Lander and Horak and Phaneuf

Anton Lander re-signed with the Oilers, Roman Horak headed overseas, and there are rumours flying that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to trade Dion Phaneuf to the Western Conference.

Looks like I picked the wrong weekend to head out of town.

Lander and Horak


Jason Gregor covered Lander’s re-signing on Monday. A one-way contract worth $600,000 puts Lander in the same boat as Mark Arcobello – he gets the one-way deal and guaranteed money, but he’s also so cheap that being buried in the minors is a real possibility.

Roman Horak, meanwhile, bolted for the KHL.


It’s a shame the organization had to lose Horak, who is a very good AHL player (he came on toward the end of the season, too, with 31 points in his final 24 games) and had legitimate NHL upside. Originally acquired as part of the Ladislav Smid trade, it seems likely that the Oilers will retain his rights, and if he destroys the KHL it’s just possible that the organization might see him again. Either that, or maybe they ship him off to Toronto for Mark Fraser next spring.

As for the Lander signing, it strikes me as a good move. I don’t worry about sunk costs – if a guy can’t play, it doesn’t matter how much time a team has sunk into him, it’s time to move on – but in Lander’s case there’s a dominant two-way centre in the AHL who insists on playing a ‘dump-and-chase/pass to the NHL guys’ game in the majors. The coaches have to convince him to play the way he does in the minors, because if he does there’s a very real player there.

Dion Phaneuf

The Oilers don’t currently have a defenceman like Phaneuf.

I know the ex-Flame and current Maple Leaf isn’t popular in Edmonton, but I don’t really care. The 29-year-old would not only add a tough-minutes workhorse to the blue line (something the club desperately needs) but brings the size and physical dimension that the Oilers simply don’t have in their top-four currently. He’s not only a good fit for need; his style also complements what the Oilers already have.

Is the contract a little worrisome? Yeah, sure. But these guys don’t come available very often, and when they do the teams that desperately need them have to be willing to take on some risk.

The Oilers are in a position to make the money work, too, with some big-dollar contracts (Sam Gagner and Andrew Ference in particular; Matt Hendricks too looks like a good fit for Randy Carlyle) that could form part of the return package.

If he’s available, the Oilers should make a significant push.

In Brief

  • I know there’s a Matt Greene fanclub in Edmonton, and I understand why – he’s big and mean and has been quite a good third-pair defender for some time now. But folks hoping the Oilers should make a run for him in the offseason should be watching his ugly work for Los Angeles in these playoffs. Things have gotten so bad that minor-league call-up (and waiver wire fodder) Jeff Schultz is logging significantly more minutes than Greene. Greene’s a better version of Mark Fraser at this point, and if Edmonton pitches for him they should be looking at him as nothing more than their No. 7 defender.
  • Edmonton makes sense to me as a landing place for Dion Phaneuf, but not so much for Jason Spezza. It’s not that the Senators pivot wouldn’t be a great fit on the Oilers’ roster, it’s just that he only has one year left on his deal and he’s going to cost major assets to acquire.
  • Also, is it just me or would Tom Gilbert be an awfully nice fit on a pairing with Phaneuf? Gilbert excelled next to Brian Campbell in Florida this year and his skill-set would be a nice fit for a big, tough defender who can hammer the puck. 
  • This year’s draft is in Philadelphia. The Flyers’ have lots of interesting pieces on their roster, and I can’t help wondering if they might not make a big push to grab a higher pick (right now it looks like they’ll slot in at 17th overall).
  • nuge2drai

    I dont feel Dion is the guy for our team. Good quality on the ice. Horrible off the ice. We can’t have him in our dressing room teaching our kids. Before he teaches a kid he has to fix his attitude. Sean Avery would be an upgrade on Jesse Joensuu but would you want him? Dion dosen’t seem like the type of guy to mentor a team. Erik Johnson has a much lower salary but would right away step in as our #1 defensemen and has great size. He seems like a better fit

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    The oilers pp would be much better with Phaneuf.

    The offence would dramatically improve as well.

    Too bad he’s a jerk and would be a distraction in the locker room.

    Imagine Hall and Phaneuf sharing a locker room may be great, may be a disaster…

    If we could get him for Gagner, Simpson and a 2015 second rounder is do it.

  • Tikkanese

    Phaneuf does not fight enough for some of our fans by the sounds of it . If your coaching the team , I doubt you want a player like Dion spending much time in penalty box because of fighting . He is plenty physical enough in his play which you want . The fisticuffs are better left to other less important players . There is an abundance of physical players in league that play very physical yet shy away from actual fisticuffs , and mostly to teams advantage . He can fight ,but he is more valuable on the ice than in the penalty box . Not quite a Cooke clone , but he can play nasty at times .

    Hearsay about locker room problems ? What team does not have them , but works around them anyways ? Not everybody going to always get along over a long season, etc..

    Horak needs to develop and the KHL might be good for him and us down the line . Landers is simply improving and holding onto him at this stage might prove worthwhile .

  • nuge2drai

    Memo to delusional Oiler fans: The team finished in 28th place for a reason. Subban and Weber won’t be coming here. Phaneuf is from Edmonton, doesn’t have a NTC, and is a jerk. Just what the Oil needs.

    Going forward with the current young defence, means another finish out of the playoffs. This team needs help.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Listening to Bruce Mcurdy today almost has me convinced that chasing Phaneuf is akin to Moby Dick. In this case the whale comes with a heft price tag to land him.

    I just don’t know whether its worth it? If we eat all that contract Phaneuf becomes our highest paid player.

    What do we expect for our money in return? Good question. I just don’t know enough about his current game.Wild Card to say the least.

    Philly would give their collective left testicle to get the 3rd overall pick. It seems likely that someone is moving on that team. Giroux’s new contract is kicking in next year at 8.5 cap hit. Vinny? Nashville bound? Who knows.

    I know what I would take for that 3rd pick. Brayden Shenn,Luke Shenn,Scott Laughton and their 17 th pick.

    Its a a lot but your giving up a 3rd pick equates to a franchise pick.

  • Word to the Bird

    Fellow nation posters: why don’t you read the comments on the last Phaneuf blog and see which way the cheers/trashes are trending. Shows how fickle Edmonton fans are…

  • Burnward

    Oilers don’t need Phaneuf. I was at the private airport in Calgary and the Flames were waiting for their flight. This was when Kennan was coach. Their flight was ready to go and all the players and coaches proceeded to the aircraft.

    Phaneuf was eating a sandwich and finished it (easily could have taken it with him) before he got up and proceeded to leave the building and board. By this time everyone else was on board by a good two minutes or more. They just all had to wait until he was good and ready to leave.

    That is the type of arrogant person he is. I do not believe he would be a good team player.

  • Burnward

    After 8 years of abysmal hockey , when is management going to do what is necessary to make us competitive ? Status quo is just more disasters . They can’t build it , or just will not bother building it ? MacT. has fallen silent when it comes to acquiring new talent that can actually bring this club forward , despite how active he has been . Patience for competent management has worn thin/out after 8 years of futility . I don’t know of any other club run this poorly , and the results of last 8 years is proof of it .

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    If Toronto eats at LEAST $1.5 million of his salary, sign me up. I’d prefer they eat at least $2m, but I feel like MacT would have to work some magic to get them to take that back.

    I’ve seen a couple people in this thread complain that Dion is sometimes suspect defensively. Hate to break it to you, but ‘sometimes suspect defensively’ is an upgrade on the current Oilers blue line.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Can we stop looking for upgrades. We need actual good players. If we are boston and looking for upgrades that’s different. Belanger was an upgrade on colin fraser, doesn’t mean they weren’t both terrible.

      As for phaneuf, I’ve said this before elsewhere. He doesn’t match the oilers timeline. Fact is playoffs are out of reach next year. If we can agree they can’t compete with the bigger teams as a contender until Hall is in his prime (say 25), that’s three years. Three years from now, Phaneuf is 32, and as a physical dman, his career is likely winding down. His best remaining years were wasted. He is a borderline 1LD now, and by then will almost definitely be a 2LD. I’m not paying 7×4 for a 2LD. That’s asinine.

      I’m all for getting a defenceman, but he needs to be closer to the cluster (say 25), or we need to make this move when we’re closer to the playoffs. Phaneuf doesn’t get you into the playoffs next year.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        I’m gonna go ahead and disagree. No, we shouldn’t stop looking for upgrades. That sentence is insane. Yes, Phaneuf is trending down, and no, he isn’t gonna get us into the playoffs, there I agree. What he would do is push every D man on the squad down at least one notch on the depth chart, and provide some shelter for Nurse/Kbom/Marincin while they adjust to the NHL.

        On his salary, I agree that $7m is too much, that’s why I said I’d like the Leafs to eat at least $1.5 million, preferably $2 million. Yeah he’s a borderline 1LD, but we have no first pairing D men – hell, we barely have any second pairing D men.

        If Toronto eats enough salary, this could be a good move. If the cap goes up as many think it will in the next two or three years, $5-$6 million a year for Phaneuf won’t look quite so ugly.

        • The Soup Fascist

          If toronto kept some if his salary would his cap hit not still be 7million against our cap? The only bonus for toronto paying 1.5 mill of his salary would be less for Katz to pay. I think he’d still be 7mill against our cap

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            I believe you’re correct, but I was more trying to bring his actual dollars paid under the $6M internal cap given to Hall. I don’t think a(n alleged) prima donna like Phaneuf being paid more than the face of the franchise is a good idea.

          • Zarny

            Who says there is an internal $6M cap?

            The Oilers had 3 1st overall picks plus Eberle who put up 76 pts as a 21 y/o. The odds were likely that at least 1 or 2 would develop to elite status. To mitigate costs they negotiated long-term $6M deals for Hall, Ebs and Nuge.

            I’ve never heard any promises that Hall will always be the highest paid player on the team. That’s just an assumption fans have made.

            Would you worry about Shea Weber being paid more than Hall? How about PK Subban? I doubt Hall would and I doubt Phaneuf making more would be an issue either.

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            The difference being that Weber and Subban are two of the best D men in the game, whereas Hall is clearly a better player than Phaneuf.

            Naturally there’s no official statement saying that 6 million is the magic number, but with Hall being the best player by a visible margin, one can infer that they won’t want to pay an inferior player more money.

            Obviously this all goes out the window in the event of a bona-fide Subban/Doughty/Weber level player joining the team, but that’s not going to happen.

  • Burnward

    Gagner, Ference, Hendrix for Phanugly is a pipedream in an alternate universe. Anything involving number our number 3 pick for 8 plus DD pick makes me ill when we should get one of Reinhardt, Eckblad, or Bennett. Ill pass for on his turnovers and inconsistant play.

    He is a legit number one, but hes down the list. If I had to give up Gagner, Hendrix and one of our defensive prospects not named Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin and number 3 is not involved, ok then lets do it. I’d be willing to almost do Marincin, Gagner, but I wanna see if Marincin can be a top four defender, and frankly Id rather overpay in FA and let our core develop rather then bringing in a polarizing a-hole whos not leading you to a cup.

    • The Soup Fascist

      I get what you’re saying but why can’t the oilers make the playoffs next year? There’s no reason that after 5 years of rebuilding that playoffs should not only be possible but should be expected!!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Speaking of acting like a baby…is that you Milan Lucic? Isn’t this the same infantile boob who dissed his home town (Vancouver) when Boston played Vancouver in the playoffs a couple of seasons ago? Baby indeed! Lucic just made me a Canadien fan.

  • Zarny

    The comments sound like the geeks on the Big Bang Theory frowning at a date with Megan Fox because her cache has dropped since Transformers and she’s isn’t quite as perky as when she was 20.

    Phaneuf is not perfect. He’s never quite lived up to expectations of being a perennial Norris trophy candidate. He doesn’t have the best locker room reputation. $7M @ 7 years is a serious consideration given how many good young player Edm has to sign over that term.

    The Oilers, however, can’t wait for perfection because it’s not going to come. Unless you’re willing to part with Hall, Schultz, the 2014 1st round pick and the 2015 1st round pick Shea Weber isn’t available.

    The assumptions that it’s a given Nurse, Marincin and/or Klefbom will be better than Phaneuf are foolish. Sort of like prophesying Yakupov is the next Ovechkin after half a rookie season.

    Phaneuf won’t make a top 10 list but he’s undoubtedly a 1D in the NHL. He was a Norris trophy finalist in 2007-08. He was 11th in Norris voting last year. None of the Oilers’ prospects have even played a full season let alone been considered one of the best 3 D in any season. And it’s a very real possibility none of them ever will.

    The Oilers have the worst blueline in the NHL; in case you missed the Olympics that matters…a lot. They have to at least see what the asking price is. Phaneuf would allow the Oilers to shelter kids like Nurse/Marincin/Klefbom and develop them properly. He would give them at least 1 D who can knock F like Getzlaf, Perry, Thornton, Kopitar, Toews etc off the puck.

  • Tikkanese

    Dion Positives:

    Offensive, big shot, hits hard, top pairing D on most teams in the league


    Massive contract, plays dirty and doesn’t back it up, possibly unmoveable in 3-4 years due to contract and age, played for Calgary, played for Leafs, appears to be on downswing of career

    Bonus/silly positive: Elisha Cuthbert sightings at home games

    Unsubstantiated negatives: may be a diva and a problem in the dressing room

    Unless he comes very cheap with a lot of salary retained, I’d rather the Oilers pay more assets in acquiring a Subban type than Dion. The Flames/Leafs stuff aside, I really don’t like that contract.

  • Tikkanese

    JW, quality quality article again.

    I am so lucky to have guys with a brain like you in the msm, to counterpoint the Matty’s out there that say, ‘Matt Greene would be an excellent fit in Edmonton’. He can’t play hockey, people.

    More hockey players, not goons, please.

    Yes to Dion, though his corsi was bad last year, I believe it was the system in TO responsible.