Leafs must keep calm over Phaneuf’s contract

While Phil Kessel signed an eight-year, $64-million contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs a few weeks ago, the understanding has been that neither side has illustrated any urgency regarding Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf who also becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos now reports the Phaneuf camp is looking for a contract in the seven-year, $50-million range, given Leafs captain’s strong play early this season. He regularly leads the team in minutes and is playing arguably his best hockey as a Leaf during this great start to the season. Given the apparent lack of quality free-agent defenceman that will be available this summer, I can understand the argument being made on behalf of Phaneuf.

My only word of caution to GM Dave Nonis is not to be bullied into any sense of urgency in the matter. If Phaneuf wants to remain the Leaf captain—and if the Leafs want that, too—a deal can always be worked out later in the season or in the off-season. Toronto’s recent track record serves as fair warning. The “clock was ticking” on getting a deal done with unrestricted free agent Bryan McCabe in 2006; as it ticked, the price kept going up. At least that’s how it appeared to then-GM John Ferguson Jr. McCabe signed a five-year contract with an average salary of $5.75 million per year. His play plummeted immediately and he was shipped to the Florida Panthers two seasons later.

Overall, the Leafs have seriously misjudged the value of any defenceman who’ve gotten contracts of more than three years. Jean Michael Liles is in the second-year of a four-year, $3.875-million contract the Leafs already regret, while two unrestricted free agent acquisitions (Jeff Finger, four years, $3.5 million per season in 2008; and Mike Komisarek, five years, $4.5 million per season) were basically busts from the day they first put on their Leaf uniform.

29 Responses to Leafs must keep calm over Phaneuf’s contract

  1. mojo19 says:

    No Bolland or Bozak for the next while…

    JVR – Kadri – Kessel
    Lupul – McClement – Kulemin
    Raymond – Smith – Clarkson
    uhh… We need more centres.

    I guess Raymond can play centre, how about this –

    JVR – Kadri – Kessel
    Lupul – McClement – Kulemin
    Bodie – Raymond – Clarkson
    McLaren – Smith – Orr

    Ashton still suspended can come in for Bodie after one more game, but we should go out and get another centre if Bozak and Bolland are gonna be gone for any extended period of time.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Yep, that’s not good at all. Losing Bolland especially hurts.

      We should really target a solid faceoff guy. Probably too early for many teams to be sellers (aside from buffalo, who don’t really have much to offer). I’d like Gordon from Edmonton, but I doubt he’s for sale already.

      Speaking of Edmonton, Dallas Eakins surely isn’t impressing the fans over there so far. He’s not been given much to work with, but somehow the team is worse than ever.

      • lafleur10 says:

        the bolland injury will hurt most definately,also losing bozak will hurt that’s where depth comes in,so now it’s time too see what depth the leafs have and who steps up as for the oilers situation i think eakins is in over his head he has alot of talent up front to work withand 2-3 guys on defence but he has no goaltending theere what so ever ….. if they get a goaltender it’ll be ineteresting to see how he does

        • mapleleafsfan says:

          Yea, their goalie situation is weird. Dubynyk wasn’t bad last year but he’s been brutal this year. Labarbara sucks. It’s just weird how they are actually getting worse each year with all these picks.

          • lafleur10 says:

            your right the oilers have the worst goaltending in the league and it won’t improve until they get one either halak,miller,reimer or somebody because dubnyk is a beer leaguer at best if they end up with a lottery pick this season the oilers should use it on a goaltender if they don’t trade for one

      • mojo19 says:

        Manny Malholtra is a UFA. If I were Nonis I would get him to take a physical ASAP, like today or tomorrow. Get him in the Marlies game Tuesday night and have him start practicing with the team Wed/Thurs so he can step right in for Friday’s game against New Jersey.

        The timing for this week off couldn’t be better given the unfortunate injuries.

        Vinny Prospal is another UFA who can play C/W so he could be an option too.

  2. mojo19 says:

    Last year with Columbus Prospal had 30 pts playing the full 82 game schedule. Pretty sure this guy can still play and he would help out a lot right now.

    • leafy says:

      We’re desperate right now. I think Carlyle will probably put JVR at center and movie Kadri to center the second line playing with Lupul. Beyond that, there’s little more he can do unless another player is acquired.

  3. lafleur10 says:

    well mojo i’m not so sure prospal has anything left in the tank,he might do the job in the short term for the leafs but i think this is where nonis can trade an asset like a d-man or a pick,prospect or something to fill a need

    • mojo19 says:

      Prospal was completely healthy and pretty productive last year. I would rather not move an asset and grab Prospal, because we only need a stop gap until we get healthy.

      • lafleur10 says:

        that may be but i still don’tt think he’s got much left in the tank ,even short term i think you guys can just move a few guys around or find a better but tempory soltion than prospal maybe jeff helpern

        • mojo19 says:

          Prospal is way better than Halpern and Gomez. Do you watch NHL hockey outside of Montreal?

          • lafleur10 says:

            he is but i think if he had anything left he would’ve be signed by a team by now …the reason i use helpern and gomez is they are signed and won’t cost you much can do the job short term until you get bozak and bolland back

            • mojo19 says:

              Who knows. Maybe he was holding out for more money than anyone was willing to pay, no he’s the odd man out. Someone will sign Prospal though, and he’s been playing at a decent level (2nd-3rd liner) for the last couple of years. And hasn’t missed a game in a few years.

              Personally I would rather just try Raymond at C then go for a guy like Gomez. But hey, that’s me.

  4. leafy says:

    Yeah it was a tough game last night.

    But right now I’m getting ready to hear Ford baby’s radio show.

  5. lafleur10 says:

    the leafs could always trade for scott gomez he’s available in florida and would only cost you a draft pick

  6. nordiques100 says:

    It may be time now to experiment with JVR at centre.

    they will be impacted if they have no balance to their lines.

    Lupul and Kadri play well together, Kulemin and McClement can lead a checking line, JVR and Kessel are great together.

    that could at least get them by until Bozak returns in late November.

    Kessel and JVR at prob at least as good on draws as Kadri. If they say put a decent defensive winger with them, like say Raymond, that wouldn’t be bad. Not ideal for sure, but options are thin.

    They could too sign Jerred Smithson who is on a pro tryout with the Marlies. He was like a 55-56% faceoff guy.

    Some trade options would be Nick Spaling or Shawn Matthias or even Steve Ott.

    In that order, that would cost the leafs from least to most assets. Ott wont be cheap but I think the other two could be.

    All 3 can play in the top 9 at least. Smithson or Trevor Smith cannot. Nonis may need to get creative cap wise but there are options out there.

  7. doorman says:

    If the buds are looking at making a trade I would probably prefer a grizzled vet, to be honest, pending cost of course. Other then that I am more or less thinking they should see what they got, before hitting the panic button. Bozak is what late Nov.? We have a week off so why not see what’s going to happen given our good start.

  8. mapleleafsfan says:

    Colborne trade is biting us a bit now. Not that we really had too many options, but he could fit into our 2 or 3 spot right now. He’s actually been pretty decent in Calgary so far.

  9. Gambo says:


    These were the lines at practice today. At least we finally get to see if JVR can play center.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      That first line should be nasty at least, but the bottom 6 isn’t great. That 4th line in particular.

      At least our schedule over the next month isn’t brutal. We have a week off, face NJ at home on the second night of a back-back for them, play buffalo 3 times, Nashville once (although they’ve been solid lately), Colombus (who we lost to, but we should be able to beat).

      Then there’s a few teams we’ve beaten before: Montreal, Pittsburg/Minni (who will be tough to repeat with a beaten up lineup, but it can happen).

      Can probably write off the Bruins game, and I don’t have particularly high hopes for the Caps/Pens either, but the schedule could definitely be worse.

  10. leafy says:

    I have a feeling a huge mammoth earth shattering trade is coming.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Anyone still be interested in something around Couturier and Gardiner? Could definitely use the Center depth right now, but it’s a bit of a log jam when everyone is back. Also if we move a d and someone goes down our blue line looks a lot worse. I wonder if we could do something around Franson + for Couts.

      • Gambo says:

        I don’t think it’s time to panic. Gardiner for Couturier is pretty fair, but like you said it creates problems down the road. I wouldn’t do it.

      • mojo19 says:

        I really don’t care about having a log jam when we’re healthy. I’d rather have too many centres than not enough. McClement can move around and play wing, no prob.

        And ideally we’ll be able to trade away Bozak at some point in the next year or so.

  11. mojo19 says:

    Centre solutions, enjoy:

    Raymond and Biggs for Paul Stastny
    Gardiner, Kadri, Percy, 1st, 2nd for Claude Giroux
    1 year $2 million for Vinny Prospal
    Carter Ashton for Marcel Goc
    Gardiner for Couturier
    Jesse Blacker, 3rd for Olli Jokinen
    Tyler Bozak for Shawn Horcoff (pick up $1.2 mil in cap hit, but get healthy and shorter term. Dallas looking for a shake up deal.)
    3rd for Matt Stajan

    • reinjosh says:

      I’m not really a fan of the trade option. Teams are going to see us as desperate and try and rake us over the coals. I say wait and try and weather the storm. I realize it could be difficult, but I’d rather lose in the short term, than potentially lose a long term trade.

      Although the Stajan, Prospal and Jokinen aren’t bad options. Trading Kadri in a package with Percy, and Gards for Giroux doensn’t really help our depth at all. Plus we’d need to give up serious long term salary to even fit Giroux, and it would likely mean we couldn’t resign Phaneuf.

      I like the Stajan idea the best. Nonis and Burke know each other, we need a center, the Flames will likely try to free up some room in the center spot (Backlund might be a target too, he’s seriously had time cut since Stajan came back).

      I’d say we look to farm team first and then the UFA market (it’s too bad Malhotra was signed just days ago), then a trade. I’d give McKegg a shot, maybe even let Abbott have a shot between Lupul/Clarkson.

      • realistic_leafs_fan says:

        Of the trades mentioned, I’m not sure how many we could fit under the cap, especially Statsny when only Raymond goes back cap wise.
        I would prefer to give JVR a shot at centre as I have felt he could be the centre we have been looking for anyway.
        If we went trade option. Brooks Laich is struggling in Washington and with the addition of Grabovski…who has 13 pts in 14 games and a +5, Laich may be available as they have Johansson as well their number 1 centre, Backstrom also in the fold at centre.
        The caps could actually use Liles as well as the idea of re-uniting Kulimen with Grabo or Kulimen in general may be of interest to the caps.
        To Toronto
        To Caps
        Kulimen, Liles(Leafs retain $1mil of contract)

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