31-Year-Old Defenseman – Ottawa Senators
Dion Phaneuf Contract Information:
Signed a seven-year, $49 million contract extension in December of 2013.
Phaneuf's 2015-16 campaign was stopped short due to a lower-body injury, but the blueliner managed four goals, 28 assists and 90 PIM in 71 games.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Gone are the days of elite offense from Mr. Elisha Cuthbert. The much-maligned defender recorded just 31 points last season, but for good reason -- he was overused in defensive zone situations and always hopped over the boards against the opposition's best. He was just too tired to generate offense. The additions of Roman Polak and Stephane Robidas should allow the Leafs to cut back on Phaneuf's ice time, giving him a little breathing room to boost his points back to the 40-mark. He'll continue to lay hits and block shots -- he just can't stop himself from doing that. In addition, Phaneuf will surely man one point on the team's best power-play unit. All in all, he could become a top-20 defender (or better) on the back of 40 points, 200-plus hits and 150-plus blocked shots. He'll probably be on the board longer than guys who won't delivery nearly as much. Just donít stretch for him.
Phaneuf has become a punching bag for Toronto fans and inappropriately so. Sure, he'll never be the hotshot studley many thought he'd be in his first few seasons in the NHL. But he's an absolute workhorse in blue and white who still delivers points in all situations. And heck, he's even started to hit the net (and not his teammates) with that massive shot from the point. Expect 45-50 points, 200+ hits and 135 blocked shots as he works to earn a big new contract. And watch for that level of production to continue for several years -- he's just 28 and entering his prime.
Yes, he's overrated. And no, he's not nearly as tough as he seemed at the beginning of his career, but Dion is still Dion. He has that big-time shot and he should be solid for a season just like his last -- 40-plus points, including lots on the man advantage with close to 100 PIMs. That's a combo that isn't as common as you might think -- just three defenders (Phaneuf, Kevin Bieksa and Zdeno Chara) topped 40 points and 85 PIMs last season. Toss in 200-plus hits and 100-plus blocked shots, and suddenly he's not so overrated in specialty leagues.
Phaneuf was derailed last season by a horrific skate cut that came within a tiny fraction of an inch of ending his season and possibly his career. His conditioning was off upon his return but when the Leafs traded Tomas Kaberle, we finally got to see the Dion of old. He was offensively dominant in the final third of the season, potting a forward-like 17 points in his final 26 games. That's clearly not a sustainable pace. But his more mature approach coupled with a more creative Leafs' power play this season could get him back to near 50 points. And that would be his best output since his glory years in Calgary. Draft accordingly.
Phaneuf got his get-out-of-jail-free card after 55 games in 2009-10 and he blossomed as a real leader in blue and white. The trouble is, his offensive production didn't seem to come with him. We're chalking his 31-point pace in his new uniform up to a hangover from a poor start. This year will be better. Much, much better. He has quick and explosive feet, a powerful slapper and a propensity for penalty minutes. He may never be a Norris runner-up again but he will be a 45-50-point defender who also delivers 100 PIMs. That makes him part of an incredibly elite group -- there were just five players who tallied at least 50 points AND 100 PIMs in 2009-10. Draft accordingly.
Dion Phaneuf is one of most talented defensemen in the entire league. That's why his 2008-09 totals of 47 points and 100 penalty minutes were disappointing. He was also a minus for the first time in his career as he finished the year -11. He should easily top last year's numbers and return to his dominant fantasy perch. Expect Phaneuf to get back over the 50 point mark and do not be surprised if he eclipses 60 points. He should also have double digit power play goals and more than 100 penalty minutes. He could easily wind up having a campaign worthy of a Norris Trophy. He should be one of the first defenseman taken in every fantasy league, do not let him slip down the board.
Dion Phaneuf (D): Phaneuf just keeps getting better, as he set career highs in assists (43), points (60) and penalty minutes (182) last season. All together, Phaneuf is in the top class of defenseman in the NHL, as he also is a menace on the power play, with 10 goals and 23 assists in 2007-08. The bruising blue-liner is not going to surprise anyone any longer, but he does not need to. Phaneuf played every game as the No. 1 defenseman for Calgary last season, and should be one of the top defensemen taken.
Phaneuf did not suffer from a sophomore slump in 2006-07, getting his first All-Star berth and scoring 17 goals and 33 assists as well as 98 penalty minutes. He continued to be a monster on the power play, picking up 13 goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. The hard-hitting defenseman should only get better, and could start contending for Norris Trophies in the near future.
After a fantastic rookie season, it's hard to believe that Phaneuf could still be on the rise, but the kid's not even 22 yet. His defense still needs a little bit of work, but the part of his game that counts in fantasy world is already finely tuned. Phaneuf contributes across the board, with 49 points (33 on the power play) and a decent 93 penalty minutes last season. With Kiprusoff behind him, Phaneuf can take many more chances on the offensive end, leaving a world of opportunity for Phaneuf to turn into the next Nicklas Lidstrom. A handful of Norris Trophies are in this youngster's future, and he's far from a fantasy secret after his breakout rookie year.
After nearly making the team in his draft year (2003) and considered the best defensive prospect for the last three years, Phaneuf is now clearly ready for his professional transition. Phaneuf ranked second with 19 goals and fifth in points in the WHL for defensemen in 2004/05. He also led Canada to the World Junior Championships finals for the second year in succession.