We have a blockbuster trade in the NHL.
The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forward Matt Frattin, prospects Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening and Milan Michalek, prospect Tobias Lindberg as well as a second-round pick in 2017 NHL Draft.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun no salary was retained by the Maple Leafs in the deal.
The crown jewel of this trade is Phaneuf. The Senators were seeking a veteran defenseman to pair with Erik Karlsson and acquired the former Norris Trophy nominee. The 30-year-old is a shell of his former self, but still a valuable top-four d-man. In 51 games in 2015-16, he’s posted three goals, 21 assists and 24 points while playing 22 minutes per game.
Phaneuf’s posted solid possession numbers, but he’s been given a boost playing most of his minutes at even strength with Jake Gardiner. He’ll benefit from playing a lesser role on the Senators, and won’t be asked to do everything with the presence of Karlsson. Ottawa is certainly taking a risk adding Phaneuf’s $7 million per year salary which runs until 2019-20, but GM Bryan Murray had to address the team’s lackluster defense.
The other players Ottawa received aren’t anything special. Frattin is a 28-year-old tweener who’s put up solid AHL numbers but hasn’t found success at the NHL level. The 24-year-old Bailey was signed last season to improve the Leafs’ prospect pool, but hasn’t emerged at the AHL level on a crowded Marlies squad. Rupert, a 21-year-old center, has put up decent numbers in the AHL but doesn’t scream NHL potential. Donaghey was an undrafted defenseman, who’s still playing in the QMJHL. The Senators made the move for Phaneuf, and the rest is just roster exchanges.
The Leafs do extremely well here. They shed their long-term commitment to Phaneuf, add a good prospect and a solid draft pick. The NHL players Toronto got back simply aren’t good, but that’s OK.
Cowen’s got size (6-foot-5) but he’s the closest thing to a pylon as there is in the league. He’s offensively challenged (zero goals in 37 games) and has been a possession black hole with a 42.8 Corsi for percentage. The 25-year-old is making 3.1 million this year and next, and the Leafs could attempt to trade him for anyone willing to take on his deal. Greening was buried in the AHL and has $2.65 million per season on his deal until the end of next year. He likely will stay in the minors or be bought out. Michalek is an injury prone former 30-goal scorer, who’s under contract this season and next for $4 million. If healthy, he can actually help the Leafs score, and can be flipped for draft picks — but that’s a big if.
Tobias Lindberg is yet another decent prospect to add to the Maple Leafs’ farm system. The 20-year-old was fifth in scoring for the Binghamton Senators with 22 points in 34 games and has a good defensive game. He’s not a great prospect, but he’s a solid player with a good shot at being an NHLer. The second-round pick is just gravy for the Leafs.
The Leafs would have been happy to see Phaneuf gone at about any price, but shedding salary and acquiring assets is a huge win for them. The Senators didn’t make out great here but acquired a player who will certainly help their backend, even at an extremely high cost.