Dion Phaneuf traded to Senators in 9-player deal
Toronto captain sent to rival Ottawa
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded high-priced defenceman Dion Phaneuf to the rival Ottawa Senators as part of a massive deal involving nine players and a draft pick announced Tuesday.
In addition to Phaneuf, Ottawa got defenceman Cody Donaghey and forwards Casey Bailey, Matt Frattin and Ryan Rupert.
Phaneuf, the Leafs' captain since June 2010, has 24 points and 67 penalty minutes in 51 games this season for Toronto, which ranks second-last in the Eastern Conference and appears unlikely to make the playoffs.
Neither team retained salary in the deal. That means Ottawa, which is four points out of a playoff spot in the East, will be responsible for the full amount remaining on Phaneuf's big contract.
With a salary cap hit of $7 million US for this season and the next five, the 30-year-old Phaneuf was considered a hindrance to the Leafs' rebuilding efforts. Shedding the underperforming defenceman's entire salary — and cap hit — appears to be the main appeal of the trade for the Leafs, who agreed to pay $1.2 million of Phil Kessel's salary annually through 2022 when they unloaded the pricey forward to Pittsburgh last summer.
"This gives us the opportunity to do things," Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "We're certainly going to do whatever we can to make ourselves better."
Phaneuf has spent all 11 of his NHL seasons with Canadian-based teams. Calgary drafted him ninth overall in 2003, and he scored 20 goals — still a career high — as a rookie in 2005-06. The Flames traded him to the Leafs in January 2010 for four players.
Phaneuf arrived in Toronto to much fanfare, but the Leafs made the playoffs only once during his time there, and fans often blamed him for contributing to the teams' struggles.
"He's been a great leader, he's handled every situation thrown at him, and he's going to be missed," sai Lamoriello, who added that the team will go without a captain for the rest of the season.
Phaneuf won't be counted on as heavily in Ottawa, where perennial Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson anchors the blue-line.
"We don't expect him to come in here to be a saviour," Senators GM Bryan Murray said. "We expect him to come here and just be the hockey player he is."
Murray said the plan was for Phaneuf to play his first game with his new team on Wednesday night in Detroit.
The Senators said Phaneuf would wear jersey number 2 for them. He had number 3 in Toronto, but that belongs to fellow defenceman Marc Methot in Ottawa.
"Dion's ready now to win and we're not ready to win," Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. "It was a hard decsion. I think it's a good decision for Dion."
The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sens?src=hash">#Sens</a> Store works quick: <a href="https://t.co/1xQBX4TlUp">pic.twitter.com/1xQBX4TlUp</a>—@Senators
Ottawa didn't give up much in the way of NHL production. Cowen is a former first-round pick who has only four points this season, while Michalek is a one-time 35-goal scorer who has managed only six in 2015-16. Greening, 29, has appeared in only one NHL game this season, and Lindberg is a 20-year-old former fourth-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.
Apart from Phaneuf, two of Ottawa's acquisitions have NHL experience: Frattin has played in 135 NHL games, and Bailey has appeared in six.
With files from The Canadian Press