What if Nonis made a trade for Cory Schneider and Bernier was in NJ instead? Would Schneider's #s be around the same with the lack of D we have? (This is a hypothetical of course.) I think the D is a big issue and Phaneuf's new contract is a problem, but I can see why Nonis wanted to lock him up.
Ideally I'd like to bring in somebody to play with Phaneuf and knock Gunnar down to the 2nd pairing where he could help out Franson, Reilly or Gardiner. Gunnar gets less minutes which helps him and the team. No knock on him. And Phaneuf gets somebody that can help him out more than Gunnar can. Again no knock. You'd have the option to pair Phaneuf with the new guy, which would be an upgrade over anybody else except for Phaneuf most likely, against a team that has limited scoring threats. Games against teams with multiple threats you could pair Phaneuf back with Gunnar and play the new guy with another D man to give sort of two shutdown options.