The Toronto Maple Leafs have been one of the most talked-about teams over the course of this 2013 offseason, whether it’s for better or for worse. The latest buzz surrounding the team has them considering dealing one of their marquee players, having already parted with one in Mikhail Grabovski.
The player that the Leafs could look to deal is Dion Phaneuf. With one year left on his contract, there has been a ton of speculation that he could be on his way out, one way or another. The Maple Leafs could look to trade him a year before his contract will expire, in hopes of getting a better return for him.
If the Leafs were to deal Phaneuf, there’s no doubt they’d get a very nice return for him. However, moving him right now might not be in the best interest of the team, unless the return is something outlandish. This Leafs team is better with Phaneuf than they would be without him.
Phaneuf, while many look at him as a bit overrated because of his contract, is still one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s a source of consistent offense from the blue line, constantly ranking among the leaders in scoring among defensemen. He finished with 28 points in the shortened season last year.
Not only is he an offensive weapon from the blue line, but he’s also capable of logging heavy minutes in all situations. He led the Maple Leafs in ice time last year, and was a key component on both their power play and penalty kill units. He’s useful in all aspects of the game, and plays some of the toughest minutes of any d-man in the league.
On top of it all, he’s a leader. He wears on the C. A team that just experienced a bit of an overhaul needs at least some sort of consistency in there, and he should be it. The Leafs could get a strong return for him, yes, but keeping Phaneuf simply makes too much sense to move him, at least at this point.