About a year ago, I wrote a similar article to this one, about Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson. As it turned out, trading the pending unrestricted free agent and getting something for him. Much like the Flames did with Jarome Iginla, in hindsight, would have probably been the best thing the Senators could have done hockey-wise. Yes, it would have been a PR nightmare for the Senators at the time, but it would have avoided the crapstorm of the summer free agency season.
Which turns my attention to the current longest-serving Senator, defenseman Chris Phillips. Although not as beloved as Alfredsson had been, he has been a pillar of this team for 1,122 games over 16 seasons. He is also a pillar of the community and a staple in the franchise.
With Phillips a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end, the question will come up over the next week leading up to the trade deadline – Will Chris Phillips be traded?
COULD THE OTTAWA SENATORS TRADE CHRIS PHILLIPS?
Obviously, Phillips is approaching the tail end of his career. He has far less track in front of him than behind him. That being said, defensemen are at a premium in the NHL, and a veteran who has a history of stepping up and playing some of his best hockey in the post-season would be a valuable commodity over the next week.
SHOULD THE OTTAWA SENATORS TRADE CHRIS PHILLIPS?
If they have designs on making any noise whatsoever in the playoffs, Phillips will be a key part on the Senators’ blue line. Can they make the playoffs without him? Yes, but his veteran presence and experience would be an integral part in settling down a relatively young blue line. If the Senators realize that this isn’t exactly their best shot for a Cup, and that is probably the reality, then getting something for the future might be the way to go.
WOULD THE OTTAWA SENATORS TRADE CHRIS PHILLIPS?
The only thing worse than trading away an icon of the franchise would be to lose him for nothing in the off-season. The Senators need to decide if Phillips is worth what he will be asking for, and I am sure that preliminary conversation has at least been started. Phillips has a history of taking a home town discount and would probably do so again, but he has to look at the contracts signed by veterans in the shallow free agent market and wonder what his last contract could bring in.
It would be tough on the Senators’ fan base to lose the two longest serving Senators players of all time within the span of less than a year, but there is nothing to say that they couldn’t have a wink and a nod agreement with Phillips to bring him back in the off-season for another year or two. Phillips would no doubt like to have a shot at a Stanley Cup, and would be torn if given the opportunity to move. His roots are now firmly in Ottawa, but we thought the same about Alfredsson.
A team like the Bruins, with the injury to Dennis Seidenberg, would no doubt be a destination, with his history playing with Zdeno Chara, and the familiarity of Peter Chiarelli. It would also offer him a very decent shot at the Cup, and I couldn’t fault him for taking it, or the Senators for trying to get something for him.
In the end, I don’t think the Senators will deal Phillips. But you can bet the conversations will happen and there will be some enticing offers.