John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Phaneuf is not worth $7 million a season for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Phaneuf is not worth $7 million a season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That isn’t to say that Phaneuf isn’t a solid defenseman, because he is. He’s just not an elite defenseman, which is what a salary north of $7 million would indicate. Guys like Shea Weber make that kind of cash (not including signing bonuses large enough to operate a small country with, but we digress).

P.K. Subban will make more than $7 million a season for the Montreal Canadiens because he’s capable of putting up 60 points in a season and he’s a 24 year-old with a Norris Trophy under his belt.

Phaneuf is never going to score 60 points in a season, but that isn’t why he’s not worth the money.

He’s not worth the money because of his track record in big games and because he’s not particularly outstanding in any one facet of the game.

When Toronto needs him the most, he vanishes. Which is impressive considering the man averages more than 25 minutes a night right now. Consider this: Phaneuf is on pace to be a plus-player for the first time in his career with Toronto this season.

A rock-solid shutdown blueliner can finish with a few slashes in the plus column, right? If anything, if your job is to shut down other players, then you absolutely shouldn’t have a minus rating.

So if Phaneuf isn’t an elite offensive threat and he isn’t elite in his own zone, then why is he in line to become one of the richest defenders in the NHL?

As much as some folks want to believe that Phaneuf is a top-end blueliner, he just isn’t. He’s a great two-way guy that is capable of crushing people in open ice and can post 30 to 40 points from the back end. But he’s not a power-play specialist, isn’t particularly good at skating the puck out of trouble and is prone to defensive lapses from time to time.

In short: there is nothing elite about Dion Phaneuf.

Tags: Dion Phaneuf NHL Toronto Maple Leafs

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