Will The Los Angeles Kings Part Ways with Dion Phaneuf?

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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Los Angeles Kings skates back for the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at Staples Center on December 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Kings have some problems pending with their veteran players. As they showed in Jake Muzzin´s trade, if there is a solid return for a good player, they will try to solve it that way. But what if there is not such an ideal solution like a trade with a good return? The Kings will have to answer an issue with Dion Phaneuf. The veteran defenceman is experiencing rather a horrible season and the Kings might elect to part ways with him.

Los Angeles Kings and Dion Phaneuf

The Kings acquired Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forwards Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. The Senators also retained 25% of the remainder of Phaneuf’s contract. That means Los Angeles currently pays Phaneuf $5,250,000 per season and his contract runs through the 2020-2021 season.

Phaneuf was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames as a ninth player overall in the first round of the 2003 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010. Then he served as a captain for the Maple Leafs for six seasons before getting traded to Ottawa in 2016. In the 2016-2017 season, Phaneuf helped Ottawa to get all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.

Post Trade

Last night, Dion Phaneuf was just a healthy scratch in Philadelphia. The Kings managed to defeat the Flyers and end their eight-game winning streak to enlarge theirs winning streak to three consecutive games. Phaneuf has missed seven games prior to the game in Philadelphia due to injuries this year. In 46 games disputed this season, Phaneuf has collected just one goal and two assists. He has also struggled in his own end. That goal came on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

The Kings acquired Phaneuf last season as they tried to unload Gaborik and his contract. Gaborik became an injury prone and the Kings were hoping to boost their defence ahead of the playoffs. Phaneuf tallied three goals and 10 points in 26 regular season games with the Kings. Later in the playoffs, he had one assist in a sweep from the Vegas Golden Knights.

Are the Kings willing to Part Ways with Phaneuf?

The Kings found a way how to be successful even without Phaneuf. And it doesn’t seem like a tough challenge to overcome. After scratching Phaneuf and trading Muzzin, Head Coach Willie Desjardins chose to play with four rather younger and inexperienced defencemen in a win versus the Flyers. Oscar Fantenberg played in 39 games this season. Paul Ladue skated in 19 games this year, has two goals. Sean Walker collected four points in 20 games.

Derek Forbort can be considered as a veteran among young Kings defencemen as he has played in 53 games during the present campaign totalling nine points. Comparing those four blueliners and their numbers to Dion Phaneuf and his numbers, there is no obvious reason for Willie Desjardins not to pick them ahead of Phaneuf.

It all doesn´t mean that Dion Phaneuf has been bad all over his career. No. He just got to play his 1000th game earlier this season in Los Angeles. In 1027 games played throughout his career, veteran defenceman recorded 491 points. However, the number of his games with points has decreased incredibly. As well, a number of his games finished in Dion Phaneuf being on the ice for lots of goals against this year.

What Would a Buyout Mean for the Kings?

There will likely be a lack of interest from teams for a potential Dion Phaneuf trade. Potentially a buyout might occur in the summer. As stated above, Phaneuf has still two more years left on a contract worth $7,000,000 per season, from which the Kings have $5,250,000 on their salary cap hit.

If the Kings decided to buyout Dion Phaneuf´s contract, the Senators would have to cover its 25% of salary. Los Angeles would pay $2,187,500 in the 2019-2020 season, then $4,062,500 in the 2020-2021 season. In the 2021-22 and 2022-2023 season, the Kings would pay $1,062,500 for each year. The Kings would save $3,062,500 next season and $1,187,500 the following season.

It would be probably still better than having the present Phaneuf´s contract under the salary cap. If the Kings bought out his contract next year, they would pay $3,750,000 in the 2020-2021 season and just $750,000 in the 2021-2022 season. Those numbers from beyond 2021 aren’t really a problem, neither the amount of dead money in the next season. Nevertheless, the problematic 2020-2021 season would await Los Angeles whether they decided to buy Phaneuf´s contract out this year or the following one.

As Drew Doughty´s new contract worth $11,000,000 per season kicks in next year, the Kings need to find a proper solution. All other defencemen not named Oscar Fantenberg currently on the roster are signed for the 2019-2020 season. Dion Phaneuf is the oldest defenceman on the Kings roster with 33. His situation will be definitely interesting to watch in the upcoming weeks and months.

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