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Lots of speculation over possible off-season moves by the Canucks and Canadiens, while Dion Phaneuf could face an uncertain future in Toronto.

Have David Booth & Keith Ballard played their last game for Vancouver?

Have David Booth & Keith Ballard played their last game for Vancouver?

VANCOUVER PROVINCE/VANCOUVER SUN: Jim Jamieson and Brad Ziemer believe the Canucks will use one of their two amnesty buyouts on defenseman Keith Ballard. Jamieson also suggested winger David Booth could be a buyout candidate. The Canucks are pressed against next season’s cap ceiling of $64.3 million and must shed salary to become cap compliant.

Ziemer and the Province’s Jason Botchford also report Roberto Luongo expects to be dealt this summer. Luongo doesn’t see himself returning with the Canucks next season, believing it’s time to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been suggested the Canucks could get a better return by keeping Luongo and trading Schneider, but that’s just plain stupid. Luongo wants to move on, management wants to retain Schneider, and Canucks fans prefer Schneider over Luongo. The ship has sailed. Even if the Canucks get almost nothing back in return for Luongo and pick up part of his salary, he must be traded. Otherwise, they’ll have to use one of their two compliance buyouts on him, which would be better used on Ballard and Booth.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Mike Boone believes the Canadien need to get bigger, calling on management to pursue a tough winger and a physical stay-at-home defenseman in the off-season. Boone doubts the Habs re-sign pending UFA Michael Ryder. “Total crap against Ottawa, while playing for a new contract.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Boone’s assessment of the Habs needs. They’re not the “smurfs” they once were, but the Canadiens need more size and strength. They don’t need goons, but rather another winger like Brandon Prust (who more than proved his worth this season for the Habs), and a physical d-man capable of logging big minutes. There isn’t much available via the UFA market, but there will be teams dumping salary to become cap compliant this summer. Marc Bergevin and his staff did well in their first season in the Habs front office, but there’s more work to be done.

CBC.CA: Tim Wharnsby suggests Dion Phaneuf’s defensive gaffe leading to the Bruins OT goal in Game Four magnified the fact the eight-year veteran is still making rookie mistakes. Phaneuf has one season left on his contract and Wharnsby believes Phaneuf’s future in Toronto is in question.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, the Leafs could dump Phaneuf this summer, but who do you replace him with? The Leafs blueline still needs work, and ripping out Phaneuf without finding a suitable replacement could do more harm than good.


  1. Toronto needs someone like Hal Gill or Robin Reghr to help mentor their young Dmen.

    • I think TO needs someone who can complement their D core – Reghr is good, Lydman is consistent and a good mentor, but I have also liked what I have seen from Sulzer, Patrangelo, and Shattenkirk. Not sure if there will be any Dmen available via the buyouts – but there are some middle of the road UFA’s available and some Restricted that TO can try to swing a trade for.

  2. I think Van shoulve left Lou in net for the playoffs. He played well in the first 2 games. Schneider came in cold and was not ready for playoff hockey. The Sedin sisters played their disappearing act again! Kesler was their best forward.

    • Stupid and uninformed comment regarding the sedins.

    • Once Luongo is traded, don’t expect a long reprieve from goalie controversies in Vancouver. Eddie Lack is in the minors, Canuck goalie of the future – a tall tender who some have compared to Pekka Rinne.

  3. The Phaneuf trade rumors are just a little rediculous. Look at his advanced stats: he plays against the toughest competition in the NHL by a wide margin, is used about 28 minutes a game, and his team finished 5th in the Conference. Not to mention, his defensive partners this year consisted of Kostka, O’Byrne and Gunnarson. Three players who would never be seen on a top-defense pairing on any other team in the league–that’s if they even manage to crack the NHL in any other roster system. I bet if there were 5 nominees for the Norris, he’d be one of them. The fact that people are asking for him to be traded because of one mistake is a joke. His mistake is also overshadowed by the fact that his defence partner was still in position on the play — Kessel backchecked and so Phaneuf’s jump didn’t even lead to an oddman rush. And his partner did absolutely nothing on the play other than get in the way of Reimer and deflect the shot into his own net. The Leafs dont need to get rid of Phaneuf, they need another one of him if anything.

    • Sean- let’s not get carried away here.
      Phaneuf is not the worst d-man in the league, but to suggest that he’s a Norris candidate or that the Leafs could use a clone of him is ridiculous. Phaneuf made a rookie move in overtime and it led to an odd-man rush. Kessel was nearly back but it still put unnecessary pressure on O’Byrne and Reimer, and in overtime you can’t take that risk and pinch like he did. This team has to make defense their first priority if they hope to win, and Phaneuf put them in a very awkward spot by pinching. If Phaneuf is unable to reduce these types of errors, he will have to go- and I’m sure Nonis knows that. He’s the captain of our team- there isn’t room for him to be making errors that cost us games. It’s time to lead by example.

    • The fact you say if there were 5 nominees he’d be one of them shows you know NOTHING about hockey. There could be 15 nominess and he wouldn’t be nominated. I can name 10 d-man off the top of my head. Then you ask for another one of him, try watching other teams top Dmen play and get back to me.

      • Amen

    • wow Norris eh?… not even close . Im not bashing Dion I think he is in way over his head as a number 1 D-man and agree if he had a better partner or more depth in the 3-4 d positions he might be better off, but the fact remains that he is totaly not worth the contract they gave him and if you look at his season as a whole there have been more nights that he has made some bad looking mistakes then nights where he has shut down the line he is up against. If this were a full season he would be even more gasedand probably look even worse by the end of it due to the minutes he has to eat up. Dion is a good top 4 guy deffinately…a 6 – 6.5 mill top guy he is not, not even close…

      • It was Calgary that gave him the contract not the Leafs

  4. I agree completely with Sean – the Leafs need a defence partner for Phaneuf. I’d bet money that Gunnarson has been playing hurt for most of the season – if he gets back to his best form, he’s top-notch. Gardiner still makes you hold your breath when he’s out there but his upside is obvious – he just needs to play; and Rielly Morgan has a chance to be a stud D-man.
    I’d also like to add that Game 4 in Toronto was one hell of a hockey game – something Leaf fans haven’t seen for years – and a taste of what could be in store next year. As usual, here’s hoping……

  5. The issue with Phaneuf isnt the error- the issue is he has one season left and although he is a good defenseman, he is not an elite one, as such he doesnt command 7 mill per…which is my guess what he would want on his extension? As per the Gunnarson comment some would say he is better all around.

    • Some would also say the earth is flat dosent make it true….the league is full of Gunnarson type d men playing as a 4 or 5 d I am a life long die hard Leaf fan but Ill stick to what Ive been saying all year out side some pleasent surprises (Fraser and Franson playing above expectations) this D needs alot of work and is shaky at best, way to much time trying to clear their zone not physical enough tonnes of mistakes and giveaways by their D have cost this team all year and with out Riemer standing on his head most nights (not so much in the playoffs which is why they are in the spot they are in now down to Boston) they probably shouldnt have even made the playoffs…

    • I agree – he’s a fine defenseman. To me, Phaneuf’s ceiling is as a very good #3. But a top-pairing defenseman, I think he has proved he isn’t. He doesn’t score like he used to, he still makes big defensive gaffes (more than he should for a top pairing guy), and on too many nights, his compete level is decidedly so-so.

      I also don’t think he’s proved himself as any kind of captain. And before anybody says he didn’t make himself captain, it is *very* strongly rumoured he actually got shipped from Calgary because he WAS trying to make himself the captain – in a dressing room with Iginla, Regehr and others.

      Like I say, I do think he’s an above-average defenseman. But not better. And, like Sam says, that’s not worth $6.5-$7M.

      • And I mean “make himself the captain” figuratively, not literally (as in: he was trying to take over the dressing room, not that he actually asked the coach for the “C”)

  6. Typical Toronto hockey atmosphere. You can be loved and hated within seconds and they want you out. Trade speculation regarding Phaneuf is ridiculous. What a joke. He made a bad mistake? Crap happens. As if Chelios never made a mistake in his prime years?

    Unbelievable. What is this going to be, McCabe v2.0? From being loved to being kicked out? No wonder why players have a hard time signing as UFAs in Toronto. There’s no reward.

    As for Luongo, i am happy he came out saying that he pretty much wants to be traded this summer, unlike last summer where he was professional enough to say he’ll be patient and whatever is the best move for the organization he will wait for it.

    Well, Gillis has had one year and i am sure he received decent offers before. Now? Now he should feel lucky to even get an autographed puck.

    Montreal fell apart in the playoffs. Talk about being fragile. They could add toughness, but it’s more than that. They need a clutch player or two.

  7. Which is why I wondered what they were going to do after dealing away Cole. The reason they got him was because he’s a power forward.

    I completely agree with the assessment. Their run a few years ago was thanks to Hal Gill’s talents at stay-at-home d, Michael Cammalleri’s ten thousand power play goals, and Jaroslav Halak, players no longer part of their organization. They built a regular season team and need to get those playoff pieces back.

    I don’t think they should let Ryder walk. Most their team was zilch, not just Ryder. Ryder had the second best +/- on the team. Desharnais and Pacioretty need a digger/big body to play with them, which Cole fulfilled; they were invisible. Gio, Pleks, and Ryder don’t make a great second line because they barely produce at a 2nd line level anymore. Prust is gold, but Armstrong’s gotten somewhat useless, and White is way too undisciplined. Montreal could also use a pest that’s not the best defenseman on their team.

    • Maybe the Habs should dangle Markov to the Flyers for one of their grind forwards.

  8. I think the issue with Phaneuf is that he plays about 5 minutes more per game than he should. But the reality is that he has had to because no one else can eat up as many minutes. I think one of the reasons why they played, Kostka, Holzer with him while Gunnarrson was out was also to see how much ice they really could handle. I think next year Carlyle will try to give Fraser and Franson more shutdown time which will allow Phaneuf to play 24 minutes or less.

    As for the Habs, looking for leadership from their head coach was a waste. Looking ready to pout all the time, responding to “will you start Budaj in game 4″ and telling the reporter are you serious? Can only inspire confidence (LOL). In the playoffs teams need to look inside for solutions not outside for pity.

    I am a Leaf fan, so I detest Ottawa btw, but Montreal deserved (and could have earned) a better outcome.

    • Murph, I agree on your Dion comment. He is playing too much and hopefully he gets down under 25 minutes a game. I think he will make less mistakes and pick his spots better when he isn’t playing 28+ minutes a game.

  9. Coaches are usually the best at deciding who has talent and who does not. Do you think Carlyle would play Phaneuf as many minutes as he does on a regular shift, PP, and PK if he was not capable. He plays against the opponents best players every night. And don’t give me crap about he is all they have either, if he wasn’t good he would not be playing as many mins as he does. Sure he makes a few gaffs but I can’t recall one d-man in the whole league who doesn’t besides the fact he plays in TO where everything is analyzed to death. Look at Subban in Montreal, he is up for the Norris and is one of the biggest turn over machines in the league.
    I agree he is probably a number 2 or 3 guy and makes to much(a contract signed in Calgary) but he has played much better this year than previously.
    He was moved because he was trying to take over? Are you serious? Do you actually believe all the crap you here from the media?
    As for Gunnarsson. He is just an average d-man who may be playing good but I think he makes just as many if not more mistakes than Phaneuf does. Its just that when Phaneuf makes a mistake its because he pinches at the wrong time where as Gunnarsson mistakes are in his own zone. He is not physical enough and gets bumped off the puck way to easily.
    The TO d-men get to much blame for turn overs in their own zone but the blame does not just lay with the defense, the forwards have to make themselves more available to pass too. Way to many times the other team pressures the defense and they have nobody to make a play to so they give up the puck in their own zone or are forced to clear off the glass into the neutral zone. One solution to Carlyle was to finally insert Gardiner into a more prominent role, but the team has to cover when he goes on one of his forays. Its not like the old Oilers when they knew they would win games 8 to 4 every night. Coffee had free rein to gallop anytime he wanted to, but he was a terrible defenseman.
    Sean, I like Phaneuf most of the time but to suggest he is close to being Norris worthy is way off the mark.

  10. Just discussion, but like I said I keep Phaneuf long term but not over 6 million simply because he cant be replaced easily ..but anything north of that salary would require some deep thought. This ISNT about his gaffe the other night its about his all around game for a 6 mill defenseman over the past years.

    I think there are some simple decisions coming…Mcarthur and Obyrne being let go…Komisarek being bought out..but after that who knows-
    Bozak is really proving his value these playoffs and NO he is not a true elite centre- but there are only 10 or so of those and no I dont think Stephen Weiss or Paul Stastny is an improvement. What do you pay him? He will ask for 5 and I could argue he gets it- O”Reilly got more than that…What about Kessel- I am very biased here but I do believe at age 25 he is becoming an absolute superstar- if he wasnt in Toronto we would want him here…he doesnt hit or fight but has learned to play better all around..I am just worried about what his demands will be….Alex Semin just got 5 years 7 million per….

    • I am still shocked Semin got that deal ….

  11. First Bozak, now Phaneuf? Dave Shoalts in today’s Globe and Mail is basically calling for Phaneuf to be run out of town! Toronto media and fans should be careful what they wish for! Bozak is certainly not a number one centre, and neither is Phaneuf a number one D-man on some teams, but folks let’s not confuse the term “number one” for “elite”. Phaneuf and Bozak carry the number one label for TO because they are the best option the Leafs currently have. If better options were available to Carlyle and Nonis, do you not think that they would have explored them? Let’s say for argument’s sake that Bozak is allowed to walk this summer as a UFA, and Phaneuf is dealt away for prospects and or draft picks, because really, according to the court of public opinion they couldn’t possibly get much more in return for their captain. The Leafs enter training camp with either Grabovski or Kadri as their top line centre, and God only knows as their top pairing D-men. Talk about one step forward and two steps back! Free agency is not the answer, unless you think past their prime veterans on the back side of thirty can adequately replace Bozak and Phaneuf. Going the trade route to bring in top end talent will only serve to deplete a farm system that Leaf management has worked hard to restock and is just now starting to bear fruit. Also, top end talent costs money, money the Leafs need to resign the likes of Franson, Kadri, Komarov, Gunnarsson, Orr, McLaren and Fraser, and in a year’s time, Kessel, Reimer, Frattin. Gardiner, McClement and Kulemin. Not saying the Leafs are going to retain all of these players, but if not them, someone similarly priced. If only it was as easy as these armchair GM’s think, and they could swap Phaneuf straight up for an elite cente, and then swing a draft floor deal that would bring them a first rate blueliner from a team desperate to become cap compliant. At any rate, ridding themselves of Bozak and Phaneuf (and anyone else who falls out of favour with the TO fans and media prior to training camp) without having an adequate replacement ready to step in makes no sense.

  12. Dion is going nowhere and likely will be resigned by the Leafs for likely for a bit less too. Kessel n Bozak are likely to be resigned and going nowhere either. Lupul.Kadri, Gunnerson, Fraser n Colton Orr, Reimer, Scrivens and Komarov too. Yes folks, largely what many feel are a bunch of no names, are the future of the Maple Leaf franchise and the team.

    This team, as assembled in all it glory, is chewing away at things and 2 more wins and they will have done what NOBODY thought could have happened. Hey, no matter what, they have won 2 games from the Bruins..albeit on the road WHILE the CANUCKS are now into golf season with no post season wins

    In short, and I do mean short as the odds of an upset are slim n none but for me, as a Leaf fan; who expects the hammer to come down very soon,f**k you Vancouver as you just fell way too short in your task

  13. I think the Leafs had a great season this year. I still don`t understand people who wants Kessel traded. All he does is SCORE SCORE SCORE. Any other teams in the league would love to have Kessel in their lineup.
    I agree that GUNNERSON must go. He makes too many mistakes down low in own zone. Too bad we can`t keep Grabo, I think he just had an off season this year. I wouldn`t be too disappointed if Phaneuff gets traded for a prospects or high picks, we have more than enough replacements in our system. As for Reimer, he will only get better. Go Leafs Go and Great season it was. Looking forward for the next year.