FanPost

Rangers Should Target Dion Phaneuf


From my blog Metro Hockey. Wanted to get everyone's opinion on it:

According to various sources, the Calgary Flames are looking to trade star defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Normally, the Rangers would not be linked to anything like this because of their limited cap room and in order to acquire him, they would have to shed a large contract to make the trade happen. But then, on MSG Network two games ago, Sam Rosen mentioned how Flames' scouts had been in attendance for three straight Rangers games, including the general manager himself, Darryl Sutter, who attended the last one. Very rarely does a GM come in person to scout a game, and if he does, that must mean something is in the works, or at least the attempt is being made.

When you look at it, Phaneuf is everything the Rangers lack on the blue line: a noticeable physical presence with a bomb of a slap shot. He is the tour-de-force of the Flames powerplay and is actually a top-tier fighter. He has already played in 375 games over the course of the last four seasons and change, and has put up 226 points during the time; 128 of those coming with the man advantage. He also happens to be only 24 years old. He seems to be the perfect defenseman because he does everything. So why are the Flames looking to trade him, then?

Your guess is as good as mine. From Phanuef's standpoint, he may be unhappy in his present location and wants a change of scenery. From management's perspective, the team is in a pretty tight salary cap situation (much like the Rangers) and with Jay Bouwmeester making nearly $7 million a season and Phaneuf himself making $6.5 million for the next four years, it would do much to alleviate their situation should they move him. Their defensive corps which consists of the two mentioned above along with Robyn Regehr at $4 million and Cory Sarich at $3.6, ties up nearly $19 million in just four defenseman alone.

Meanwhile, the Rangers situation is not much better. Should the Rangers go after a young stud like Phaneuf, Marc Staal would definitely have to be thrown in there. But even then, the Rangers would not be able to afford it. The Flames surely would not take Redden since his contact is identical to Phaneuf's, which means that they would have to take Michal Rozsival as well as Staal. Below is a trade proposal I have drawn up between the two teams. It was difficult to do because the Rangers have roughly $800,000 in cap space while the Flames have $1.2 million.

To Flames
Michal Rozsival ($5 million)
Ales Kotalik ($3 million)
Marc Staal ($800,000
Total: $8.8 million

To Rangers
Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 million)
Craig Conroy ($1.05 million
Total: $7.55 million

In this deal, both teams are able to maneuver within the cap restrictions. The Rangers get Phaneuf to be that physical presence along the blue line and to chip in offense on a struggling powerplay. They also get an experienced center in Conroy who is a free agent after this season. The Rangers, aside from defensive physicality, also have a weakness up the middle and the veteran and New York native could help with a third line center role. The 37 year old also kills penalties and has plenty of playoff experience. Could be a voice in the locker room that the Rangers are missing. In the deal the Rangers would also be short a defenseman, in which case they could call up either Bobby Sanguinetti or Ilka Heikkinen, both of whom are rookies that had a brief taste earlier in the season.

For the Flames, they lose out on Phaneuf but also get a cheaper Michal Rozsival whose contract is two years shorter. Rozsival has played extremely well of late and has only six less points than Phaneuf on the season. Without the pressures of New York City, he would probably be very successful out west. They also get Marc Staal, so they don't lose out on youthful, franchise caliber defensemen. He is a restricted free agent after this season and would probably fetch only around $2 million. And to help with the loss of a heavy shot on the powerplay, Ales Kotalik is thrown in as well, where he would be used correctly and flourish as he did in Buffalo.

I'll just add one more thing, and that is what people have been bringing up when mentioning the possibility of Phaneuf coming to New York, and that's Sean Avery. We all know of the incident that occurred last season when Avery made an off-color remark about Phaneuf's girlfriend, which led to a league wide roasting of Avery by the media, and his suspension/banishment for more than twenty games. It has been suggested that the two would not be able to co-exist in the locker room and that Phaneuf should not be acquired. The fact about not being able to get along may be true, but let me ask you one thing; if you have the chance to land a franchise caliber defenseman in his prime, you're not going to do it because Sean Avery might not like it? If you still think you don't want him for that reason, then get your head checked.

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