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Nonis wants people to look at Phaneuf’s numbers

Dec 31, 2013, 2:15 PM EDT

Dave Nonis AP

It was undoubtedly a little shot at the so-called “advanced statistics” crowd that has continually criticized his team. When Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis met with the media today in Ann Arbor to discuss captain Dion Phaneuf’s seven-year contract extension, he told people to look at the numbers.

Look at the minutes Phaneuf plays. (That would be 24:21 per game.)

Look at his points. (That would be 15 in 39 games this season.)

Look at who he plays against. (That would be the toughest competition in the NHL, according to one measure.)

Granted, even after looking at the numbers, there will be those who doubt Phaneuf is worth $49 million over seven years. A $7 million cap hit puts the 28-year-old in some fairly elite company, right up there with Norris Trophy winners and key members of Stanley Cup champions. But Nonis wanted to make one thing clear: the Leafs didn’t re-sign their captain simply because they didn’t have any other options. Which is to say, it wasn’t a matter of, well, what else are we going to do? Let him walk away for nothing?

“If you’re signing players because you don’t have anyone to replace them, you’re making mistakes,” said Nonis. “We signed Dion to this deal because he deserved it.”

And where are the Leafs in terms of contending for a Stanley Cup?

“We think we’re adding pieces that will help us win,” said Nonis, who feels Phaneuf is the kind of player a team can build around in the long term.

“We feel we have some pieces coming, but we’re not where we need to be at.”

  1. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Nonis is really doing his best to screw over the next GM with the bad contracts he’s been dishing out. The big question is which contract (Clarkson, Bozak or Phaneuf) is the worst contract of 2013?

    • lowenni - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Bozak and Clarkson were both horrible contracts (although I think they needed to lock down Bozak to help keep Kessel), but you can’t compare Phaneuf’s contract to those two even if it’s worth a lot of money. Whether or not he’s overrated, he’s still their best defenseman, they can’t replace him without giving up major assets, and they simply just need him.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 31, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        I understand what you’re saying but here’s where I disagree, realistically Phaneuf would be a terrific 2nd pairing defenseman (in a perfect world with a perfect team) who could play up on the first pairing if need arises. But he’s not a true number one player, paying him like he’s one won’t change that. Just because he’s the best defenseman Toronto has doesn’t mean that they have to pay him as if he’s one of the top 5-10 defenseman in the NHL.

        What they’ve done now is needlessly inflated the going rate for a Dman, because of this contract they’ve increased the amount they’ll have to pay to get a top pairing player but at the same time taken away a huge chunk of money they can use to get that player. And the contract is pretty much untradeable, they panicked at the thought of not being able to replace him and decided to make a big mistake before anyone else could.

    • sunderlanding - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      Not really. The cap is going up over the next two years. Maybe as much as ten million per year. We are on the verge of seeing a 10-15 million dollar cap hit for one player. In a couple of years this contract won’t be a huge percentage of the cap. Not to mention the Bozak and Clarkson contracts. I agree if the cap was going to stay the same over the next 7 years all these contracs would be terrible, but in 4 years paying a third line player five million won’t be a big deal.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 31, 2013 at 7:50 PM

        So your defense is the Leafs are ahead of the curve? I think a more reasonable argument is the Clarkson contract won’t matter then because he’ll have been bought out before that time.

        The Liles deal isn’t obscene for a defenseman, but I think we can both agree it’s a terrible contract that the Leafs will have to give up assets in order to get someone to take, these 3 contracts, and probably the Lupul contract, are the exact same as that.

      • sunderlanding - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Well Liles is gone without too much commotion, and they didn’t have to give up any big assets to get it done. The two remaining deals won’t be a problem. Clarkson has been a disapointment, but it’s not like he’s terrible. Besides like you say if it gets real bad they buy him out. It’s not like the Leafs are short on money. I’m not sure what the mistake is they made. Also, I can see why you aren’t a GM.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        True they got rid of Liles but the contract they took in return is almost identical, and Gleason fell out of favor in Carolina, you’re trading your garbage for their garbage, hardly an earth shattering move.

        Weren’t you the same person telling me in July that the Clarkson contract was a good deal because he was a 30 goal scorer and likely to get 60+ Points every year? And that he would be a solid second liner who could probably play first line minutes? 6 months later you’re saying he’s a disappointment, I can’t wait for this time next year when Leafs fans are blaming him for everything that’s wrong with your team, Leafs fans go through the same cycle with every shiny new toy they get, it’s why you can’t have nice things! Btw how is Kadri working out as the next great superstar?

        As for me being a GM, I’ve never claimed to be, unfortunately the guy the Leafs have at the helm does and he’s right in the middle of running a second franchise Brian Burke corrected into the ground. He’s the epitome of the Peter principle, he should never be anything above an assistant GM.

      • sunderlanding - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        I said the contract was fine. Which I’m still fine with. 5 million isn’t that much. The cap will go up every year. It is true that Clarkson has been disapointing so far, but he hasn’t been terrible. Every contract is a gamble, but maybe you don’t understand that part.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:27 PM

        Wait the Gleason deal is actually more expensive than the Liles deal, so you got out of the Liles contract by taking on a bigger contract…congratulations! Nonis is a shrewd shrewd man….

      • sunderlanding - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Liles’ contract was never the problem. It was that he wasn’t the player the Leafs needed. They have plenty of fast puck-movers. They need more shut down d-men. Hopefully Gleason can do that job.

  2. hazlydose - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    If you feel the need to defend signing your franchise’s stars, then you have probably made a mistake in signing said stars.

    • sunderlanding - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Really? So every time a team defends a start player they made a mistake?

    • dueman - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Actually, all having to defend your teams contracts means, is that we must be talking about a Toronto contract. It doesn’t matter which player signs for what, lots of people will have nothing but bad things to say about it. As a Leaf fan this used to bother me, but now I find it comical. It’s funny how passionate some people are about hating everything Leafs. It’s even funnier when the Leafs aren’t doing so bad. Personally, I’m happy about the signing. Phaneuf has been playing well this year and is an important part of the team. Go Leafs!

  3. elvispocomo - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    “We think” is the key phrase there. Well, “we” think you’re signing players for more than you should that will handcuff you in future.

  4. tjvalley - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I would say Clarkson contract is the worst because he brings nothing much but decent defense to the table for a lot of money. 5 mil for a third line winger is simply too much.

    • sunderlanding - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      In three years the cap will be over 80 million. 5 million is nothing. It’s not like they had Crosby knocking on the door. Who exactly is that contract stopping them from signing?

  5. hockeyflow33 - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    That’s a lot of money for a guy who continues to make boneheaded plays at the absolute worst times of the game.

  6. yanmontreal - Dec 31, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Guess who is the happy men on earth? Pk Subban, so much better then phaneuf, imagine the contract he will get! Stupid leafs

  7. jennettalia - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Seems like a large majority of the commenters here are against Phaneuf, so i’m sure i’ll get thumbs down. Full disclosure, i’m a Ducks fan who lives in Vancouver.

    I’m fine with the contract. As a few others have said, if the cap raises, it makes this 7m deal more like a 6m deal, relative to what we have now. But that aside, on the player’s merits alone… The franchise trusts him with big minutes and relies on him in crucial spots. That comes at a premium.

    I think he’s just a victim of being over-analysed. People just want to find ways to tear him down. They say he gives the puck up too much, but he’s tied for 29th among D-men for them. Guys with much less ice time have many more. Same with that missing the net crap. Tied for 32nd among D-men, and tied for 30th in shots on goal. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

    In the limited amount of times i’ve seen him play, i’ve just seen solid positioning and some pretty rugged defensive plays. In any case of people pointing out flaws, they hold no candles to Edler (who is praised), Boyle (who earns about 7m per year himself), or Doughty (who just seems to regress in enthusiasm) or any Anaheim D-man (maybe aside from Beauch last season).

    If you want to find flaws in a person, you’ll find them. If you treat anyone else the same, you’ll yield similar results. I like the deal. Top-end of the money i’d have been okay with, but 6-7 should have been expected.

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