— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) January 22, 2015
If the Edmonton Oilers are serious about bringing in a big time, minutes crunching defender in 2015, the options are few and the risks frightening. Men with one year left before free agency, aging players with stunning contract length and number, it’s enough to make you quake in your boots! No worries. There’s always Dion!
In an article over the weekend for Sportsnet, Mike Johnston listed off several possible destinations for Toronto’s captain. The article is well thought out and the trade premise real; the players mentioned as possible return are equally fascinating.
- Johnston: Potential trade chips: Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Bogdan Yakimov, Martin Marincin.
This is a good list. Reasonable Leafs fans will probably agree that Dion alone isn’t going to get you Taylor Hall or RNH, but Eberle can at least be discussed. Would you do it? Oilers fans have to admit that despite the pain of trading Eberle, getting a legit top end defender is going to cost a pretty penny.
The secondary talents are also very good: Bogdan Yakimov and Martin Marincin are among the best young players on the AHL Barons roster. If you’re Toronto, and looking for young players for a rebuild, Yakimov and Marincin are a mighty nice place to start.
It’s hard to make a trade these days and Dion’s contract is insane. It will be very difficult for any team to trade with the Leafs without including a monster contract in the return. Here are the numbers of all players quoted above from the Johnston article (cap hit numbers).
- Dion Phaneuf: $7 million cap hit through 2020-21 (6 more full seasons)
- Jordan Eberle: $6 million cap hit through 2018-1 (4 more full seasons)
- Nail Yakupov: $3.775 million cap hit (with bonuses) RFA this summer
- Justin Schultz: $3.675 million cap hit (with bonuses) RFA this summer
- Bogdan Yakimov: $925,000 RFA summer 2017
- Martin Marincin: $870,000 cap hit RFA this summer
Yakupov’s salary is $925,000 so that number above is a little misleading (he won’t cost $5 million next season).
Have you ever tried it? Making a list of possible acquisitions who could play a major role in that tough minutes role? It is NOT easy. You can find players who are a perfect fit (Brent Seabrook!) but he has one year left before free agency. It’s a rare thing for a big time, veteran defender to come available, seriously. Shea Weber shakes loose, he’ll cost a fortune and hobble your team in getting him.
It’s a sticky wicket.
Toronto needs defense and center, and we don’t know if they’ll retain Phil Kessel of Joffrey Lupul so a skilled scorer on wing would probably help, too.
Well no, he doesn’t. Dion was used in probably the worst possible way by Randy Carlyle so his numbers aren’t fabulous, but there are things to like:
- Bomb from the point and he can help the power play. 12 of Dion’s 22 points are with the man advantage.
- Plays big minutes—23 a night—and plays in all three disciplines. He isn’t a youngster but Phaneuf is a horse.
- Plays the toughest opposition and does not get a zone start push. He’s often paired with Cody Franson, who is not a top flight partner for a No. 1 pairing.
Phaneuf is in the ‘Shawshank’ portion of the graph, that’s Hell’s Bells where he and Franson reside. As you can imagine, his possession starts are well below 50%, but that’s a lot due to circumstance. Bad team, lack of an ideal partner, tough zone starts, toughest opposition? What’s that old line? It’s like trying to take a drink out of a fire hose?
If the Oilers acquired Phaneuf and used him in a more favorable way? I think he could stimulate the power play and help out with the crushing of the soft parade at evens. Basically, a much better Schultz.
Among the men listed, I don’t think Toronto needs Justin Schultz although they may feel he’s not being used properly in Edmonton. Marincin and Yakimov are nice additions to a bigger deal and I have no idea what value Nail Yakupov may have beyond far less than we’d like him to have as fans.
Oh sure, you can throw in someone from their side (I really like Kadri, but they’re not going to move him) and make it a bigger deal, but Jordan Eberle would have to be the center piece.
If you could get Phaneuf for less? A package that included the unrelated Yaks and Marincin? Schultz and plenty? Why not?
WOULD YOU DO IT?
I’ve always liked what Dion brings. Item. If he was a free agent and Edmonton signed him, put him with a capable partner, gave him lots of offensive zone starts and power-play time, I’d be pretty happy.
The problem is the cost. Jordan Eberle is a sure scorer on the RW side and Edmonton cannot count on Nail Yakupov to replace him. That’s an issue. You can’t deal from strength to address weakness when you have no strengths. Jordan Eberle carries too much value for this Edmonton Oilers team to deal him at this time.
Mike Johnston made many strong points in that article. I wouldn’t do an Eberle-for-Phaneuf trade but it isn’t the craziest thought in history. Don’t tell Wanye.