Dion Phaneuf: Will the Leafs trade him this season?

One of the storylines heading into the NHL's regular season involves Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who was linked to several trade rumours during the 2013-14 campaign. Is it time for the Leafs captain to go?

Toronto captain carries a hefty salary cap hit

No athlete playing in Toronto is more scrutinized than Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf. (Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Maple Leafs beginning training camp Thursday, we thought a good starting point would be addressing one of the most polarizing athletes in Toronto: Dion Phaneuf.

It only heightened when Toronto GM Dave Nonis signed the Leafs captain to a monster 7-year, $49-million US contract last December.

That’s the type of contract reserved for a No. 1 defencemen, the type of which Phaneuf is not.

Naturally the contract gave fans fuel to ridicule the Leafs’ blue-liner, whose defensive breakdowns continually trigger humourous reactions on social media.

In a piece that my colleague Mike Dennis wrote regarding the eight worst NHL contracts for Canadian teams, more than 56 per cent picked Phaneuf’s deal as the least desirable in a CBCSports.ca poll, easily outdistancing the Sedin twins, who were second at 17.25 per cent.

This is a critical season for Phaneuf and the Leafs. Toronto has missed the playoffs in eight of its last nine years, and don’t expect Phaneuf to get a ringing endorsement from new president Brendan Shanahan if he or the franchise gets off to a slow start.

But should the Leafs even take a wait-and-see approach with Phaneuf? After all, he was constantly linked to trade rumours throughout last season.

As I've noted, Phaneuf gets roasted by Leaf fans on a regular basis.


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