Report: Senators may ask Phaneuf to waive NMC before expansion draft

Dion Phaneuf scores his 5th of the year thanks to former teammate Jake Gardiner deflecting it in to his own net.

Ottawa Senators have tough expansion draft decisions
Dion Phaneuf has a no-movement clause
• Team may prefer to protect Karlsson, Ceci, Methot

One of the biggest questions NHL teams will debate about internally leading up to the NHL Expansion Draft is what to do with veteran players locked into lucrative, long-term contracts that have no-movement clauses.

One of those teams is the Ottawa Senators and one of those players is Dion Phaneuf.

According to Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun: “It’s widely believed the Senators will protect Cody Ceci and Marc Methot along with Erik Karlsson, and ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move with the thinking [the Vegas Golden Knights] won’t touch the latter’s hefty contract.”

Phaneuf’s no-movement clause was agreed to when he inked a seven-year, $49-million contract extension on New Year’s Eve 2013 back when he was the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 31-year-old has four more seasons remaining on his deal with a $7 million annual salary cap hit.

If the Senators were to ask Phaneuf to waive his no-movement clause, and if he did oblige, it would be a risky move. Shedding $7 million off the books would be beneficial but the veteran blueliner has fit in nicely in Ottawa after being acquired from the Maple Leafs one year ago in a nine-player blockbuster. Some will point out his less-than-stellar possession numbers, but Phaneuf plays 20-25 minutes per night, plays in all situations, and has become a major influence to many of his teammates off the ice.

"This trade for us was a bit more than hockey-related for us," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told the Canadian Press. "Dion obviously has brought great leadership to our team, his influence on our younger players -- how to be pros, how to approach games -- has been a big factor, I think, in what we've done this year and what we're trying to accomplish moving forward."

If the Senators went this route (protecting Karlsson, Ceci and Methot) and Vegas passed up on an opportunity to take Phaneuf, it would leave the likes of Chris Wideman and Mark Borowiecki as potential defencemen on the Senators to select.

Phaneuf is currently the only member of the Senators on the exempt list.

Golden Knights GM George McPhee could potentially begin making moves by the March 1 trade deadline if team owner Bill Foley pays the final instalment of the $500-million expansion fee before that date.

McPhee won’t be able to acquire any active players during the 2016-17 season, but he can acquire draft picks and unsigned draft choices. He can also make deals with GMs where he agrees to not select a certain player in the expansion draft. Meaning the Senators could always hypothetically make a deal with Vegas as a way to ensure more than three defencemen are off limits.

The deadline for teams to submit their exempt lists is 5:00 p.m. ET on June 17. Vegas must submit its player selections by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20 and the roster will be announced on June 21. Also, the Golden Knights are not allowed to buy out any players selected until the summer following its first season.