Dion Phaneuf and his $7 Million cap hit was traded to the Ottawa Senators as the potential last trade in the Toronto Maple Leafs year-long (maybe longer) rebuild.
There are four big moments in the Leafs’ trading block in the past year (last one being Phaneuf):
It all started with the smart trade of David Clarkson to the Blue Jackets for an injured Nathan Horton. If you want to read on the unfortunate case of our old pal, good reports are right here.
Anyways, the David Clarkson trade was smart because the Leafs didn’t have to pay Nathan Horton as he is still on the IR. Dishing Clarkson for an injured player doesn’t sound smart, but Clarkson was a healthy scratch enough times where his large contract wasn’t worth it.
The next phase of their fire-sale was the firing of their general manager Dave Nonis and interim head coach Peter Horachek (head coach Randy Carlyle was fired after starting 21-16-3) merely days after their 30-44-8 (!!!!) season mercifully ended.
The next big piece that was shipped off over the off-season was Phil Kessel (tbt) in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto traded Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and some picks for a “promising” group of youngsters and a bigger wallet.
All together with the contracts of the top three players in these trades (Clarkson, Kessel and now Phaneuf) the Leafs have rid themselves of NINETEEN MILLION DOLLARS through the 2019-2020 season. That’s a lot of cap space to work with to rebuild a team.
With Phaneuf went other players that really haven’t made a difference on Toronto’s roster: Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and Cody Donaghey.
For them, Toronto received Jared Cowen, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and Tobias Lindberg. Lindberg is the only player who’s worth anything in that group, but with bodies comes a 2017 2nd Round Pick, which is worth it if it means freeing up the amount of space the Leafs did.
Toronto has the potential to be a serious threat in the league. They’re still at least 3-5 years away from having another meaningful season, but until then, be prepared for some excitement starting next year.
With names like Lupul, Bozak and Van Riemsyk up front and Matt Hunwick/Roman Polak in the back, the Leafs still have a shot of a positive rebuild.
Maybe not in the near future, but after a handful of years or so the Leafs will be actual contenders for Lord Stanley.
On the side of the Ottawa Senators, though: how about their new back line, huh? Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot on the first line and Phaneuf and Cody Ceci playing the second. Toss Phaneuf on the power play with Karlsson and that’s a scary thought.
Tbt to every time Phaneuf would break the glass on NHL 2009: