With the trade deadline still a few weeks away, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off trading season with a major deal on Tuesday. The division rivals pulled off a blockbuster, nine-player deal that will send Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf to the Senators.
In addition to Phaneuf, Ottawa will receive forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert and defensive prospect Cody Donaghey while Toronto gets defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg and a second-round pick in the 2017 draft. Neither side will retain any salary.
Ottawa currently sits four points out of the playoffs and are trying to make a late push for a wildcard spot. As the team currently sits 28th in the NHL in goals allowed per game, defense was the major need. Now they boast a blue line that includes both Phaneuf and Erik Karlsson.
For Toronto, this move was made with a clear eye on the future. Phaneuf's contract carries a $7 million cap hit and expires in 2021. With his contract off the books, the Maple leafs currently have over $5 million in cap space and 15 players on their roster with expiring contracts. All contract info comes via General Fanager.
Toronto's newfound cap room will also allow them to make a real run at Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay star whose contract will expire after this season and has yet to sign an extension with the Lightning. Rumors over Stamkos' interest in Toronto have grown prevalent as Stamkos nears the end of his contract with no new deal in place.