The Edmonton Oilers have been in the market for a top tier defenseman for most of the summer, with their only significant blue line addition being Andrew Ference, who signed in free agency. But it likely won’t be enough to get their defensive corps to where it wants to be this season.
Which means that they’ll have to pursue a target out on the trade market. And there is one top tier defenseman who just happens to be available. That defenseman is Toronto Maple Leafs no. 1 d-man Dion Phaneuf. He’s been mentioned as being available, but no real rumors have come to fruition to this point.
Phaneuf has had a rough couple of years in Toronto, in terms of the criticism he’s received, whether warranted or not. He spent a good chunk of time in 2013, in particular, next to a revolving door of defensemen, which didn’t exactly come with a ton of experience. His blue line partner included the likes of Carl Gunnarsson, Korbinian Holzer, and Michael Kostka.
Despite that, he finished the 2013 season with 28 points, among the best for defensemen in the 48-game season. He averaged up over 25 minutes per game, leading all players in power play time, and coming in second in minutes while shorthanded, behind only Jay McClement.
Phaneuf would fit the mold of what the Oilers are looking for in a couple of different ways. First of all, he’s obviously a fit as the no. 1 d-man they’re looking for. He can log tough minutes every single night, and can play on both special teams. He’s an asset in all areas of the game.
But he’s also a leader. He wears the C in Toronto for a reason, and he’s only 28. Which means he’s not old enough to be too old for the youth movement in Edmonton. He’d fit in well.
What a return on Phaneuf might be remains to be seen. But Phaneuf could be the piece that gets the Oilers to where they want to be next season. For a no. 1 defenseman to be available, that might be a situation that the Oilers simply can’t pass up, regardless of what the price might be.