NHL Canadian Corner – December 20, 2013.

Maple Leafs defeat the Coyotes, while the Canucks, Canadiens, Flames, Senators and Oilers lose, plus a profile of Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom.

A dejected Antoine Vermette (L) skates away as James Reimer celebrates his game-clinching shootout save.

A dejected Antoine Vermette (L) skates away as James Reimer celebrates his game-clinching shootout save.

TORONTO SUN: James van Riemsdyk’s Joffrey Lupul’s shootout goal was the winner as the Maple Leafs edged the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1. James Reimer turned aside 34 shots for the win.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Goals by Jamie Benn, Colton Sceviour, Erik Cole and Valeri Nichushkin drove Roberto Luongo from the net as the Dallas Stars downed the Canucks 4-1. Dan Hamhuis logged nearly 30 minutes on the Canucks injury-depleted blueline.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Brian Gionta admitted the game was essentially over after the St. Louis Blues took a 3-0 first period lead. The Blues went on to a 5-1 rout of the Habs, prompting coach Michel Therrien to express disappointment in his club’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Put simply, they sucked, which they’ve been doing for nearly two weeks.

CALGARY HERALD: A late penalty by Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie led to the Detroit Red Wings’ Daniel Alfredsson scoring a power-play overtime goal to down Calgary 3-2.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: The fading Senators fell to the Florida Panthers 4-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are still only five points out of a playoff berth, but if they don’t turn things around soon, those playoff hopes will be toast. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers dropped their fourth straight game, falling 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: For a small defenseman, Tobias Enstrom plays a big role for the Jets.


  1. The way the East plays no one is truly going to be out of the playoff race until the last week or 2 of the regular season Im not sure I have ever seen anything like this a whole conference full of teams capable of going on 5-6 game losing streaks, getting pumped full of goals every time the play one of the better teams from the west. Nvm 2 different conferences right now it looks like 2 different leagues. The East is horrible. Tough to say who sucks worse most nights.

    • And, after the Western Conference finals, the winner will limp into the Stanley Cup Finals and likely lose to Pittsburgh or Boston. Out here. the contrast most nights between the 4:00 game and the 7:00 is night and day.

  2. It’s deals like Steen’s new contract that separates the men (Doug Armstrong) from the boys (Dave Nonis). Anyone can hand out big dollar, long term contracts but it takes a real GM to get players to agree to dollar figures below market value and length of term well, well below what the market is handing out.
    Cheers to Armstrong.
    Dave give you head a shake and pay attention to Doug maybe you can learn a thing about negotiating with a UFA before you give out another stupid 7 year deal to Phaneuf.

    • To compare Steen and Phaneuf isn’t really reasonable.
      I’m not saying that I believe that Phaneuf deserves 7×7, but Steen has never produced anything remotely close to what he’s doing right now, and he knows it. Steen took a fair deal, and he’s smart enough to take that deal and not set extremely high expectations of himself moving forward on a long-term contract… this provides the incentive for him to try to repeat this type of performance moving forward.
      Dion Phaneuf has a more consistent track record – he might be playing slightly above his average this year (defensively – but points are down) but everyone knows generally what you’re going to get with Phaneuf over the course of the next 5-7 years.
      Calling Nonis an idiot if he signs Phaneuf to a 7 year deal is really easy to do from your couch, but what would you really do? You’ve seen this defence play and it’s pretty obvious that we don’t have anyone that can play the minutes that Phaneuf can. Nonis can’t win because if they sign Phaneuf you’ll be mad. If they don’t, you’ll be calling for Nonis’ head next year when they don’t have a defenceman to play Phaneuf’s minutes. It’s a catch 22 and I am not envious of Dave Nonis’ position

      • What would I do. I would offer him 5 years at $5.5M and tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out if he’s not interested. Then again I would not have offered Bozak a new contract and would have passed on Clarkson, Grabo would still be a Leaf and Carlyle would most likely be gone. These are the tough decisions a GM needs to make and Nonis just isn’t good at being tough with UFA’s. He needs to look to guys like Armstrong and Lamorellio. Lou is not afraid to make the tough choice and let a guy walk if it means not getting stuck with a monster contract the player can never live up to.
        Sorry but you asked.

        • You are right about the couch comment. It’s easy to make these decisions sitting in front of a computer. Most of us take months and even years to fire a bad employee so I see your point. Then again if I was guaranteed to make millions every year for the next five years I think I could muster up the grit to play hardball and move guys out when necessary.

        • I did ask.
          Phaneuf won’t sign that contract and nor should he. Given the minutes that he plays and his +/- I don’t understand how you can justify that low a salary. If you said 7MM x 4 years or 8MM x 3 years then it would make sense, but to assume that a guy who plays the most minutes of anyone on your team and has a great +/- should accept less than market value is puzzling.
          I’m not a major Phaneuf fan, but let’s be honest here – the Leafs aren’t going anywhere without Phaneuf or someone else to replace his minutes.
          What’s your suggestion? How do you replace Phaneuf when he walks after you offer him that low-ball contract? You can’t – it’s that simple.

          • I would go $6M X4 or $7M X 3years if he would do it. The shorter the term the better. I would even do $9M for 1 year.

            As far as your question “how do you replace Phaneuf”? I would say you probably made the exact same statement about Bozak, Grabo and Lyles before they signed a new contract in their UFA year and proceeded to crap the bed the following year. I believe once Dion signs a seven year deal north of $7M everyone will be complaining next year about how crap he’s playing for the money he’s being paid just as they are right now about Bozak, Lyles and Clarkson. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          • 1. “But who will we replace him with?” Is a terrible reason to overpay a player. The only important question is this: Is Phaneuf worth $7MM per season on a 6-8 year deal? The answer is a big no.

            2. Plus/minus? Really? You want to Nonis to shell out $50MM+ because a guy has a good plus-minus? Yikes.

            Facts: In 257 career games as a Leaf Phaneuf has 33 goals and 124 points (0.48 PPG). That is not very impressive for a guy that gets oodles of PP time on a consistently high-scoring team. He’s also consistently a poor possession player. You know who else is under 30, plays big minutes and doesn’t score that much? Jay Bouwmeester. And he just signed a reasonable 5 year extension at $5.4MM per year. That, give or take, is what Phaneuf should get paid. Give him a bit more for the captaincy.

        • Lamoriello? Really? What about Kovalchuk’s contract? Because it was a good choice the Devils let him walk out of the door to take the next plane to the KHL.
          Ryder? Brunner?
          And he couldn’t sign those guys he should’ve kept like Parise or Clarckson. Don’t get me wrong, Clarckson is overpaid, even if he scores 20+ goals, but Lou couldn’t convince him to stay!

          • Everyone knows Lou was pressured by ownership on Kovalchuk’s contract. He wanted nothing to do with it but had no choice. Bad example.

      • 100 % correct TML…

        • .48 ppg is actually pretty decent not sure what your talking abou especailly fo a guy who really is a hybrid type defense man. Im not suggesting anything about contracts but Chara is .45 ppg Seabrook is .42 Keith is .52 Suter is .46… You realize hes a defense man right numbers wise he fits right in to that group that have older contracts that are either cap circumventing or around 6-7 million bucks. Other stats that he is around the top of the league in +/- hits blockshots minutes… Like I said Im not saying give him whatever he wants but 6.5-7 million bucks in the next 2 or 3 years wont even be 10 % of the cap which isnt all that bad. I’m sure another team would only be too happy to give Dion 7 million bucks.
          Finnaly yes you do over pay someone you cant replace take a look around the league Lundvquist (or any goalie really for that matter that has never won a cup?) really worth 8.5 mill per or is it the fact that the Rangers have no way of replacing that?

          • Another thing to mention Dion does not exactly have as strong a supporting cast on the Blue line like the Hawks Bruins Kings Blues where ya they have guys with some pretty good numbers but its a little more of a group effort.

          • – Phaneuf plays so many minutes because of that poor supporting cast. Playing a lot of minutes is not showing anything. What is the quality of those minutes? Phaneuf plays against tough competition, but he doesn’t handle it that well (look at his Corsi numbers),

            – Chara has a Norris Trophy and a SC to his credit, and is one of the most dominant defensemen in the league.

            – Keith also has a Norris Trophy and 2 SCs and is a better offensive producer.

            – Seabrook makes $5.8MM and compares pretty well to Phaneuf. As I said earlier something less than $6MM would be fair.

            – Suter compares well to Phaneuf, but his deal was signed before the new CBA and it is generally viewed as an overpay based on potential. But Suter does a solid job of playing close to 30 minutes a night for an average team.

            If the Leafs really want to pay Phaneuf like one of the premier defensemen in the game they can go ahead. But he’s just not worth it. You’d think a guy that was going to get $7MM per season would be on the radar for Team Canada. Tells you something.

          • I think arguing the skill set of Phaneuf would take us days because the best words to describe him are “good but inconsistent”. My only point is to keep his term under five years because we all know he will be a bag of crap after 3 or 4 especially over $7M so why in gods name would we want him for 7 years just because his agent is demanding that length of term. Again if he wants to really stay he will agree to 4 or 5 years if not then have a great time playing for someone else. Crippling the team with another long term 7 year deal is suicide and will hamper the team from getting better in the future when this guy is washed up in 3 or 4 years.

  3. So with all this talk of not signing Phaneuf, we still don’t have a plan B if he walks. I would love it if he signed 5×5 that’s never gonna happen. There are teams out there waiting to pay him that much. With meszaros off the books next year, you can be sure philly will be making a pitch for him.
    FYI, he is definitely on the team Canada radar. He is the third ranked left defenseman behind Keith and Bowmeaster. Marc stall has been injured for the most part and let’s be realistic Marc methot is not better than Phaneuf.
    With all that being said 7×6.5 would be the most fair contract and he is well worth it. However I see more of an 8 year 7 mil deal

  4. Its not letting me point out why leddys arguments are nonsense. :-/

    • Weber must be captain of team Canada he makes 12 mill this year.

  5. Whether or not Dion is worth what he’ll likely be offered on the open market in July is neither here nor there. He’s paired against top line competition every game, pp, pk etc. If Nonis doesn’t pay him $7-8 million per year on a contract of 5 years of more, somebody else will.

    If you let Dion walk, worth it or not, who ya going to get to replace him; and even if that player is available as a UFA, does he,or is he willing to come to Toronto and play for Carlyle; and the media shark tank that is Toronto.?

    Dion is a fine defenceman handling TOP 4 duties PROVIDED you cap his ice time to around 20 minutes per game. After that, he’s proven to get gassed and once that happens, the wheels sometimes fall off.

    Do I personally think anybody is worth the money they get in the NHL makes little difference but what I believe is that the Leafs are likely better with Dion than without him; and if only Carlyle would cap his ice time to about 20 minutes per game, you might see a much better, more efficient player making fewer mistakes which results in more meaningful ice time that helps the team in the end.

    I don’t know about you guys but I’m not convinced Carlyle is the right coach for this team but hey, I just can’t watch enough Maple Leaf hockey to say for sure but I see similar patterns of indifference at times from the players about their performance and that worries me.