The Ottawa Senators are in a tough situation when it comes to this summer’s expansion draft. With the long list of players they have available, it looks like they’d be at risk of losing one of their good young defenders because of the no-movement clause that Dion Phaneuf holds. That is, unless he waives it before the team has to submit their protected list on June 17th.
In Don Brennan’s latest article in the Ottawa Sun, he reports that it’s very likely the team asks him to do just that. Brennan writes:
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.
That would be a logical outcome, but it isn’t a guarantee that Phaneuf would agree to waive it or Vegas would pass up the veteran defender. Though he comes with a $7MM cap hit for the next four years, Phaneuf’s actual salary decreases every year (to a low of $5.5MM in 2020-21) and would be a natural option for the Golden Knights’ first captain. The fact that they will have trouble hitting the salary cap floor without some big contracts makes it a possibility.
Though Phaneuf has his detractors (and they are many), all reports out of Ottawa has him as a well-liked leader in the dressing room and important part of their blueline. He’ll likely never return to the high-flying goal scoring defenseman of his youth, but his ability to log minutes in all situations is an asset. While the Senators would be free of a big cap-hit, it’s hard to replace 23 minutes a night even if his possession numbers are poor.
Brennan also spoke to both Mark Borowiecki and Chris Wideman, who will likely be exposed in the draft. Both responded with the expected answers that they want to stay in Ottawa, but with the paring only playing ~13 minutes a night, you could relate to them if they were a little excited by the prospect of going to another team (especially one located in Las Vegas).
The two would provide both ends of the statistical spectrum for Vegas, as Wideman is turning into a possession darling capable of moving the puck up the ice quickly, while Borowiecki is a wrecking ball on skates, hitting anything that moves. If Vegas did select one of them, it would likely be a signal to the level of trust George McPhee and the new front office put on the analytical trend in hockey.
It’s a long way to the draft, but teams are obviously already making plans to protect their key players. Vegas can start making deals for anyone not currently active in the NHL on March 1st, provided owner Bill Foley makes his last payment by then.