Report: Maple Leafs shopping captain Dion Phaneuf

by May 11, 7:37 PM

This past week Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis explicitly cited the trade market as an avenue that he's intent on exploring aggressively this offseason in an attempt to improve the team. While the Maple Leafs were reportedly "eager" to make an offseason deal that included one of defenseman Jake Gardiner or center Nazem Kadri; it appears they are also shopping bigger game.

Per Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos:

Phaneuf, who signed a 7-year, $49 million dollar contract extension with the Maple Leafs in late-December, is often maligned in the Toronto market for his defensive deficiencies. Kypreos also suggests that the Maple Leafs would likely need to retain some salary in a Phaneuf trade.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, this past season the Maple Leafs were outscored by 16 goals at five-on-five; but outscored their opponents by four goals (56 goals for, 52 goals against) with Phaneuf on the ice. In addition to leading the Maple Leafs in ice-time by a wide margin and facing some of the toughest matchups of any individual player in the league, Phaneuf also managed to score eight goals and contribute 31 points in 80 games. In short, Phaneuf remains a credible top-of-the-lineup defenseman

May 14, 3:50 PM

Maple Leafs' Shanahan: 'I want to help enhance the player and leader that Dion (Phaneuf) is'

by May 14, 3:50 PM
Bob DeChiara / reuters

Since the club lost 12 of its final 14 games and fell out of a playoff spot that seemed all but assured in late February, Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf has been the target of endless criticism in the Toronto market. 

From his leadership (or lack thereof), to his defensive play, to his rich contract; Phaneuf has become the poster boy for what ails the Leafs. It's no surprise then, that when his name surfaced in trade rumors this past weekend, the majority of Maple Leafs fans seemed relieved, or even excited, about the prospect of jettisoning a credible top-of-the-lineup blue-liner.

On Wednesday in Toronto, new Maple Leafs president of hockey operations Brendan Shanahan dropped by the Toronto Star to chitchat with hockey writers about the state of the team. Obviously the topic quickly turned to Phaneuf, Toronto's favorite lightning rod, and Shanahan appeared to offer a full-throated defense of the Maple Leafs captain.

Asked if the team will strip Phaneuf of the captaincy, Shanahan responded negatively: "I hope not," said the Maple Leafs executive per Kevin McGran. "It's not something I've contemplated in the time that I've been here."

Continued Shanahan: "I don't know if (stripping the C from Phaneuf) is a solution. I think it's a cop-out, to a certain degree, an easy way out." Shanahan suggested that, ideally, he'd like to improve the quality of the Maple Leafs' leadership, but that it goes beyond the leadership provided by the captain: "I would like to improve the leadership of the entire team."

On the subject of whether or not trading Phaneuf will be explored this offseason, Shanahan certainly didn't come off like an executive actively "shopping" his club's only top-pairing quality blue-liner:

It wasn't all praise for Phaneuf, however, and Shanahan did suggest that perhaps the Maple Leafs captain might benefit from simplifying his game: "There are certain times when less is more," Shanahan told McGran, "I really felt that he was trying to be all things at once."

May 12, 11:18 AM

Dreger: Maple Leafs had no Phaneuf trade discussions since deadline; willing to listen to offers

by May 12, 11:18 AM

It looks as though the Toronto Maple Leafs aren't necessarily seeking trading partners in order to jettison Dion Phaneuf, but it doesn't mean they won't listen to offers.

Contrary to earlier reports suggesting the Leafs were actively shopping their captain, the team hasn't had any discussions regarding Phaneuf since the trade deadline, but would be willing to listen to teams looking to acquire the veteran defenseman, according to TSN's Darren Dreger

The 29-year-old three-time All-Star, who signed a seven-year, $49-million contract in December, has seen his offensive production drop drastically during his tenure in Toronto, posting more than 10 goals and 40 points just once in five seasons in The Big Smoke.

May 8, 6:50 PM

Dave Nonis suggests that he'll look to the trade market to improve Maple Leafs' roster

by May 8, 6:50 PM
Mark Blinch / REUTERS

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis has a lot of work to do on a roster that, one year removed from taking the Boston Bruins to the brink in an epic first round series, missed the playoffs in ignominious fashion this past season.

In discussing his offseason plans on Sportsnet 590 the Fan Thursday afternoon, Nonis emphasized that he believes the trade market is likely to prove the most fruitful path for upgrading his roster this offseason.

"Between now and the end of June there's going to be lots of players available," said Nonis. "Whether they're going to be fits for us remains to be seen, but there's the general feeling that there are lots of teams that have either cap issues they want to deal with, or have had disappointment like we've had and want to make changes to their roster, that there's going to be options for us to look at there."

Nonis also suggested that two or three players on the Marlies "are close" and will likely be promoted next season, but cautioned that he was unlikely to be a major player in free-agency. "I think there are some short-term free-agents that might be available," said the Maple Leafs executive, "maybe older players that aren't going to be long-term commitments."