Bobby Mac stirring up the rumour mill
Yesterday at around 10:30 a.m I was headed out the door for school to go finish up some homework. Naturally, I checked twitter before I left and saw that Bob McKenzie had just tweeted something pretty interesting:
Hearing lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter. Starting to think he could actually be dealt before the deadline.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 9, 2016
I was intrigued, but we’ve been talking about Dion Phaneuf being traded for years, as horrible as that is to the poor guy. It’s never really been about Phaneuf, it’s always been his contract. It’s a terrible one, a seemingly unmovable one, so I went and made a smart-ass remark:
Fortunately, I was wrong as usual. Less than an hour later I’m in my wonderful 1999 Ford Ranger, which was nice enough to start for me on this particular day, when I receive a text from a friend that says “ohhh f*** look at Bob’s tweet.” I immediately answ- I mean pull over to answer and right away I get a text back that just says “it’s done.” This is when I began to brace myself for the return. Like most hockey people, I was assuming that the Leafs weren’t going to get anything in return and they would also have to retain some salary. Fortunately, I was wrong again.
Not only did the Leafs not retain any salary on Phaneufs remaining five years at 7 million per, they actually gained some decent assets. Sure they ate three bad contracts in Jared Cowen, Milan Michalek and Colin Greening, but they gained a good prospect in Tobias Lindberg and also picked up a 2017 second round pick. All three salary dumps they took on expire at the end of next season. The Leafs also gave up three players that are not expected to be anything but AHL lifers in Matt Frattin, Ryan Rupert and Casey Bailey, along with long shot prospect Cody Donaghey who was signed as a free agent defenseman out of junior.
What does it all mean?
When it comes down to it, the Leafs got a second round pick, a good prospect and long-term salary cap flexibility. The fact that the boat anchor contracts of David Clarkson, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf were all moved out while only retaining $1.2 million of Kessel’s deal is something I can’t fathom. The total return (excluding short term salary dumps):
A second round pick.
A third round pick.
Plus a whole bunch of long term salary cap flexibility and contract space.
What the Sens get
I understand what the Ottawa Senators were thinking. They have arguably the best defenceman in the NHL in Erik Karlsson and he’s in his prime. Guys like him don’t come around often, so you have to try to win before he is on the decline. In saying that, Phaneuf isn’t exactly the final piece to a contending team in Ottawa. They currently sit five points out of a playoff spot and the only team that gives up more goals than them are the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yes, even the Edmonton Oilers have given up less goals than the Senators. No doubt Phaneuf will help tone that down by solidifying the second pairing with Cody Ceci, but will he bump you into the playoffs? I don’t know. Maybe. Does he make you a contender? Absolutely not. He’s a second pairing defenceman making $7 million a year until 2021. He isn’t even close to as valuable as what his contract pays him right now. Imagine how bad that contract will be five years from now? Yikes. I wish I could pretend to feel bad for the Sens.
Legends Row. Now.
I believed it to be nearly impossible to repair the damage done by the previous regimes. I’m so impressed by the new front office I hope they all have statues on Legends Row by the summer. Shanahan, Lamoriello, Dubas, Hunter, Pridham, Babcock and everyone involved. I’m clearly exaggerating, but this organization has come so far since just last year at this time and I am so happy about it. Not only in clearing out all these contracts, but they’ve also turned the team’s prospect pool into one of the best in the league in a hurry. The Marlies can’t be stopped and many of their top prospects are still playing outside of the AHL. The current roster is an absolute dumpster fire, which is good because there is this draft eligible guy named Auston Matthews. He’s playing in Switzerland and I think he would look pretty good in the blue and white. You might have heard of him.