A key figure in the Battle of Ontario is pulling on new colours.
No salary will be retained by either team over the trade’s entirety, and Toronto clears long-term salary cap space as a result. The Leafs do see a short-term cap hit increase of $1.8 million.
The deal proves that Ottawa is serious about making a push to qualify for the playoffs this spring, and both clubs moved players they wanted out.
“It’ll give us more security on the back end," Senators GM Bryan Murray said. "It’s about getting an experienced leader, a hardworking, competitive guy to add to our top four.”
In addition to Phaneuf, whom the Leafs had been shopping for more than a year, the Senators acquired forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert plus defence prospect Cody Donaghey from the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenceman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, as well as Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Phaneuf, 30, has recorded 24 points (three goals, 21 assists), while registering 67 penalty minutes in 51 games for Toronto this season. He had to waive a no-movement clause in order for the deal to go through. Phaneuf's contract carries a $7-million cap hit through 2019-20.
He passes Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson as the highest-paid Senators defenceman and will wear No. 2 with his new club. Murray imagines Phaneuf pairing up with the developing Cody Ceci to start.
“For me, it was about hockey," Murray said of the trade. Serious talks between Murray and Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello began on Saturday, and there was much back-and-forth to work out the details. “It had to work financially well for us as well as Toronto.
“If you can make a trade that satisfies your needs, you can’t worry about the other team.”
Lamoriello said he had to separate the person and the player as well as his heart and his head in order to deal Phaneuf, whom he hopes will benefit from a change of scenery. He said Phaneuf accepted the news with class, but the GM declined comment when asked if other teams were in the running.
“He’s been a great leader, he’s handled every situation thrown at him, and he’s going to be missed," Lamoriello said. “Dion is going to leave a hole in our lineup, there’s certainly no question.”
The Leafs will not name a replacement captain this season.
"This gives us the opportunity to do things," Lamoriello said of the increase cap room. "We're certainly going to do whatever we can to make ourselves better."
Frattin, 28, a veteran of 135 NHL games with Toronto, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, has recorded 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) over 47 games with the AHL’s Marlies this season. Frattin carries a $800,000 cap hit and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Bailey, 24, has 18 points, including four goals, in 38 AHL games this season and has one goal in six career NHL games. Bailey's contract carries a $912,500 cap hit and he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
Rupert, 21, has six goals and 12 points in 29 AHL games with Toronto this season. Rupert is under contract for two more seasons at a $631,666 cap hit.
Donaghey, 19, was signed by the Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent and has scored five goals and registered 22 points in 36 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games with the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats this season. The prospect carries a $600,000 cap hit and becomes an RFA in 2018-19.
Greening, 29, scored 38 goals and registered 87 points over 256 NHL games (all with Ottawa) including one this season. Greening had fallen out of favour in Ottawa. He carries a cap hit of $2.65 million for the next two seasons.
Cowen, 25, has earned four assists in 37 games this season and has recorded 15 goals and 46 points in 249 career games with the Senators. Ottawa had been trying to deal Cowen for months. He carries a $3.1-million cap hit through 2016-17.
Michalek, 31, has scored six goals and 10 points this season. In 729 career games with Ottawa and the San Jose Sharks, he has scored 206 goals and added 232 assists for 438 points. The winger carries a $4-million cap hit through 2016-17 and is currently on injured reserve.
Lindberg, 20, was Ottawa’s fourth-round selection in 2013. He has recorded 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) over 34 games in his rookie season with the Binghamton Senators and is under contract through 2017-18.
“Mark [Hunter] had him very high on his list,” Lamoriello said of Lindberg, who will report to the Marlies. “He was the one individual prospect that we targeted.”
(cap info via the excellent General Fanager)