Was 7 Million a Season Too Much?…I Think So.

Posted: January 8, 2014 in HOCKEY
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

A week ago the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the contract extension of captain Dion Phaneuf; 49 million dollars over seven years. Leafs nation seems to be fairly divided. Some support and agree with the decision and others show disdain and frustration towards the idea of paying Phaneuf 7-million/year.

What do I think about it? I am a here and now kind of guy. I do not care what a player has done; I care about what he has done lately. There are definitely pro’s and con’s to Dion’s game, and what he brings to the Leafs.

He plays an average of 24min23sec/game against the best the league has to offer and to this point is an impressive plus-13. Passing up on resigning the 28-year-old captain would have left a big hole to fill on the back-end. Those are a lot of minutes.

It is important to note that it is not filling the minutes in a single game that is the challenge but across a long, physical, 82-plus game season.

Dion brings durability to the Leafs blue line; he has only missed 18 games since joining the club. That consistency is tough to find. For me, his desire to be here is his biggest selling quality. I always like guys who enjoy playing here and want to be here.

Unfortunately, when we are paying him 7-million/year he needs to bring more to the table than a desire to play here, and the ability to play a lot of minutes.

Offensively Phaneuf is not pulling his weight this season; he currently fails to crack the top thirty among defenseman in. goals, assists or points. In fact, Phaneuf only sits in the top ten in two statistical categories, plus-minus and penalty minutes, he is ranked 10th and 5th respectively.

Statistically, Phaneuf appears to be mediocre, even amongst  the Leafs defense core. Other than Dion’s plus/minus there is not much that makes him stand out, he is pretty well par with Franson, Gardiner, and Reilly.

Big price tags bring big expectations; expectations that he will be a player the team can lean on, and look to for a big play or a big goal. Dion has struggled to be that guy; he has not scored a PP goal, or a GWG this season, and has taken some very untimely penalties.

The elite defenseman in the NHL seem to be elevating their games to a higher level than Dion–at least thus far. Phaneuf currently shares a tax bracket with the likes of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Drew Doughty and is earning more than Duncan Keith, Eric Karlsson, Keith Yandle, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. This season, statistically, Dion is not showing the same all-round game as these other players.

Phaneuf is not a bad defenceman he is actually quite good. However, he is not worth 7 million a season. That is a statement made only by the comparison of him to the other elite defenceman earning the same money.

Fans are freaking out because money brings expectation—everything is relative. If Dion played 18-21 minutes a game, making between 4-5 million/year and was putting up the same numbers, believe me everyone would love Dion.

To conclude I have no deep-rooted hatred for Dion as some other fans do, but I do think that his contract was too lucrative for what he brings to the table. Hopefully he proves me wrong—Go Leafs Go.

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