Colorado Avalanche center Philippe Dupuis, left, celebrates with Kevin Porter, center, after Porter scored his second goal of the game in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Denver on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. The Avalanche won 5-0. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)
If it felt like this morning’s Dion Phaneuf trade came out of the blue, well, it kinda did.
According to Senators GM Bryan Murray, talks only got “serious” this past weekend during a phone call with Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello.
“He called me about something else,” said Murray. “I brought up Dion’s name.”
The way the Sens had been playing, it’s no surprise to hear that Murray had been looking for a “little more security on the back end,” as he put it.
“You hear people talk all the time that we’re dreadful in our own end,” he said. “We haven’t been great. We’re getting better. This we believe will be a good addition. It’s about getting an experienced leader, good person, hard-working, competitive guy to add to the mix in our top four.”
While Murray called the multi-player deal a “hockey trade,” he conceded there were financial considerations involved.
“It had to work financially for us, as well as for Toronto,” he said. “It gives them relief in the latter part of the contract, I suspect, and it gives us some working pieces to go forward with for the next couple of years.”
What do the Sens expect from Phaneuf?
“Just to be a solid person, player,” said Murray. “Come in and give a little experience to the back end. Play his game the way he plays it.”
“He’ll just bring, we hope, a presence to this organization,” Murray continued. “It appears right now that we’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to be fitted in and playing. Our depth and youth, it’s good. We just needed a little bit of help.”
One thing Murray doesn’t expect?
“We don’t expect him to come in here to be a savior. We expect him to come in here and just be the hockey player that he is.”
Ottawa plays tomorrow in Detroit, where Phaneuf is expected to make his Senators debut.
The Sens and Leafs play March 5 in Toronto.
There’s no disciplinary hearing scheduled for Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader following his big check on Florida’s Aleksander Barkov last night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.
The incident, which occurred early in the second period, left Barkov woozy and forced him from the game entirely. Abdelkader wasn’t penalized on the play — that, along with the hit itself, infuriated the Panthers and head coach Gerard Gallant.
“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald.
“I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way,” Gallant added, noting that Abdelkader “left his feet a little and got [Barkov] in the jaw.”
Abdelkader has run afoul of the Department of Player Safety before. He was suspended two games during the ’13 playoffs for a hit on then-Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.
The Panthers are back in action tonight, as they take on the Sabres in Buffalo.
Detroit doesn’t play again until Wednesday, when it hosts the Sens at Joe Louis.
And this is why we listen when Bob McKenzie says something.
The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, and Ryan Rupert and undrafted defensive prospect Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, plus Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft.
No salary will be retained by either team.
From the Leafs’ perspective, the trade provides even more cap flexibility for their rebuild. Phaneuf is signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million; he’s entirely on Ottawa’s books now. As for the guys coming to Toronto, Michalek, Cowen, and Greening are only under contract through next season, for a combined cap hit of around $10 million. And according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, both Cowen and Greening could be bought out by the Leafs this offseason.
The Sens, meanwhile, get to add a workhorse defenseman to a blue line that already includes Erik Karlsson. Plus, they rid themselves of some onerous contracts.
“Hearing lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter,” McKenzie tweeted this morning. “Starting to think he could actually be dealt before the deadline.”
Phaneuf has three goals and 21 assists in 51 games this season, while logging an average of 22:02 in ice time. The big factor in trading the 30-year-old is his contract — he’s signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million.
In the past, Detroit has come up as a potential destination for Phaneuf, though the Wings reportedly withdrew their interest in June.