Tony's Take - The Chris Phillips Re-signing

(source: senators.nhl.com/)

With the re-signing of long time Sen and potential UFA Chris Phillips last night, where does this fit in Ottawa’s rebuilding plans? Phillips’ new contract is worth $9.25 million over 3 years and comes with a no-movement clause. With five NHL defencemen already under contract for next season, this signing makes six. With a number of defensive blue chip prospects in the pipeline, was this the best move going forward for the organization?

Here’s my take on the Phillips re-signing:

There’s two ways to look at this re-signing. On the positive side, Ottawa gets to keep a face of the franchise for three more years where he will likely retire a Senator. For a young franchise like Ottawa trying to build history and tradition, having two players in Daniel Alfredsson and most likely Chris Phillips play their entire career with one team, will build history as their jerseys will probably get raised to the ceiling of ScotiaBank Place.

Phillips will also be able to mentor all the young up-and-coming defensive prospects we have in our system. With his steady play and defensive minded attitude, Phillips would be a great D-pairing partner for rookies coming into the league. You can see the effects he has had on Erik Karlsson this season. The biggest effect he will have will be on Jared Cowen as they play a similar game where Phillips will be able to teach him all his tricks. And in two years time, these two could make a great shutdown pairing.

For the term and length of this new contract, the Sens make out pretty good. Right now Phillips is their third highest paid D-man and he will be too with his new contract. And he will probably be making less when Karlsson needs to be re-upped after next season. The term is also manageable as Phillips would have just turned 35 by the end of the new contract, meaning that if he went all ‘Wade Redden’ on us, we would have the option to buy him out. And considering Ottawa has moved out over $6 million in cap obligations for next season, to go along with the $12 million already coming off the books, adding just over $3 million for Phillips’ new contract would not put us in a hole next season.

Lastly, a lot of players say they want to be here, but with this new contract, Phillips proved he wants to be here. Taking a financial haircut and probably less term, Phillips did so because he truly wants to play in Ottawa. With so many divas players we’ve had to deal with over the last few years (see Heatley, Kovalev, Corvo,etc.), it’s great to see a guy who truly wants to play here.

On the negative side of this re-signing, what does this mean for the rebuild going forward? Having already dealt away core players such as Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, why was Phillips kept over them? The plan was to go with a youth movement and stock pile assets and build through the draft. Phillips could have brought back a nice return in a trade. But holding a no-trade clause, Phillips held all the power and could have limited or barred any return.

With this re-signing, as mentioned above, Ottawa now has six NHL defencemen under contract for next season. Along with Phillips, Ottawa has Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba, Erik Karlsson, Brian Lee and Matt Carkner all signed to man the blueline next season. With only Chris Campoli missing from this years D-corps, this is pretty much the same D-corps that is currently ranked 26th in the league in goals against. Can we expect it to be any better next season? GM Byran Murray has got to have a few moves up his sleeve as it would be foolish to go into next season with the same D-corps and expect different results.

With Phillips being 32 years old, Ottawa now has four defencemen signed next year over the age of 30. In the new NHL, it has become a young players game based on speed. With four D-man over the age of 30, Ottawa will have one of the older D-corps in the league. Will they be able to keep up?

In the end, I base the re-signing on how I felt after I heard the news. I felt relieved and glad to to have the Big Rig back in the fold. He has been a steady performer for Ottawa his whole career. This is his first real down year when the whole team is having a down year. With his contract situation behind him, I expect Phillips to get back to his old ways a be one of the better shutdown defenders in the league.

Check back here later for Jared’s Take on the Phillips resigning.

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