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).
  • Quicksilver ballet

    All you clowns think about is offense. There are other aspects to the game ya know! Oilers already bleed goals, and now you want Phaneuf?? Still wandering the desert I see.

    • Sorensenator

      An offensive defenseman that can bang bodies and was +3 this season.

      Who do you propose as a viable option?

      I like Roman Josi but I doubt Nashville would part with him.

  • 15w40

    Dion to the Oilers works if the Leafs retain some salary and if Gagner can be part of the trade.

    The biggest thing is what type of guy is he. I’ve heard all the rumors about him being a jerk in the room and whatnot. So if after they do some research and find out he would not be a negative in the room then they should absolutely pursue it.

    This rebuild was supposed to be as much about culture change as it was stocking up on talent so bringing in a jack a$$ into the room would make zero sense.

    He automatically slots into the 1st pairing on this roster and hopefully as the rest of the D core develops he can get to where he belongs in the 3 or 4 spot.

  • Word to the Bird

    Obtaining Phaneuf would be a positive step in improving the mix in the Oilers defense group. However, if it involves the #3 2014 draft pick then it should not even be considered. That pick is absolutely key to filling a gaping hole at the #1 or #2 centre position. Quite simply, we are running out of chances to fill this.

  • Charlie Huddy

    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.

    Pretty sure Dion plays right defence, even though he is a left shot. Gunderson takes the left side in Toronto.

    He would look pretty good with Hainsey, would he not?

  • Charlie Huddy

    In 2 or 3 years some of our D prospects will be playing and contributing. Many will be getting big contracts (Nurse, Marincin, Klefbom, etc.). This years draft pick will need a big contract in a few years. Bring in good, character guys (trade or sign) for a short to medium transition. There are lots of decent options out there. We don’t need Phaneuf’s long contract, big cap hit, and all of the baggage that he brings with him.

    • J.R.

      Who is a better D-man UFA?

      Nobody. That’s who.

      Phaneuf is not my first pick but he is the best available….unless you think Weber or Subban are an option.

      I know this is a divisive issue amongst Oilers fans but I would jump for joy if they made this deal.

      Welcome Dion….weirdness and all.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        In good faith, I agree however with a bunch of kids signed long term at $6M per, then you add a $7M Dman, at what point do you move some assets out?
        Isn’t Dan Boyle a UFA? Andrei Markov is likely to stay in Montreal and finish there but he would be huge in the locker room. PK Subban could be had but at what price?
        Derek Morris would look great in an Oilers uniform.

  • Word to the Bird

    I said this the last post about Phaneuf and I’ll say it again: the Oilers don’t need another distraction.

    This is the guy who supposedly calls himself “the Dion”. That alone says a lot about how he holds himself. There has been nothing good said about this guy’s character. It seems every Toronto fan wants him out of town for issues in the dressing room. Sure, he’s a quality player, and would immediately become the Oilers’ top pairing defenseman, but this is a very young, very impressionable team. Egos don’t usually go well on a team like this, especially considering that the coach has ego problems himself.

    In short, stay away from Dion.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Every FAN wants him gone for issues in the DRESSING ROOM??

      No FAN knows ANYTHING about what goes on in the DRESSING ROOM. They think they do because they read twitter, but they don’t.

      • Reg Dunlop

        You are correct. Fans do not know what goes down in the dressing room. But this is what I do know. There are 20 guys in the whole NHL that won’t stand up for their teammates during on-ice altercations. They all play for the oil. Either mgmt has defied insurmountable odds and selected all of the pussies in the league OR there are fundamental problems with the personalities on the oil. Maybe throwing another monkey wrench into broken machinery will somehow fix things, after all I once fixed a non-functioning TV by kicking it. Maybe things won’t get worse if we add a strong personality making more dough than the core. Anyone think Dion will hustle to Yak’s aid when he is getting humped by Regher in the corner?

      • The Soup Fascist

        I agree that the social media takes on a life of its own when it comes to this stuff.

        However, based on several reports over the years of Dion’s d-baggery, I don’t think MacT can put his head in the sand and say “let’s trade away some pieces of value and agree to a 7 year / $49 million dollar contract”, without performing some due diligence into this guys’ character.

        You are correct the fans don’t know and don’t need to know what goes on behind closed doors. But the GM sure as heck better do his homework. Maybe the guy has matured – I hope that is the case.

        Likely a mute point anyway. If Phaneuf has a NMC not sure why he would not want to go to a team with a chance to win it all in the next couple of years?

        In any case, I am hoping all this Phaneuf talk leads to some pics of a scantily clad Elisha Cuthbert as part of all of Lowetide’s offerings.

      • Word to the Bird

        Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.

        Mike Keenan himself said that there were dressing room issues surrounding Phaneuf. We don’t actually know what is and isn’t said, but I doubt Keenan would lie to the media about something like that. If you can find more good things said about Phaneuf’s character than bad things, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Until then it’s something to at least consider.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    He’s not what what we want, but he’s what a whole lot of what we need.

    In what realm is the current Oilers roster worse off with Phaneuf on it? That’s a rhetorical question.

    • 15w40

      In the realm that to get Phaneuf we overpay in both assets given to TO and in 7 yrs at 6 million ( that’s with TO retaining 1 million) for a guy who is by more accounts than 2, poison in the lockerroom and is very possibly 2 years from being a pilon. That my friend is how. He is top pairing guy by name only, not by value or skill level anymore. And TO is trying to move the huge mistake that they had to make at the time.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not big on this Dion to Edmonton scenario, but with things being so difficult here now, it could become reality unfortunately. That contract will bite them in the arse within 2-3 yrs. With kids like Klefbom, Shultz, Marincin, Nurse, Simpson and perhaps Ekblad working their way up the depth chart. It’s only a matter of time till he’s expendable/another untradeable asset.

    One guy I would be targeting over Phanuef, (and I’m sure the Oilers are as well) is that Clayton Stoner kid currently in Minny. He’s a bruiser the Oilers could use, someone who shows up for work everyday in ill humour. Stoner is also 29 and a UFA this summer. Made just over one million last season. He’s not going to be a top pairing guy ofcourse, but he would be another journeyman/settling influence like Andy Ference. Keep that welcome matt out for the current Oiler blueliners to step up/excel.

    • bazmagoo

      I’m not big on the Phaneuf idea either. He would automatically be our best d-man, that is true, but he seems to come with a lot of baggage. I’d prefer signing Markov for a few years and letting Klefbom, Marincin and Nurse develop properly with the knowledge that the #1 spot is there for the taking in the next few years.

  • v4ance

    Ference + Gagner + Yakupov + Musil ($9 million cap hit)


    Phaneuf + Gardiner + Kadri ($10.8 million cap hit)

    Toronto gets some grit, skill & cap relief and Edmonton gets Randy Carlye castoffs 😉

  • Cold Hard Truth

    Indeed, Phaneuf has his warts, but the Oilers are in no position to be sticking their noses up to him.

    And sure there’s risk. But after all, wasn’t exposing the Oilers to “some semblance of risk” part of MacTavish’s impassioned mandate?

    However, it seems most fans would rather collect assets and marvel at their ‘potential’ than actually build a winner now.

    …and don’t call me Shirley.

    • Sorensenator

      Well put . The “trash it” responses must also hate what MacT. is doing as well -trying to make us a competitive team on ice , and not just on paper . I think a lot of them prefer potential , as it is closer to their fantasies ?

    • v4ance

      I couldn’t agree more about Edmonton fans marvelling at the stellar job 6Rings, Tambellini etc have done collecting assets. There’s a reason teams like Colorado have passed us. In addition their telented young core, rhey took gambles on guys like Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov and it paid off. Dion Phaneuf represents an opportunity to take that kind of risk to make the team better. Are fans not tired yet? It’s the 9th year of rebuilding coming up. Do fans not want to see some improvement, especially after the step back last year?

  • v4ance

    Dion or Dino??

    He plays like a Dinosaur…….exactly what anyone sees in this guy is beyond me. If we are looking for someone who takes unnecessary chances, doesn’t score but can hit……..let’s looks at Matt Green and forget Dion.

    His best years are behind him and everyone in the Leaf’s organization know that…..why do you think he is being peddled out there?? If we give up anything for this guy, there will be hell to pay.

  • Big Cap

    Any Oilers fan who doesn’t believe that Phaneuf would be a huge upgrade to our D-Core also believes that we’re gonna pick up Weber or Doughty this summer.

  • Oiler Domination To Follow

    If the Dion is available he’d look awfully good on our blue line. Can’t imagine getting him without sending one of either Marincin or Klefbom back as part of a package, but especially with Nurse and Simpson coming up we can probably handle parting with one of those two.

  • “Also, is it just me or would Tom Gilbert be an awfully nice fit on a pairing with Phaneuf? ”