As I talked about in my Two Minutes for Instigating column yesterday, the denials by both the Flames and Phaneuf in regards to him being traded mean absolutely nothing.
Nobody is going to come out and say "yes, I've asked to be traded" or "yes, Dion has asked us for a trade." Not mid-season, not when the Flames are challenging for home ice in the playoffs and a division/conference championship.
Something is up here, and it's pretty obvious. This rumour started so small, with Randy Workman leaking it about a month ago. From there, Eklund picked it up and spoke of how Phaneuf was causing problems in the Flames' room.
Now, the story has gotten much bigger, and continues to grow on a daily basis.
Yesterday, I reported that two teams to watch were Ottawa and New Jersey. Personally, while I hear Ottawa has interest, I don't see what they have to get this deal done. Jared Cowan has no value, while the Sens are too high on Karlsson to deal him. The Spezza-for-Phaneuf trade, which was a popular rumour last year, is too one sided for the Sens nowadays, and has little chance of happening, even with Ottawa adding to their deal.
As for Jersey, it only makes sense because New Jersey is the one system that could make Phaneuf a real star in this league. With that said, the Devils are rarely involved in the big trades, and are loyal to the kids they develop. This means the chances of them giving up homegrown talent like Bergfors or Clarkson are next to nothing, meaning this deal is unlikely to get done.
This morning, I was made aware of two more teams to keep an eye on. The first is Philly, which is being reported by ESPN's insider. It doesn't take a hockey insider to speculate about a Jeff Carter for Dion Phaneuf trade. Carter would look really good in red and white (oops, not Canada...), while a Phanuef-Pronger combo would just be scary. Carter has been on the outs, especially since the rumours involving him and another players wife popped up. This deal makes sense to me.
And while the other team doesn't make as much sense as Philly, it interested me none the less: Tampa Bay. Last year, the rumours were Lecavalier to Montreal, but what about Calgary? Vinny badly needs a change of scenery, while Tampa has been looking to solidify their backend since they won the cup. The Flames would struggle to fit big Vin under the cap, but moving Jokinen and Phaneuf would do the trick.
I've been in the rumour game for five years now, and when stories like this Dion one come out, some of the newer "insiders" come to me for advice. A lot of websites have taken a lot of flack for reporting that Dion wanted out, especially since yesterday's denials, but I am here to say that there is something to this story, and Dion is probably 60/40 in a new jersey (not to be confused with the New Jersey Devils, though it could happen) by March 4th.
For all the latest check out Hockeyleaks.com as well as our twitter at http://www.twitter.com/hockeyleaks