After healthy scratch, what is Phaneuf’s future with Kings?


Last season, the Los Angeles Kings took what amounted to a desperation chance that Dion Phaneuf still had some productive hockey remaining in his career and acquired him from the Ottawa Senators. The hope was that he could help their blue line.

One year later, it is becoming painfully clear that his best days are long in the rear view mirror.

Kings coach Willie Desjardins confirmed on Thursday that the 33-year-old Phaneuf will be a healthy scratch for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was probably a long-time coming.

It has been, to say the least, a pretty a miserable year for Phaneuf as he enters Thursday with just a single goal, only two assists, a minus-16 rating, and a 46 percent Corsi rating, per Natural Stat Trick, in 46 games this season. His ice-time has also been reduced down to a career-low 14 minutes per night.

That alone is a concerning sign for his future with the Kings. Even more when you consider the Kings are clearly looking toward the future and looking to rebuild in what is now their fifth consecutive season of mediocrity.

The problem is they don’t really have any good options for what to actually do with Phaneuf as part of the rebuild.

If the Kings really are looking to the future they do not have much use for a mid-30s blue liner that isn’t even able to crack their current lineup.

He also still has two more years remaining on his current contract that pays him a salary cap hit of $7 million per season, per Cap Friendly.

That contract, combined with his declining play, is going to make him nearly impossible to trade unless the Kings throw in a useful asset to get a team looking to reach the salary cap floor in future seasons to take his contract (oddly enough, one such team could be … Ottawa … not that it would ever happen).

The other option is a buyout.

With two years remaining on his deal that would leave the Kings on the hook for some dead money through the end of the 2022-23 season. According to the CapFriendly buyout calculator, the cap hit would be $2.9 million next season, $5.4 million the year after, and then down to $1.4 million the two seasons after that.

That’s a big chunk of salary cap space going to a roster spot that is, literally, giving you nothing. But right now they have significantly more going to a player that has been so unproductive this season that they are making him a healthy scratch. So it is probably something that is worth considering.

Either way, it has become obvious based on his play, the new direction of the team, and Thursday’s decision that his future with the Kings should very much be up for discussion.

MORE: Muzzin trade should be start of Kings’ teardown

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Halak stops 50 in shutout

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Players of the Night:

Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders: The New York Rangers kept coming. And coming. And coming. The Blueshirts put up 50 shots on Halak, but the veteran netminder shut the door on each and every one of them in a heroic shutout effort.

Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals: Ovie had a four-point game, scoring his league-leading 34th goal (his 592nd in his career) and helping out on three others, including both of Wilson’s goals. Wilson also added an assist for a three-point night. Add in Nicklas Backstrom‘s goal and assist and the Capitals top line had a nine-point night.

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders: Barzal was instrumental in setting up all three Islanders goals. Furthermore, the rookie put himself in some elite company with his 60th, 61st and 62nd point of the season.

Marian Gaborik, Ottawa Senators and Dion Phaneuf, Los Angeles Kings: Both players made their debuts for their new teams after they were traded for each (and a couple other pieces) on Tuesday. Both ended up scoring a goal for their respective new teams.

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks: Stopped 43 of 44 to help the Sharks get back to winning ways.

Highlights of the Night: 

Kucherov makes them all stand still:

Poor Henrik Lundqvist:

Matt Murray sprawlin’:

Factoids of the Night:


Penguins 3, Kings 1

Islanders 3, Rangers 0

Devils 5, Hurricanes 2

Senators 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Lightning 4, Red Wings 1

Capitals 5, Wild 2

Flames 4, Predators 3

Ducks 3, Blackhawks 2

Coyotes 5, Canadiens 2

Golden Knights 4, Oilers 1

Sharks 4, Canucks 1

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Dion Phaneuf wastes no time scoring in Kings debut (video)

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There’s been a question floating around the NHL since Dion Phaneuf was taken out of a game on Tuesday and subsequently traded.

What would the former Ottawa Senators defenseman bring to the Los Angeles Kings?

The answer: goals, apparently.

Well, one goal so far. Phaneuf tallied his fourth of the season in his first game with the Kings against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

It’s not what you’d refer to as a snipe.

On the glass half empty side, Phaneuf was also on the ice when the Penguins scored.

The Phaneuf giveth and the Phaneuf taketh away.

Hockey is great.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Poll: Will Seabrook re-sign?


In Chicago, conversation about the cost of keeping the team together never really ends.

Having just come off a summer in which Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Johnny Oduya and Patrick Sharp all exited due to financial constraints, the ‘Hawks can now begin looking ahead to next July, when another prized player could go unrestricted:

Brent Seabrook.

Seabrook, 30, is heading into the last of a five-year, $29 million deal with a $5.8M cap hit. His resume is loaded — three Stanley Cups, Olympic gold, a ’15 All-Star Game appearance — and he’s coming off a postseason in which he led all defensemen in goals (seven), the same number that Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos potted.

So needless to say, he’d be coveted on the open market.

There are two sides to this discussion. The first is why Seabrook would want to stay in Chicago, and it’s a fairly easy sell — it’s the only team he’s ever known, having been drafted by the ‘Hawks in the first round in ’03. He’s since appeared in over 800 games in a ‘Hawks sweater during his 10-year career, and developed a dynamic pairing with fellow blueliner (and one of his best friends) Duncan Keith.

Seabrook also has, as mentioned above, achieved a boatload of success with the ‘Hawks.

But there are reasons why he’d leave.

Well, one big reason — the money.

Per, the ‘Hawks already have close to $60 million committed to 16 players after this season. While there aren’t many other noteworthy contracts on the horizon — Andrew Shaw will require a new deal in ’16-17, Teuvo Teravainen and Marko Dano the year after — there is a question of how much Chicago can pay Seabrook.

Do consider that, a few weeks ago, Calgary gave Mark Giordano — who’s a year older than Seabrook — a six year, $40.5 million extension that carries a $6.75M cap hit. Earlier this summer, TSN speculated that Seabrook “is due to earn at least Dion Phaneuf-type money, in the neighborhood of seven years and $49 million.”

Those are both pretty steep AAVs but, given the dearth of quality UFA defensemen that usually hit the market, they could be in Seabrook’s wheelhouse. Remember that Mike Green got $6M per from Detroit this summer, while Andrej Sekera got $33 million over five years from the Oilers.

If Seabrook doesn’t sign an extension prior to the season starting, you can expect this conversation to pick up steam as the year progresses.

But why wait for that? Let’s vote and discuss now.

Maple Leafs ’15-16 Outlook


After finishing with a 30-44-8 record last season, the Maple Leafs have undergone substantial changes, but none of the decisions made were about getting back into the playoffs in the short-term. When the Maple Leafs dealt Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh, it was a clear sign that they were embracing a rebuild and its 2015-16 roster will reflects the early stages of that transition.

Toronto isn’t likely to enter the season with a lot of promising youngsters on its squad, but that will come later. For now, the Maple Leafs have signed veterans that can serve as placeholders like Shawn Matthias and P.A. Parenteau to give the top prospects time to develop properly. Matthias and Parenteau are only inked for one season and both might be traded at the deadline for picks or prospects to continue the Maple Leafs’ long-term goals.

Other veterans like Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, and Tyler Bozak might also end up being dealt either before the season or at the deadline. In addition to providing the Maple Leafs with more assets, moving them would also increase Toronto’s chances of ending up with projected 2016 top pick Auston Matthews.

Meanwhile, Toronto has undergone a massive transformation on the management side as president Brendan Shanahan is now supported by GM Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock, which provides the franchise with the experience to see this rebuild through to the end. That’s a new thing for Toronto because while the franchise has barely seen any playoff actions since the start of the salary cap era, that hasn’t previously led to the Maple Leafs fully embracing a long-term rebuilding effort.

In fact, trading Kessel is the perfect symbol of the philosophical shift, not just because of what he represented now, but also due to the context of his acquisition. When Toronto got him back in 2009 for two first-round draft picks, it was a sign that then GM Brian Burke wanted to move forward without a traditional rebuild. That didn’t work, so now a new group is trying a different, more patient approach.