Time for a controversial addition in Dion Phaneuf

December 26, 2013, by
Photo: The Score

Photo: The Score

Dion Phaneuf. Yes, I said it. The Rangers have a huge question mark in an area – defense – which on paper at least, they have had good depth. Michael Del Zotto is likely, barring a stunning turnaround, on his way out of New York in the summer (at the latest). Marc Staal’s long term future is full of doubt due to injury. That leaves –on paper– two key cogs: Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. McDonagh is a stud, he’s a future, perennial Norris candidate if he gets some support; unfortunately Dan Girardi is no longer the guy to provide it.

Girardi’s game appears in decline, and yet he’ll still get paid handsomely in the summer, based on past achievements. His play this year has been underwhelming (on a team that, in his defense, has collectively underwhelmed) and he hasn’t been the same consistent presence we grew to appreciate, for the last two years. That’s a long time, playing under his normal assumed levels, to commit to a long term future at a big financial cost.

Enter Dion Phaneuf. He’s not popular in New York for obvious reasons (Mike Sauer, Sean Avery, etc) but he’s an instant upgrade on Girardi and one that may be available in the summer if his current contract situation in Toronto isn’t resolved. He’s nasty, he plays big minutes, he’s a natural leader, he can contribute offensively, and clearly has no issue handling a big market environment. He will be expensive (hey, it’s free agency) but he costs no assets, and at this stage you’d rather risk your lot on Phaneuf than Girardi.

It may be time to move on from the Dan Girardi era. Throw in Marc Staal’s long term future questions, and there’s an opportunity to get a legitimate top pair blueliner to add to/compliment McDonagh. It shouldn’t matter that he shoots left, he’s a necessary addition. The Rangers need to be nastier; they need a complete player like Phaneuf. With a rising cap, the Rangers can afford to spend big on one of the few marquee talents that may be available this summer. The Rangers need Phaneuf and if he plays like he can, people will forget his past controversies. Time for an upgrade, time for a change.

Categories : Defense


  1. Melissa says:

    Just curious, was this written before or after CBC and TSN announced they expected Phaneuf’s extension to be done before New Years? lol

    • Dave says:

      Before. Was supposed to run this on the 24th, but I made the decision to move it to today because of the holiday.

      Blame me. Although Chris brings up a solid point here.

      • Melissa says:

        Figured that might’ve been the case. Not blaming anyone as I agree he brings up a solid point that someone like Phaneuf is needed. Unfortunately there aren’t many like him out there and it doesn’t sound like he’s available.

        • Dave says:

          The Leafs have made dumber moves in the past.

          • @Centerman21 says:

            Hey Dave I have another name to throw into the Frey. A right handed defenseman with a howitzer from the point.
            Dennis Wideman. He has a reasonable contract. If he’d waive his NMC to come to a contender, it could seriously ignite the Rangers offense and fuel his career. The Flames are rebuilding and have said they want to get bigger and younger. I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much for Burke to cut 5.25 mil off his books. Sather would need to send back some salary due to cap constraints. I feel like if Sather can only make 1 move to improve the team. It should be a right handed D with some kind of shot from the point. Maybe Sather can talk with Gillis in BC and get AV one of his old D back here and vise a versa for Torts. He’d welcome Girardi there. Bieksa was mentioned but he played for AV and could be a leader on the back end. Where this team needs help.

  2. Fotiu is God says:

    Solid post, Chris, even despite the fact Phaneuf ended the career of our last D-man with admirable snarl or brawn, Mike Sauer.

    Inasmuch Phaneuf/circa 2K14, is clearly a player in decline. (This observation comes from the exurbs of Toronto, the iron-cold edge of Maple Leaf Nation.)

    No doubt Calgary recognized that when they dealt him. DP was also rumored to be a polarizing, self-righteous figure in what had become a splintered Flames locker-room.

    Definitely time for an upgrade, time for a change. Though personally I’d look West, Chris. If you’re going to throw a Hail Mary, throw it to Kevin Bieksa, Matt Greene.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Matt Greene is an interesting name. He’s the type this team should look at. Hard nosed but not top of the market price.

  3. Walt says:

    Agree with Fotiu, we don’t need a cancer in the locker room, and Dion is getting long of tooth.

    Maybe a trade with Ottowa, anyone that goes after Cindy with a nice hip check is the guy I want on my team!!

  4. Seahorse says:

    If he made it to free agency I would not be a fan of his contract he’d ask for 2-3 mil more per year than mcd and idk if he’s worth that much

  5. Dave says:

    Sounds like a Phaneuf extension will be announced as soon as the roster freeze is lifted.

  6. paulronty says:

    Phaneuf is staying in TO so this won’t wash. See how Pouliot says his game got better because he “stopped thinking.” Exactly what I said is wrong with the whole team. Hockey is a read & react game & thinking about where you are “supposed” to be takes away from the spontaneity and creativity needed to play the game. Even in an interview yesterday on CBC Bobby Orr commented on how young kids are being over coached and he’s right. All this talk about systems is tiresome. When you think too much on the ice you’ve engaged too much of the left hemisphere and that slows you down.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      You need a structure to play with. Maybe young players are overcoached, but you can’t have them skating all over the ice with no discipline either. As with anything, there’s a happy medium that needs to be found.

      • @Centerman21 says:

        To your point I think when Kreider was called back up for good. AV seemed to simplify the game for him. He went out with some grit and got involved in the game. The problem you speak of still resonates with Miller somewhat. He has trouble getting in the right position without the puck. With the puck the kid is NHL material.

  7. RangerSmurf says:

    Yeah, I’ve been beating the Phaneuf drum for a few weeks now too, I thought the talks between him and the Leafs were more contentious than it appears.

    He’s really a downgrade from Girardi defensively, but this defense could stand to sacrifice a little defense if it brings the skill set that Phaneuf does.

    Agree on the last point though. The target I have in mind for Girardi’s minutes is Tom Gilbert. He might just re-sign in FLA, but he’s a RH Dman who is severely underrated, can eat minutes, and could come relatively cheap ($2-3m)

  8. @Centerman21 says:

    I also wonder if Colorodo is planning on moving a Center. O’Reilly signed that defiant offer sheet last February/March and can’t be traded until a year from the signing of that contract. With McKinnon and Duchesne top 2 Centers. Stastny & O’Reilly are expendable. The Rangers could use a shooter and 2 way center like O’Reilly. Pierre Parenteau is having a tough time in Patrick Roy’s defensive strategy. With an affordable 4 mil cap hit. He might be a target of Sathers. He’s been in NY before. He might be AV’s Kessler in front of the oppositions goalie. He scores those greasy goals on rebounds in the crease. We also need his right handed shot. We need 2 righties really. Pouliot is a righty, why can’t he play some RW to help even the lefties.

    • @Centerman21 says:

      I have a feeling Boyle May get moved. His size is a commodity among contenders. Girardi might get moved if a righty comes back. DZ we don’t really know.

  9. AJ says:

    I rather go with Becky’s suggestion anyway..Karlsson

  10. bloomer says:

    No never. Phaneuf is one of the most overrated dman in the nhl. He is brutal defensively. Let Toronto squander their cap space on him. Bad enough the Rangers are stuck with Lundquists salary for the good part of a decade. Please no more pissing away the teams future on big name underperforming players.

  11. Lui Ferritto says:

    Are you serious. What have you been smoking. He’s a pylon. The leafs don’t want him but they have no choice. He plays the minutes because they don’t have another option on D.

  12. Lou says:

    The issue of D is easy…need a right-handed Dman and a tough in your face counter as well.

    Gone is DellZaster for Matt Greene and add Wideman via trade for draft pick.

    Trade Girardi, Brassard and Fast for O’Reilly.

    Now you have added grit, a shooter and a real center that can skate and hit!

    Then next year is decision time for McIllrath…either he can or he’s another draft casualty.

  13. Ticticticboom says:

    I couldn’t have imagined hating Phaneuf any more than I do…until I saw HBO 24/7. Please no.