Tuesday morning. Coming off a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the focus in Ottawa is the same as it has been for a while. The Ottawa Senators have been beating the word consistency into the ground this year, struggling to look like the same hockey team night in and night out.
Once the news broke of a blockbuster deal between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, on what was a seemingly normal Tuesday morning, the topic surrounding this team has taken a dramatic shift.
The news broke just after 11 this morning:
The Ottawa Senators have acquired Dion Phaneuf, Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert, and Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, Tobias Lindberg, and a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft.
So, let’s get to the unpacking.
Dion Phaneuf Is An Ottawa Senator
The biggest point of the deal. Once you get past the shocking reality that these long-time bitter rivals just made a nine-player blockbuster trade (their first time dealing since 1998), you can start to look at what this trade means.
As the captain in Toronto, Phaneuf has been under an extreme amount of pressure. It wasn’t much of a secret that Toronto was looking to get rid of him and his oversized contract that runs until the 2020-21 season.
For Ottawa, acquiring a defenceman like Phaneuf could help their struggling back-end tremendously. As a team, the Senators lead the NHL in shots against per game with an average of 33.1. There is no doubt that the club believes Phaneuf, with his veteran presence, could help their d-core and lower that number. The speculation is that his place in the lineup will be in the 2nd paring with Cody Ceci, who is more of an offensively geared defenceman. Through 51 games so far this season, Phaneuf has 3 goals and 21 assists.
The Senators’ Dumped Some Much Needed Contracts
Along with Toronto, the Senators had some contracts that they were desperately trying to get rid of. Jared Cowen and Colin Greening have a combined $5.75 million value for this season, both of who have been nothing more than destructive to Ottawa’s budget. Though they are picking up a large (and much longer) contract with Phaneuf, there comes some immediate savings for the team.
The #Sens will save 1.4 million this year and 4 million next year with this deal.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 9, 2016
Likewise with Cowen and Greening, the change of scenery will do them some good. Greening will remain in the AHL, now playing with the league’s top team in the Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile for Cowen, he’ll likely get the chance to be a consistent part of the Maple Leaf’s d-core, an opportunity that simply wasn’t available to him in Ottawa.
Though the loss of Milan Michalek isn’t necessarily welcome news to the capital, getting rid of his contract also helps in the department of savings – his contract has a hit of $4 million through the 2017-18 season.
The Impact On The Future
Perhaps the toughest part of this deal for the Senators is going to be watching Tobias Lindberg develop into an NHL caliber forward. When asked about him today, Ottawa General Manager Bryan Murray said he expects to see the young forward playing for the Leafs within a year.
"He was one individual prospect we targeted… He'll be given every opportunity." – Lamoriello on Lindberg #TMLtalk
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 9, 2016
Alongside dealing one of their top forward prospects, Ottawa allotted Toronto a 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft.
With so many moving pieces in one deal, it is hard to give an immediate thought on precisely which team is the “winner” of the trade. But for now, it mostly seems like fans of both teams are wondering why the other isn’t more upset about the players they’re parting with.
I guess you could call that a “good hockey deal”.