Dion Phaneuf is getting an early look at free agency. The Kings announced that they have bought the defenseman out of the final two years of his contract. While today was the first day that players could be placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of a buyout, Phaneuf was not required to go through them as he had a no-move clause in his contract. As a result, the move is made official immediately.
Phaneuf had two years remaining on his contract with a $7MM cap hit (with the Kings paying 75% and the Senators 25%). Accordingly, the cap hit for buying him out will be as follows for each team:
The deal contained $3.5MM in signing bonuses which are excluded from the standard two-thirds cost calculation as they are paid in full. Accordingly, Phaneuf will receive over $9MM in actual money from the two teams over the next four years.
Los Angeles brought in Phaneuf in advance of the 2018 trade deadline in what amounted to a swap of bad contracts for both teams. The Kings picked up the 34-year-old along with center Nate Thompson in exchange for winger Marian Gaborik and center Nick Shore. Of the four players in the swap, only Gaborik remains with his team and he was on LTIR all of last season and will likely be on there once again for 2019-20 at the very least.
In his prime, Phaneuf was a quality top pairing defender who provided plenty of offense from the back end while mixing in a lot of physicality as well. However, the point totals have dried up in recent years and the recent transition to teams playing quicker worked against him as he has never been the strongest of skaters. Not surprisingly, 2018-19 was by far his worst season. He scored just once in 67 games, spent time as a healthy scratch, and averaged just 15 minutes per night, a career low.
Despite that, there could be a bit of interest in Phaneuf as a free agent from teams looking to add some veteran depth to their defense corps. While he’s now eligible to talk to teams right away, he won’t officially be able to sign somewhere until the free agent market officially opens up on July 1st.