a good prospect or pick out of the deal? Man, that’s tough.

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The Leafs were smart to ask for Mantha at the deadline. After all, Phaneuf wasn’t a pending free agent and, presumably, there would be more suitors in the offseason – why not ask for the world? If Detroit bites, you make out like bandits. If they don’t, sit tight and try again later. No loss.

This time around, the Leafs should definitely ask for Mantha again. After all, the Red Wings have reportedly softened on their stance of not moving Anthony Mantha or their 2015 1st round pick. Dylan Larkin is probably a non-starter – Detroit seems really big on the University of Michigan standout – but everyone else appears to be fair game now.

Potential Trade Pieces: RW Anthony Mantha, 2015 1st Round Pick, RW Teemu Pulkkinen, D Ryan Sproul, D Xavier Ouellet, C Landon Ferraro, LW Andreas Athanasiou, LW Tyler Bertuzzi, G Jake Paterson, 2016 1st and 2nd round picks

Potential Salary Dumps: Stephen Weiss (3 Years, $4.9M), Jakub Kindl (2 Years, $2.4M)

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The Dallas Stars

This is more of a hunch than anything, but I imagine that Dion would look good in Dallas. The Stars have a couple of nice pieces on the backend in Jason Demers and John Klingberg, but they’ll need another top four talent if they want to go far in this league. 

Dallas also has the cash to make it happen, with over $15M in cap space available right now and a few veterans potentially coming off the books next year. They could easily take on Phaneuf’s full salary and have a significant amount of cap room left over, but it’s still pretty likely that Toronto will have to take back a salary that Dallas would like to rid itself of. At least with the Stars, they’re not so strapped that Toronto could really push to not retain salary.

Another reason that Dallas appears to be a fit is that the organization has a number of solid assets that could be flipped. There aren’t many true blue chip prospects in the system, outside of maybe offensive blueliner Julius Honka, but the Stars are flush with a number of nice pieces, as well as draft picks.

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Potential Trade Pieces: D Julius Honka, LW Jason Dickinson, RW Brett Ritchie, D Jamie Oleksiak, 2015 1st Round Pick, Detroit’s 2015 2nd Round Pick, 2016 1st Round Pick

Potential Salary Dumps: Travis Moen (1 Year, $1.85M), Vernon Fiddler (1 Year, $1.25M)

The Los Angeles Kings

It wasn’t too long ago that the Los Angeles Kings were seriously interested in Phaneuf. Of course, the deal hinged largely on 30-year old centre Mike Richards coming back the other way. See, Richards’ play is in serious decline, and his $5.75M cap hit is on the books until 2020. The Kings desperately want to move him, and they’d be willing to take on Phaneuf’s contract in exchange, but let’s make no mistake – Phaneuf’s value is significantly higher than Richards’. 

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If the Kings want Toronto to take on Richards’ deal, and get Phaneuf in exchange, they’re going to have to kick in a “sweetener”. And it’s going to need to be very, very sweet.

Toronto is not going to be competing for a Stanley Cup in the next four years, so in a vacuum, taking on Mike Richards shouldn’t be that big of a deal. They certainly have the cap space to do it, and probably aren’t too concerned with how productive he’d be, but that’s not to say Richards comes without risk. If he retires early, before his contract is up, Toronto will be on the hook for at least part of his cap recapture penalty.

So what kind of assets do the Kings have to flip for ridding themselves of Richards’ contract, and for Phaneuf’s services? Actually, they’ve got a bunch of nice pieces. Most notably, they have both of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson at the NHL level, but that’s a tough sell. Both are excellent young contributors, and probably represent the best possible return in any deal with the Kings. It’s more likely it will be a pick or prospect that comes back the other way, like 2014 1st round pick Adrian Kempe.

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Potential Trade Pieces: LW Tyler Pearson, C Tyler Toffoli, 2015 1st Round and 2nd Round Picks, RW Adrian Kempe, RW Valentin Zykov, C Nick Shore, C Jordan Weal, D Derek Forbort

Potential Salary Dumps: Mike Richards (5 Years, $5.75M)

The Edmonton Oilers

Hahahahahaha, yeah. We’re doing this.

Here’s what we know about the Edmonton Oilers: their defence is horrid, they have a ton of cap space, and they have a whole lot of assets. Their fans may not like the idea of trading for Dion Phaneuf but, you know what? It makes a whole bunch of sense. Deal with it.

With nearly $16M in cap space and their core players locked up to relatively inexpensive long-term deals, the Oilers have room for Phaneuf. They have a good number of forwards under contract and are about to add Connor McDavid on an entry-level deal, so they’re pretty much set up front, meaning that a good deal of cash should and will be earmarked for the blueline. The Oilers need defensive help in a big way and it’s not going to come internally. Darnell Nurse? Great player, good prospect, won’t anchor your blueline right away. Edmonton will need to look at the free agent and trade market, and Phaneuf is one of the few readily available top pairing/top four defenders available.

In exchange, the Oilers have a lot to offer. They have an insane amount of draft picks, including six in the first three rounds of this month’s draft. That’s not to say all of them are available – I imagine that the first overall pick isn’t in play – but they certainly have enough selections to get creative and flip for immediate help. As for prospects, it’s not an incredibly deep group. After all, most of Edmonton’s top prospects graduated to the NHL very, very quickly. Can you convince Edmonton to give up a guy like Leon Draisaitl? Knowing how deep the Oilers are going to be down the middle when McDavid arrives, sure, why not? Peter Chiarelli might laugh and hang up the phone, or he might see a way to quickly and dramatically improve his team while dealing from a position of strength. The point is, you tried. If Draisaitl is the target though, Toronto may have to send one of their own assets back.

Potential Trade Pieces: Pittsburgh’s 2015 1st Round Pick, two 2015 2nd round picks, C Leon Draisaitl, LW Anton Slepyshev, D Dillon Simpson, G Laurent Brossoit

Potential Salary Dumps: D Nikita Nikitin (1 Year, $4.5M), LW Matt Hendricks (2 Years, $1.85M)

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  • Jeremy Ian

    I hope they can trade him to either pheniox or Carolina to get the 3rd or 5th pick. I don’t think it will happen but it could. Other than that I would love to see him sent to Edmonton and Leon Draisaitl. Especially if Phoenix ends up picking Strome. We need that big bodied centre. I also think they should trade Kessel to acquire Marner and more. In my dreams we draft 3,4,5 and really change the prospect pool for good in Toronto

  • silentbob

    It certainly is fun to speculate on who, where and for what. We can all dream of acquiring every potential star talent in the draft and every other teams A+ prospects.
    I have no doubt Shanahan and the management team have been working the phones since season end and have serious interest for many of our players including Kessel, Phaneuf, Bozak, Lupul, Kadri, JVR and every other player that suited up for the team last year.
    Have faith kids, whatever deals are made will be in the best interest of the team.

    I think the Panthers will want to make a big splash at the draft and any team paying Bolland $5.5 million can justify Kessel at $8 million.
    How about Floridas 2016 1st and 2nd plus dump Campbell and his 7+ million contract for future considerations which becomes Kessel on July 2nd.
    They get Kessel next year for the same salary as Bolland $5.5, (the Leafs pay Kessel his $4.5 million bonus July 1) and get rid of over $7 million from Campbell. The Leafs could even ask for Matheson or Trochek rather than a roster player.

    Okay, rip me to pieces LOL

  • Gary Empey

    Justin, Babcock likes this guy.

    At the trading deadline Detroit nearly traded for Phaneuf. I am sure Babcock was consulted and said yes lets get him.

    Detroit didn’t want to give up Anthony Mantha but they have given up on him now. If you look at his AHL stats/game last year, you will see he struggled at that level.

    If we give up all are top players for prospects Toronto still has to ice a team. Do we bring up 11 players from the Marlies and see how it goes?

    Our draft picks this year are likely going back to junior for one more year.

    • I don’t think Babcock liking him should have anything to do with it, and I don’t really care how excited Phaneuf is to play for a new coach. His contract is too rich for a rebuilding team, and it is best to get ahead of his regression and get value out of him now.

      Next year, the Leafs will still have Rielly, Gardiner, Polak, Robidas… Fill that group out with TJ Brennan and a free agent or two or by trade or whatever. It doesn’t need to be a great group.

      As for Mantha, he’s still a good prospect. I wouldn’t say Detroit has given up on him as much as they’ve recognized they’re not ready to rebuild and they only way they can contend is by mortgaging a bit of their future for immediate help.

      • Gary Empey

        Like last year his biggest value is going to be at the trade deadline. So I don’t see him going anywhere soon unless a super offer with draft picks appears.

        There is no real pressure on the other 29 teams to trade for a work horse like Dion at this point in time.

        Let those teams looking to go deep in the playoffs come to us.

        The same cannot be said about Kessel.

        Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

  • Gary Empey

    “I’m excited. And the guys are excited, too. It’s big for our fans and our organization,” Phaneuf told Elliotte Friedman after speaking with a few teammates. “There was a lot of interest in where he was going to go, and rightfully so. You want to play for a coach of his calibre…You can see how prepared he is, how he makes a plan. He’s won at every level and I’m looking forward to working for him.”

    Phaneuf’s comments on Babcock

    • silentbob

      What would be so bad about it? He is signed until the end of 2020. If the plan is to rebuild this team from the ground up through the draft the Leafs are not going to be competitive for most, if not that entire, time. This is the time where the Leafs can take on 1 or 2 contracts like that to help them get more future assets without hurting them.

  • Gary Empey

    Lolol… Phaneuf for Draisaitl… an aging 30 yo headcase with a 6 yr 7 mil cap hit for a 19 yo Memorial Cup MVP on an ELC… another case of Leafs Nation overvaluing their players. Keep writing these one-sided articles – it’s entertaining for the rest of the universe.

    • Gary Empey

      At center you have- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, Anton Lander, Derek Roy, Connor McDavid coming, Draisaitl coming.

      Do you plan on running 7 forward lines this year?

      \Maybe shifting McDavid back to defence. You do need a little help back there.

      • silentbob

        Hendricks played wing for the Oilers most of last year.
        Roy may not be re-signed and if he is, will likely be a 5th centre in case of injury.
        Draisaitl likely will spend 1st half of year in the minors.
        Gordon may end up being traded later this year.
        In worst case scenario, can always shift a centre to the wing. After all, that’s what Todd McClellan did in San Jose with their glut of centres… and last time I looked, San Jose was not such a bad team the past decade. Depth at centre is a good thing.

      • Wrong. At center the oil have (assuming drafting CMD):

        RNH, CMD, Lander, Gordon. Draisaitl.

        Hendricks is not a center though has occasionally filled in there and Derek Roy is a UFA.

        It is unlikely Draisaitl starts the year in the middle and quite possibly starts the year in Bakersfield. He wasn’t NHL ready last year and I would doubt a half a season in the WHL has made him ready.

        Really, signing Roy improves center depth at a bargain price and allows him to be the 13th forward.

        As far as Phaneuf is concerned there may be a deal there as there isn’t a whole lot of top pairing d men out there however relieving 7 mil in cap pressure for the Leafs in return for an excellent young prospect would seem to be a horrible use of cap space and prospect resources.

        Best regards from Oilersnation. 🙂

      • Calling Hendricks a salary dump means you haven’t legitimately watched an Oiler game last year or done much research.

        Hendricks is one of the most endeared and valuable guys on the team and I’d suggest the team would happily pay him more for the leadership, heart and intangibles he brings.

        I know he Leafs don’t know what it’s like to have good, gritty heart and soul character guys.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Great inventory of options, Justin.

    If I am Leafs management, I focus on Phaneuf-Draisaitl. Ryan had a great piece the other day about who the team can build around. Great wingers, promising defense. But nothing at center. And my hunch is that this draft will focus on pure talent (as it should) in Marner or Hanifin if he’s on the board. This makes us even stronger in those positions.

    Given the Oilers’ comparative glut at center, and our need, this is a deal both teams can win from. Draisaitl-Kadri-Holland is nice for the Leafs future.

    But it’s super complicated and loaded with symbolic freight that might make it too hard for managers on both sides to pull off. This is where Shanahan’s managerial group is going to have to show its mettle. They pulled it off with the Clarkson trade. Why not one more?

  • silentbob

    I don’t see the Oilers (or any young team really) being interested. In 3-5 years time do you think Shanahan would give up young assets for a player like Phaneuf? I don’t. I also don’t see a problem (from the Oilers perspective) with having more then 4 centers, its easy enough to shift some to wing and it gives your team lots of depth and options.

    I think the realistic options (of the 5 listed) are the Wings, Kings and maybe the Stars – the teams that are a bit older, where Phaneuf won’t be the elder states man of the locker room, won’t be counted on to single handedly improve the defense (As you said in the article, he is regressing as we speak) but would be looked at as a strong secondary addition. At this point GM’s are going to want to add Phaneuf to their group, not bring him in to be a building block.

  • Phaneuf is going to get a mid tier prospect and very late 1st maybe, and a NHL body. His contract is an albatross.

    Players like Draisaitl or the Oilers 16th are a pipe dream, cause the Oilers don’t value a bad contract like that. Maybe a package of Marincin, their early second, and a B prospect is a reasonable return for that aweful deal. Temper your expectations.

  • Ryan14

    Leon for Dion is pipe dream. Nice try and a very hopeful thought from Leafs fans, but it’s not going to happen. Someone who could easily be a young Getzlaf isn’t going to be traded from someone signed for too long, at too much, on the downside of their career. Dion is the better player today, but we’re talking about madness here thinking this could happen. The contract is a minus value and you’re probably looking at a mid range first, a second, and an average prospect on the high side for return (plus in a cap world, the leafs would have to take on a bad contract as well). And i think that would represent extreme value for the captain.

  • CMG30

    Dion is a #1 D right now, but the writing is on the wall. There’s every reason to suspect that he’s going to fall off a cliff soon and GM’s know this so who’d actually want him?

    Building teams are looking for tomorrows talent not yesterdays talent. That leaves us with teams looking to put themselves over the top. The only problem is that those teams don’t have the cap room to eat 7m contracts. Combine that with a limited NMC and the Leafs are going to have a tough time getting a premium return for Dion.

    Doubly bad is that the Leafs actually need to move this guy if they’re really serious about building through the draft. If they hold on to him, by the time that process is complete Dion will be an old man. Every year that goes by will see his stock tumble further.

    At most, I see a return of a very late 1st rounder or a 2nd and a minor prospect with the Leafs taking back a contract.

  • CMG30

    Why would a building team want Phaneuf?

    He is a poor leader whose entire team abandoned him last season in the Staal episode.

    He is a turnover machine.

    He is a supposed tough player who shies away from physical confrontation with anyone who over 6 feet tall.

    He carries an absolute albatross of a salary, which is for too much for too long.

    His skills are noticeably eroding.

    He was the Captain of a team that has no heart, no soul, no guts, no competitiveness and no balls. Not worth a bucket of pucks.