Dion Phaneuf was a 6-foot-4, 222-pound left-handed defenseman who was eligible to be selected in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the same draft that also boasted prospects such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Corey Perry, and three Stanley Cup Champions with the Kings, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter.
Phaneuf was drafted with the ninth overall pick by the Calgary Flames and would suit up for the Flames until 2010. During his career in Calgary, he recorded 75 goals and 153 assists for 228 points in 378 games played. That comes out to be around 0.6 points per game, which is not bad for a defenseman.
However, as the years inched closer to 2010, Dion Phaneuf was “falling out of favor with Calgary and struggled mightily to score goals,” Bleacher Report’s Mark Ritter states. In 55 games with the Flames in the 2009-2010 season, he only had 22 points: 10 goals and 12 assists. So, it seemed like it was time to move on for both sides.
The former first-round pick was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a part of a seven-piece package.
Known for his tenacity and aggressiveness on the ice, his hard-hitting ability is one aspect of his game that was not struggling during his scoring drought. Prior to landing in Toronto, he recorded 125 hits in the 2009-2010 season. Then, after becoming a Maple Leaf, he increased his hit total to 194, adding 69 more hits on the year in the Blue and White.
For that reason and more, Dion Phaneuf was named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs a brief six months later. During the announcement of his captaincy, then-Leafs General Manager Brian Burke had this to say about crowning Dion as captain:
"“Today is a very important day for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have had many great players fulfill this role in the long history of the franchise, and we wouldn’t be taking this direction if we didn’t think it was absolutely the right step. We liked the impact Dion made with players, coaches and fans alike since his arrival and we consider him a building block toward future team success.”"
Toronto would become the place he spent the majority of his NHL career. In 423 games played, Phaneuf recorded 45 goals and 151 assists for 196 points but also had a -31 plus/minus. His impact may not have been felt on the scoresheet night in and night out, but it’s a certainty that he left his impact on the opposing team’s bodies, laying a total of 1,113 hits in the seven years he was a Maple Leaf.
To say he was a physical defenseman would be an understatement. Phaneuf was fearless when he was on the ice, for good or for bad. With Toronto being the media conglomerate that it is, he was heavily scrutinized for some of the decisions that he made and had a large salary attached to his name. So, Toronto wanted to move him.
On February 9, 2016, his time in Toronto would come to an end as he was traded to the Ottawa Senators as a part of a 10-piece trade package.
As far as the package went for the Ottawa Senators, Dion Phaneuf was the only one of the four players to play in more than 10 games for the Senators. And Casey Bailey was the only other one to even put on the uniform. Matt Frattin never saw NHL ice in Ottawa and neither did Cody Donaghey.
The Senators-Phaneuf marriage did not last long. In fact, it lasted less than three full seasons. Phaneuf suited up in a Senators jersey for 154 games total and only recorded 54 points. He was able to play in a less-scrutinized environment, but it was not enough to keep him in Ottawa long-term.
On February 14, 2018, Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a swap for Marian Gaborik.
February 14, 2018, aka Valentine’s Day, was a Wednesday. On Tuesday night, the Ottawa Senators were playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Heading into the third period, all things seemed to be normal. Until Dion Phaneuf was pulled in the third period in preparation for the trade between Ottawa and Los Angeles.
After arriving in Los Angeles mid-season that year, he only appeared in 26 games for the Kings, scoring only 10 points: three goals and seven assists. Phaneuf’s career was on the brink of being over and his production was heavily declining.
The following season would be his last season of NHL hockey. In 67 games with the Kings, he only had six points: one goal and five assists. The writing was on the wall at that point for Dion and the Kings. In the offseason after his second calendar year in Los Angeles, the Kings bought Dion Phaneuf out of his contract that ran through the 2020-2021 season.
That contract was signed on December 31, 2013, with the Toronto Maple Leafs for seven years, worth $49 million dollars. As a penalty for buying him out of the contract early, Los Angeles had to pay him $4.25 million dollars over 4 years and the Ottawa Senators had to pay him $1.417 million dollars over 4 years as well due to them retaining 25% of his salary in the trade.
In actual money, over the past four seasons, since the 2019-2020 season, the Kings have paid him $1,062,500 each year, while he has also been receiving checks from Ottawa for $354,167 each year. Not a bad gig for him as he is getting paid to do nothing essentially. But, now he is officially off the books for each team and neither team will incur a cap hit from it any longer.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rink Royalty team!