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Trade Analysis: Sens get Phaneuf


Leafs acquire:

  • Milan Michalek and Colin Greening
    • They took on some dead wood in short-term place fillers in Michalek (currently on IR) and Greening (one NHL game this season). Neither are likely to make much of an impact between now and when their nearly $7 million in salaries come off the ledger after the 2016-17 season, but both could be used in depth roles to shore up a painfully thin forward corps.
  • Tobias Lindberg and a 2017 2nd Round Draft Pick
    • Lindberg may turn out to be great, but I think most fans were overvaluing him in the hopes that he ended up justifying the Ben Bishop/Cory Conacher deal. (Lindberg was the 3rd-rounder Ottawa acquired in that trade.)
    • Lindberg and the pick offer hope for the future, this was all about clearing out the last of their crushing commitments and freeing themselves up to do something if the right opportunity comes along, say, later this summer when free agency kicks in. No one’s saying Steven Stamkos will be one of those opportunities, but if he happens to have any interest in signing with his hometown team, well, the door is open.
  • Jared Cowen
    • Lamoriello also added an immediate replacement for Phaneuf in Jared Cowen. The 25-year-old has struggled with his consistency in Ottawa, but the pieces are there for him to become a solid depth defender. He’s only on the books through 2016-17, so Toronto will have time to evaluate its options without being locked in long-term.

Notes: Cowen, Greening, and Michalek combined for $9.65M in cap hit — more in actual salary, since Greening and Cowen had rising salaries. Ottawa wanted to get rid of poisonous contracts, and they shed their two worst ones in this deal.

Sens acquire:

  • Dion Phaneuf
    • The knock on Phaneuf as a player in Toronto was that he was ill-suited for the role of go-to defender, that he lacked the speed and hockey sense to match up head-to-head with the league’s elite attackers. That won’t be a problem in Ottawa where Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot will continue to carry the load as the top pair. Phaneuf can settle in on the second pair with Cody Ceci, who is developing nicely this season, and should thrive now that he’ll be facing lesser competition. And where he was the voice in the Leafs locker room, he can blend in a bit more with Ottawa, adding support to the leadership group that is already in place without being the face of the organization. Even if they can’t mount another late-season charge like last year’s—and with four points and four teams separating the Sens from a wild berth, they’re in tough—this situation looks like a long-term win for the Sens. Murray has strengthened the team during Karlsson’s prime years, and he ditched a couple of unwanted contracts in Greening and Cowen, clearing the short-term cap space that could make it easier to re-sign RFA winger Mike Hoffman this summer.
  • Cody Donaghey, Casey Bailey, Matt Frattin and Ryan Rupert
    • Bailey played some decent hockey over three years at Penn State before deciding to turn pro last year. With 18 points in 38 games in the AHL as a 24-year-old forward, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be an NHL player. Plus he’s a UFA at the end of the year. Rupert didn’t look good in junior until his 19-year-old season, and based on the fact that he’s spent a good portion of two seasons in the ECHL, he’s another long-shot to be an NHL player. Donaghey is the most intriguing of the lot. He signed with the Leafs in the summer of 2014 as an undrafted prospect, and as a 19-year-old defenceman currently has 22 points in 37 games in the QMJHL. He’s still a long-shot, but his youth means he has time to grow in the organization. Importantly, Frattin’s deal is up at the end of the year, meaning the team can cut bait with him or sign him to an AHL contract.

The winner in this trade was the Ottawa Senators. Ultimately they get their 2nd best defensemen, for Lindberg and a 2nd. They moved poisonous contracts in Cowen, Michalek and Greening, for Dion Phaneuf. Personally, I think that Dion Phaneuf having the weight off his shoulders will make him perform a lot better. Not being ‘the guy’ will have a huge impact on how he plays, night in and night out.

Coleton MacDonald
The Founder of
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