Two teams seemingly twisted together by fate this offseason get another connection. The Los Angeles Kings have bought out former Maple Leafs captain, Dion Phaneuf as the Leafs look for value defensemen to fill out their D-core.
Don’t you do it, Kyle Dubas. I promise as I write this that I will puke all over my dusty Phil Kessel jersey if Dion Phaneuf is even looked at as an option for the Leafs back end. We survived this era of the Leafs history and we’ve moved on. I know he’s a physical defenseman who can soak up solid minutes, but let’s let someone else make this mistake… please.
I would imagine the people who do want him back on the Leafs would reference his height (6′ 4″), his weight (220 lbs), and his willingness to play physical. All of these three aspects legitimately don’t matter. The Leafs are clearly a small team that prioritizes skill and speed over size and physicality. Phaneuf barely brings the former and isn’t close to bringing the latter.
Objectively, let’s look at why any team wouldn’t want to bring him in outside of his history with the Leafs. He fails the eye test in every way. While being a big body presence, he doesn’t have close to the level of skating ability a defender needs in this league (in this year). His shot is solid from the point, however, if pressured he can’t outskate a turnover from the opponents’ blue line.
Statistically, he’s also a mess. His brutal stats from last season on a terrible LA Kings team saw him put up six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 67 games. Over that season he went -21 and averaged just 15:00 of ice time a night. He was a bottom-4 defenseman on a bad team and earned his buyout on his Maple Leafs 7-year deal.
I understand a lot of people think the Leafs need someone who is going to fight for their teammates and throw the body. They’re wrong, though. These people also wanted Cody Franson brought back after he parted ways with the Leafs. Franson later proved he couldn’t skate at an NHL level and the Leafs dodged a massive bullet. Let’s not get hit by this one, please.
There is just no fit here. I’d prefer the Leafs gave a rookie a shot or rewarded a local fan with a tryout a la Vince Papale on the Philadelphia Eagles. Phaneuf is bad and even considering him for a Maple Leafs reunion is laughable if not cause for revocation of Leafs Nation membership. No thanks, nuh uh, not today, no way. As mentioned I will throw up if this happens.