Leafs Nation goes bananas over the possibility Dion Phaneuf might be traded, plus a look at possible trade destinations for Senators captain Jason Spezza.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t shopping team captain Dion Phaneuf, but he’s not considered untouchable and Leafs GM Dave Nonis will be wiling to entertain offers. Dreger also reports they’re not shopping Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri but teams know if the right offer is made the Leafs would consider it.
Bob McKenzie believes under the right circumstances the Leafs would move Phaneuf but they’re not in a hard-sell mode right now. Dreger and McKenzie agree Senators captain Jason Spezza is more likely to be dealt than Phaneuf.
The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle, meanwhile, believes Phaneuf is a valuable player who’s been miscast by the Leafs as a top-pairing blueliner, whereas he’s more successful in a second-pairing role who can contribute offensively. Mirtle suggests Edmonton, Dallas and Minnesota as potential destinations for Phaneuf.
SPORTSNET.CA: Mike Johnston also listed Edmonton and Dallas as possible landing spots for Phaneuf, plus Winnipeg, San Jose, Colorado and Calgary. Mark Spector notes Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke acquired Phaneuf from Calgary when GM of the Leafs. He doesn’t feel Edmonton would be the right spot for Phaneuf as he’d be their top defenseman. He might thrive on a deeper club like the Sharks, and could be a good second-pairing blueliner with the Blues. He also believes the Leafs must retain part of Phaneuf’s salary in a trade or face taking back a bad contract in return.
TORONTO STAR: Rosie DiManno believes trading Phaneuf would be best for everyone, suggesting the Leafs offer him to Burke and the Flames, claiming they’re desperate to reach the cap floor next season. DiManno also listed the Florida Panthers as a destination. She cites one NHL GM believing it’s possible the Leafs could move Phaneuf and his entire salary.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby lists several scenarios facing the Leafs with Phaneuf. The obvious is trading him, perhaps to Edmonton or San Jose, though the Leafs face the possibility of eating part of his salary. They can also wait until after July 1 and let teams come to them, though it’s possible interested clubs could seek a young player like Nazem Kadri or Cody Franson as part of the return. If they can’t move Phaneuf, they can either try to add a workhorse defenseman or strip Phaneuf of the captaincy.
NATIONAL POST/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael Traikos and Adam Proteau warns Leafs fans keen to see Phaneuf dealt that the Leafs might not get equal value in a return, which could actually do more harm than good. They point out there’s no one in the Leafs system who can fill Phaneuf’s minutes, plus there’s not many top-two defensemen available via trade or free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are willing to entertain offers for Phaneuf, but unless they just want to dump the bulk of his salary and look at rebuilding, they won’t get a big return. It will likely take absorbing part of his salary to entice rival clubs. Burke claims new GM Brad Treliving has full control over management decisions. If so, perhaps Treliving isn’t interested in adding an expensive second-pairing defenseman. As for the Flames supposed desperation to reach next season’s cap floor (which could be $52 million), they could reach that via re-signing or replacing Mike Cammalleri, T.J. Galiardi, Joe Colborne, Paul Byron and Chris Butler. If the Leafs want to move his entire contract, the NY Islanders or Florida Panthers could be options, though he’d probably be expected to play a top-two role with either club.
The Jets need more scoring punch at forward, not defense. Edmonton’s desperate for a top-two defenseman, but adding Phaneuf might not be the way to go. If he’s struggling with the Leafs, imagine how bad it could be for him with the Oilers. The Avs must re-sign Ryan O’Reilly and hope to re-sign Paul Stastny. I don’t think he’s a fit there, as he could be put into a top-two pairing role. Same thing with the Stars. I’m also not sure if he’d be a good fit with the Sharks. As for the Wild, I believe they’re keen to pursue Thomas Vanek this summer, which takes them out of the market for Phaneuf.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes there’s plenty of suitors for Senators captain Jason Spezza. He thinks the St. Louis Blues make the most sense as they need a big center and expressed interest in him before the trade deadline. He thinks they could offer up Patrik Berglund and perhaps prospect Ty Rattie. The Anaheim Ducks need a second-line center and have plenty of young assets to offer up. Garrioch suggests trying to land Devante Smith-Pelley, and believes the Ducks could offer up Emerson Etem as part of the return. He believes the NY Rangers would be interested and could offer up Derick Brassard, but doesn’t see a fit there as the Rangers aren’t likely to buy out Brad Richards. Garrioch also mentions the Florida Panthers. He claims the Senators will seek a player who can help them now, a prospect and a first-round pick.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes Spezza or Phaneuf are good, but not great, players who could help the Oilers in the short term but not over the long run. He doesn’t see how Phaneuf’s salary would be a good fit with the Oilers, while they would have to re-sign Spezza, who’s a UFA next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there will be teams interested in Spezza, but he has a limited no-trade clause, which significantly narrows the list of possible destinations. His UFA status next summer also hurts his trade value, unless an interested team can receive permission from the Senators to negotiate a new deal with him before a trade goes down. I don’t see the Blues parting with Rattie, or the Ducks with Smith-Pelley or Etem. The Rangers have limited cap space and must re-sign or replace several key players, including Mats Zuccarello, Brian Boyle, Chris Kreider, Anton Stralman and Brassard. The Panthers could be willing to take him on, but would Spezza want to join them?