#4 / Defenseman / Ottawa Senators
Mar 09, 1978
Pending UFA, $3.5M cap hit
A grizzled veteran with a good reputation for playoff hockey and plenty of experience: 919 regular season games and 97 playoff games. He's one of few veteran defensive defencemen available, and has a sterling reputation as a shutdown defender.
That -26 rating he's carrying around this season sure doesn't look good, and neither do the three points (all assists) he's managed to put up this season. He's also got a no-trade clause this season, which could limit the potential destinations--and the possibility of him being moved at all.
Moderate. Things don't look good this season, but people around the league realize that Phillips hasn't had much support this season, and it will take more than one bad season to make people forget the solid career he's put together. The fact that he's a pending UFA just adds to the value, because what's left of his cap hit is more than manageable, and there are no long-term obligations to him.
High. If Mike Fisher can be dealt, so can Phillips. The closer we get to the deadline, the cheaper his cap hit becomes, and the more likely a deal gets. Teams gearing up for the playoffs can never have enough defensive depth, and combining Phillips' reputation with his experience leads me to think there will be at least a few teams interested in getting him. And Bryan Murray, at this point, will likely just accept the best offer he gets for Phillips, and hope for a bit of a bidding war.
Two teams continue coming up: The Boston Bruins, because of his history with both Peter Chiarelli and Zdeno Chara, as well as the Montreal Canadiens, because he's played for Jacques Martin and Pierre Gauthier in the past. Two teams who would probably like him but are dangerously close to the cap are the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, but the Los Angeles Kings or Washington Capitals might be better places for Phillips to land.
It might be tough to estimate what Phillips will bring, because I have a feeling any deal involving him will include a few other pieces, too. The Toronto Maple Leafs got a blue chip defensive prospect for Francois Beauchemin, who isn't as experienced as Phillips but is close in value--but they had to take on the ugly Joffrey Lupul contract to get that deal done. Eugene Melnyk is, by all appearances, not interesting in picking up ugly contracts. I'd think Phillips' reputation should be worth a second-round pick, but considering the first-rounders being tossed around and the reports of this draft being a shallow one, a real contender might have to give up a first-rounder or include a second pick in the package. However, because of Phillips' no-trade clause, any bidding war may have the number of teams engaged therein restricted; that could bring down the return for Phillips, if he agrees to a trade at all.
As roster players are moved out, though, the Senators may start looking for actual bodies--in other words, real prospects--to start coming back in return.