My season review will be coming next week, after Sutter's presser on Monday.
Till then, I wanted to comment on Eric Duhatechek's article in which he suggests the Flames may want to consider dealing Phaneuf and his great big $6.5M contract.
In his first three years, operating on his entry-level contract, Phaneuf was a bargain with a minimal salary-cap charge. Those defensive lapses were far easier to forgive than after they rewarded him with a lucrative deal averaging $6.5-million.
At that price, you need to be a complete defenceman in all aspects of the game – something that Phaneuf decidedly was not this season. He struggled defensively, saw his scoring production slip and overall gave signs that he is, if anything, regressing defensively - or at the very least, not developing the way his early promise suggested he might.
Besides the fact that Phanuef may not be able to provide value for his dollars, Hat cites the Flames significant budgetary challenges going into next season as a reason to move Dion.
Personally, I disagree with the move for a couple of reasons:
1.) Phaneuf is coming off his worst season in the league. Moving him now is a selling an asset at it's lowest value. In addition, there are indications that his developmental step back had more to do with injury than an actual "plateauing" of ability. If the Flames move Dion know, they likely won't get fair value in return.
2.) Duhatschek lists four major "core" contracts in his piece which will represent the most significant cap management obstacles going into next season: Jokinen (5.25M), Iginla (7M), Kiprusoff (5.83) and Phaneuf (6.5M). Of those players, which provided the least value for his dollars this season? He played below replacement level most of the year and it's clear he's falling away from his peak at a rapid pace (which occurred years ago).
If the Flames are going to deal a piece of the core, it's clear to me which contract they should look to move. The return would likely be minimal, but at this point just getting Kipper off the books would be a boon to the organization. Moving Kipper's dollars would allow the org to pursue the Red Wings style of team building by spending minimal dollars in goaltending while investing the difference in quality skaters. It would also make room for one of the team's goaltending prospects, many of whom have stagnated over the years with Kiprusoff clogging the crease in the bigs. That's less of an issue when you have Luongo or Brodeur in net - but the Flames don't have that now. They may as well see if they have something in their younger assets, which will be easier to do without a $6M former Vezina winner cemented as the clubs starter.
Naturally, a replacement starter would be a concern, but probably not a major one given the fact Kipper was in the bottom 3rd of the league in SV% and the Flames still won 46 games. Plus, there tends to be a lot of average 'tenders available for cheap in the league at any given time.