If you’ve been reading my weekly “3 Up 3 Down” articles it will come as no surprise that I’m disappointed with Dion Phaneuf. Don’t get me wrong, I was as excited as anyone when I heard he was traded to the Maple Leafs last season [despite his poor play, it was still a phenomenal trade for Toronto]. 30 games into the 2010-11 season, I would be hard-pressed to find a single person who would tell me that Dion Phaneuf has been playing up to his full potential.
The statistics don’t lie… on the Calgary Flames, Phaneuf averaged 16 goals + 33 assists = 49 points in an 82-game season. Since joining the Maple Leafs, he has been scoring at an average rate of 4 goals + 23 assists = 27 points (on average in 82 games). You don’t need to be a math major to realize that this is almost a 50% drop in production. If a retail store were to drop 50% in sales it wouldn’t be open for very long.
So how short is Dion’s leash? There’s absolutely no indication that Phaneuf’s status as a Maple Leaf is in jeopardy [although I’d love to see him wearing a Marlies Maple Leaf for a bit]. If I asked Brian Burke, he’d probably say the only safer Maple Leaf job right now than Phaneuf’s is Phil Kessel’s.
I know what some of you are thinking-Phaneuf’s contribution to the Maple Leafs is not just his offensive talents. He’s a big-body presence and not afraid to know some big checks around. Is he better defenseively than the other Leaf defenders? The statistic wouldn’t support this claim-he’s ranked 6th out of 6 regulars in terms of +/- (at -6). As supported by his captaincy, he must bring some leadership to the team though. He had a great game on Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks with a lot of offensive chances and a few solid hits. But ‘one game does not a season make’.
What could be the reason for Phaneuf’s colossal drop in production?
- Could Phaneuf be suffering from the ‘Bryan McCabe’ dilemma? By that I mean a season after McCabe put up a big goal total with his booming slapshot, the opposition decided it might be a good idea to give him less time to wind up from the point. I’m sure there’s an element of this to explain Phaneuf’s decline but that can’t be the only reason.
- Could Phaneuf be playing hurt? Aside whatever lingering effects he might have from the laceration he suffered early on in the season there’s really been no indication that this is the case.
- Could Phaneuf *gasp* not be as good of a defenseman as we thought he was? I certainly hope this isn’t the case. However, thus far, there hasn’t really been any indication that he has the same sort of offensive firepower he once had in Calgary. Only time will tell if he can return to his scoring form.
I’ll leave with with two closing points…
- Dion Phaneuf leads all Leafs defensemen this season with 89 shots on net but has scored just 1 goal.
- Kevin Shattenkirk (5), Fedor Tyutin (4), Matt Taormina (3), Jack Hillen (2) are just a few of the defensemen in the league who have scored more goals this season than Phaneuf-I know… I haven’t really heard of them either.
As always, I strongly encourage you to weigh-in with your opinion by leaving a comment or question in the comments section below or by sending me an e-mail to [email protected]
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