Dion Phaneuf Scouting Report by Gus Katsaros and Ryan Dadoun
After watching his production decline each campaign from 2007-08 to 2010-11, Dion Phaneuf got off to a hot start in 2011-12 with nine points in seven games (7-2-7-9). Phaneuf slowed down with several cold streaks, but the Leafs Captain ended up tying for 12th among defenceman with 44 points in his first full season since 2007-08. Main defensive partner, Carl Gunnarsson, covered for Phaneuf so that the Leafs captain was free to deliver his patented bone-rattling open-ice hits. Although Keith Aulie is now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Phaneuf displayed more restraint defending during their brief tenure as partners. The Edmonton-native also ranked seventh among defenceman with 214 hits and put himself in front of 127 shots. Despite that, he was voted as the league’s most overrated player by Sports Illustrated’s informal poll of anonymous NHLers conducted during the season. Phaneuf brings both physical and offensive presence. He is an adept puckhandler – albeit it’s not a forte as he skates himself into dead ends – and possesses a blistering shot and hot fade away one-timer. He marries those talents with superior skating to make him a true danger with the puck. The 27-year-old has also shown signs of an increased hockey IQ, which he uses to get things going on the rush. The problem is that he’s still trying to do too much when he has the puck and he would put himself in fewer dangerous situations if he trusted his teammates more. Phaneuf is the team’s leader. He plays big minutes and in all situations.
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