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(2) Alexei Yashin v. (15) Dion Phaneuf

For the second day in a row, the lower seed was able to come out on top as Marc Savard defeated Shawn Horcoff in the closest vote of the tournament so far. Today's match is the last of the first round and is the second match-up featuring a player who's playing hockey in a league other than the NHL. Alexei Yashin may be gone, but (some of) his cap hit remains, and may well outlast his playing career. His opponent is the ugliest man in hockey. Arguments for each one after the jump.

Alexei Yashin

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Over the next four years, this contract will take up about 5% of the Islanders budget for player salaries, and they will get absolutely nothing for it besides a good character reference to pass along to Evgeni Nabokov. Unlike all of these other bad contracts, there's absolutely no way out of this one, and that's why I've given him the second seed. If the Islanders had just decided to pay Yashin, this would have been his last year with the team, and given the tremendous success of the Islanders over these last four years... well, at least failing was cheaper.

Dion Phaneuf

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Would you rather have this millstone of a contract or a cap penalty of 2.2 million dollars over the next four years? It's an interesting question because I think it's close. Phaneuf has struggled offensively since arriving in Toronto, but still has 29 points so far this year, and has also been playing in a much more challenging role than he has in the past, taking on tough competition at even strength, and playing a role on both the PP and the PK. He gets more ice time at evens than any defender on the team, and more ice time overall. His Corsi at even strength is just a mild negative, and he's also been very good (for a defenseman) at drawing about as many penalties as he takes. But is he worth $6.5M? Probably not. That said, if you're a cap team and you value Dion Phaneuf's next three years at $4M it's pretty close to a wash. So is Phaneuf worth more than that or less? Does the fact that you have an actual player despite the inefficiency make the deal better? It's a tough call.

The Bracket

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