The Leafs just made the playoffs, and right now you can argue that there isn’t one part of their team that shouldn’t be at least marginally better (assuming all the d-men get reisgned) then it was last year. I really feel the Leafs would be taking a huge step back if they missed the playoffs next year, so without getting guys who can play those hard minutes at least as well as Dion back in a trade, we can’t move him.
There’s the problem. The list of better defenders than Dion is not long, the list of better defenders then Dion who would be available to us by trading Dion is pretty much non-existent. So as I said, I would be all for upgrading on Dion, but the truth is he is in a rare position. He isn’t nearly the perfect shut down guy, but better shut down guys are not really available. Throw in a falling cap and Dion’s 6.5 million salary and there isn’t much we can do right now.
I think we would be better off going into the season as is (or see if we can swap Liles with a more pure shutdown guy making similar money on a team that could use a puck carrier). We could go into the season and gauge how much of a step forward our younger guys take. At the deadline it won’t be nearly as hard to move Phaneuf, the Leafs will know where they stand in terms of getting a deal done at a reasonable price, they will have a better idea of how our team could do without him, and with any luck maybe we would be in a good enough position that we could gamble on moving him for anything at all and not be as concerned about replacing him with a good defensive defensemen immediately.]]>
My issue is I don’t think either are as good defensively as Dion at this point. Edmonton was not great defensively despite the fact they played in the lowest scoring division in the league. That’s a lot of games against teams who don’t score often, so the level of offensive competition wasn’t as high as Dion faced, or more importantly will face next year.
Like I said, I would just be weary of deals that don’t strengthen our defense immediately, unless we had a back up plan. I would rather go into the season with Dion and see where things are at the deadline then trade him for guys who might not be able to do what he does.
I think the trade deadline we would have a better idea of what we have in guys like Franson, Gardiner maybe even Rielly, and also maximize value for trading Phaneuf.]]>