The last two games were supposed to show how much the Toronto Maple Leafs needed Dion Phaneuf. What fans got however, were two very different games that didn’t give us any conclusions.
The first game, against the Los Angeles Kings, was perhaps the best game the Leafs had played all season. They might have lost the game, but the Leafs showed that they could at least hang with one of the Leafs best.
The second game couldn’t have been anymore different. The Leafs weren’t able to take advantage of a not at their best St. Louis Blues team that won the game as big as they did because of the Leafs’ horrid defense. Sure, the Leafs couldn’t muster hardly offense until the second half of the third period, but the game was lost on the defensive side of the game.
Phaneuf watched those two games because of a suspension that was handed down after the Boston Bruins game this past Sunday. He will return to the lineup on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Now with these two games showing us what the Leafs are like with their captain, what kind of contract will Phaneuf get?
David Alter of Sportsnet once again mentioned the potential seven-year, $49 million contract that has been talked about for awhile now. If that is the contract that is signed, on the money side, it would be a good deal, as it would only be a $500,000 raise for Phaneuf. However, I’m not so sure about the term.
The Leafs have quite a few defensive prospects that should be making their debuts in the coming years. Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly have already made it. Stuart Percy and Petter Granberg are probably next. Then there’s Matt Finn who should be a bit further along as his development has been stunted because of injuries.
If the Leafs give Phaneuf seven years, the prospects that come along will push others out of jobs. Sure, fans would love to see Mark Fraser, Paul Ranger and John-Michael Liles‘ contract leave, but what about Carl Gunnarsson and Cody Franson?
Phaneuf might be playing well this season but it’s a contract year; it’s to be expected. If his play declines within the next few seasons, the Leafs will be in line to keep him until he’s 35 as the deal will most likely contain a partial no-trade clause at the least.
If the Leafs make this deal, they will be hoping that he can maintain the type of play that he has had this season. If not, it will be a deal they regret for the foreseeable future.