Forget moving contracts and getting cap space back. Should the LA Kings have any ideas about shipping long-term, high-value contracts back to the Toronto Maple Leafs Dubas needs to pass, specifically on Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf.
He’s underperforming, he’s over 35 years old, he has more money than God, and he has an escape route to the KHL ready to go as a backup play yet again. Why do the Leafs want to add him into the fragile mix of their team?
In reality, they shouldn’t. Barring the Kings eating half of his money and offering the Dubas his first-round pick back then maybe consider it, otherwise pass on the hot-and-cold forward who has a reputation for not showing up when his team needs him, and playing on his own schedule rather than his teams.
The two biggest stumbling blocks with Kovalchuk coming back in a deal to Toronto is that his deal is two seasons long, and the Leafs don’t have an organizational need for wingers. If they can’t move Marleau without taking him back, then why do the deal in the first place with Johnsson and Kapanen both awaiting deals?
What message would it send, big cap space picture aside, to either or both of Kapanen and Johnsson? In this situation, the Leafs would be willing to add $3mill+ to their cap for an overage, NHL player but not to their own developed prospects?
Seeing what the Russian has previously done in the NHL and KHL is exciting, but Toronto needs to prioritize depth players and defensemen. Adding an iffy Russian hired gun and having to keep him for two seasons doesn’t help at all with taking the next step.
I feel like this shouldn’t even have to be mentioned, but I’ve seen a select few suggesting the Leafs should pick up Phaneuf from the Kings in exchange for Marleau. This asinine demand is something so archaic and backward that the Leafs might as well hire Don Cherry and Brian Burke (again) to run the team if they really want to see Dion back in Toronto.
Facts are facts, and Dion Phaneuf was a sub-par player on a bad team. His stats certainly suggest he added to Kings eventual 71 point, second last-place finish, too. With just one goal and five assists over his 67 games played, Phaneuf couldn’t come close to outfiring his atrocious defensive coverage and ended the season with a -21 +/- rating.
Why do a very small group of people want him back on the Leafs? Outside of the understanding that these people are ignorant to the entire sport of hockey, the pro-Phaneuf crowd mention two main things: he’s Canadian and he throws hits.
Unless hits start directly translating to goals scored, or the NHL’s progression to a fast-paced, skill-based game reverts back to a slow, physical sport there is not space for Phaneuf on the Leafs or any team, really. Even with the Sens retaining $1.75M of his atrocious $7m contract, the Leafs have no business inviting Dion back to the team.