Skip to content

What does the future hold for Phaneuf and Kessel?

Aug 8, 2013, 5:28 PM EDT

Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf Getty Images

Just because the contract situations of Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel aren’t presently on the “front-burner” of Toronto general manager Dave Nonis doesn’t mean Maple Leafs fans aren’t thinking about them.

Both Phaneuf, the captain, and Kessel, the team’s top scorer, can become unrestricted free agents at the end of 2013-14, at which point both would be in line for big pay days.

It may be that both end up re-signing in Toronto. Per CapGeek, the Leafs only have 10 players under contract for 2014-15 for a total cap payroll of just over $31 million. (That leaves around $33 million in cap space.)

However, if there’s one that’s more likely to stay long-term than the other, most feel it’s Kessel. Not only is the 25-year-old one of the premier snipers in the NHL, Nonis also just gave a big contract extension to Tyler Bozak, Kessel’s center and good friend.

Kessel, not a big talker at his most chatty, didn’t share much when asked recently about his contract situation.

“I haven’t even thought about it yet,” he said. “I’ve still got another year here and we’ll see what happens.”

But his good buddy Bozak is confident he’ll be back.

“He’s been the leader of our team on the ice and hopefully he can stay there for as long as he can and I know he enjoys it there; I know it’s his favourite place to be,” Bozak said last month, per Sportsnet. “I think if the money’s right he’s gonna stay for sure.”

As for Phaneuf, well, if the amount of trade speculation is any indication, there’s reason to believe he could be on his way out.

Not that the 28-year-old is coming off a poor season. In fact, he had 28 points in 48 games while averaging 25:11 of ice time per game. But the occasional (or frequent, depending who you ask) defensive gaffe — like the one in Game 4 of the Leafs’ first-round series versus Boston — has the tendency to bring the knives out in a big way.

There’s also Toronto’s sizable crop of young d-men to consider. With Carl Gunnarsson (26 years old), Jake Gardiner (23), Cody Franson (25), and Morgan Rielly (19) in the mix, perhaps the Leafs would be better served trading Phaneuf and spending the money they’d save elsewhere.

That’s all for Nonis to decide. And he’s got plenty of time to make the decision. It could be this all plays out like it did in Anaheim this past season when Cory Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, two big pending UFAs, didn’t sign extensions with the Ducks until March, only weeks before the trade deadline.

More Leafs day on PHT:

Leafs need Kadri to take another step

Bozak, Clarkson contracts were big gambles for Nonis

Reimer vs Bernier — Who ya got?

  1. scotloucks - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Kessel will resign.Top paid player on the Leafs for life.

    Phaneuf will resign if they can’t find a replacement for his minutes (for less or the same contract he is currently on).


    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Leafs will never win a Cup with Kessel as the top paid Leaf
      So this sounds great

      • sunderlanding - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        I’m not sure what basis you have for saying that, but cheers to making bold ignorant comments.

      • dueman - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        And the award for “stupid comment of the day” goes to imnotyourbuddyguy

      • withseidelinn - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM

        Very well thought out comment you have here.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 9, 2013 at 8:47 AM

        Oh look more completely clueless Leaf fans who are too stupid to remember what the Sundin era looked like. Except Sundin was a much better player than Kessel. What did you win with Sundin? Ohhhh right nothing.

        Enjoy struggling to make the playoffs year in and year out with a team not good enough to win it all and not bad enough to draft impact players.

        Keep throwing money at your problems
        BUHHAHAHAHAHAHA over 6 million for Clarkson

        Typical jackwagon Leaf fans deserve failure

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        LOL… 5.25 is “over 6 million”… yeah, we’re the clueless ones. Gotta love haters. Did you lose a girlfriend to a Leafs fan are do you just hate the Leafs because your life is so hollow. Leafs have been relatively harmless for 40+ years. Funny how irate you idiotic trolls get.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        5.25 , 6 whats the difference, it’s still HILARIOUS that the Leafs still think that how’s you win cups.

        Leafs are paying David Clarkson 750,000 less than Zetterberg.
        Hell for a million more the Wings have Datsyuk.

        But you Leaf fans keep drinking that kool-aid.
        The Kessel trade was worth it
        Burke hire was great
        Soon it will be paying Kessel over 7 million is a good idea.

        Nevermind that nearly every Cup winner in the past 10 years has been built through the draft, with top 5 picks.

        So again, Yes please more, keep doing things the way the Leafs have been for the last 20 years. I’m sure it will be different this decade too.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        Your blind rage towards the Leafs makes you sound like a whiny teenage d-bag. Try growing up.

        Leafs are building through the draft.. But you have to let the prospects develop. They don’t just magically become NHLers. Kadri was Burkes 1st draft pick, he just played his first full season. Is Toronto not allowed to develop its young players now? You’ll probably get to see some of Toronto draft picks during the season. The ones most likely to be called up next are Tyler Biggs, Jesse Blacker, Jerry D’Amigo.

        They’ve acquired player who were high draft picks. Trades 5th overall Schenn for 2nd overall JVR. Judging by the standings last season and the season before, JVR helped the Leafs more than Schenn helped Philly. Teams sorta switched places in the standings.

        And whether you think they’re building through the draft or not, the Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, they finished well in the standings, they challenged their opponent in the playoffs, they did well.

        Young teams don’t usually get worse. Leafs may not be contenders for the cup, but they are a lot close now than they were when the starting line was.

        Hagman – Stajan – Stempniak
        Kaberle – McCabe

        Lupul – Kadri – Kessel
        Phaneuf – Gardiner

        Go ahead… pick a team…

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:12 PM

        Leafs suck and will miss the playoffs, then Kessel will leave for nothing in return, and with Dion.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 10, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        Thanks for the heads up Nostradumbass.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM


      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 15, 2013 at 2:47 AM

        Oooh… a historian AND a clairvoyant. Kudos.

  2. lowenni - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Am I the only one who finds these Phaneuf criticisms and rumors a tad uncalled for? Is he overrated? Yes. That’s because he’s still living with the expectations that were put on him after a stellar rookie campaign. And he does have the occasional defensive gaffe. That being said, he is still the teams top defender, and plays a lot of big minutes for a team with a lot of young defenseman who are still young and learning (some of whom are equally turnover-prone as Phaneuf). He can be relied on to put up 40-50 points a season, is a big hitter, at LEAST slightly above average defensively, and most importantly is a leader. He may be overrated, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t important.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      Totally uncalled for. I’ve posted these stats before just to show where he fits in. Points, +/-, hits, blocked shots and takeaways. If he’s so bad, someone please explain this to me…

      PK Subban 38 Pts, +12, 51 Hits, 49 BkS, 10 TkA
      Zdeno Chara 19 Pts, +14, 101 Hits, 64 BkS, 12 TkA
      Shea Weber 28 Pts, -2, 112 Hits, 90 BkS, 14 TkA
      Dion Phaneuf 28 Pts, -4, 131 Hits, 91 BkS, 15 TkA

      How could such a bad d-man fit in with such good ones?

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        While I appreciate folks looking at stats, there are some that are more associated with succes than otghers, and one that is not is hits. If you look at 2013, 12, 11 and compare standings with hits my teams, you’ll find of the teams with the top half in hits, half of them make the playoffs, half done. It’s also a non-factor in playoff sucess – conventional thinking vs. conventional wisdom.

        What DOES predict is the +/- stat. Teams with better +/- profiles do better than those with lesser, and playoff success is also related to +/-.

        Duncan Keith had 27 points, + 16, not a lot of hits. And he was the top defender on the top team.

        After game 3, Hawks went right at Chara, and won 3 straight.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:50 PM

        Hits aren’t useful? Are you kidding me? It wears the other team down. They break up plays, creates turn overs.

        Every good defensive tandem at least one guy hits. in Keith’s case it is Seabrook who does the majority. Phaneuf is the hitter on his line, not Gunnarsson. Look at Letang and Orpik, Niedermeyer and Stevens, Lidstrom and Kronwall, Coffey and McSorley, the list goes on. It’s the way coachs make defensive lines.

        Leafs went after Chara the entire series, and took them to game 7. Leafs are no wear near what the Hawks are, yet they did well. Series was supposed to be over in 5, but the Leafs fought back. For a team of mostly playoff first-timers, that ain’t too bad. Hawks didn’t win the cup their first bout in the playoffs either.

  3. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Beyond Kessel and Phaneuf the Leafs have to sign Gardiner (who could be primed for a breakout year), Reimer, Bolland, Kulemin, McClement, and Fraser. Plus Franson and Kadri now. Somebody’s gonna walk. It seems like Phaneuf has a legitimate chance to be a UFA, as he’ll definitely garner atleast his current cap hit. He’d have a ton of suitors on the open market. If they resign everyone else (including Phaneuf), Reimer might be susceptible to an offer sheet. Before Bernier was traded there was talk of him receiving an offer sheet that would only cost the team a 2nd rd pick. Reimer could get an offer like that, sign it since he wants to be a starter, and Toronto may be hard pressed to match (depending on their other contracts). It will be interesting to see how Nonis keeps his core together.

  4. dueman - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    That’s a lot of “ifs” and “dependings” in that comment, specially considering nobody knows where the cap will be by then. Maybe we should let them play this year first don’t you think….lol

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      I’ve looked several times and never been able to find out when the salary cap is re-computed. I know it is based on revenues, and there is likely a gap between the end of the accounting cycle after the sup series is over, so it probably can’t be computed before the start of the free agent signing period.

      Anybody know for sure?

  5. withseidelinn - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Anyone think Phaneuf would take a pay cut somewhere around $500-750,000? I think he knows that he isn’t worth the 6.5 he’s making right now and may want to make it easier on management to keep the core together.

  6. nickathens27 - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    I would love to see Phil in Ottawa in 2015. I’m expecting Ryan-Spezza-Michalek for our top line and Kessel-Stamkos-Nash for our second line. Get on it, Murray.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1723)
  2. P. Kane (1332)
  3. S. Matthias (1193)
  4. D. Carcillo (1074)
  5. P. Datsyuk (1058)