Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Could Dion Phaneuf become an Oiler?

Lyle Richardson
By:

Dion Phaneuf (Jonathan Kozub / NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Could Dion Phaneuf become an Oiler?

Lyle Richardson
By:

New Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is going to have himself a busy off-season heading into the draft. In his first summer with the team, Chiarelli will attempt to take Edmonton’s plethora of young talent and shape it into a winning team. Meanwhile, goaltending questions have arisen in Detroit and Vancouver.

Could the Edmonton Oilers have interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf? Sportsnet's Damien Cox claims former Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had interest in the 30-year-old Phaneuf prior to this season's trade deadline. With Chiarelli now in Edmonton, Cox speculates the Oilers could be suitors for the Leafs captain.

The Edmonton Journal's David Staples disagrees, noting the Oilers could use Phaneuf's skills on their blueline but not his lengthy and expensive contract. The rearguard has six years remaining on his deal at an annual cap hit of $7 million.

With several players (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot) carrying expensive long-term deals, Staples notes adding Phaneuf would create a cap crunch for the Oilers in a few years when younger Oilers (Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl) will be seeking raises.

That's not including Connor McDavid, who the Oilers are expected to select with the first-overall pick in this year's draft. Should McDavid blossom into the franchise player he's projected to be, it will cost the Oilers a pretty penny to re-sign him after his entry-level deal.

Unless the Maple Leafs are willing to pick up half of Phaneuf's annual salary, which Staples considers doubtful, it makes no sense cap-wise for the Oilers to acquire him. There's also the little matter of Phaneuf's limited no-trade clause. If the Oilers are on his no-trade list, it won't matter how interested Chiarelli might be in acquiring his services.

HOWARD’S DAYS NUMBERED IN DETROIT?

Lost amidst the hubbub over coach Mike Babcock's future with the Detroit Red Wings is Jimmy Howard's status as their starting goaltender after this season. Howard, 31, struggled after returning from a mid-season groin injury and was supplanted by backup Petr Mrazek in the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

ESPN.com's Craig Custance points out the Wings cannot afford to have Howard, at an annual cap hit of $5.29 million, warming the bench behind Mrazek. Custance also notes the veteran netminder was named to the All-Star team before his injury. Howard also possesses a career .916 save percentage with a playoff SP of .919.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland must decide if Howard can regain his form next season or if Mrazek is in fact ready to become the full-time starter. If it's the latter, Howard could hit the trade block after July 1, when his no-movement clause becomes a modified no-trade.

CANUCKS HAVE GOALTENDING QUESTIONS AGAIN

With Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack now entrenched as the Vancouver Canucks goaltending tandem, third-string netminder Jacob Markstrom could be on the move this summer. Markstrom, 24, is a restricted free agent this summer.

The Province's Ben Kuzma reports the Canucks are lacking second- and third-round picks in the 2015 NHL draft, having dealt them in the Sven Baertschi and Ryan Kesler deals. He suggests shopping Markstrom to a club where he can work in tandem with a proven starter.

Kuzma believes Markstrom could fetch a third-round pick. The Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers are clubs with third-round picks potentially in the market for an affordable backup.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Could Dion Phaneuf become an Oiler?