(photo via Toronto Star)
A report out of Ottawa this week claims that the Senators plan to ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-movement clause before this year’s expansion draft.
Some are surprised since Phaneuf seemed to have found a good role in Ottawa and the organization, by all accounts, is happy with what they’ve gotten from the former Maple Leaf.
But one thing that should be noted with a story like this is even if the team asks a player to waive his NTC or NMC, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to lose him, it may just be a strategy, and there will be a lot of teams using this strategy. Let me explain it from the Senators perspective:
The Senators can only protect 3 defenders. Karlsson and Ceci are automatics, which means one of Methot or Phaneuf need to be left unprotected. Methot has a fairly team friendly contract and would likely be a vet that Vegas looks at favorably. While Phaneuf, while still valuable, is still owed $7 million a season until 2021. Likely a deal that Vegas doesn’t want to touch.
So the Senators would much rather protect Methot from the expansion draft, but Phaneuf’s NMC means he needs to be automatically protected, meaning Methot would likely be lost. If the Senators can approach Phaneuf and say:
“Look, we want to keep both you and Marc Methot around, we know they won’t touch your contract, so if you waive your NMC, it will improve the team.”
Then they could be in a scenario where they don’t lose a top six forward or a top four d-man. This is something I think a lot of teams will be doing during the months leading up to the expansion draft. As it sits right now, only Calgary, New Jersey, San Jose, Washington, St. Louis, and Toronto don’t have any active no move or no trade clauses. Meaning that ⅘ of the NHL could have a problem similar to the one Ottawa is facing. Here are some other notable scenarios it may be happening:
The Anaheim Ducks are in a tough spot with their defense, so asking Kevin Bieksa to waive his NMC could be the difference between losing one of Silfverberg/Cogliano or losing Josh Manson, a big difference for that organization.
The Blackhawks likely don’t want to lose Trevor Van Riemsdyk, as he is a young, cost controlled defenseman. If they want to keep both TVR and Kruger, it may require convincing Marian Hossa to waive his NMC. He owns a cap hit of $5.25 million until 2021, so it’s close to a guarantee Vegas won’t want to touch him. This could be a scenario where Hossa weaves his NMC, with an understanding he won’t be going anywhere.
The Blue Jackets have 3 forwards with NMC’s, one of which is Scott Hartnell, who will be getting $4.75 million. If the team wants to keep Matt Calvert or Josh Anderson, they will need to ask Hartnell to waive his clause, even though it’s doubtful he will be selected due to his contract.
Could the Minnesota Wild do this with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? Potentially both?! It’s a little insane at first glance, but
word is, that Vegas doesn’t want term. They want contracts they can get out of in 3-5 years so they have money for free agency and players coming off entry-level contracts. Well, Parise and Suter are both owed $7.5 million until 2025, will Vegas really take those deals with two players who are aging and declining in skill? Doubtful. Leaving them both unprotected allows Minnesota to keep Nino Niederreiter and all 4 of their young d-men. It’s a little crazy, but it might work!
The Rangers have three players who fit this bill, Marc Staal ($5.7mil until 2021), Dan Girardi ($5.5mil until 2020) and Rick Nash ($7.8mil until 2018). Out of those, Rick Nash might actually get taken because of how little term is left. But leaving one of the older d-men unprotected allows them to go with the 8 skaters option and keep Oscar Lindberg or Kevin Hayes.
More of the same in Tampa where the difference between Ryan Callahan waiving his NMC or refusing could cost the team a young/impactful forward like Vlad Namestnikov or a reliable vet like Alex Killorn.
Plenty of examples of how crucial convincing an aging vet to take a leap of faith will be when the expansion draft roles around. A GM’s ability to negotiate and convince a player to trust him could have repercussions that will be felt for over a decade.