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The pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Gardiner could be a dynamic one. Both players have offensive upside, and in Phaneuf's case, he can still take the body regularly.
Phaneuf registered 227 hits in 2013-14, was a plus-two and tallied 31 points. The former WHL star has a career Corsi percentage of 49.9, but last year's number of 41.1 was more indicative of the quality of his opponents and that the Leafs were overwhelmed in the defensive zone for long periods of time.
Paired with Gardiner, and with some more offensive-zone starts, these two could put up some significant points. They also could form the top duo on the point for the power play.
Gardiner had 30 points last year and led the defensive corps with a Corsi percentage of 46.5. He needs to increase both of those numbers beginning in October.
Gardiner is entering his prime just as Phaneuf starts to come out of the other side of his top years. Being matched up with Gardiner could see Phaneuf rejuvenated in 2014-15.
The Leafs will need them to be minute eaters—especially Gardiner. He may even challenge Phaneuf for the team title of most minutes played.
These two need to put up at least 75 points between them if the club wants to be a playoff contender this season.
Regular stats can be found on NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
Advanced stats can be found on Hockey-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.