With the Toronto Maple Leafs surprising everyone in 2013, grabbing the no. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and nearly taking the series in seven games before imploding, the logical decision is to blow up the current roster, right? Probably not, but that appears to be the direction that this summer is headed in for the storied franchise.
While we shouldn’t expect the Maple Leafs to go on a complete fire sale, they are going to be among the more active clubs this summer, as they already showed by dealing for goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The trade market is going to be a situation that apparently no player is safe from this offseason.
That’s especially true considering that recent trade rumors have involved captain and top defenseman Dion Phaneuf. General manager Dave Nonis has already come right out and said that Phaneuf was available, or at least that the Leafs were “listening”, though there had yet to be any phone calls on the star d-man.
The Maple Leafs are in the market for a center and a top four defenseman. That much has been known for quite some time. But to acquire one of them at the expense of Phaneuf seems puzzling, unless they’re sure that they won’t be able to sign him when he becomes a free agent next summer.
From a production standpoint, it was another impressive year, statistically, for Phaneuf. He finished the year with 28 points, 16 of which came with the Leafs on the man advantage. He continued to be a physical presence on the blue line as well, with 131 hits in 48 games.
Phaneuf led the team in ice time per game, averaging over 25 minutes a tilt. He was also the leader in time on the power play, at well over three minutes a game, while finishing second overall (but still tops among d-men) in shorthanded time per, at just over three as well.
If the Leafs try to find a taker for Phaneuf, they shouldn’t have a problem. Though his contract is pretty large, at a $6.5 million cap hit for 2013-14, he’s only signed for a year and gives you a ton of minutes out of a no. 1 role. Teams will line up for that. Which is part of the reason one has to question Toronto’s willingness to dump him, at least until seeing what the return may be.