As reported yesterday, former Leafs assistant GM Bill Watters has claimed the Edmonton Oilers are interested in Dion Phaneuf. This is not the first time the Leafs captain’s name has come up recently in potential trade rumours.
The question is, how much truth should be attached to Watters declaration, and is this scenario a realistic proposition? On the surface at least, the addition of Phaneuf would fill a need in defence for an Oilers team looking to add experienced leadership to a talented, but young, squad.
For all the critics Phaneuf has, both in Toronto and further afield, he plays major minutes and goes up against the oppositions best players every night. At 6ft’ 3” and 214 lbs, he has good size and is still more than capable of 40-50 point seasons.
One key consideration which always plays a big part, is the financial aspect. On the one hand, Phaneuf is due to make $5.5 million during the 2013/14 campaign, which may seem slightly expensive. However, the Oilers can afford it and it could be worth a calculated risk for one year.
The former ninth overall draft pick is set to become an unrestricted free agent next year, which would give the Oilers time to monitor the situation before making any long-term decisions. From Toronto’s perspective, there are those who believe it is time for a fresh start for the 28-year old, with a trade to Edmonton representing a move home.
With Phaneuf entering the final year of his contract, the chances of the Leafs getting much in return are debateable, making Oilers coach Dallas Eakins an important factor. Given his time in Toronto, Eakins relationship with Dave Nonis and the Leafs organisation could prove beneficial for both sides in their attempts to negotiate any deal.
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