Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs Player Preview: Dion Phaneuf


The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.

Who:

Dion Phaneuf, No. 3, defenseman| 6’3″, 214 LBS | 28-years old.

ToT Approved Nicknames:

None…do not under any circumstance call him “Double Dion”

History:

8 NHL seasons, 3.5 with the Leafs, 600 GP

Contract Status:

$6.5-million AAV; UFA following this season

Career Stats:

600 GP 106 Goals 234 Assists 340 Points

2012/2013 Stats:

48 GP 9 Goals 19 Assists 28 Points

Nerd Stats

On-Ice Corsi -18.16* PDO 1021

*Remember that Phaneuf was paired with Korbinian Holzer and Mike Kostka for much of the season.

You Oughta Know:

Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert got married this offseason in Prince Edward Island. Now that he’s happily married, maybe we’ll actually see Dion crack a smile at some point this season?

Looking Back:

Dion Phaneuf came to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Calgary Flames in one of the more brilliant moves of Brian Burke’s Maple Leafs tenure. Phaneuf came over along with forward Fredrik Sjostrom, and  defenceman Keith Aulie  in exchange for piles of garbage  forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White.

Despite what many Leafs fans would have you believe Phaneuf has been an extremely effective defenseman for the team since he came over in the deal. While it is true that Phaneuf is prone to the occasional mental lapse, or unnecessary risk, his offensive ability combined with his hard hitting style make him one of the league’s top(ish) defenseman.

A sure fire way that the Leafs could get improved production, and in open the eyes of fans to Phaneuf’s skill would be to play him with a d-partner that has even an ounce of talent. Phaneuf spent most of last year paired with either Korbinian Holzer or Mike Kostka, neither of whom should have even been playing in teh NHL let alone 20+ minutes a game against the oppositions top lines.

What to Expect:

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to have some depth on their blue line this year, which means that they will be forced to play captain Dion Phaneuf with a partner that is actually talented enough to be in the NHL. Playing alongside a competent partner, one whom will hopefully understand how to compliment Phaneuf properly (i.e. mitigating his risk taking), will push Phaneuf’s game to a new level in Toronto.

Phaneuf will continue to be tasked with shutting down the oppositions top offensive threats, while anchoring the Leafs power play with his booming shot from the point. If we’re luck Phaneuf might actually hit the net once in a while.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Phaneuf is looking to go out and prove his worth as one of the league’s top defenseman. While he’s certainly not considered among the “elite” and is unlikely to find himself contending for the Norris, it’s clear (to most) that Phaneuf is among the second tier of defenseman in the NHL. Leafs fans hoping that Dion will sign for less than his current $6.5-million/year are in for a rude awakening when he re-signs (or walks).

Phaneuf is going to be a force this season, I expect him to have his best year as a Maple Leaf, between having a competent partner and playing for a new contract Phaneuf will match his career high of 20 goals, and add another 30 dimes for 50 points.

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