Phaneuf, at the very least, upgrades the Senators’ back end as they race to catch up in the Eastern Conference playoff race. He has six goals and 12 points in 29 games with Toronto this season and three goals and five points in seven games with Orlando of the ECHL.
With the Senators, Phaneuf won’t have the pressure of being captain nor the expectation of being a top-pairing defenseman. Though the 11-year veteran is a minus-15 since the start of last season, Phaneuf’s experience provides an upgrade and another possible mentor for talented young defenseman Cody Ceci. We don’t expect him to be a savior.
Obviously, this deal is a huge one for multiple reasons. Phaneuf has had a solid season for the Leafs, a team quite obviously playing for a draft pick. That would give the Leafs two centres to build around for more than a decade. With 18 points in 38 games in the AHL as a 24-year-old forward, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be an National Hockey League player.
Other than that, he didn’t want to say much about the deal that moved Dion Phaneuf out of Toronto after seven seasons as a Leaf. “It was a hard decsion”. That’s another big win for the team, and a sign that they’re committed to winning the shorter term. Phaneuf wasn’t able to derail Henrik Zetterberg as he drove wide to the net on the second Detroit goal, the Red Wings captain whistling a flawless shot past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson. They’ve allowed the second most goals in the league (166) and allow an average of 3.07 goals per game.
Murray said he hoped the trade would help Ottawa contend for the playoffs not only this spring, but beyond.
Dion Phaneuf famously turned up the dressing room stereo when he first joined the Toronto Maple Leafs six years ago, seizing control of the team’s leadership in the process. But for the most part, the players themselves are nothing more than short-term roster-filler (much like the majority of the roster the Maple Leafs are putting on the ice this season).
The key for the Leafs in this trade is longterm financial flexibility. Toronto is trying to clear its deck of long-term pieces that don’t fit for the future as it aggressively rebuilds through a revamped system of draft and development. The winger carries a $4-million cap hit through 2016-17.
The Leafs had to avoid a retained salary transaction here at all costs knowing Phil Kessel’s dead money is already on the books for the duration of his same-length contract. This is a monster deal, especially so early.
Despite having the deck in many ways stacked against his efforts in Toronto, he still took responsibility for his and his team’s actions.
Lamoriello saw no limit to the flexibility the transaction would provide.
Personally, I think they’re fooling themselves.
“You’re at the point in your schedule and in the season where there’s no margin for error here, ” coach Dave Cameron said. “Whatever opportunity there is to make the Maple Leafs better certainly will be considered”. And the Maple Leafs were probably quite happy to pay him his exorbitant salary for another year or two while he soaked up a lot of minutes on a rebuilding team. None, however, have the financial weight of Phaneuf’s. The club was impressed and the Leafs signed him to a three-year entry-level deal.
Bringing Phaneuf to Toronto was a Burke building block, his way in his words of putting teams together from the back end out.
Dion Phaneuf is trading sides in the Battle of the Ontario.