Maple Leafs send Dion Phaneuf to Senators in nine-player trade

The NHL trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 29, but the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators weren’t in a waiting mood as they pulled off a nine-player blockbuster Tuesday morning.

Heading to Ottawa is Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and Cody Donaghey. Going back the other way is Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg and the Senators’ second-round pick in 2017.

As the Maple Leafs did a year ago in moving David Clarkson’s contract, no money will be retained by either side in this deal.

Phaneuf becomes the first Maple Leafs captain dealt since Doug Gilmour was sent to the New Jersey Devils in 1997, a move which also involved Lou Lamoriello.

The deal from the Maple Leafs side is all about clearing future cap space. Jared Cowen will be an RFA in the summer of 2017, but as TSN’s Frank Seravalli pointed out last month, he possess a very cap-friendly contract should he be bought out in June. Meanwhile, Greening and Michalek are scheduled to be unrestricted in 2017. Just looking at General Fanager, Lamoriello and his staff have set the team up to be able to add some pricey talent this summer and next.

Hmm, I wonder what potential UFA stud could be available on July 1 should he not sign an extension with a certain Florida team…

From the Ottawa side the Senators could be a nice landing spot for Phaneuf, even if the 30-year old is signed through 2021 with a $7 million cap hit. He no longer has to average 22-23 minutes a night and hold the responsibility of a No. 1 defenseman. That could benefit him in the short-term, at least. GM Bryan Murray mentioned on during his press conference that adding a veteran presence to his young blue line was something he was looking to do.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!