The Dion Phaneuf trade requests and rumours can be denied daily until the March 3 deadline passes. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Here are three reasons I’d trade him now.
1. Phaneuf’s market value will never be higher. Has it been higher? Of course. Back in his first three seasons when he was among the leaders in defenseman scoring, was a force with the body and didn’t look out of place defending in his own end. Phaneuf’s game has gone downhill since and he’s no longer talked about as even a distant candidate for the Norris Trophy. He isn’t even a top-three defenseman on the Flames. Most of his miscues are mental lapses and it’s unlikely he’s going to all of a sudden get smarter. Nevertheless, there’s a demand for his skills at 24. Trade him now before he gets older and before the rest of the league learns more about him.
2. The Calgary defence is just fine without him. Sure, he occasionally lays out an opponent with a cruncher, but he’s unreliable in his own zone and he doesn’t shoot or produce offense nearly as much as he used to. The Flames are transitioning Mark Giordano into the power play quarterback and Jay Bouwmeester can capably fill the second spot on the unit. Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich and Adam Pardy round out the top-five and Aaron Johnson and Staffan Kronwall have proven they can play. John Negrin and Matt Pelech have decent upside on the farm. True, it’s a huge gamble giving up a big minute-muncher on the blueline going into the playoffs, but it’s a calculated risk the Flames must take if they’re to bury the demons from playoffs past.
3. The need for secondary scoring. Phaneuf still has enough value around the league to generate excellent return in a trade. And the return is exactly what Calgary needs to get to the next level. Eighteen teams in the NHL score more than Calgary. The lack of secondary scoring will continue to haunt the team until it’s addressed or ends the Flames’ season in April or May. Could Phaneuf be parlayed into a Vincent Lecavalier or Jason Spezza? Ilya Kovalchuk would be riskier because he’s a pending UFA, but imagine the possibilities? Offense would no longer be an issue and the defence would be surprisingly more settled without Phaneuf.
This article also appeared in the Calgary Metro newspaper.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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