As it has been said for the past years, the Oilers do not need any more help with their offense. After drafting three straight forwards first overall, their struggles are now coming from a lack of strong defense. With Darnell Nurse potentially filling in a huge role for their defense, it looks to be a step in the right direction.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are now considering trading their captain, Dion Phaneuf, with one of the top destinations being his hometown, Edmonton.
What will his impact be in Edmonton?
Dion Phaneuf has been criticized since his days in Calgary for being overrated compared to the price that teams have been paying for him. With a healthy cap space, the Oilers may not be too worried about trading for Phaneuf. The Oilers still have cap space for a star defenseman after clearing up some extra salary cap space this offseason in transactions such as trading captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars.
Phaneuf has a shot from the point that could assist the Oilers greatly. Having a leadership role with the Flames and Leafs, he also brings that dimension to the team.
While he has a strong, physical presence as a defenseman, he also brings certain traits that question whether he is worth being paid $5.5 million for the 2013-14 season.
With his four seasons with the Maple Leafs, Dion has failed to have a plus/minus rating better than -2. He also had a -6 rating against Boston in the past playoff series, and was arguably the cause of the Bruins’ final goal in overtime. An even less impressive statistic is that the five times he has been to the playoffs, Phaneuf has had a positive plus/minus rating only once (in 2008-09 with the Calgary Flames).
He does however have an impressive average of .469 points per game (ppg) in the playoffs, and .567 points per game (ppg) in the regular season. Edmonton’s highest ppg defenseman last season was Justin Schultz with .563, with the next closest defenseman, Ryan Whitney, having .382 ppg.
Personal thoughts lead to the idea that with Edmonton’s cap space remaining healthy, they may not want to gamble with an expensive defenseman such as Phaneuf. They may want to keep their options available, possibly a defenseman who has proven himself more in the playoffs. They may also be able to acquire multiple consistent defensemen for the price of Phaneuf.
Following recent trends of captains being traded from their teams (Brenden Morrow of Dallas, Jarome Iginla of Calgary, and Shawn Horcoff of Edmonton to name a few), it seems plausible that captain Phaneuf could be traded by the end of this offseason.
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