The big news around Oil Country as of late has been about the potential split of Milan Lucic and the Oilers this off-season. I kicked off a series of possible albatross-for-albatross swaps yesterday with Corey Perry. Let’s dive into a defenceman the Oilers could look at in return for sending Lucic to one of his former teams.
Dion Phaneuf has had the career trajectory of a mid-level CFL quarterback. He started off really well in Calgary, went to Toronto and kind of fizzled, and then got dumped in a shocking move that sent him to Ottawa. It would be kinda fitting if he ended up in Edmonton. I feel like he has to play for all of the Canadian teams.
I mean, not actually. But in all seriousness, Phaneuf could make some sense in Edmonton and Lucic does have a history with the Kings.
What’s Dion Phaneuf all about?
Phaneuf was drafted by the Flames, came up as a rookie after the lockout and set the world on fire, petered out a little bit, and then got traded to the Maple Leafs. It was an interesting situation as he joined a high-pressure environment on a very underwhelming team and took over the team’s captaincy from franchise icon Mats Sundin.
Phaneuf was good in Toronto. He was a legit top-pairing defenseman who could log 25 minutes a night and produce offence. He had an excellent season during the 2013 lockout year, playing a key role on a Leafs team that massively overachieved and earned a playoff spot. Mid-way through the following season, he inked a seven-year, $49 million extension with the team. This was the beginning of the end.
Phaneuf was solid, but not $7 million annually good. In 2015, under the organization’s new front office, the Leafs dealt Phaneuf in a shocking cap-dump to the Ottawa Senators. They didn’t have to retain any salary, they just took on a bunch of short-term bad deals like Milan Michalek and Colin Greening. A couple years later, the Sens dumped Phaneuf on the L.A. Kings. They had to retain part of his salary and take on Marian Gaborik’s albatross deal.
Now the Kings have Phaneuf at $5,250,000 as the Sens are on the hook for $1,750,000 for the next three years.
Which of these would you do?— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) June 7, 2018
Lucic ($6 x 5 yrs)+ 2nd this year, no salary retained for:
Does a Lucic swap make sense?
I saw this idea tossed around twitter a few times which is why I figured it was a worthwhile hypothetical to write about in this series.
The Oilers need some help on their blueline. Ideally, they get a righty defender who can produce offence, but, as we know, it isn’t that simple as players who fit that profile don’t grow on trees. Phaneuf is a lefty shot, but one thing he does do quite well is taking bombs from the point on the power play.
Adding Phaneuf would add another body to the already-crowded Leftorium on Edmonton’s blueline. They’d have Andrej Sekera, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Kris Russell, and Phaneuf. It would either open up room to deal, say, Sekera as a cap dump, or it would open up depth to deal Klefbom for a good player, like a winger or righty offence producer.
If you squint, it makes some sense from an Oilers perspective. It isn’t ideal, but there’s some value to be gained in swapping a struggling winger for a defenceman who can play 18-20 physical minutes a night with a good shot from the point.
What about from a Kings perspective? Los Angeles paid a premium — Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and a 2015 first rounder — to acquire one year of Lucic back in 2015. It blew up in their face as the team got dropped in the first round and then let Lucic walk in free agency. I imagine it’s one item on the large list of things that got Dean Lombardi fired from his job as general manager.
With that in mind, I’m not sure the Kings would want to go the Lucic route. They would be taking on $750,000 more in cap space for the next three years then also adding more years after that as Lucic’s deal goes on after Phaneuf’s expires.
What say you, Nation? Would you deal Lucic for Phaneuf? Who would say no?