The Ottawa Senators are going to have to make a decision on Chris Phillips, and they are going to have to make it soon. I wrote last week about whether the Senators should, could and would trade their longest serving defenseman.
This whole situation is reminiscent of the Daniel Alfredsson situation of a year ago.
According to reports, the Senators have offered him a one year contract to remain with the club. Phillips could easily net a 2 year deal, maybe even a 3 year deal worth $9 or $10M if he hits the open market in July. Phillips could also bring back a solid return, perhaps a late first round pick or 2 second rounders (that is what Pittsburgh gave up for Douglas Murray last season at the deadline).
The one year deal Phillips is mulling over is likely at or near the just over $3M cap hit he is currently earning. For him to accept the “home town discount” to stay with the Senators he would be leaving $4 to 6M on the table at minimum.
Given what he and the rest of the fan base saw happen with Alfredsson, is there any reason to expect loyalty from the club going forward? Why should Phillips be expected to sign for substantially less than market value to remain when the club treats its players that way.
From their side, the Senators can’t afford to let this go much longer, given the fact that Phillips could walk for nothing in the off-season. The playoffs are not a given at this point, and some would say more unlikely than likely with 21 games left. The Senators missed out on the bounty that they could have reaped for Alfredsson last season (think Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr) when he walked away for nothing, and if Phillips doesn’t take the current offer they have to consider moving him.
There could always be the good old trade and then sign back in Ottawa when free agency opens situation, but would Phillips do that after the feeling of disrespect that these negotiations are bound to make him feel?
Phillips ties now run deep in Ottawa, but the decision for him is whether he wants to remain in Ottawa badly enough to leave money on the table. I don’t see the Senators budging too far from their current offer (remember Alfredsson?) so the ball is really in his court.
It would be a shame for a player who has been loyal to the team for his entire career to part ways like this, but after what happened last July 5th with Alfredsson, nothing will ever surprise or shock me again.