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.

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  • 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).

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  • 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:

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  • 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.

It’s Eberle.

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. 

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If you could get Phaneuf for less? A package that included the unrelated Yaks and Marincin? Schultz and plenty? Why not?


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.

  • Randaman

    All this talk about signing Boychuck, Franson or any other pending UFA is tiresome.

    I am a life long Oil fan but we all know that any top notch UFA is not signing here. I know Boychuck is an Edmonton boy but would you sign here if you had as many offers as he will obviously receive?

    This tire fire will scare the UFA’s away like stink on sh!t and you all know it, whether you want to admit it or not.

    Sorry for the wake up call but history repeats itself unless management is changed and Katz will not do that

  • S cottV

    Maybe you take a chance that Dion has learned from experiences in Calgary and Toronto, such that he fine tunes his play – his leadership in a way that really fits Oiler needs right now.

    He needs to play within himself a touch more and he needs to lead with a pure focus on the needs of the team out weighing his own personal needs. He needs to get out of that fish bowl in Toronto and gain from a fresh start.

    The Oilers really need a big top pairing d man with an edge.

    They also need leadership with an edge. C’mon – do you guys really think the present room doesn’t need a shake up? Is Ferrence the captain of the future? Hall? Nuge?

    He is a local product who might not mind coming home to try and prove something to a lot of naysayers, in Toronto – Edmonton and around the league.

    What other dynamic top pairing d man who has choices is gonna move to Edmonton?

    If he wouldn’t mind coming home, MacT should get him in an Oiler jersey and slap a C on it.

    • nugeformayor

      I don’t get the hate for dion. He would easily be the best dman we’ve had since pronger. He might not be top 10 in the league or have “Norris potential” like Jultz, but he’s an n dman and we need to find 6 of those

  • Serious Gord

    I m in Toronto, why Edmonton fans want unwanted players from other teams?

    Dion for Eberle or Yakupov? Are you on crack? The Leafs are not winning with Dion, why do you think he would help the Oilers? Trade Eberle or Yakupov for Dion is stupid.

    Wait til next year, get top 1st or 2nd pick in June. Next year Nelson will get Oilers within playoff spot.

  • Lofty

    This would be the dumbest move MacT could make, and he’ made a few of them.

    Dions big shot from the back end produced 2 goals this year on a 2.40 sht.%. His big shot from the back end misses the net half the time.

    He takes dumb penalties..[ the most penalized Leaf player], and he really isn’t that tough on the backend.

    Franson in part is carrying this guy, who has more points, more goals and better shooting %.

    This for $ 42 million dollars.. you are kidding.

    PS. Leafs want to dumb Dions salary so that they can resign Franson.

  • Simmerdown

    I have been wanting Phaneuf here since he played in Calgary. Let’s make the deal and start next and start gettting a nice line up sorted out for the start of our run to make the playoffs next season.

  • Simmerdown

    a legit, top pairing D for a 1st line dangling W. In theory, I make that trade. Fill a hole by creating one, but the former is more important than the latter.

    I know the Eberle fanboys will scream, but defensemen is sooooo much more important then wingers. You’re probably losing Ebs in a few years. If we don’t turn north soon, he an Hall are gone.

  • Simmerdown

    As a leafs fan, I would consider moving Phaneuf, But not for Eberle (I love him, but his contract is too high for our team, we can’t afford him) We would probably look at Darnell Nurse (Who is the captain of the junior team That Kyle Dubas was the assistant GM of last year), and maybe the first round pick you got from pittsburgh.

  • Oil Fan in Ottawa

    It almost feels like we have been beaten into submission and are forced to look at players/contracts that would normally not be on the radar. It just further demonstrates how critical it is to draft,develop and retain and/or have excellent pro scouts who can identify diamonds in the rough around the league. Is Dion a great fit? No. Is he better than our current lineup options? Absolutely. Does this mean we should consider it? I don’t know!!!

  • Harry2

    No to Ebs for Dion, yes to Dion for Marincine, Yak, Shultz and the Penguins first this year.

    I think the Leafs are contemplating blowing it up. Meaning, they may consider moving players out to tank/wanting to get younger and shed some contract weight.

    It’s kind of like a buyout with prospects coming back.

    Then they move Lupul, Franson and Kessel for picks and prospects and suddenly they have a few first this year (including a high one), Kadri, Yak, Shultz, Gardiner, Morgan Riley, Marincine and the three (maybe four/five?) firsts this year.

    Cupboards stocked and ready for an Oilers Rebuild… which should go well 😀

  • Harry2

    I dont think were getting a true #1/2 dman via trade. Edm should go the NYI route, defence by commitee. Boychuck needs to be signed. Klefbom and Nurse are going to be great soon.

    We need to develop our own Doughty/Weber/Suter. Thats what scared me.

  • Zarny

    Absolutely not!

    Dion the player could undoubtedly help the Oilers although his weaknesses only compound what we already see in Edmonton.

    His contract however, could financially cripple the Oilers for the next 6 years. He would still have 3 years left when the Oilers have resign whoever they draft this year. The dollars hurt but imo it’s the term that is too much risk. Phaneuf certainly isn’t worth Eberle and unless the Leafs eat $1.5-2M a year there is nothing to talk about.

    The rumor mill has the Oilers interested in Franson. Much, much better option.

  • Andresito

    Why, oh why is the media presenting this… do not give the GM ideas that this…

    We get angry at Shultz cause he can’t play defence, Nikitin is not panning out, why cause he can’t play defence.

    So let’s bring in a guy that is potential cancer in the locker room, arrogant who cannot play defence at a high level….

    He would want to be captain, so let’s bring another new face in and give him leadership, cause that has work well with the Ference experiment….

    Stop floating this idea, Dion is not the answer to the problem we have, he is the problem that we already have, guys who can’t play defence.

  • Bob Cobb

    Well we have a bunch of none physical defenseman that are always out of position, what could be the harm of acquiring one that puts himself out of position by going for the big hit.

  • Tikkanese

    Time for the quarterly Phaneuf to the Oilers article I guess.

    I don’t care if Phaneuf checks off a few boxes on the Oilers’ need list.

    The only check box that matters is the douche-bag check box and Phaneuf’s is checked in by permanent thick felt marker.


  • Ready to Win

    I think the Groucho Marx saying “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” is relevant here; any defenseman the Oilers could acquire through trading assets they have right now probably isn’t going to be that #1D they’ve been wanting for.

  • SSB1963

    keep dion as far away from oilers as possible. best case scenario is he refuses to go to edm if there even is a trade there. his numbers are stated in article as average because of less than equal d partner and on a bad team. with that said, i dont see any reason why he would be the answer for oilers d problems when he would be in the same perdicament, bad team with inadequate partner. so in my mind its and 6yr 7mil $ mistake unless d roster is revamped also!

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Hey Oilers fans,

    Here’s a proposal from a Leafs fan to get a good flame war going:

    Assuming EDM got 1st overall pick in draft, would you consider this kind of package for McDavid?

    1. Bernier – shores up your goaltending NOW and in the future
    2. Our first round pick in this years draft – anywhere from 5th to 10th – a piece for the future.
    3. Any and/or all of our defence (except Rielly) – Phaneuf, Franson, Gardiner, Polak, etc.
    4. Any and/or all of our centres (except MAYBE Kadri) – Bozak, Santorelli

    Flame away….

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Don’t do it, Oilers. As a Flames fan, Eberle for Phaneuf is not equal value. Yes, Dion is still a good defenceman who is over-utilized in Toronto. We can all agree he’s a great #3 or #4 defencemen, mayyybe a #2 if he’s paired with a Weber or Doughty.

    But how will he be used differently in Edmonton? The same problems would wring through, except he’d gradually be aging. I don’t know what happened to him after those first two magical seasons in Calgary. He stopped hitting, his offence went down, his confidence just disappeared.

    The rationale I’m reading from those who advocate for this deal is ‘well we can’t get anyone better’. You don’t sign up for $7 million for the next six years and just settle. I admit there’s no easy solutions short of hoping one of your d-men has a Giordano-like late-career surge, finding next year’s Leddy/Boychuk or that Darnell Nurse becomes elite right away. But you don’t give up a huge asset like Eberle for a second tier defenseman with a horrible contract and even worse locker-room reputation.

    Somewhere out there, Dion can be a great addition to a solid d-corps that needs to boost up its second pairing and has the cap room to accommodate his salary. I just don’t see that being the Oilers.