Captain’s Log – Dion Phaneuf at 82 Games


Photo Credit: The Star

Dion Phaneuf has played some of his best hockey as a Toronto Maple Leaf over the past few months and it appears he is finally settling into a bit of a groove in El Toro.  Last Thursday’s loss to the Florida Panthers marked the Leafs Captain’s 82nd game with the team, a full season of games in the blue and white.  Let’s take a look and see how he fared.

Acquired along with potentially the best player in the deal Keith Aulie from the Calgary Flames, the arrival of Phaneuf was met with great fan fare and anticipation as the western Canadian boy was somewhat of a “YouTube” and highlight reel legend.  Massive hits, huge blasts from the point and just an overall swagger to his game and the expectations for Dion were massive, in hindsight, too big.

In 82 games with the Maple Leafs Dion Phaneuf has amassed 9 goals, 27 assists good for 36 points.  The physical blue liner also racked up 221 hits, 136 blocked shots, 254 shots on goal (imagine if he hit the net more?) and 111 penalty minutes along the way.  He hasn’t been the power play scoring threat we had hoped and has managed only 3 goals on the man advantage, as well as 13 power play assists.

Phaneuf, who carries a cap-hit of $6.5M through the 2013/14 season (three more seasons after this one) plays huge minutes (around 25) and on a pretty bad Leafs team was only a minus 5 during the past 82 games.  The overall numbers are probably a bit disappointing but he has played a physical brand of hockey and as our captain carries himself in a professional manner and appears to be a strong leader.  We’ll let his love of Nickelback slide; at least they’re Canadian, if that makes it any better.

I wanted to see where his 82 games as a Leaf would have ranked him league wide when compared to the 2009/10 leader board for defensemen.

-          36 points would rank him #35 in scoring

-          221 hits would rank him #6

-          136 blocked shots would rank him #36

-          254 shots ranks him easily #1

The scoring aspect has definitely been the biggest disappointment as Phaneuf ranked below Ian White overall though he was tied with Jack Johnson and ahead of Jay Bouwmeester for perspective.  He was only one hit behind Andrew Alberts for fifth spot however we all know how subjective the hit stat can be from rink to rink (hello Long Island).

The one area he could also improve is his shot blocking efficiency. As a big bodied blue liner, you would expect him to rank near the top of the league given his minutes and propensity to be a top penalty killer.  Ranking in the 30s again placed him behind Ian White for comparison sake.  We all know he loves to shoot the puck and he easily outpaced all defensemen with 254 which would rank him in the top 25 in the NHL.

To say Dion Phaneuf has been a bust as a Maple Leaf is inaccurate but to say he has not been a slight disappointment would also be false.  Expectations were too high and only seeing a guy on ‘The Score’s plays of the night isn’t a fair way to judge a player, much like a Vince Carter whose actual game could never compete with the highlight reel package most associated him with before leaving Toronto.  Phaneuf definitely has his faults but he has also showed glimpses of the type of player we need him to be.

Phaneuf turns 26 in April.

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