Exactly one year today Dion Phaneuf was traded along with Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and defence prospect Cody Donaghey to the Senators for defenceman Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg as well as Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
In a trade that most certainly assisted in the Leafs sliding down the NHL standings and winning the draft lottery and landing Auston Matthews their future number #1 centre, and reshaped the Toronto Maple Leafs defence core all at once.
From a Maple Leafs perspective sending Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa was the final big piece of shaping their rebuild and it also helped to move out the last of the bulky contracts that sat on the Maple Leafs cap which opened up about 35 million in cap space over the next few years and it also allowed the Maple Leafs to promote and further develop Morgan Reilly as their defenceman of the future by having him play Phaneuf’s minutes.
The players the Maple Leafs received in return only one may play into their plans for the future, Tobias Lindberg is a big body forward who was instrumental in the OHL Oshawa General’s winning the memorial cup back in 2015. Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek have seen limited to no time time with Maple Leafs and none are playing into the long or short term plans for the Maple Leafs as none will be resigned after this season.
For Dion Phaneuf and the Ottawa Senators, this has been a perfect match. Ottawa Senators now have a legitimate 3/4 defenceman that can log big minutes and is a key power play option behind Erik Karlsson which suits Phanuef well.
In Dion’s defence, he was sold to the fan base in Toronto as the number #1 defenceman that this team lacked for years, and to be fair to Phaneuf that simply isn’t nor wasn’t him, he was oversold to a starving fan base and was destined to fail right off the bat, Dion always represented the team in the highest regard and there are very few people that can say that Dion ever took a night off. Dion now finds himself as a serviceable defenceman in Ottawa’s lineup and has succeed since not being asked to be the go to guy and captain on his new team.
He can now focus on only playing hockey, for that we as fans need to commend him as I feel the hate and insults are misguided and should be directed at the management group that scouted and felt he could handle being captain and #1 defenceman of the Maple Leafs and who re-signed him to a huge $7 million contract over 7 years. None of these mistakes can be placed on the player.
Looking back at the trade one year later, Both teams and player benefited from this trade. In most NHL trades, it is often easy to choose the winner, in this instance everyone came out a winner. This summer the Maple Leafs can put some of their savings into resigning Connor Brown, Nikita Zaitsev, Zach Hyman as well as go out and potentially sign another top 4 defenceman ( Hello, Kevin Shattenkirk it is Leafs Nation calling) which is another benefit for the Maple Leafs from this trade.