Earlier this month, two western conference NHL teams announced significant player transactions.
On Jun. 15, the Los Angeles Kings bought-out veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Two days later, as the Toronto Raptors celebrated their NBA Championship parade in Canada’s biggest city, the San Jose Sharks announced a massive contract extension for two-time Norris Trophy defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Although both player transactions seem completely unrelated, they do share one thing in common: both benefit the Ottawa Senators.
The Phaneuf Buy-Out
Phaneuf played 154 games for the Ottawa Senators from 2015-2018. On Feb. 13, 2018, the Senators traded him and Nate Thompson to the Kings for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. Ottawa also agreed to retain 25 percent of Phaneuf’s salary as part of the deal. Consequently, the Senators were paying part of an expensive salary for a player no longer on their roster. Phaneuf’s cost to the Senators was $1.75M a year until 2020-21.
There are salary implications for the Senators in the aftermath of the Kings decision to buy-out Phaneuf. As a result, the Sens get to pay Phaneuf less money over a longer term. The costs include $729,167 in 2019-20, $1.354 million in 2020-21, and $354,167 in both 2021-22 and 2022-23. The total savings for Ottawa is approximately $708,000.
Some may argue these savings could negatively impact the Senators efforts of reaching the salary cap floor in 2019-20. However, fans should be assured that Senators general manager Pierre Dorion will be active this summer. The team is entering year two of a three-to-five year rebuild, and money used on an unrestricted or restricted free agent who can actively support the team now is much better spent than paying for a player in a King’s uniform.
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The Karlsson Extension
Karlsson began and established his career as an Ottawa Senator. On Sept. 13, 2018, the Senators traded their beloved captain to the Sharks in a multi-asset blockbuster that rocked the hockey world. A little over nine months later, the epic Karlsson trade continues to give back to the Senators.
As soon as Karlsson’s massive eight-year, $92 million extension with the Sharks was announced, the Senators automatically acquired an additional asset: a 2021 second-round pick. This happened because of a condition embedded by Ottawa in the original trade. The condition reads,
“Should the Sharks sign Karlsson to a contract extension, Ottawa receives San Jose’s second-round selection in 2021, which would upgrade to a first-round selection (not lottery protected) if San Jose reaches the Stanley Cup Final in 2019”.
To acquire this draft pick many months after the trade was completed is akin to achieving a kill beyond the grave in a video game. It is also a great demonstration of the unique and creative trade tactics employed by Dorion in his efforts to earn the greatest return for his team.
After all, every piece counts as the general manager attempts to position the Senators for a future Stanley Cup Championship.
Billy Morrison lives in Ottawa and covers the Ottawa Senators for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.