What’s going to happen on June 17 is that the Senators and the other 29 teams will submit their off-limits lists of players the Golden Knights can’t snatch away. Basically, it will consist of either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender, or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players who have a no-movement clause must be protected and all first- or second-year pros, as well as unsigned draft choices, will be exempt.
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 Las Vegas won’t touch the latter’s hefty contract.
As it stands, Phaneuf’s modified no-movement clause means the Sens would have to protect him come the expansion draft. He’s the lone Ottawa skater that requires it.
But his contract could provide protection on its own.
In the third of a seven-year, $49 million deal, Phaneuf — who turns 32 in April — is due $7 million annually through 2021. Though the actual salary paid does decrease slightly at the end ($6.5M in ’18-19 and ’19-20, $5.5M in ’20-21), it’s still a truckload of money and, to be blunt, represents one of the more onerous deals in the NHL.
(In terms of cap hit, Phaneuf is the sixth-highest paid blueliner in the league — ahead of fellow Sens d-man and two-time Norris winner Karlsson.)
This isn’t to say Phaneuf is having a bad year, or isn’t still a top-four guy. He’s on pace for 32 points, and could hit double digits in goals for the first time in five years. He’s also logging a healthy 22:57 TOI per night for the Sens and, as one of the alternate captains, serves an important role in the leadership group.
Despite that, logic suggests Vegas would pass on Phaneuf. And Ottawa brass could ensure that happens by, say, offering Vegas a pick or asset in exchange for not taking him.
But on a larger scale, this kind of move is something to keep an eye on. Chances are more teams might go this route, or at least down a similar path.